VR goes social as Google Daydream gets Chromecast support
James R | On 22, May 2017
Virtual reality is the buzzword of the moment, as people tout immersive 360-degree video as the future of entertainment. (You can read our hands-on VR experience with short films here.) the only drawback? Wearing a headset can seem like an isolating experience. Not so with Google’s flagship Daydream VR headset, which will soon support Chromecast.
The online giant announced at its recent Google I/O developer conference that the next version of operating system Android will hook Daydream up to Chromecast, allowing users to share their VR experience with others. By streaming to the TV via Google’s smart dongle, the system will let others watch games or videos as experienced by the person in the same room as them with the headset on – much like Sony’s PlayStation VR headset. YouTube is following suit, also looking to make virtual reality more social: the video site will soon roll out support for up to three users streaming a 360-degree video at the same time in what they’re dubbing “social watch parties”.
The changes reinforce the online giant’s commitment to VR, which, in itself, is likely to make the technology more successful than, say, 3-D. Indeed, the company is already working with HTC and Lenovo to make standalone Daydream headsets. Google is also developing a new headset-friendly version of Chrome to allow VR users to browse the web in a format optimised for the immersive platform, not just viewing regular web pages but also accessing virtual and augmented reality content. A new interface is also in the works to improve the app’s homepage, so that users can easily find new VR experiences and access notifications directly through an in-app dashboard.
as a better integration of notifications through a new in-app dashboard.
Google VP of VR Clay Bavor characterized all of these changes, and other work Google is doing in the VR space, as building blocks to build more natural computing interfaces. “They enable computing to work more like we do,” he said.
YouTube launches new VR app on Google Daydream
12th November 2016
YouTube has launched its new VR app exclusively on Google Daydream.
The headset, which was launched in October at the same time as Google’s new Pixel smartphone, joined Google Cardboard in confirming YouTube’s commitment to virtual reality video. Its new VR app, announced back in May, takes it one step further.
The standalone app was built from the ground up and optimised for VR, turning every video on the platform into an immersive experience, from 360-degree videos to stand videos shown on a virtual movie screen in the app’s “Theatre Mode”. The app brings together VR with some of YouTube and Google’s usual streaming features, from voice search and signed-in accounts that allow users to subscribe to channels and create playlists.
“We want to continue to provide you with new ways to engage with the world and with your community, and we believe virtual reality will play an important role in the future of storytelling,” write Erin Teague, Product Manager, and Jamie Byrne, Director of YouTube Creators, on YouTube’s original blog. “More than just an amazing new technology, VR allows us to make deep, human connections with people, places and stories. That’s why we’re committed to giving creators the space and resources they need to learn about, experiment with, and create virtual reality video.”
Of course, a platform is nothing without content and YouTube has “already started working with some awesome creators, recording artists, and partners” to produce VR videos across a wide variety of genres and interest. Beauty vlogger Meredith Foster has created a VR tour of her apartment, while Tastemade has launched a range of VR cooking videos, and Rooster Teeth has re-imagining their gaming comedy Red vs. Blue. HuffPost RYOT also offers VR news.
“We’ve also been working to allow you to have experiences or visit places you might not be able to (or might not dare to!) in real life,” add Teague and Byrne, from swimming with sharks to touring London’s Natural History Museum. Take a look at the app in action below, or head this way for our hands-on impressions with VR at the recent Raindance Film Festival.
Google launches dedicated YouTube VR app and Daydream headset
20th May 2016
Google is taking another step into the world of reality with a new headset and a dedicated YouTube VR app.
Daydream, Google’s new platform for mobile VR was announced at Google I/O this week. Planned to launch this autumn, the platform involved both software and hardware. The hardware part is effectively an upgrade for its popular Cardboard headset, which will work with Google’s next generation of Android N devices – Android devices built to a specified standard, with certain sensors and screens.
Eight partners are already on board to make Daydream-compatible phones, including Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, Asus, and Alcatel.
YouTube, meanwhile, is joining in with a new dedicated VR app for Daydream.
“We’re creating the YouTube VR app to provide an easier, more immersive way to find and experience virtual reality content on YouTube,” says Kurt Wilms, Senior Product Manager, YouTube Virtual Reality.
“It also comes with all the YouTube features you already love, like voice search, discovery, and playlists, all personalized for you, so you can experience the world’s largest collection of VR videos in a whole new way.”
YouTube is already collaborating with the NBA, BuzzFeed and Tastemade to explore “new ways of storytelling” in virtual environments, as well as with camera partners to make Jump-ready cameras, such as the GoPro Odyssey, available to creators, to help make the production of VR video more accessible.
“We’re just beginning to understand what a truly immersive VR experience can bring to fans of YouTube, but we’re looking forward to making that future a (virtual) reality,” Kurt adds.