Last week during Google I/O 2016, Google took wraps off of Daydream, the new Virtual Reality platform that the firm is launching for Android. Born out of their experiment with Google Cardboard, Daydream is to be a fully-featured VR platform, and it has huge implications for Android as a gaming platform. Leveraging new software such as the new Vulkan API in Android N as well as turning the Google Play Store into a VR experience for downloading new apps and games, Daydream has the potential to turn Android into one hell of a mobile VR platform, massively one-upping Apple and giving Samsung something to worry about. Now however, it appears that current Android smartphones might not be invited to the party.
Speaking to Google’s head of VR, Clay Bavor, RoadtoVR learned that current devices might not ever be certified as being Daydream-ready, which basically means that they won’t be able to access any of the new apps or games that require Daydream to run. Bavor said that “there will most likely not be any ‘retroactively’ Daydream-ready phones, we want to hold a very high quality bar, and for that to happen all the components need to be just right. So, to VR fans, I would say, hold off for a few months to get your next phone“. This is something of an odd move for Google, as software versions and new features often trickle down to phones from at least the last two years or so. While virtual reality is a much more intensive task, Cardboard was introduced on phones with 1080p displays and few special components. It’s likely that this is because of the high pixel density and performance needed to run virtual reality apps and games properly. A Quad HD display and a high-end processor – such as the Snapdragon 810 in the Daydream-ready Nexus 6P – are likely to be two core components that Google cannot and will not budge on.
Devices like the Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10 however both have Quad HD displays and high-end processors, and will no doubt have sold many more units than the Nexus 6P which is being pushed as the phone for developers to make their Daydream experiences with right now. Perhaps Daydream is going to launch with little support when it does so later in the Fall, but as we’ve seen a number of times with Android in the past it’s likely that some sort of hack or port will be launching before too long, so it’s only a matter of waiting before we see exactly what Google has planned for Daydream availability.