Android and virtual reality haven't played very nicely in the past. Before Google's annual developer conference last summer, most virtual reality experiences and equipment were costly and still very much in the alpha stage of their existence. Then, at I/O 2014, Google unveiled an everyman's VR headset, Google Cardboard. Cardboard was, obviously, made of cardboard, and allowed an Android user to fasten in their phone to the front of the headset, open up an app, and be immersed, courtesy of their smartphone's display and gyroscope, in a virtual reality, allowing video watching, artifact inspection, among other things. But that was 2014 and virtual reality has grown much since then, and Google looks to prove that at this year's I/O.
Between I/O 2014 and 2015, we've seen Oculus move forward with their VR equipment, as well as HTC and Razer unveiling their own take on VR gear for consumers like you and me. Something that Google seems to have noticed, however, is that many, if not all, VR experiences run on external software, as extensions of a thing to warp the existent into something that warrants the VR tag. We've heard rumors about Google possibly unveiling something entirely new for Android at this year's I/O conference: Android for VR.
And while VR is an important front to explore, Google has a lot to do to prepare a version of Android to be thrown not just in the way of your eyes, but in the entirety of your vision. If Google were to release a version of Android that not only covered the roughly foot-long canvas that most normal device's interface might show as a homescreen, the canvas would be a virtual observatory, showing above, below, and on all sides at all angles of the user. And as the push for alternate realities moves forward, the sibling to the virtual, the augmented, literally added to or increased, reality looks to be a growing focus for companies as well, especially after seeing the possibilities and goals of Microsoft's HoloLens headset earlier this year. Google, in investing in the Florida-based Startup Magic Leap, looks to possibly be working on a competitive, or at least, conceptual device to have people not block out the current reality but to augment it and interact in completely new ways.
Whatever steps Google takes, this year's I/O conference will likely contain plans for one of those two reality alternatives, and we can only hope for a sneak peek at what either might look like. Android for VR looks to be a more imminent launch, but there's a lot that Android M, also being announced at I/O, still has a lot to show of itself.