While the general tech community has been waiting for Google's I/O 2016 event to take place and to get updates on all the usual Android elements like Android N, Wear, TV and Auto, the build up to this year's event has felt a little different due to what has clearly been believed to be the year when Google announces a significant stepping up in its virtual reality (VR) ambitions. Now that wait is over as during the keynote presentation, Google has officially introduced the common platform which will drive Android's virtual reality future, the platform is Daydream.
The information is still coming in but the general gist of Daydream is that it represents the entirety of the virtual reality platform for Android. Take that to mean both the hardware and software sides of the equation. As you would likely expect, you will need to make use of a dedicated headset to complete the experience and this seems to be coming in the form of new Daydream VR headsets which are said to come with a dedicated controller. At least the initial proof-of-concept headset will, with other manufacturers expected to roll out their own offerings once the platform starts taking more shape. The other added benefit of Daydream is that the general interface which will allow for a much greater level of compatibility for Android device owners, compared to the likes of Gear VR which is currently reserved for new Samsung Galaxy devices. However, the compatibility of Daydream will have some restrictions, most notably that it is designed off of the back of Android N and will require devices to be running on Android N as a minimum.
On the software side of things, Google has unveiled they will be making use of a Google Play Store which is designed specifically for VR-related content with variants of Google staples like StreetView and YouTube, but designed for VR, included. As well as the assumption that third-party offerings like Netflix will become available in due course. In terms of when you can expect to first interact with Daydream, like most things being announced today by Google, the estimated time of arrival of the first Daydream-enabled devices is sometime in the late summer/early fall. It is also expected that compatible devices will need to include certain hardware requirements to make use of an improved and lower-latency virtual reality experience.