In conjunction with the Google I/O Conference 2017, InstaVR announced publishing compatibility with the Google Daydream platform. This joins our long list of publishing platforms, including iOS, Android, Google Cardboard, Web, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift. We’re very excited for the future of Google Daydream, so we put together this primer on why you should consider publishing to the platform.
Click here to read our guide on: Setting Up Your Daydream Headset and Controller to Run InstaVR-Generated Google Daydream Apps
What is Google Daydream?
Google plays an important role in the modern VR ecosystem. While iOS may get a lot of the headlines in North America, Android is the global leader in phones shipped, peaking with a 90% market share in Q2 of 2016 (just prior to the iPhone 7 launch). To garner a large initial footprint in VR, the company sought to create a low-cost, easy-to-ship VR headset for mass consumption. Thus in 2014 was born the Google Cardboard headset, which as of February of this year, had shipped over 10 million units and garnered 160 million app downloads.
Cardboard was really just step one in Google’s plan to aggressively pursue the Virtual Reality market. Though well-received and widely used, Google Cardboard does have limitations that make it impossible to compete with the likes of Gear VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The lack of total immersion, flimsiness of the headsets, and limitations on image/video resolution are all seen as shortcomings of Google Cardboard. But for approximately $10, the headset certainly is a great starter solution for getting users interested in VR.
Daydream, first announced at I/O 2016, would be a mobile VR platform that would be stylish, comfortable, and allow for a powerful immersive VR experience. And when it finally shipped in November 2016, it had one significant advantage over its closest competitor, Gear VR: a hand controller. (Note: less than six months after Daydream’s launch, Gear VR now offers a hand controller as well in newer models). The Daydream VR Experience store, which as of May 2017 has slightly more than 150 apps available for download, provides high-end entertainment and educational experiences.
Sales-to-date of Google Daydream have been slower than the first six months of Gear VR for two main reasons: 1. Samsung was giving away headsets to anyone buying qualifying Galaxy headsets vs. the $79 price tag for Daydream 2. Google Daydream only worked with the newly released Google Pixel phone vs. Samsung working with the already popular Galaxy line. To address this, at Google I/O 2017 the company announced a wide range of phones created by outside manufacturers that will be compatible with the headset. The result is 10 million phones in 2017 will ship that will be Daydream compatible.
Why InstaVR Launched Publishing Capability with Google Daydream?
Our primary goal at InstaVR is to meet the Virtual Reality needs of our customers. We listen to client feedback. consistently develop new features, and strive to stay ahead of trends in the VR industry. A number of our existing clients have inquired about Google Daydream since it launched at the end of 2016. The PR team at Google did a great job of generating buzz for the comfortable headsets, with a wide array of colors to choose from. If you’re going to be wearing a VR headset, it might as well be stylish and feel good on your face, right?
But the restricted phone requirements (ie needing a Pixel phone) and the limited titles on the Daydream Store made the demand from our customers somewhat muted compared with Gear VR. Throw in that companies like Toyota asked to be our flagship client to publish to HTC Vive, and Hello Kitty was content to distribute Rioland theme park tours through Gear VR — and it becomes evident why Google Daydream publishing was more of a “nice to have” than a “need to have”.
Google’s accelerated focus on Daydream, and VR in general, reinvigorated the interest in our clients and Development team. The unique controller capability added a layer of complexity, but our engineers, led by President Daniel Haga, were game for the challenge. The result was our InstaVR team launching publishing capability, including controller compatibility, in conjunction with Google I/O 2017. There was plenty of news at the Google event, and we’re very confident in the future of the platform. So we’re particularly proud of empowering our Pro clients to publish to what will unquestionably the fastest growing VR platform in 2017.
Why Should You Consider Publishing to Google Daydream?
There are many reasons, but let’s concentrate on the top 3:
- Like with Gear VR, the Google Daydream is ideally suited for trade shows, marketers, sales professionals, real estate agents, etc. The headset is lighter weight, softer, and more stylish than the Gear VR. But like Samsung’s headset, has many advantages over Google Cardboard or cheaper iOS/Android headsets — more immersive field of view, ability to create longer form apps, etc.
- The hand controller. Like with HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, there are some benefits to using a hand controller. While gaze-based trigger is the default in mobile headset VR, the hand controller allows for more control and more possibilities. And oddly, it just feels more natural to do something with your hands when experiencing VR.
- Expanded number of phone lines. The announcement that 10 million phones shipped in 2017 will be Daydream compatible is huge. People like choice, and while the Pixel phone has received strong reviews, the price and some of the features are not ideal for everyone. Granted, Samsung has a limited number of phones that work with Gear VR, but those phones were pretty well-established and Samsung has done a major marketing push with them. (ie often giving away the Gear VR in the US to purchasers of the Samsung phone). Plus, Google announced a new line of standalone headsets through a partnership with Qualcomm, that has generated a lot of interest.
Why You Should be Using InstaVR to Create Google Daydream Apps
As mentioned earlier, the Google Daydream Store has a limited supply of content. InstaVR gives you the unique opportunity to create and self-publish applications for the platform right now. No coding skills or specialized Daydream knowledge required. Once you’ve authored your VR experience — like with all of our other publishing platforms — we make publishing easy.
In fact, distribution of your app is simpler than Gear VR. After you’ve set up your Daydream compatible phone, to add an InstaVR-authored app is as simple as going to the Download page in your InstaVR account or scanning a QR code. The process essentially mirrors that of downloading an InstaVR-authored Android app to your phone. You can avoid the Device ID locating and .osig file generation required for Gear VR.
Beyond the ease of distribution, InstaVR also allows you to create apps that take advantage of the included hand controller. The hand controller itself is visible in the field of view (see video below), and increases the interaction possibilities. Our proprietary home screen design also allows users to load multiple VR experiences within a single Google Daydream application, meaning the user won’t have to remove their headset to go to another VR experience, as they currently do with iOS/Android apps. Finally, if you’re looking to make longer duration or higher resolution VR video apps using InstaVR, the Google Daydream platform is the perfect fit for distribution.
Because publishing to Daydream is included in your InstaVR Pro account, there’s no reason to not publish to the platform if you or your clients have the Phone + headset currently. If you’re considering purchasing a Gear VR vs. Google Daydream, you really can’t go wrong with either. But if you’re actively looking for a lightweight, stylish, widely compatible headset, the Daydream is a great fit. And the fact that your InstaVR created projects can publish to the platform are all the more reason to give it serious consideration.
Publishing to Google Daydream is available with any InstaVR Pro account. Upgrading to the Pro level costs either $299/month (month-to-month) or $2,388/year (annual pre-paid).