With Google I/O starting next week, veteran tech journalist Peter Rojas has tweeted that Android VR will launch as a dedicated, standalone headset. This corroborates earlier reports and the mention of “AndroidVR” we saw yesterday in the latest Unreal Engine preview.
Back in February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was working on a standalone headset that would not require a smartphone. Rojas says that this headset will be “less powerful than the Vive or Rift.” But according to his multiple sources, it will be a better experience than the current Gear VR from Samsung and Oculus.
Google possibly launching a dedicated device is interesting as the earlier WSJ report pegged the standalone headset as not launching until the end of the year. Furthermore, at the time, it was possible that the device would be cancelled.
Rojas does not mention whether a Gear VR-like headset where users place their phone into the viewer is still in the works. Such a Cardboard upgrade would be much more affordable than a standalone headset that features a CPU, screen, battery, sensors, and other components..
Google is also working on improving mobile VR by integrating software directly into Android. Currently, Cardboard just resides as an app, but by adding system-level integration, latency could be decreased and users could spend more time plugged in. There are already references in the current Android N Developer Preview to a VR helper service.