Yesterday during the keynote presentation at Google I/O 2016, Google officially and formally introduced its VR platform, Daydream. What quickly became evident is that Daydream is more than just a way to take part in the VR buzz and instead is much more of a framework in which Google hopes to not only enter the virtual reality market, but essentially, own the market. And to do, Google plans to make use of a very powerful weapon, Android.
The big selling point with Daydream is that it will be compatible with a vast number of smartphones and it is this compatibility that Google hopes to capitalize on. Essentially, scaling out Daydream to the same level as Android. A sentiment directly expressed by Brahim Elbouchikhi, Senior Product Manager for virtual reality, during a VR session at Google I/O today. With Elbouchikhi noting they plan to “operate at Android scale,” while further adding “In a couple of years, we will have hundreds of millions of users on Daydream devices.” So that alone will explain the market possibility which Google views Daydream as being able to achieve. And it is not out of the bounds of reality. As Daydream is working off of the back of Android N, the bigger the push with devices updated to N or coming loaded with N at launch, the greater the number of users that will be able to take advantage of the platform. Much in the same way that Google’s Cardboard already offers any Android smartphone owner the chance to test out virtual reality.
However, that is where the similarity with Cardboard ends as Elbouchikhi also made the point that Daydream, if anything, is the opposite to Cardboard. While the latter works off of the basis of providing easy route access to basic virtual reality content, Daydream will be all about the quality, the experience, the “presence.” This particular point was further elaborated on by Elbouchikhi in explaining that some VR options are too quick to make the experience all about just being there. Dropping into a virtual reality space and enjoying the moment. Elbouchikhi notes that while this is good, it is a short-lived approach with consumers quickly habituating to the experience. What Daydream will look to offer is a more elongated experience, where users are kept in the moment, more immersed and enjoy a “highly interactive” experience overall. One of the key points which Elbouchikhi wanted developers to be aware of, is the use of in-app purchases for their Daydream VR apps. Essentially pointing out that any app which requires the user to make a payment while in the moment, is an app which will detract away from that moment, and therefore, from the experience. An aspect Daydream is looking to avoid completely.