At Google’s I/O 2015 developer conference today, Clay Bavor took to the stage to update the world on the company’s VR developments and has revealed a new and improved Cardboard VR viewer for smartphones.

Google announced the Cardboard viewer and project one year ago, at Google I/O 2014. The viewer was released alongside a software development toolkit as a very low cost entry into virtual reality for developers and enthusiasts. Today the company said that in the last year, smartphones have gotten bigger, many of them no longer fitting the original Cardboard viewer.

google cardboard v2 io 2015 (4)

The Cardboard v2 viewer, which the company announced today at its I/O 2015 Keynote, now fits phones up to 6-inches. The magnetic ring input has also been replaced with a universal input button that the company says will work with all phones.

The first version of Cardboard had a novel input method that utilized the magnetic ring which, when pulled, could be sensed by a phone’s magnetometer and read as an input event. Unfortunately, this meant that the magnetometer couldn’t be used for drift correction. The new button not only works with all phones (some of which could not properly detect the previous method), but also frees the magnetometer to help keep the virtual view from drifting.

google cardboard v2 io 2015 (2)

The new universal input button ought to be a boon to developers, many of which opted not to support the ring input method because few other VR smartphone viewers used the same system. As the v2 viewer spreads, input will be more consistent and developers may use the new input method in addition to gaze-based selection systems that many have fallen back upon.

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google cardboard v2 io 2015 (1)

The Cardboard v2 viewer now assembles easily in three steps, instead of the 12 steps of the v1. The new viewer will be given to all I/O 2015 attendees, but as with v1, Google isn’t selling the cardboard device. Instead, the company has worked with third-party manufacturers who create Cardboard-based iterations that are certified to work properly with Cardboard apps.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • sibbo

    wonder how the universal button works. Works with all phones. Can’t wait to try out vr on my nokia 6610

  • dkinjal

    Yes Sibbo. It is unclear how Universal button is going to interact. Could be audio jack! It will definitively look more hacky but is more probable.

    Drig3D – Camera app for Google Cardboard

  • spark

    It would be nice if Google could come up with a universal Bluetooth button that could be stuck to the outside of the cardboard box and be automatically paired for navigating VR or other apps.

    I suppose that could be asking for too much, especially since a wii remote cannot be paired on stock Android anymore – doh.

  • thibaultmol

    I have an Iphone 5S. What happens when I put a small phone like mine in the new one?