It's been a big week for Samsung, and according to their Q2 2016 figures, it's been a big year, too. This week however, they announced the new Galaxy Note 7 as well as an updated and improved Gear VR headset, which will work with devices all the way back to the Galaxy S6. These devices, with the help of the Gear VR and the Samsung Internet browser, have been able to surf the Web in virtual reality. It's little more than a floating window at this point, but it's bound to get a lot better, and Samsung has partnered with OTOY to make the Samsung Internet Browser a little more immersive when used in virtual reality.
This new method involves the use of 3D cubemaps, developed by OTOY in their ORBX format. The cubemaps become "Skyboxes" in the VR web browser, and the latest update of the Samsung Internet for Gear VR app includes a handful of these different skyboxes. They essentially – as shown in the below video – give users the choice of different views as they browse the web in virtual reality. Right now, these scenes don't change with the website that you're looking at, but they do give users more choice than the immersive background that they used to be stuck with. Right now, they include some great scenes to make things appear more peaceful, or a little more active, depending on the view.
In the future however, websites themselves will be able to offer their own skyboxes, which would allow something like, say, Android Headlines, to offer their own 360-degree skybox to further immerse users in the content at hand. Right now, Samsung and OTOY are working on such a platform, and will have tools for websites and brands to create their own skyboxes not too far in the future. These branded experiences will no doubt help complete the experience of browsing the web in virtual reality, which isn't exactly great fun right now. There's no doubt however, that as virtual reality continues to make gains in the mobile world that soon, we'll all be surfing the web in virtual reality.