Google Daydream VR Platform Opens To Android Developers

Google has opened up its Daydream virtual reality (VR) reference platform for developers, giving them access to a platform on which to create VR mobile apps.

The search giant revealed the Daydream platform earlier this year, touting it as a way for developers to have easy access to a software development kit (SDK) to enable the creation of VR applications for Daydream compatible smartphone and VR headsets.

Google’s VR SDK 1.0 with support for Daydream can be downloaded on the Daydream developer site now that is has graduated from its beta stage.

The rollout does come with one caveat: only developers who are participating in the Daydream Access Programme can make their apps available on the Android Play Store, meaning others with ambitions of crating Daydream-based apps will have to submit their app proposals to Google.

Virtual reality apps

Daydream-ready smartphones and other hardware has yet to be released, though Google VR project manager Nathan Martz said the first slew of devices will be released this autumn; we expect these will be under Google’s new Pixel brand, a successor to its Nexus smartphone, tablet and smart device line.

Martz also detailed a partnership between Google and games engine makers Unity and Unreal, so developers can make use of familiar 3D tools when creating VR apps.

“This release marks the debut of native Daydream integration in Unity, which enables Daydream developers to take full advantage of all of Unity’s optimisations in VR rendering. It also adds support for features like head tracking, deep linking, and easy Android manifest configuration,” he said.

Getting started with developing on Daydream requires a Nexus 6P smartphone running Android 7.0 Nougat and a second Android smartphone running the KitKat version of Google’s mobile operating system or above.

The requirement for a brace of phones is down to one being used as the VR engine and the other as a means to emulate the yet-to-be-released Daydream controller. A VR viewer, such as Google’s Cardboard, is also needed, though Google suggests using a headset with a head strap.

The need for this hardware means developing on Daydream may not be the cheapest option for developers to get started in VR.

However, the scope of Google’s platform and the imminent release of Daydream compatible hardware means those developers getting involved in Google’s VR SDK could steal a lead in creating VR apps for Android.

Quiz: What do you know about virtual reality?

Roland Moore-Colyer

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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