google-cardboardA spokesperson for Google’s VR team has confirmed that Google Cardboard applications will be able to benefit from the enhanced VR performance that’s baked into Daydream ready phones.

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.

Only Select Developers Can Publish Google Daydream Apps Until 2017

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.

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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."
  • Firestorm185

    So, will they all be considered “Daydream” VR apps now, even for cardboard users, or will they still have separate labels?

    • Hunter Diederichs

      Google VR has gotten a bit weird. As I understand it there’s no formal distinction between Daydream apps and Cardboard apps within Google VR itself. There’s no Cardboard apps or Daydream apps, just Google VR apps.

      Apps that get upgraded to use Google VR 1.0 won’t really be “Daydream” VR apps, they’ll still be “Cardboard” apps and perform exactly the same with a normal phone and normal “Works with Cardboard” viewer.

      “Cardboard” apps can take advantage of Android N features like VR mode and sustained performance cues if they choose. This will benefit Android N devices that support these features.

      “Cardboard” apps can also optionally choose to take advantage of Daydream specific features as well, such as the dedicated VR fused sensors, and even use of the Daydream remote if they wish and if the phone supports it.

      “Daydream” apps are just “Cardboard” apps designed specifically for Daydream devices and accepted by Google into the Daydream version of the Play Store.

      I seriously seriously hope that the Daydream Launcher allows you to launch into Cardboard apps that have been upgraded to use the new SDK as well, but currently that’s unknown. You may only be able to use official Daydream apps with Daydream Viewers, I haven’t gotten a chance to test that yet.

      • Firestorm185

        Thanks Hunter! That clears things up a lot! Yeah, I agree, I hope there’ll be support for un-updated Cardboard apps too, cause there are a lot of old cardboard apps I have that are no longer being edited but that are amazing to play that I’d still love to play on newer phones.

        • Hunter Diederichs

          You don’t have to worry about not being able to play them. Worst case scenario theyll work exactly as they do now.

          Daydream has a full VR UI though, including a store and launcher and everything built right in VR, and I was just saying I hope they get listed in Daydream’s launcher for quick easy access without needing to leave VR to switch to a cardboard app.

          • Firestorm185

            Alright, thx again!

  • Buddydudeguy

    High performance and mobile VR…..pick one.