Google Unveils New Android VR Headset at I/O Event
In the last few months, there is no denying the fact that virtual reality technology, or VR technology, has been gaining popularity. Earlier this year, Oculus finally released the highly awaited kickstarter VR headset—the Oculus Rift, much to the delight of tech enthusiasts. HTC has since followed Oculus’s lead, with the Taiwanese company, in partnership with Valve Corporation, recently showcasing and making available their own VR device, the HTC Vive.
The Rift and the Vive have both received positive reviews since their unveiling. It, however, seems like these VR headsets currently available are at the risk of losing its following. Going by recent reports, another tech giant is poised to unveil their own virtual reality gadget, which, unlike the Rift and the Vive, would work independently without the need to be tethered to a phone or a PC.
Google to Introduce New Android VR Headset
Android Police, in a recently published article, claimed that it won’t be long before Google showcases their own virtual reality headset and platform, having recently come across an interesting placeholder on Google’s Google Play Developer Console. This placeholder, which is labeled Android VR, is currently unclickable. However, considering its appearance, it appears that earlier rumors claiming that Google would unveil an Android VR headset during this week’s Google I/O event are not completely off-base.
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Elsewhere, Peter Rojas, who is the co-founder of Engadget and current Betaworks executive, confirmed the arrival of Android VR headset and platform on his Twitter account. Rojas insists that the device would be announced during the I/O event, which is scheduled for May. The tech insider, however, claims that the Google headset would be less powerful than currently available headsets.
“Android VR will definitely be announced next week, and from what I’ve heard will be less powerful than the Vive or Rift,” Rojas tweeted (reported by Engadget).
The Engadget article goes further to claim that the Android VR headset would be released at the same time as the unveiling of the Android N operating system. Even though Android N is still far from being ready for download, once the operating system and the wearable becomes available for purchase, it is quite possible that Google’s Android VR would be a complete game changer.
What Form Will the Android VR Headset Take?
The Android VR headset is definitely going to make headlines. But as of now, no one knows how how ambitious Google’s plans are. While reports that the Android OS would itself become a sort of VR platform have been making the rounds for about a year, others suggested Google is working on a new Cardboard-style VR headset that relies on phone screens rather than bulky, built-in ones.
Different reports from earlier in the year have offered conflicting insight as to exactly what kind of VR headset Google was working on. At the end of the day, Google might release two versions: a self-contained Android VR headset that “aims for the middle ground” as reported by the Wall Street Journal along with a headset that’s more similar to Gear VR and requires a smartphone but will work with many more different phone brands.
Cost is another big question. If Android VR is more powerful than the Gear VR as is expected in some quarters, it’ll also likely command a higher price than the $99 Gear VR retails for. And since it’ll also reportedly be less powerful than the Rift and Vive, it is only reasonable for it to fall below the $500 and $800 those headsets cost respectively. Hence, a price anywhere between $100 and $500 seems fair for a standalone Android VR headset.