Will Chrome’s WebVR Support Be The Future Of Mobile VR?

February 10, 2017 - Written By Justin Diaz

Mobile virtual reality is without a doubt the easiest entry point for most consumers to jump into VR experiences. It’s considerably cheaper than high-end options like the PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift, and there of course is the fact that it’s mobile, meaning you can take it with you and enjoy the content wherever you’d like. That being said, for most people content is king, and this is where more involved VR options with a higher cost tend to break away. They generally have a better selection of content. That seems to be continuing to change though, especially now since Google just announced WebVR support for Chrome, and not just Chrome on Android with the Daydream View headset, but Chrome on desktop as well meaning you can experience virtual reality content without a VR headset and just use your mouse to pan the camera. The downside to that last bit is that the content won’t really feel as immersive or like VR content at all, but it is 360-degrees so you sort of get the idea.

Having only recently launched in the tail end of last year, the Daydream View is the latest and greatest mobile VR headset to hit the market, but it’s still only has a small library of available apps and games to dive into. At least natively as proper VR apps and games. With WebVR support for Chrome, users can hop into the Chrome browser and jump into what seems like will be a rapidly growing wealth of content. Within, for example, is a web page that’s dedicated to utilizing the WebVR standard and they already offer 28 different VR experiences that you can view. Some of these things include an experience based on the hit show Mr. Robot, or an SNL 40 Q & A with Jerry Seinfeld. Granted, these are just short experiences and not full-length features, lasting anywhere from what appears to be 2-13 minutes. There’s even a spot from Vice News. Despite their shorter length though, all of the content is free to watch, and that’s going to be a big part of how it can shape the content for Daydream View owners and mobile VR in general.

While you will still need a Daydream-ready handset and a Daydream View to get the full effect of WebVR the way it was meant to be experienced, it opens up another door for those who are wanting to give VR a chance and see what it has to offer. It’s not that there are no free apps or games on the Play Store for Daydream, but many of the best pieces of content cost money. WebVR content, at least for the moment, is all free, and if it continues to be that way while growing the library of content people can jump into, then it could help shape the landscape of mobile VR and in turn cause other companies, like Samsung with their Gear VR for example, to offer similar experiences. It’s only been a day since WebVR support for Chrome was officially announced, so it’s still really early and will be impossible to tell how much of an affect it will have on the Daydream platform or mobile VR as a whole, but it’s a great start to expanding what’s possible with VR. For those that like their VR experiences to be stationary, there’s always the chance that HTC and Oculus could integrated WebVR compatibility into their offerings, which would allow the same level of immersive experiences with WebVR on Chrome for the desktop as you would get with Chrome on a Daydream-ready Android device.