Google is launching its own virtual reality headset called Daydream View this November, the company announced today.
Clay Bavor, who leads Google’s VR team, introduced Daydream View as "a bit of a different take on the VR headset." The unit, which will be available for $79, is covered in microfiber cloth and is "30 percent lighter than similar devices," said Bavor, referring to competitors like Samsung’s Gear VR without mentioning them by name.
The Gear VR costs $99.99 and is compatible only with certain Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Note devices. Daydream View is designed to work with a variety of "Daydream-ready" smartphones, including the new Google-designed Pixel and Pixel XL phones that the company announced today. Daydream View will connect wirelessly to any compatible phone — "you open the latch, you drop your phone in, you close the latch and you’re ready to go," said Bavor.
The latch is also used to store the Daydream controller, a remote that features two buttons and a clickable touchpad. The device is motion-sensitive, allowing for large gestures like swinging and pointing as well as fine-tuned ones like aiming and drawing. In addition to offering storage for the controller, Google designed Daydream View with what it says is better comfort and usability than competing headsets. The microfiber fabric is breathable, and the internal face mask is removable and hand-washable.
Daydream View will be the first VR headset to run on Google’s Android-based VR platform, Daydream, which the company announced during its Google I/O keynote in May. When Google launches the headset next month, the device will be available in the "Slate" color you see above, and Google will add two others later this year: "Snow" and "Crimson."
Bavor then introduced Adrienne McCallister, director of VR partnerships at Google, who discussed some of the software that will be coming to Daydream View. She showed off a VR experience for Warner Bros.’ upcoming Harry Potter film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, that will be available exclusively on Daydream View. As you might expect, it casts the player as a wizard, and the Daydream controller is their wand.
In addition to educational software like Star Chart, an app that will let users explore the solar system and its constellations in VR, Daydream View will offer CCP Games’ Gunjack 2: End of Shift. It is the sequel to Gunjack, a first-person arcade shooter that is currently available on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Gear VR.
McCallister also said Google is working with entertainment partners like Netflix, Hulu and HBO to bring their content libraries to Daydream. Along with VR journalism from the New York Times, apps and games will be available on Daydream View from more than 50 partners by the end of 2016, according to McCallister. Google is bringing its own apps and content to the platform as well, including Google Photos, Google Maps with Street View, YouTube and Google Play Movies.
Bavor closed the VR segment of Google’s presentation by calling Daydream View "our next step in making high-quality VR accessible to everyone." Customers who pre-order the Pixel or Pixel XL phones will receive a Daydream View headset free. In the U.S., the phones will be available exclusively on Verizon, although Google will sell unlocked versions directly to consumers.
Update: CCP announced in a press release that Gunjack 2: End of Shift will be exclusive to Google’s Daydream platform, and will be released next month. The game is in development at CCP’s Shanghai studio. You can see an announcement trailer below.