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Google wakes up from its VR daydream

Daydream, Google’s mobile-focused virtual reality platform is losing official support from Google, Android Police reports. The company confirmed that it will no longer be updating the Daydream software, with the publication noting that “Daydream may not even work on Android 11” as a result of this.

This isn’t surprising to anyone who has been tracking the company’s moves in the space. After aggressive product rollouts in 2016 and 2017, Google quickly abandoned its VR efforts which, much like the Samsung Gear VR, allowed users to drop a compatible phone into a headset holster and use the phone’s display and compute to power VR experiences. After Apple’s announcement of ARKit, the company did a hard pivot away from VR, turning its specialty AR platform Tango into ARCore, an AR developer platform that has also not seen very much attention from Google in recent months.

Google bowing out of official support from Daydream comes after years without product updates to their own View headset and very little investment in their content ecosystem which wrecked the chances of Lenovo’s third-party effort the standalone Mirage Solo.

What went wrong? Once it became clear that Daydream wasn’t going to be an easy win, they kind of just abandoned the effort. Google’s hardware business is already peanuts to their search and ads business so it probably wasn’t clear what the point was, but virtual reality also quickly went from being the “it” technology to work on to clearly being a labor of love for a select few. Google determined it wasn’t the effort while Facebook continued to double down. It’s hard to fault them for it, in 2020, even with some very good hardware on the way from Oculus, it still isn’t clear what VR’s future looks like.

It is clear, however, that Daydream won’t be part of it.

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