Google launches Pixel phone and Daydream View VR headset

Google officially announced its new Pixel phone and its Daydream View VR headset today. The live stream of the presentation was watched by more than a quarter million people.

Watch the full presentation below. (The Daydream VR announcement starts at the 1:04 mark.)

According to Clay Bavor, Google’s VP for virtual reality, the Pixels is the first phone to support the Daydream VR platform, which is built into the latest version of Android, Nougat.

The Pixel is priced at $649 and, in the U.S., is available from Verizon and on the Google Store. It will go on sale on October 20.

More phones are expected to hit the market soon.

Clay Bavor with the new Daydream View virtual reality headset. (Image courtesy Google.)

Clay Bavor with the new Daydream View virtual reality headset. (Image courtesy Google.)

 

Daydream View will cost $79 and is due out in November, but, according to a Tweet from Google, will come free with a pre-order of the Pixel phone.

The headset does not have a built-in controller button, but instead comes with a Bluetooth remote.

The remote isn’t just a button. It’s also a motion sensor, allowing it to be used as an in-world pointer, weapon, or other tool.

The headset is also very light. It weights less than 8 ounces — the Gear VR weighs 12.

Another great feature of the new headset is that it’s designed to pair automatically with all compatible phones. All Daydream-ready phones will know when they are inside the headset and switch to virtual reality view, correctly calibrated to the headset. To day, smartphones need to scan a special Google Cardboard QR Code in order to adjust the image quality correctly for VR headsets.

The one feature that Daydream View seems to be missing is an opening on the outside cover. Daydream View has a solid cover, so it won’t work with virtual reality applications that require the phone’s camera to be able to see out.

And, based on early reports, the lenses are not adjustable.

Daydream View will launch with a fabric cover in "slate." Later, it will also come in crimson and "snow." (Image courtesy Google.)

Daydream View will launch with a fabric cover in “slate.” Later, it will also come in crimson and “snow.” (Image courtesy Google.)

It is built to an open standard, so other manufacturers are expected to offer their versions of the VR headset as well. Currently, hundreds of manufacturers are selling their takes on Google Cardboard headsets, Google’s previous virtual reality standard.

The headset is designed to bring Google’s virtual reality platform closer in performance to that of Samsung’s Gear VR.

Samsung partnered with Oculus to develop high-end and unique content for the Gear VR, including apps for Hulu and Netflix. It has a smaller catalog of apps, and the apps cost more, but the Gear VR’s extra sensors make the Gear VR a better experience.

Daydream View does not have any additional sensors. But the Pixel phone itself has better sensors, plus better graphics. And with the Daydream platform baked right in, any Android phone released with Android Nougat will be able to work with any Daydream-compatible headset.

By comparison, the Gear VR only works with late-model Samsung phones.

Daydream home screen. (Image courtesy Google.)

Daydream home screen. (Image courtesy Google.)

Another area where Gear VR was ahead was that it offered a virtual reality home environment where users could switch apps and videos without having the take the headset off and remove the phone.

That wasn’t available on Google’s platform — until now.

Google also announced a line-up of new apps for Daydream, including Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Jaunt, Invasion!, Ocean Rift, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Harry Potter-themed Wizarding World, LEGO’s BrickHeadz, Gunjack 2: End of Shift,Ubisoft’s Hungry Sharks VR.

More than fifty partners will have experiences before the end of the year, said Adrienne McCalister, Google’s director of partnerships. “And there are hundreds more on the way.”

Some of the apps that will be available for Daydream. (Image courtesy Google.)

Some of the apps that will be available for Daydream. (Image courtesy Google.)

Several of the titles were previously Oculus exclusives.

And some of the new experiences are exclusive and Daydream. That includes the new Harry Potter game, where the controller transforms into a magic wand.

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" app turns the new Daydream controller into a magic wand. (Image courtesy Google.)

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” app turns the new Daydream controller into a magic wand. (Image courtesy Google.)

Google has also adapted some of its own apps for Daydream, including YouTube, StreetView, Google Play Movies, and Google Photos.

Watch Google’s Daydream View promo video below.

 

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • Serene Jewell

    $600 for a phone? Even for a VR phone, that is expensive. It’s the cost of a new laptop or desktop with which a person can access Opensim and make their own virtual worlds. I assume that price is coming down.

    • It’s in the same ballpark as the latest Samsung and iPhone, so I wasn’t particularly surprised. I’ve already ordered mine, and expect to get it in about two weeks, and get my free Daydream View headset next month.

      Meanwhile, other manufacturers are expected to come out with their own takes on Daydream-compatible phones, so there should be other options soon.

  • Orxan Huseynov

    Hello I wanted to ask you, if I buy a Google Daydream will it work with my phone Google Nexus 5X or the VR glasses only work with android N? and the second question is what VR glasses work best for my glasses Ling VR, Ling VR 1S or Freefly VR or Google Daydream?