Google Ends Cardboard VR Sales

Google has removed all listings for Cardboard VR headsets, the last bastion of its early VR efforts, from the Google Store.

The Google Cardboard product page now redirects to the Google Store homepage and displays a message that “the page you are looking for is not available, you have been redirected.”

Both Google Cardboard and Daydream View were early efforts from Google to break into the smartphone VR space. In the same vein as Gear VR, these headsets allowed you to put a mobile phone into a headset shell and experience rudimentary 3DOF virtual reality. Cardboard was on the decidedly lower end of the scale given that, as the name suggests, the headset was made out of folded card.

Google Cardboard was compatible with many different smartphones, whereas Daydream supported Google Pixel devices specifically. In 2019, Google confirmed that its then-newest flagship phone, the Pixel 4, would not support Daydream and that Daydream View headsets would no longer be available for purchase. At the time, Jamie Feltham wrote that Daydream’s death didn’t mark the end of the VR dream, but a sign that it was just growing up.

A month later, Google announced that it would also be open-sourcing the software behind the Cardboard platform in the hopes that third-party developers could continue to support the platform. Previously, Google had also released manufacturing specifications for the cardboard headset with the same intention — so that third party manufacturers could produce their own units and encourage wide support.

Up until recently, Google continued to sell its official Cardboard headsets on the Google Store, likely just to get rid of leftover stock. However, with the listings now gone, Google has officially ended all support for hardware and software of its Daydream and Cardboard VR platforms.

Still Use Google Daydream? Don’t Get Android 11

If, by some chance, you’re still using the Google Daydream VR platform, you won’t want to update your phone to Android 11.

As spotted by Android Police, Google’s official support pages for its ill-fated mobile VR platform confirm the latest version of the operating system ends support for Daydream. “The Daydream VR app is no longer supported by Google and may not work properly on some devices running Android 11 or later,” the page reads. “Many of the third-party apps and experiences within Daydream may still be available as standalone apps in the Google Play store.”

Depending on your phone, you may still be able to access the platform itself, but don’t expect any new updates.

Google Daydream Dead

Though sad, this should hardly come as a surprise to anyone. Daydream launched a few years back with ambitions of becoming the premier destination for mobile VR experiences. Google launched its own smartphone viewer, Daydream View, and partnered with companies like Samsung to add support for the platform. But progress seemed sluggish, with the Google Play Store showing tiny download numbers for many apps.

The penultimate nail in the coffin came last year when both the Google-made Pixel 3a and 4 released without support for the platform. If you still want to access and use Daydream apps in 2020, your best bet may be to hunt down one of the Lenovo Mirage Solo standalone headsets, though those go for a heavy price.

Daydream’s death has left a void in Google’s VR strategy, frustrated by the fact the company is behind some of the best content on headsets. The Google-made Tiltbrush continues to be supported, releasing on Quest and PSVR over the past few years, and Job Simulator developer Owlchemy Labs is Google-owned. Where the company goes next with the tech remains to be seen.

Hulu Ends Support For Some VR Platforms, Including PSVR And Oculus Go

Hulu quietly ended support for several VR platforms this week, including PlayStation VR, Oculus Go and Windows MR headsets. The only two headsets with continuing Hulu support, at the time of writing, are the Oculus Gear VR (not Quest) and Oculus Rift.

Bad news for VR users subscribed to Hulu – it looks like the streaming platform has started slowly winding down its supported VR platforms this week. As of June 17, users of now-unsupported VR headsets won’t be able to access and stream Hulu on their headsets anymore. As reported by Road to VR, Oculus Go, Windows MR, PlayStation VR, and Google Daydream all became unsupported platforms as of June 17, 2020, according to their respective Hulu help articles.

Oculus Rift and Oculus Gear VR remain the only VR platforms currently supported. Some of the platforms, such as Google Daydream, losing support may not come as a surprise. However it is a bit surprising to see the Gear VR remains supported while popular platforms such as PSVR and Oculus Go are left behind. That being said, there could be plans to drop Rift and Gear VR support in the near future as well, but hopefully not.

Unlike many other streaming services with international options, Hulu is only available in the United States and offers both streaming on demand and live TV streaming. Luckily, several other streaming services still have VR offerings, the biggest of which is, of course, Netflix. The VR app for Netflix is available across many VR headsets and puts you in a cozy winter cabin with a giant virtual TV screen for your viewing pleasure.

Will you miss Hulu on your VR headset? Let us know in the comments.

The post Hulu Ends Support For Some VR Platforms, Including PSVR And Oculus Go appeared first on UploadVR.

Daydream Dead, New Pro Headset And Win Hotel R’n’R! – VRecap

Fix up, look sharp, it’s the VRecap!

For those of you not from the UK, that was a reference to the 2003 rap hit from grime artist, Dizzee Rascal. Go Spotify it.

Anyway, there’s a whole host of big headlines to get through this week. The biggest, undoubtedly, is the death of Google Daydream VR. Google’s flashy new phone, the Pixel 4, isn’t supporting it and the company isn’t selling Daydream View anymore. You could probably still find a Lenovo Mirage Solo somewhere online if you were really looking. You probably shouldn’t, though.

Elsewhere, we’ve got a list of the most popular PSVR games (which doesn’t include Ghost Giant because you’re clearly all very bad people). Oh and Varjo announced its next super high resolution headset. It looks amazing but it also cost 5,000 euro so, you know, no thanks.

Moving onto release, it’s another good week for Quest fans with Knockout League and Kingspray. PSVR is suffering a bit of a drought, but you can pick up Crazy Machines VR if you’re in the EU.

Over in the comments section, we asked you if you though Asgard’s Wrath was VR’s best game yet. We think it is, but did you agree?

As for our competition, this week we have codes for Hotel R’n’R, which just got its Party Mode update. Don’t sleep on this one; enter below.

Win Hotel R’n’R on SteamVR

Okay, it’s the weekend. Time to let loose and cause mayhem inside the virtual universe, everyone. I plan on starting bar fights in Drunkn Bar Fight to capture the true essence of a Friday night. How about you?

The post Daydream Dead, New Pro Headset And Win Hotel R’n’R! – VRecap appeared first on UploadVR.

The Death Of Daydream Isn’t The Death Of The Dream, VR’s Just Growing Up

You could perceive it to be a bad week for VR.

Firstly, Google confirmed that its new Pixel smartphone won’t be supporting its Daydream VR platform. In fact, it’s outright stopped selling the Daydream View, essentially acknowledging its demise. Shortly thereafter, the BBC announced the closure of its VR Hubs, confirming it will no longer commission and produce experiences under that label.

One might ascribe this to a wider trend of big corporations beginning to throw in the towel on VR after years of trying to make it mainstream. The truth, however, is a little different.

Reformed, Not Abandoned

Yes, Google and BBC’s VR ambitions have taken a blow, but neither is done with VR; they’re just becoming more realistic about it. Google, for starters, still powers several of the best PC VR experiences like Tilt Brush and Google Earth but, more importantly, it also owns and publishes VR-exclusive games from one the industry’s best developers; Owlchemy Labs. The team’s Vacation Simulator is one of the most popular releases of the year and is due out on Oculus Quest soon.

In fact, Google never even published an Owlchemy game on Daydream in the two and a half years since it acquired the studio. If it were putting all of its virtual eggs in a single basket, you’d think it would be there. As fond as I was of its excellent exclusive content, Daydream’s demise had been written on the wall, frankly, for years.

The BBC, meanwhile, seems to be transitioning from the idea of VR as an experimental new platform into another viable tool in its arsenal of multimedia creations. The VR Hub did amazing work, but how much longer would the BBC really continue to launch free content? Its next VR release, for example, won’t be another short-form free 360 movie for Google Daydream but instead a premium, multi-hour Doctor Who VR game coming to major VR headsets. Next year it will do the same for its Peaky Blinders franchise. I expect we’ll see less VR from the BBC from now on, but also a greater sense of the platform being used as a means of monetization and brand enhancement.

VR’s Maturity Is At Hand

oculus quest

These shouldn’t be taken as the disheartening blows compared to when, say, CCP exited the VR market, then. If you ask me, if there’s something that died this week (or, rather, continued to crawl towards its inevitable end), it’s VR’s infancy.

The industry has operated on a strange plane of existence these past few years. Intent on making VR happen, certain companies have strived to make headsets almost disproportionately good value for consumers. The goal was to offset VR’s troublesome friction; while the original Oculus Rift plummeted in price, Facebook poured on the freebies including of all things, a free, high-quality shooter from the makers of Gears of War and Fortnite. In the gaming industry, deals like that are pretty much unheard of.

Google, meanwhile, didn’t charge for Google Earth, which to this day remains one of the best reasons to dig out a headset. Tellingly, these are all companies that could afford to do this while, in the face of slumping smartphone sales, HTC released the $799 Vive Pro and $699 Vive Cosmos.

Those days, however, might be coming to an end.

That means less of the goodwill initiatives in which cash-heavy corporations offer no strings attached funding to apps that will ultimately release for free. It means the shedding of unnecessary weight in this considerably lighter post-Quest world. I think, personally, it means that VR is starting to grow up.

This is a painful transition. It arguably began with Facebook’s introduction of a strict curation policy for Oculus Quest (or, going further back, when Oculus Story Studio closed). Unlike Rift and Go, the standalone headset isn’t an open door for anyone to walk through; developers have to prove their game has the quality and even marketability to make it on Quest. Quest isn’t fair game; you can’t just freely release content on it. It’s survival for the fittest. The frustration this has forced on many studios is insurmountable, but those that have passed the bar are reportedly seeing success unlike any other they’ve enjoyed in the past three years.

Uncertainties remain, however. How does the long-running VR festival circuit, which showcases amazing movies and non-gaming experiences, monetize itself on Steam and the Oculus Stores? Who will finally emerge with another Quest-level headset to inject the standalone market with some much-needed competition? This stage of maturity doesn’t necessarily mean VR is ready for the big leagues, but there’s a certain sense that the industry is getting ready for them. Solid ground is not something we’re used to standing on.

I will mourn Daydream, I will mourn the BBC’s VR Hub. I’m sure, in time, I’ll mourn the days we had an embarrassment of riches thrown our way without being asked to pay anything. But this week’s headlines suggest VR is getting serious, not slowing.

The post The Death Of Daydream Isn’t The Death Of The Dream, VR’s Just Growing Up appeared first on UploadVR.

Google Discontinues Daydream View Headset, the Final Nail in the Coffin for its Android VR Ambitions

It was abundantly clear by earlier this year that Google’s interest in its Android-based Daydream VR platform had withered, but now the company has put the final nail in the coffin by discontinuing the Daydream View headset and confirming that its newest Pixel 4 smartphone isn’t compatible.

Google had monstrous ambitions for Daydream at the start. The company figured that developers would leap at the opportunity to build VR apps on its platform thanks to theoretical chance they could reach to hundreds of millions of existing Android users. But things didn’t turn out as they hoped. The company’s bet (which was in line with others at the time) that slotting smartphones into inexpensive VR viewers would be a great way to use VR just didn’t pan out.

As of Google I/O earlier this year, it was entirely clear that Google had lost faith in Daydream, but today they put the final nail in the coffin.

With minimal adoption after several years, Google today confirmed that it will stop selling its Daydream View headset, the company told Variety. While the company had been pretty good about maintaining Daydream compatibility with its own ‘Pixel’ smartphone line and a handful of other Android phones, the new Pixel 4 won’t support the Daydream View.

If you have a compatible phone, the Dayream store, apps, and headset will continue to function. Google told Variety:

There 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. So 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 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.

Google’s first Daydream View headset launched at the end of 2016, and offered a reasonably good casual VR experience, but wasn’t quite as compelling as its nearest competitor, Gear VR. Google released an updated version of the View in 2017 which made some important improvements, but hasn’t done anything with the headset since.

Image courtesy Google

Despite the low cost and wide accessibility of Daydream and even Gear VR, smartphone VR ultimately succumbed to a handful of pain points. Not only did the slot-in approach lack the full 6DOF experience of high-end headsets, putting your smartphone into a headset could be cumbersome, and using the headset also meant draining your precious smartphone battery and temporarily not having access to the phone itself, which has become an integral part of many people’s lives.

From the ashes of the slot-in smartphone viewers, standalone headsets like Oculus Quest bring many of the same benefits (and then some) while avoiding much of the friction of getting your smartphone involved. Granted, Lenovo launched a Daydream standalone headset, the Mirage Solo, in 2018 but its poor ergonomics and odd combination of a 3DOF controller with 6DOF headset failed to garner much attention.

The post Google Discontinues Daydream View Headset, the Final Nail in the Coffin for its Android VR Ambitions appeared first on Road to VR.

End Space Flies Onto Oculus Quest and Google Daydream in August

When it comes to epic sci-fi adventures in space last week’s launch of No Man’s Sky: Beyond with its virtual reality (VR) will likely keep gamers engrossed for some time to come. For those not interested in Hello Games’ title – or more accurately those on Oculus Quest or Google Daydream – then indie studio Orange Bridge Studios will be releasing End Space for both headsets at the end of the month.

End-Space-Oculus-Screenshot-4

The launch will actually be for End Space version 1.0.5 across all of its currently supported platforms, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Gear VR, HTC Vive, Valve Index, Windows Mixed Reality and PlayStation VR.

Discussing the two new versions, Justin Wasilenko, Director Orange Bridge Studios said in an email: “The Quest version offers the best visuals over previous mobile releases and we are excited to offer cross-buy with the Oculus Rift. I am hoping End Space on Daydream revives some attention to the platform that has seen some neglect recently. We had a lot of problems with Daydream development but Google has been very helpful in providing hardware and updating its SDK in the development of End Space on Daydream.

In addition to Oculus Quest and Google Daydream support, the update will feature flatscreen compatibility for Steam users plus keyboard and mouse support. Language support has also been improved adding German, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese (with full voice-over).

End-Space-Oculus-Screenshot-6

End Space originally launched in 2016 for Gear VR, with PlayStation VR added in 2017 followed by Oculus Rift and Steam in 2018. There’s no mining or scavaging for resources here, End Space is all about space-based battles inside your Minos Starfighter as you battle for the Tartarus sector. Check out VRFocus’ review of the Oculus Rift version of End Space for some hands-on info.

The update will also see the price levelled across most platforms, coming in at a uniform $14.99 on Oculus Store, Steam and Google Store. The PlayStation VR version receives a 75 percent saving globally as part of Sony August Savings sale. End Space 1.0.5 will be made available on Thursday 29th August 2019 at 10:00 am PST. For any further updates from the team, keep reading VRFocus.

Real-time XR Performance Platform VRJam Begins Crowdfunding Campaign

One growing avenue of virtual reality (VR) entertainment is live performances. That’s not live coverage of sporting events which have been around for a little while, we’re talking about watching a musician perform live. This can come in several forms from 360-degree video to interactive virtual environments such as those being developed by RedPill VR at its Social Virtual Reality (SVR) platform or TheWaveVR. Another company in the field is VRJam, which has just announced a new crowdfunding campaign looking to raise £250,000 GBP.

VRJAM header

Unlike a Kickstarter where you’ll hopefully get a product by backing the project, VRJam’s initiative is an investment campaign offering futurist fans and technology lovers a chance to be part of a social and digital solution. Designed in consultation with Google, the technology enables content creators to project live performances into a fully realised animated world.

If VRJam hits the funding goal the money will be used towards building interactive virtual environments for artists and fans. Supporters can invest a minimum of £200 / $250 USD and will receive a range of benefits and privileges including:

  • Shares in VRJAM’s parent company and subsequent annual revenue share
  • Free VR hardware
  • Opportunities for coders and graphic designers to create content for VRJAM environments
  • Free premium lifetime membership of the VRJAM subscriber community

“We’re offering people a unique opportunity to join a community of people who are passionate about future technology. It’s an exciting time with the launch of 5G, as more people around the globe will be able to connect and interact in a way unimagined,” said Sam Speaight, CEO and Founder of VRJAM in a statement. Our goal for the next 5 years is to use our immersive technology for good and help change the world for the better. Remote learning is just one example of how this can be achieved.”

VRJAM screenshot1

VRJam has ambitious goals for the next 5 years which investors can help support, like using immersive technology to address current social issues and injustices. When it comes to performers VRJam is committed to ensuring all content creators and artists are paid fairly for their work.

The app isn’t available just yet with plans to launch the platform on 31st December 2019. It’ll support a wide range of headsets including Google Daydream, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive. For further updates on the platform, keep reading VRFocus.

Google Kills Movie Rental And Purchasing On Daydream VR

Google Kills Movie Rental And Purchasing On Daydream VR

Google has removed Google Play Movies & TV from its Daydream VR platform.

Play Movies & TV is Google’s portal for renting and purchasing movies and shows. It’s available on Android, iOS, Web, and Roku. Before this month it was also available on Daydream, Google’s VR platform for high-end Android smartphones and Lenovo’s standalone headset.

Daydream users will still be able to watch their rented movies through their Library in the YouTube VR app. However the UI isn’t exactly designed for this, and browsing and purchasing movies they’ll now need to use their phone or computer.

This news comes as part of a trend of Google winding down investment in the Daydream platform. Last month, Google’s head of VR told CNET that the company would not be releasing a Quest competitor this year. Samsung stopped supporting Daydream with its Galaxy S10, and Google’s own recently released Pixel 3A doesn’t support Daydream either.

Google has gained a reputation for starting and quickly abandoning new platforms and products, but it’s disappointing to see the company seemingly take this approach to virtual reality.

Oculus Video

Facebook’s competing Oculus Go headsets offers movie rental and purchasing in VR through Oculus Video, although only in the USA. This feature was removed from the PC VR Rift platform, with Facebook claiming the Rift is used primarily for gaming.

The recently released Oculus Quest room scale standalone hasn’t gotten movie rentals yet, but it seems to be planned for future.

Let us know what you think of this news, and Google’s trend as a whole, in the comments below!

Tagged with: ,

The post Google Kills Movie Rental And Purchasing On Daydream VR appeared first on UploadVR.

XR Live Streaming Platform VRJAM Unveils Beta Technology

As part of London Tech Week, the Createch 2019 conference is being hosted by the Creative Industries Council to celebrate both the creative and technology sectors. For the conference, VRJAM has unveiled its beta live streaming technology for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices.

VRJAM screenshot1

Designed as a real-time, performance platform for content creators to create and share live, interactive shows for fans across the world, VRJAM’s technology was developed in consultation with Google.

The system works by supplying real-time motion capture, video streaming and audio streaming to provide a life-like simulation. This all takes place inside dynamic VR environments which can be changed to suit the content, from a club atmosphere where you can jump in the booth with the DJ to something a little more unusual.

“We’ve developed a technology which is set to be a game-changer for the way XR content can be shared. Our cutting-edge platform provides an unrivalled, immersive way for content to be enjoyed which is simply breathtaking,” said Sam Speaight, CEO and Founder of VRJAM, in a statement. “By using innovative fast 5G streaming technology, global audiences will be able to tune in to their favourite artist or event, to experience it like never before, digitally reimagined. We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve created and we’re sure this will disrupt the industry.”

Fans and artists can co-exist as avatars in the same space, interacting with each other as a social experience. While music will be a core part of the VRJAM platform, the solution is designed for any event such as sports events, live events, through to business events, conferences and much more. To demonstrate this, three hours of the speaker itinerary for the Createch 2019 conference will be live streamed via VRJAM’s platform for users to tune into.

Developed over two years, users can either log into VRJAM using a VR headset or an Android smartphone, downloading the app which will be available from Google Play Store. Headsets confirmed include Google Daydream, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive. As VRJAM continues to be developed VRFocus will keep you updated with the latest announcements.