We think Google’s soft, friendly Daydream View virtual reality headset is — just quietly — one of the biggest leaps forward that VR has had this year. It’s relatively affordable, easy to set up and use, and includes a motion-sensitive controller, so all you need is a new phone to use it with. As of today, the headset now ships to Australia in two new colours and there’s a bunch of new VR-ready apps.
Those two new colours, red Crimson and white Snow, join the exisiting dark grey Slate in shipping online from the Google Play store from today — although they won’t be available through Google’s retail partners JB Hi-Fi and Telstra, who’ll only carry the grey variant.
The one standout new app that we think perfectly encapsulates the potential of Daydream is a VR-ready version of HBO Now — unfortunately restricted to the US only, obviously — that lets viewers watch shows like Westworld or Game of Thrones through the headset. It, like Netflix and YouTube, are killer apps for VR, giving you that immersive cinematic movie-watching experience without having to actually, y’know, go to the movies.
Games, too, are getting better. There’s six new titles being released over the end of 2016 — Gunjack: End of Shift, Need For Speed, LEGO Brickheadz, Wands, Underworld Overlord and Layers of Fear are all out or being released soon, and we’ve given a couple of them a test drive and come away very impressed. Fast-moving titles in VR can sometimes be a little unsettling but Need For Speed handles the action very well, and uses the handheld controller for very simple steering and acceleration and braking.
Motorola’s flagship Moto Z phone is the second device after the Google Pixel to be certified as Daydream-ready and compatible with the headset, and more are set to follow in 2017. The key spec for any Daydream-ready phone is that it has to have a low-persistence display of 1080p resolution or higher, Qualcomm’s currently-most-powerful Snapdragon 821 mobile chipset, and obviously also Android 7.0 Nougat.
P.S If you already own a Daydream and a Google Pixel to use in it, Reddit’s r/Daydream forum is a good place to hang out and keep an eye on for new apps and games being released.