Google is one of the few companies of its size willing to commit to trying out new ideas on a large scale. While these projects are often killed off without restraint, it's still fun to see what new software is released from its labs each year. In its latest experiment, Google is launching some new WebXR apps for Chrome, designed to combine AR and VR to add new context to the world around you. From scannable social distancing to a virtual gallery of your memories, these new "XR experiences" are pretty wild.
Google was among the first to herald the advent of mobile VR, but that daydream is slowly coming to an end. After the company halted the Cardboard SDK development and open-sourced it in 2019, it has now finally stopped selling the Cardboard hardware altogether in its online store.
You probably barely remember what Daydream is, or rather was, and no-one will blame you for that. Google launched its VR platform back in 2016 and even introduced its own View headset to the market, which it also updated about a year later. Apps became gradually available for the platform until many of them stopped being updated, or worse, entirely dropped support for Daydream. It was clear Google pretty much abandoned it, but it's now made it official with an announcement.
One of the more interesting VR applications we've seen in recent years is Tilt Brush, an app that lets users create 3D art in a virtual environment. Unfortunately, Google has announced that it's ending internal development for the app. It will get another chance to succeed, however, as an open-source project.
Virtual reality was beginning to feel like a big deal back in 2014, and Oculus was one of the prime players. After a successful Kickstarter campaign for the Rift VR, Facebook saw a chance to snatch the company up and purchased it for $2 billion in cash and stocks. Now after six years, Oculus is announcing that Facebook accounts will be mandatory for new users starting in October, and existing users may lose functionality if they don't merge their accounts by 2023.
Virtual reality company Oculus used to have a tight partnership with Samsung, to the point where both company's devices shared the same software ecosystem. The Oculus Go was released in 2018 as a self-contained VR headset, with a Snapdragon 821 processor and full compatibility with games built for Samsung's Gear VR. Sadly, it's now time to say goodbye to the headset.
Virtual Reality may not be the hot topic it once was, a few years ago, but it has settled into a nice niche for gaming first and foremost, and media consumption to a more minor degree. If you're intrigued by VR and have been pining for one of those powerful headsets, you can spare your wallet and start small today with the Oculus Go, which is down to $150.
It has been three weeks since the last Chrome release, and right on schedule, Chrome 79 is now rolling out across desktop and mobile platforms. This isn't the largest update we've seen recently, but there are a few changes worth highlighting. Let's jump right in!
Long before Google introduced Daydream and subsequently left it dead in the water, the company created the Cardboard platform. You can use the carton headsets as an ultra-low-budget entry to VR to this day, and they're compatible with almost any regularly shaped phone on the market. Google has now open-sourced the underlying VR SDK which will allow interested developers to create their own VR experiences on Cardboard viewers and improve and enhance the project as they see fit.
Chrome 78 has rolled out to all platforms, which means it's time for Chrome 79 to hit the Beta Channel. This update is definitely smaller in scope than the last few releases, but there are still a few interesting additions — especially if you're interested in VR/AR.