Cardboard was Google’s first step into virtual reality. Wanting to introduce as many people to VR as possible, the company developed Cardboard with the lowest common denominator in mind; they wanted any modern smartphone to be able to inexpensively experience VR with a cheap VR headset literally made out of cardboard.
Daydream, on the other hand, is the company’s initiative for high-performance mobile VR on Android. Thanks to a combination of hardware optimizations in specialized ‘Daydream ready’ phones and software optimizations in the latest version of Android, Daydream apps perform much better than what we’ve seen from Cardboard—specifically when it comes to headtracking latency—similar to the performance we’ve seen from Samsung’s impressive Gear VR headset.
But there’s good news for Cardboard apps, which Google said last year had exceeded 15 million collective downloads: these apps can majorly benefit from the enhanced performance that’s afforded by Daydream ready phones.
According to a spokesperson for Google’s VR team, Cardboard apps updated and adapted to the recently launched Google VR SDK (which combines the Daydream and Cardboard SDKs) will enable the improved performance for those phones.
“Apps need to both compile with the 1.0 SDK and properly use the new APIs (like VR Mode and scanline racing) to see performance improvements on Daydream-ready phones,” the spokesperson told Road to VR.
With the first Daydream ready phone, Google Pixel, now launched, and the first Daydream headset, Google View, launching this coming month, we expect to see renewed attention on development of Cardboard and Daydream apps.