Google Expands WebVR API To Its Cardboard Virtual Reality Headset

The search giant looks to be paving the way to a virtual reality ecosystem

Google is expanding the scope of its WebVR platform to its Cardboard virtual reality (VR) headset, enabling users to have virtual experiences on their smartphones without a dedicated app. 

The search giant recently added WebVR to is Chrome browser and had originally enabled the JavaScript based application programming interface (API) to work with its Daydream VR headsets.

With the expansion of WebVR, Google looks to be really pushing the scope of its VR tech and API to further appeal to developers looking to expand their software and app creation to embrace virtual environments, experiences and interactions. 

Chrome to Cardboard 

google-cardboardBefore WebVR, Google’s VR headsets. both the more premium Daydream system and the cheaper Cardboard headset, required users to download specific apps before they could dive into smartphone-based VR experiences. 

Samsung’s Gear VR headset was similar, requiring users of it’s Galaxy S6 or above smartphones to download the Oculus app and ensure it was up-to-date. 

This arguably places a barrier for developers, essentially forcing them to build upon one platform or the other. 

Given WebVR is not tied to any app, it bypasses this dilemma and should provide developers with an API platform that enables them to create VR software that easily runs on Android smartphones and in web browsers, not just Chrome, as well as offering compatibility with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive premium VR headsets. 

“Everyone should be able to experience VR, and WebVR is a big step in that direction. It’s open to all browsers, making it easier for developers to create something quickly and share it with everyone, no matter what device they’re on,” said Jonas Jongejan, chief technologist at Google’s Creative Lab division. 

In February, we added WebVR to Chrome on Daydream-ready phones. Today, WebVR on Chrome now works with Google Cardboard, so that anyone with an Android phone and Cardboard can experience virtual worlds just by tapping a link.” 

With WebVR, Google is showing that it is not abandoning its previous work on Cardboard in favour of Daydream, rather it is looking to push the scope of VR all together and appears to be aiming at creating a VR ecosystem to really get the emerging tech trend out of a niche and into the mainstream. 

How much do you know about virtual reality? Try our quiz!