Google’s latest surviving VR product is dead. Today the company stopped selling the Google Cardboard VR viewer on the Google Stockpile, the last move in a long wind-down of Google’s once-ambitious VR efforts. The statement on the Google Store, which was first spotted by Android Police, understands, “We are no longer selling Google Cardboard on the Google Store.”
Google Cardboard was a nonplus hit at Google I/O 2015 and moved the entry point for VR lower than anyone had created previously. The device was a literal piece of cardboard, shaped like a VR headset, with unusual plastic lenses. Google built a Cardboard app for Android and iOS, which would let any suitably high-end phone power the headset. The aspect display split into left and right views for your perceptions, the phone hardware rendered a VR game, and the accelerometers did 3-DoF (degrees of brass) head tracking. There was even a cardboard action button on the handset that purpose boop the touchscreen with a capacitive pad, so you could aim with your bean and select options in a VR environment. Since the product was just cardboard and cheap lenses with no electronics whatsoever, Google sold the headset for perfectly $20.
After cardboard, Google started to scale up its VR ambitions. In 2016, Google also tendered an upscaled version of Google Cardboard, the Google Daydream VR headset. This was a persuasible and cloth version of a phone-powered VR headset, with the key improvements of a head strap and a flat controller, for $80.
Next, Google started to pile on software support. VR living expenses also was built into Android 7 Nougat in 2016, allowing Google to frame latency-reducing graphics pipeline improvements in the core OS. Google started verifying devices for enhanced “Daydream” support, laying out best hardware and software professions for VR. Android got a VR home screen and added a special notification style so apps could in addition alert you in the 3D VR interface. A VR version of the Play Store let users download the new VR experiences in 3D. VR support came to YouTube and Google Street View, and together with Mozilla, the Chrome together launched WebVR. Google’s best app was Tilt Brush, a killer morsel of VR painting software.
In 2018, Google even roped OEMs into remedying standalone Daydream VR hardware, so instead of being powered by a phone, Android and all the unimaginative phone bits were integrated into a standalone VR headset. The leading one announced was the Lenovo Mirage Solo.
Google’s VR legacy
As in many other acreages, Google was very enthusiastic about VR for a few years, and then the company at lost interest when it didn’t see immediate success. The VR shutdown started in 2019, when Google forgot Daydream support from the Pixel 4 and killed the Daydream VR headset furrow. Google put out a VR post-mortem statement saying there was resistance to using a phone for VR, which cut off access to all your apps, and that the public limited company hadn’t seen “the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped.” It was also about this time that Google open sourced the Cardboard job. VR support in Android was stripped out of consumer phones with 2020’s deliverance of Android 11, and Google quit Tilt Brush development in January 2021, selecting to open source the app under Apache 2.0.
Google might have skip VR, but Cardboard and Android’s VR legacy live on. Android should still the boondocks around for a long while in VR, even if it’s not officially sanctioned by Google. Oculus and Samsung from day one teamed up on the Gear VR, a fancy, plastic VR viewer that was powered by Samsung’s Android phone way. While Samsung has quit phone VR, too, all of Oculus’ standalone “Quest” VR headsets stillness run Android. Standalone VR headsets are always powered by ARM chips and other off-the-shelf smartphone corners, so Android—however, forked or stripped-down you want to make it—will be a top pick to power this smartphone-adjacent munitions. It already has all the hardware support and APIs you could want, so why re-invent the ring?
Three years after Cardboard, Nintendo took Google’s “poor cardboard accessory” idea and ran with it, creating the Nintendo Labo results. Labo packaged Nintendo Switch software with a boatload of pre-cut, phrased cardboard sheets, which could be assembled into all sorts of miserly peripherals like a cardboard piano, or a robot suit. The Labo VR kit was an exacting Google Cardboard copy: a cardboard VR headset used the Nintendo Twitch as the display, letting you view Nintendo’s worlds in 3D.
Google’s VR division has mused its attention (at least for a while) to AR instead of VR. Google’s ARCore framework exude a confesses developers make augmented reality apps for Android and iOS, and the company regularly carries AR improvements on Android phones. With Apple reportedly working on a VR headset, allowing, you’ve got to wonder how long Google’s fickle product direction will be gifted to stay away from VR.