Google was expected to debut some virtual reality-related news at its I/O developer conference this afternoon, and the search giant did just that in the form of Daydream — a new virtual reality platform that will be built into the next generation of Android, (temporarily titled Android N), as well as plans for a new hardware system to succeed its infamous Cardboard boxes.
New smartphones that will be able to harness Daydream will be available this fall, according to The Verge, and will be made by the likes of Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, Asus, and Alcate. In addition to VR versions of its own apps, including a new YouTube app (more on that below) — as well as upcoming apps created by HBO and the NBA — Daydream will also comprise a new hardware system, including a smartphone-compatible headset and a small remote control with motion-sensing capabilities.
While Cardboard was compatible with most devices, the forthcoming Daydream headset must be used in conjunction with the forthcoming phones, which will have special screens and sensors. However, Google will be enabling hardware companies to build their own Daydream devices — as it did with Cardboard — and it will be releasing a reference design for developers in the fall. The remote control, which is the key differentiator between Daydream and existing VR headsets, like the Samsung Gear VR, could enable users to navigate a “VR app menu like a laser pointer,” according to The Verge.
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In the wake of these developments, YouTube is also launching a dedicated app for virtual reality videos, according to Fortune, that will be compatible with Cardboard as well as Daydream devices. Voice search will be a default feature, for instance, given that phones will be strapped to users’ heads, and the app will also suggest VR content based on prior viewership.
YouTube’s new virtual reality app follows the company’s announcement earlier this week that any YouTube video is now Cardboard-compatible on both Android and iOS devices.