Yesterday, during the Google I/O 2016 keynote, Google took wraps off of Daydream, the next chapter in virtual reality for Android. An evolution of Google Cardboard, Daydream is a more focused and more polished VR experience. Right now, it’s currently in development as a reference kit that is being seeded to developers as well as device manufacturers like Samsung and co. Right now, we can expect mostly the same sort of things that we expect from Cardboard or Gear VR, but Google is changing things in a big way with the Daydream Controller, which we learned today is going to be a mandatory requirement for using Daydream.
On stage during the “VR at Google” session at I/O 16, Google provided us with some more information about the Daydream controller. Those thinking that the Daydream controller is like a Wiimote would be right, but we got a little more info today. Including the clickable touchpad at the top of the controller and then an “App Button” which is totally free for developers to use however they want, while the button below it is a “Home” button which, unsurprisingly takes players back to the Daydream Home screen. These are buttons that are perhaps a little predictable, and on top of the motion tracking available, makes for a competent controller.
The bigger deal here however, is that Google will make it mandatory for users to have the Daydream Controller ready in order to use the VR platform, which in turn makes it mandatory for developers to use this motion controller in whatever apps and games they develop. This contrasts with the Gear VR, which doesn’t need a controller for everything, which makes things a little less consistent for users, as well as for developers as they might be missing out on more users by demanding a controller not many users will spend extra money on. Controllers are what arguably makes the HTC Vive one of the better PC-based VR options as well, which goes against the Oculus Rift which has no such input method. This move is going to make sure that all VR apps and games for Daydream will act the same and offer the same sort of functions, giving the platform a much-needed sense of consistency which in turn will delivery credibility to the platform overall.