Daydream is a virtual reality (VR) platform developed by Google that is built into the Android mobile operating system (versions "Nougat" 7.1 and later). Compatible phones that follow the platform's software and hardware specifications (and are thus designated "Daydream-ready") are used in the Google Daydream View VR headset. The Daydream platform was announced at the Google I/O developer conference in May 2016, with the first VR headset released on November 10, 2016. Daydream is the company's second VR platform following Google Cardboard, which was a low-cost system intended to encourage interest in VR and was built into compatible mobile apps rather than the operating system itself.
It is not to be confused with the "Daydream" screensaver feature that had been introduced with Android 4.2 in 2012 and was renamed to "screen saver" after the 2016 launch of the VR platform.
The first-generation Google Daydream View was announced on October 4, 2016. Daydream-ready smartphones can be placed in the front compartment of the Daydream View and then viewed in VR through the headset's two lenses. The View distinguished itself from previous VR head mounts by being constructed out of a light-weight cloth material, as well as featuring capacitive nubs and an NFC chip to simplify the process of setting up virtual reality viewing.
The Daydream View launched in a "Slate" color option. Two new color choices, "Crimson" and "Snow", became available on December 8, 2016.
In a review of the Google Daydream View, Adi Robertson of The Verge wrote that the headset was the "best mobile headset" she'd ever used, complimenting its "squishy foam-and-fabric body" being "significantly smaller, lighter, and more portable than the Samsung Gear VR", and that its design "keeps the lenses relatively protected during travel". She also liked the device's weight distribution, writing that it "rests more weight on your forehead than your cheeks, an option I've found more comfortable" and that allows her to "wear it easily for hours at a time". She also praised the material, particularly its plastic sliders rather than velcro patches on the head strap, writing that it allows "a wider range of sizes and avoids gathering lint", and that the View's overall design "could almost pass for an airplane sleep mask", meaning that it "avoids looking ostentatiously high-tech or intimidating".
Google Daydream headsets are packaged with a wireless controller. This controller can be used for interacting with the virtual world through button presses or through waving the device. On-board sensors are used to track the orientation of the controller and approximate the position of the user's hand. The Daydream View's controller can be stored inside the headset while not in use. The controller has a touch pad, two circular buttons (one functioning as a home button and one functioning as an app-specific button), and two volume buttons, along with a status light. The controller is rechargeable and charges via USB-C. On its support pages, Google notes that the Daydream View "doesn't include a charger or cables" and instead directs users to purchase those from the Google Store.
The VR mode lets players use virtual reality apps, including YouTube, Google Maps Street View, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Photos in an immersive view. Google recruited media companies like Netflix and Ubisoft for entertainment apps.
The second-generation Daydream View was unveiled during the Made by Google 2017 event. For the first time, it is available in three colors, namely: "Charcoal", "Fog", and "Coral". It is largely similar to the first-generation, with a few improvements, including a slightly altered design and improved lenses for a wider field of view. It was released on 19 October 2017 with a launch price of US$99.
Lenovo's Mirage Solo headset, announced at CES 2018, is the first standalone headset running on Google's Daydream platform. It is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip, has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage expandable by microSD, dual mics, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 2560 x 1440 LCD screen and a 4,000 mAh battery. Its highlight feature is support for Google "WorldSense", an improved position tracking technology.
Lenovo has said that it will ship by mid-2018, with a price less than $400.
Daydream will only work on certain newer phones with specific components. Google announced at the Google I/O conference that eight hardware partners will make Daydream-ready phones: Samsung, HTC, LG, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, Asus and Alcatel. Phones will dedicate processing power to the Daydream mode in order to reduce latency and prevent nausea. Sundar Pichai expects 11 Android smartphones that support Daydream VR on sale by the end of 2017.
The following phones have been confirmed as Daydream-ready:
|Pixel and Pixel XL||Snapdragon 821||October 4, 2016||First Daydream-compatible phone|
|Moto Z||Motorola Mobility||Snapdragon 820||Requires Android Nougat system update|
|ZenFone AR||Asus||Snapdragon 821||ZenFone AR is the first mobile device to ship with support for both Google Tango and Google Daydream capabilities, adding support for both virtual reality and augmented reality.|
|Mate 9 Pro||Huawei||Kirin 960|
|Axon 7||ZTE||Snapdragon 820||February 7, 2017||Requires Android Nougat system update|
|Galaxy S8 and S8+||Samsung Electronics||Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895||July 31, 2017||Requires rolling out System Update to enable functionality|
|Galaxy Note 8|
|V30||LG Electronics||Snapdragon 835|
|Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL|