Google’s mobile-focused virtual reality platform is no longer officially supported by the company. The company confirmed that it will no longer be updating the Daydream software, and it will also no longer sell the Daydream View mobile headset.
Google has slowed down Daydream for a while. There was no mention of Daydream at the company’s I/O 2018 developers conference nor its hardware event last year. “There hasn’t been the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped, and we’ve seen decreasing usage over time of the Daydream View headset,” a spokesperson said. Although the system had potential, “we noticed some clear limitations constraining smartphone VR from being a viable long-term solution,” said the spokesperson. “Most notably, asking people to put their phone in a headset and lose access to the apps they use throughout the day causes immense friction.”
Google launched the Daydream View alongside the first Pixel phone in 2016, and several other phone makers, including Samsung and added support for it over the years. After product rollouts in 2016, Google quickly abandoned its VR efforts. Google has shown a pivot from VR after Apple’s announcement of ARKit and turned its AR platform Tango into ARCore, an AR developer platform. “We’re investing heavily in helpful AR experiences like Google Lens, AR walking navigation in Maps, and AR in Search that use the smartphone camera to bridge the digital and physical worlds, helping people do more with what they see and learn about the world around them,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
Since Facebook has still continued to VR efforts, especially with the new release of Oculus Quest 2, Google is now not a part of it with Daydream.
If you happen to be one of the few people who still use Google’s Daydream VR platform, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s officially dead. (If you didn’t know Daydream was a thing, that’s totally OK. I forgot it was, too.) Spotted by Android Authority, Google recently issued a service update for Daydream letting any lingering users know the software is no longer supported.
“You may still be able to access the service, but it won’t receive any more software or security updates,” said the support page. “The Daydream VR app is no longer supported by Google and may not work properly on some devices running Android 11 or later.”
Some recent reviews on the platform’s Google Play store page show users users having difficulty launching Chrome in Daydream, as well as one confirming that it does not work with the latest Android 11 update. The writing was on the wall long before today, though.
Last October, VentureBeat reported that Google would discontinue support for Daydream starting with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. It also stopped selling the VR headsets the same day, too. The Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL shipped without Daydream VR support in May 2019, and Google also removed its Play Movies & TV app Daydream in June 2019. Hulu dropped its support for the platform in September 2019.
“Over time we noticed some clear limitations constraining smartphone VR from being a viable long-term solution,” a Google spokesperson said to VentureBeat. “There also hasn’t been the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped, and we’ve seen decreasing usage over time of the Daydream View headset.”
VR that relied on your smartphone always felt sort of gimmicky and dumb from the
Google officially dropped Daydream virtual reality support from Android 11 — a final step in its retirement of the system. As Android Police notes, Google posted an announcement saying its latest version of Android doesn’t support the VR platform’s app. “Daydream VR app is no longer supported by Google and may not work properly on some devices running Android 11 or later,” it reads.
In fact, the Daydream software is no longer supported at all, according to Google. It won’t receive updates, although users can potentially still access third-party VR apps through the Play Store. Google had already sidelined Daydream VR. It discontinued the Daydream View headset and dropped support on new Pixel phones in 2019. But it continued to support the Daydream app for existing users. Now, even that is apparently ending.
Daydream was one of two significant phone-based VR platforms, alongside the now-defunct Samsung Gear VR. It had symbolic value — at its announcement, Google emphasized the idea that VR was becoming part of the Android platform. But it struggled to establish a user base or find support on many Android phones. For the past few years, it’s been simply a little-known feature within Google’s big sandbox.
Meanwhile, Google has shifted its focus from VR to augmented reality. It’s continued to support the simpler Cardboard VR system as an open-source project, including releasing a plug-in for Unity game development in May. But a Daydream replacement likely isn’t coming anytime soon. Google’s retreat has helped cement the power of Facebook — whose Oculus platform now dominates consumer VR.