In January, vague rumors of Google beginning work on developing their own virtual reality headset began swirling when the tech giant posted job listings that hinted at the company’s foray into VR tech. Two weeks later, those rumors have grown to solid evidence that Google will be releasing that virtual reality headset sometime within the year.
Google Enters the Race for the 1st Commercially Successful Virtual Reality Experience
The idea is that this model will be Google’s competitor to Samsung's Gear VR and the Oculus Rift. Similar to Samsung’s VR bid, the Google headset would operate through a smartphone supporting the necessary software.
This lends support to the suggestions that Google will be releasing Android VR software to accompany the release of the headset itself. Taking it a step further, Google claims that they’ll work on improving the everyman’s virtual reality experience by incorporating the new virtual reality software as part of the Android’s operating system, making it easier for everyone to easily add a virtual reality headset and link it to their phones.
Smartphones May Offer Link to Mainstreaming Virtual Reality
If that’s true, Google will likely lead virtual reality into the mainstream on a global scale. They’d be the first company to effectively do so, even after several models of virtual reality headsets have been circulating with no commercial success. Their solution to incorporate the technology into smartphone operating systems should effectively remedy the lagging commercial success of virtual reality systems past their relatively unsuccessful Google Glass product.
Experts are speculating that Google Cardboard may have been a kind of test to investigate consumer interest, and that if that’s accurate, the test was a fairly popular success. Consumers thought favorably of Google Cardboard, so similar features may pop up in Google’s adaptation of virtual reality.
Upcoming Annual Google Conference May Confirm Speculations
While Google has yet to officially confirm or deny any of these details, they may do so at their annual conference, which starts on May 18th of 2016.
Nobody’s particularly concerned with Samsung’s Gear VR headset, as it’s only compatible with recent models of Samsung phones (good news for Galaxy fans) but isn’t viable with non-Samsung Android phones. There’s no word yet about Google’s virtual reality headset ever becoming available with Apple phones or the iOS operating system, but Apple may have its own virtual reality project in the works, as well; just for a more distant future, maybe.
How does the “real” Google virtual reality headset compare to its preliminary experimentations with Google Cardboard? Supposedly, the headset will be powered by your smartphone, and feature a “more solid plastic casing” for its “successor to Cardboard” VR model. They’ll also be focusing on connected the headset to a wider range of smartphones, beating out Samsung handily.
But early reports on Samsung’s Gear VR versus Google’s Cardboard say that because the Gear VR was intended for Samsung phones, it offers more accurate mounting and positioning on the phone. Users said that Google Cardboard was extremely finicky, and required constant readjusting.
These issues and more will likely be addressed if Google is, in fact, working on a more official virtual reality headset to be released later this year.