Nearly no one was surprised by Google’s decision to stop its support for the Daydream View VR headset. While releasing its new Pixel 4 Smartphone, google announced officially that they will be ending all support for the daydream Headset and won’t be selling it anymore. They will no longer be integrating the Daydream platform onto future Pixel smartphones or any other Android devices.
Now If you have hardware that supports Daydream, do not freak out, it will still work. But Daydream’s days are numbered. Google has been killing it slowly over the last years.
For those of you, who have no idea what I am talking about - the Google Daydream View VR headset, was announced alongside of the Pixel smartphones and Google Home personal assistant. It was the perfect easiest way for people who still had some reservation about virtual reality to try it out in a convenient, not that expensive way. It helped bring virtual reality to the main stream public. Thus, the name: Daydream (I'm guessing).
The use of the Daydream was quite simple and Google made sure that, in theory, every Android smartphone of the future could be a virtual reality headset. All you needed to do was slide any Pixel Phone (a Samsung, an LG would also work just fine. As long as it's an Android phone, it should be no problem) the very aesthetic and well-designed headset and use a small, motion activated remote as a controller. Maybe saying any Pixel smartphone is not very true, at least that was Google’s plan in 2016, but as I said this “Daydream´s doom operation” did not just come out of the blue, indeed the Pixel 3a that came out earlier this year does not support the headset either neither do the other Android smartphones which fail to meet the Daydream views requirement.
It's important to mention that the Daydream View´s real genius was its core: it was largely software that any Android phone manufacturer could adopt. This emphasized the idea that every smartphone could be a virtual reality device and that VR will be widely spread. Some would even say that the Daydream View paved the way and helped virtual reality take a step further and not be this Sci-Fi blurry unknown thing to the non-field experts/ gamers.
Google issued this official statement about the matter :
"We saw a lot of potential in smartphone VR—being able to use the smartphone you carry with you everywhere to power an immersive on-the-go experience. But over time we noticed some clear limitations constraining smartphone VR from being a viable long-term solution. Most notably, asking people to put their phone in a headset and lose access to the apps they use throughout the day causes immense friction.
There also hasn’t been the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped, and we’ve seen decreasing usage over time of the Daydream View headset. While we are no longer selling Daydream View or supporting Daydream on Pixel 4, the Daydream app and store will remain available for existing users.
We’re investing heavily in helpful AR experiences like Google Lens, AR walking navigation in Maps, and AR in Search that use the smartphone camera to bridge the digital and physical worlds, helping people do more with what they see and learn about the world around them."
The conclusion of all of this, is that the daydream did not make the revenue expected. Google also admits, that their headset had some major design flows and it was not the perfect experience they promised their users. The company seems to be shifting its focus to Augmented reality as it is, according to the statement, better suited for smartphones.
It’s safe to say that the end of the daydream headset was to be expected and with Google quitting the market, phone-based VR is essentially dead. Samsung and Oculus quit supporting the Gear VR with new devices, too, choosing instead to focus on standalone headsets.
Of course, just because Daydream as a platform is on its way out, that doesn’t mean that virtual reality, in general, is a dying concept. According to the experts, standalone VR is the way forward to making VR more mainstream. The real challenge is to make rich, more immersive content to attract more users and allow companies like google to monetize them better.
Virtual reality came a long way since it first got to the public and this decision will have close to no impact on the VR market given that its mainly monopolized by Oculus/Facebook when it comes to the standalone space and Sony in the console segment. We’ll have to wait and see if Google makes another attempt at virtual reality at some point in the future. The company has a history of killing apps and platforms and trying again later.