Google is thinking outside of the box — the Cardboard box, that is. The search giant is reportedly working on a sophisticated virtual reality headset and more robust VR capabilities for its Android operating system.
The device in development could serve as a chief rival to the $100 Gear VR, which was one of the first mobile virtual reality devices to hit the market back in late 2015 courtesy of Samsung and Oculus VR (of $2-billion-Facebook-acquisition fame).
Google launched its first bare-bones headset, Cardboard, in 2014. The next-generation device will reportedly feature better sensors and lenses and a solid plastic casing, according to The Financial Times. And while the Gear VR is only compatible with certain Samsung phones, Google’s forthcoming headset would be compatible with a broader range of Android devices. Rather than functioning with a proprietary app, as is the case with Cardboard, Google is reportedly baking new VR capabilities directly into its Android OS.
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Virtual reality, which many see as the next frontier in computing platforms, has been a crucial focus for Google. The company has thus far shipped 5 million Cardboard headsets and in an earnings call last week, CEO Sundar Pichai called Cardboard “just a first step” in its virtual reality efforts.
Google could unveil the new Android features at its I/O Developer Conference in May, according to the Times, and the new device as soon as September. That’s the time of year when the company typically launches new Nexus devices.