Every so often, consumer technology makers jump headfirst into a new market. First there were smartphones, then there were tablets. Next came smartwatches. Search, software and now hardware maker Google is prepping to enter the latest new category of consumer technology with this fall’s Google Daydream View release.
With the Google Daydream View release, the company hopes to enter the world of virtual reality headsets. That’s the same market dominated by Facebook’s already announced Oculus Rift VR. Other companies have released or are preparing to release devices in the category too. There’s the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR and Sony’s upcoming PlayStation VR headset for the PS4.
Google Daydream View Release Features
When a device maker is late to a new category, it’s not enough to just do the same thing that others are doing. What they launch has to be better than the competition. What they release has to make sense for their users.
Google Daydream View is designed to trade on Google’s unique advantages with users. It doesn’t dominate PC operating systems or video game consoles. However, it does dominate smartphone operating systems. The Daydream View is a dedicated headset and controller that allows users to turn their compatible smartphones into a virtual reality headset, without any huge purchases. If that sounds familiar it’s because the Galaxy Gear VR trades on Samsung’s advantage as the biggest Android smartphone maker.
The headset itself looks a lot like other VR headsets. Users put it on their head and stare into its elongated depths. It’s held up by outward facing pads and a Velcro strap around back. It’ll launch in just a grey that Google is calling Slate. Crimson (Red) and Snow (White) will launch sometime after the headset’s official release. Those are only for the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. The headset has a very fabric-laden body. The entire thing weighs less than 200 grams, which isn’t something other headsets in the category can claim.
Users unfasten the forward-facing flap to insert their Daydream compatible phone, like the Pixel smartphones that Google will begin selling unlocked and at Verizon soon. While inserting their phone, they can grab the sensor heavy wireless controller that supports pointing, aiming and swinging. It comes with the smartphone accessory.
Google is pushing the idea that the Daydream View will take the hassle out of using a smartphone as the basis of a virtual reality headset. The Daydream View opens the Daydream Android app automatically with NFC.
Google Daydream View Release Window & Pre-Orders
Google will kick off Google Daydream View pre-orders on October 20th. Shoppers at Best Buy, Verizon and the Google Store will be able to pick one up beginning sometime this November. The headset is launching in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom. Google hasn’t provided a plan for getting the headset out to countries beyond those.
Google Daydream View Release: Price
To help insure that Google Daydream View is more successful than other mobile headset releases, Google has kept the headset’s pricing within reason. It’ll cost $79.99 anyone. For comparison, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear VR costs $99. Oculus, which needs to be paired with a compatible PC, costs $599.
Google Daydream View Release Content
Another key to overcoming the advantage that other technology companies have in the VR space is content. Dozens of media companies and game developers have already committed to providing content to Oculus, Galaxy Gear VR and more.
Google is leading the content charge with a tie in for Harry Potter. Through an exclusive experience, Daydream View users will be able to tour the franchise’s wizarding world. Gun Jack 2, Lego Breakheadz, Mekorama, Need for Speed, Earthscape, Danger Goat, Home Run Derby and Hungry Shark World are another game set to come to the headset through the Daydream software on Android. YouTube and StreetView apps are incoming. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are planning virtual stories that use the headset and app.
The world’s most formidable video streaming apps, Netflix and Hulu have apps on the way.
Google Daydream View Release: Compatible Phones
Of course, the problem with relying on a smartphone to power the experience is the additional cost of purchasing a compatible smartphone. Today, only the Google Pixel smartphones are confirmed to work with Daydream. They’ll launch in November for a whopping $649, at least. If purchased on a payment plan, the Pixels will start at $27.04 a month, for twenty-four months total.
It’s difficult to grasp just how much getting the Daydream View experience will be outside of Google’s hardware plans. Daydream is an Android feature, meaning anyone can build a device that supports the technology. The big question is whether smartphone makers will support the feature in their next major smartphone releases and how much those devices will cost. It seems very unlikely that Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, will rollout support for Daydream View when they have their own solution already. LG has its own VR headset too.