Google's Daydream VR Platform Opens to Developers

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Google's VR SDK 1.0, with support for Daydream, is now out of beta and available on the Daydream developer site.

The update, according to product manager Nathan Martz, simplifies common virtual reality tasks, "so you can focus on building immersive, interactive mobile VR applications for Daydream-ready phones and headsets."

Daydream, unveiled at this year's Google I/O conference, is a new protocol for virtual reality-ready Android phones and tablets meant to usher in a more stable VR experience and make the technology mainstream.

The program's main contribution is a list of requirements for Android Nougat-powered devices, from the OS itself to the sensor, display, and processor. And Google promised a latency of less than 20 milliseconds—key for more seamless interactions with VR games and 360 videos. It will also define standards for virtual reality accessories like game controllers and headsets.

Ahead of Daydream's upcoming launch, Google partnered with game engines Unity and Unreal to provide developers with more tools with which they were likely to be familiar. This release, Martz wrote in a blog post, marks the debut of native Daydream integration in the Unity software.

Google, meanwhile, updated its developer site with full documentation, reference sample apps, and tutorials, and added support for features like head-tracking, deep linking, and easy Android manifest configuration.

ZTE in July began accepting pre-orders for the $400 Axon 7 smartphone—the first official Daydream VR-compatible handset. A month later, Bloomberg suggested Google is gearing up to release its virtual reality service "in weeks."

"While the first Daydream-ready phones and headset are coming this fall," Martz teased, "you can start developing high-quality Daydream apps right now with the Google VR SDK 1.0 and the DIY developer kit."

Google also encourages developers to submit app proposals to apply to be part of the Daydream Access Program (DAP). "Daydream is just getting started, and we're looking forward to working together to help you build new immersive, interactive VR experiences," Martz said.

Look for more details on Oct. 4, when Google will host an event that will likely include new smartphones, perhaps under the Pixel brand.

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