Clay Bavor, Google’s vice president of virtual reality, isn’t all that concerned with perfection. Sure, he’d love to create virtual worlds that look and feel like real ones, and he’s convinced Google, and others, will get there eventually. While they work on that, though, Bavor’s primary objective is to put a VR headset on absolutely everyone he can find. Why VR is cool and exciting is hard to explain in words, he says—and tech reporters around the world feel his pain—but as soon as you try it, you get it. That’s why Google’s virtual-reality plans have always been all about giving as many people access as possible. Perfection comes later.
On stage today at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference/show-and-tell, Bavor announced the next steps in that journey. Google is developing the next version of Android specifically with virtual reality in mind, so that every smartphone running its operating system will be a VR headset right out of the box. It’s working with partners on new, decidedly non-cardboard headsets and controllers, coming later this year, that should drastically improve the quality of the whole experience—as well as a set of phone specs that enable optimal VR experiences in Android. And it’s created Daydream, a standard and brand that encompasses everything Google’s working on with VR.
Daydream isn’t a custom version of the operating system like Android TV or Android Wear. It’s just part of Android, the way texting and notifications are part of Android. It’s VR Mode. When you dock your phone, you’ll launch Daydream Home, which will let you open apps from Netflix, Hulu, and IMAX, or games from EA, Ubisoft, and more. It’s clean and comfortable, a lot like Oculus Home. All Bavor would say was “there are some really neat things in the works,” but given how much is already in Cardboard, the Daydream ecosystem is going to be big from day one.
– Edna Mae Buniel