Google Daydream is landing on November 11th. I already have an Android phone, but I’m thinking of buying a Daydream-ready phone to be able to play VR games with the new Daydream View headset. Can someone share insight about the pros and cons of this new mobile VR platform, so I can have better idea whether it’s worth buying or not? Thank in advance.
Hi there VR-enthusiast. That’s a good question and I try my best to share my point of view about the upcoming Daydream mobile VR platform.
As for now, people who want to experience VR on their Android mobile devices have several options. First, buy a Google Cardboard compatible headset, which is good for starters. The price is relatively low and there are already a lot of apps and games for it - many of them are free, including the option to watch 3D videos and TV shows, which is what many people are interested in nowadays.
Although Cardboard is a good low-cost choice, the main problem is that it supports any Android device, and because of the high saturation of devices in the market, developers don’t have any base hardware specifications to target their apps for, and if you want to reach a broad audience, as a developer, you probably should aim to performance specs that might not be the right ones that allow you develop that application or game that you dream of.
Like consoles, if you develop for a popular that has a known bare minimum performance specification, and you know it’s widely adopted by mobile phone users, you can rest assured that everyone that has a supported phone for that platform will run the game smoothly.
This is why Google referred to Daydream as a platform. Google partnered with phone manufacturers so they can build a phone that answers those specifications and those phones will be certified as Daydream-ready devices. By doing so, Google created a platform that consists of both hardware and software components, that run under restricted specifications, and those are relatively high, in order to make sure that both developers can develop high-quality VR experiences, as well as mobile phone users enjoying those great Vr experiences with the complimentary accessories, like the Daydream View headset and the compatible controller.
The Daydream SDK for developers consists of APIs that recognize the related hardware. For example, the SDK is integrated with the leading game development platforms like Unity, for example, to allow direct access to Daydream controllers, so developers can create games that take use of this controller. The controller and other proprietary accessories play a significant role in VR. Although Daydream doesn’t support room-scale like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but it does allow players to interact with objects within the virtual world in a more natural and immersive way.
If there will be more accessories for Daydream, and I believe they will be, third party hardware manufacturers know what standard to develop those accessories for.
Daydream-ready phones have relatively high and pre-determined specifications. They were specified in order to make sure that people who play Daydream games enjoy high-quality VR experience. Of course, the quality of the games and apps entirely depends on the creativity of the developer, but developer knows that a person who own a Daydream- device, holds a powerful phone that can run their demanding app. VR apps and games that run on Daydream, will likely to be richer both in terms of content and visuals.
Graphics power and the sensors’ sensitivity and latency are crucial for providing users with high-quality VR experience. Without that, the experience would be very poor and not immersive.
On of the problems is obviously a high entry price, because those phones were designed with powerful hardware components, they manufacturing cost is high and the price of the phone is higher than the mid-range ones. People who want to buy Daydream will need to invest in a high-end device like the Google Pixel or Xiaomi Mi Note 2 which are certified by Google.
Daydream was meant to compete against the Samsung Gear VR headset. The main advantage of Daydream is that it will be compatible with a wider variety of devices, whether the Gear VR is limited to some of Samsung’s Galaxy phones and that’s it. If you use the Gear VR and want to upgrade your phone and still continue using the Gear VR, you just can’t go and buy a phone from another manufacturer, you need to use a compatible Samsung device. With Daydream, you’ll have more options. Right now there aren’t many, but in 2017 I’m sure we are going to see many Daydream-ready phones, so we just need a bit of patience.
The Daydream View headset (and others to follow) is a proprietary accessory and designed to work seamlessly with full compatibility with a Daydream supported device. It is designed for mobility and comfortability in mind, including the dedicated controller that is required for those apps that support it.
As I said, Daydream is a platform. It’s equivalent to the PlayStation VR in a sense. You’ll see many games that are developed exclusively for this platform and those games won’t be able to be played on other mobile VR platforms. From what I know, Google Cardboard apps and games will be compatible with Daydream, but they require developers to implement the Daydream SDK in order for it to work. I’m still not 100% sure about Cardboard compatibility when I have an answer I’ll update this post.
I personally believe that this platform succeeds is because of the availability of Android devices that Daydream will run on. Because it’s Google, and like Android, I believe that developers put their trust in Google to promote and support the platform for the long run, so they can develop their apps and be profitable. That, of course, works the other way around, Google wants developers to develop great apps and games for this platform. It brings a great platform, and now it’s up to the developers to develop some great virtual reality experiences. If both works well, the platform will be popular. As a developer, I can tell you that a platform can succeed without good titles. This is why Google partnered with some developers to make some Daydream games that will be available at launch. So you there won’t be a situation that you buy the headset and there is nothing to download for it. This helps kickstart the platform and encourage developers to develop for it.
There aren’t many disadvantages if you compare it to other mobile platforms, but if you compare it to the desktop ones, you will find out that they are far behind - which is understandable considering that they are supposed to be mobile, don’t have external sensors, powerful desktop to power it or a dedicated screen and advanced controllers.
Google Daydream will give you a VR experience that is better than what you get with Cardboard-compatible headsets, but less than the PlayStation VR, HTC vive and Oculus Rift. Those are a step up from Daydream, and if you don’t mind giving up on mobility and want to experience virtual reality in its best form, you should look into the desktop offering.
As you can see, Daydream has its pros and cons. Some people might want to wait a bit and see what titles are coming for this platform, but me, I know that in order to have more content I need to support the platform, which means buy it and buy content to support the developers. Of course, if I won’t enjoy it I won’t use it, but I set my expectations accordingly. I always recommend trying it at the store and ‘feel’ it. You can’t ready get to know how it feels playing a game on Daydream unless you try it yourself, even more because it’s in VR.
I hope this helps. If I have more thinkgs to share I’ll update this post with more information. Good luck with your buying decision.
Thanks so much @SpookyFairy for the in-depth answer. I can relate to everything you mentioned, and I think that trying Daydream myself is the best way for me to feel whether it’s worth investing or not. I appreciate the time you took for explaining things to me, so thanks agan.
Yes, the best way is to just try it at the store if it’s available at your location. I think that the main problem with it right now is that there are not a lot of apps for it, but it’s still in its early stages and I’m sure we’ll get to see many more games and apps in the upcoming months, I’m quite positive on that.