It was abundantly clear by earlier this year that Google’s interest in its Android-based Daydream VR platform had withered, but now the company has put the final nail in the coffin by discontinuing the Daydream View headset and confirming that its newest Pixel 4 smartphone isn’t compatible.

Google had monstrous ambitions for Daydream at the start. The company figured that developers would leap at the opportunity to build VR apps on its platform thanks to theoretical chance they could reach to hundreds of millions of existing Android users. But things didn’t turn out as they hoped. The company’s bet (which was in line with others at the time) that slotting smartphones into inexpensive VR viewers would be a great way to use VR just didn’t pan out.

As of Google I/O earlier this year, it was entirely clear that Google had lost faith in Daydream, but today they put the final nail in the coffin.

With minimal adoption after several years, Google today confirmed that it will stop selling its Daydream View headset, the company told Variety. While the company had been pretty good about maintaining Daydream compatibility with its own ‘Pixel’ smartphone line and a handful of other Android phones, the new Pixel 4 won’t support the Daydream View.

If you have a compatible phone, the Dayream store, apps, and headset will continue to function. Google told Variety:

There hasn’t been the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped, and we’ve seen decreasing usage over time of the Daydream View headset. So while we are no longer selling Daydream View or supporting Daydream on Pixel 4, the Daydream app and store will remain available for existing users.

We saw a lot of potential in smartphone VR—being able to use the smartphone you carry with you everywhere to power an immersive on-the-go experience. But over time we noticed some clear limitations constraining smartphone VR from being a viable long-term solution. Most notably, asking people to put their phone in a headset and lose access to the apps they use throughout the day causes immense friction.

Google’s first Daydream View headset launched at the end of 2016, and offered a reasonably good casual VR experience, but wasn’t quite as compelling as its nearest competitor, Gear VR. Google released an updated version of the View in 2017 which made some important improvements, but hasn’t done anything with the headset since.

Image courtesy Google

Despite the low cost and wide accessibility of Daydream and even Gear VR, smartphone VR ultimately succumbed to a handful of pain points. Not only did the slot-in approach lack the full 6DOF experience of high-end headsets, putting your smartphone into a headset could be cumbersome, and using the headset also meant draining your precious smartphone battery and temporarily not having access to the phone itself, which has become an integral part of many people’s lives.

From the ashes of the slot-in smartphone viewers, standalone headsets like Oculus Quest bring many of the same benefits (and then some) while avoiding much of the friction of getting your smartphone involved. Granted, Lenovo launched a Daydream standalone headset, the Mirage Solo, in 2018 but its poor ergonomics and odd combination of a 3DOF controller with 6DOF headset failed to garner much attention.

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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."
  • MosBen

    It is a bummer, but while they raise the issue of not being able to use apps on your phone while you’re using VR, that never bothered me, and I’m not sure why that would be a major issue. I mean, you’re inside VR, why or how would you use apps while you’re doing that. That said, the bigger issue was that while mobile VR basically runs on phone chipsets, it never really made sense to pack VR specific hardware into phones. 3DOF was always a dead end for VR, but adding 6DOF would have been either impractical to add to the phone itself, or would make the shell more expensive and a bigger drain on the battery. Plus, thermals were always going to be a problem.

    As great as it was/would be to be able to do VR with the device that you already own(!), we’re better off with self-contained units like Quest.

    • Jistuce

      The Daydream VR whitelist was always a limiting factor.

      Did I have devices that were good enough? You bet I did. Were they on the whitelist? Heck naw, can’t even INSTALL Daydream.

      And yeah, I’ve seen the “can’t use your phone while you’re in VR” thing cited before as a problem, and… how would we be using our phone while in VR if it WASN’T inserted in the headset?

    • Ryan

      As John Carmack said in his OC6 talk. It is all about friction. Installing the phone and plugging in headphones was just too much friction.

    • callen

      My biggest pain point with Gear VR wasn’t losing access to the phone, it was watching my battery life drop at ~1% per minute. So if I’m at home with 65% battery and I have an hour before I have to leave, spending that time in VR means I’m leaving the house with a dead phone – total dealbreaker.

      • sfmike

        Don’t forget Gear VR overheating! Glad I had one though as cardboard just didn’t make it.

    • On top of the app argument, they could have had a standard app launcher baked right into Daydream that let you access your favorite Android games and apps on a giant virtual screen.
      Would have been an amazing value add to the platform that Oculus and others would not have been able to replicate.

  • Now Google just needs to support Oculus’ efforts, and work with them to get a more functioning 2D app emulator working on Quest. It is running on a heavily modified version of Android, after all!

    • guest

      They don’t need Facebook. They just need to make sure VR will run smoothly under AR when all the new devices come out in 2020.

  • Jimmy Ray

    What ever happen to the software they made that was going to revolutionize VR. It had a Star Wars demo and everything? They atleast got maps and home working good.

    • Are you referring to Google
      Seurat? If I’m not mistaken Star Wars: Vader Immortal is built using that technology.

      • Immersive Computing

        Seurat was very impressive in Blade Runner Revelations on Daydream.

      • Jimmy Ray

        If so then very nice.

  • Immersive Computing

    Thoroughly enjoyed using daydream both the original headset and improved 2017 headset both with pixel XL. Found it easy to use, much less friction than GearVR, the 3DOF remote was very neat and surprisingly competent.

    A small number of standout applications, early integration with Chrome VR, Firefox VR, WebVR, YouTube VR, had a physical keyboard running, also a number of quirky/experimental apps not seen elsewhere.

    Overall, way more than hoped for, RIP Daydream!

  • namekuseijin

    next is Stadia

    • Ryan

      What if you could play Stadia on Quest?

      • RickityRick

        What if I was inside Stadia and made of internet?

  • ale bro

    Virtual Virtual Reality started out on Daydream so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

    • Immersive Computing

      Virtual Virtual Reality was great on Daydream

      Eclipse : Edge of Light is coming to PCVR soon, and Daydream Audio Factory is free on PCVR.

  • Cragheart

    Predictable. The future of VR are not phone-based but standalone 6DoF HMDs like Quest. Companies just need to double GPU speed every 2 years, double resolution every 3 years and include eye and face tracking. If in 10 years there’s 8K 120Hz, 1080 Ti performance and two terabytes of storage, then consumers will be happily buying and using these things.

    • Atul Salgaonkar

      Agree. Lenovo Mirage was/is a 6DoF HMD. However, it’s not clear what will happen to it (content, compatibility etc).

  • Joe Pineapples

    Good riddance! All this casual, cash grab and crap VR paraphernalia needs to die a quick death. Ultimately it is bad for VR. With its low fidelity and limiting VR experiences it was a cheap novelty and underwhelming so it more likely had the effect of turning people away from VR rather than attracting them to it. All I can imagine is people trying soemthing like this or the gear VR and saying “meh!… that’s it, okay I’ve tried VR now and I’m not impressed, maybe in 10 years”. Whereas if thoes same individuals had been exposed to a full feldged powerful PC VR heaset and all the content and visuals that had to offer. I have a feeling peoples minds would change and see that VR has a big future. (okay so maybe in 5 years, but definately not 10 :))

    • Tim Nelson

      Amen. I think you are correct. People who I talked to who tried VR using a phone said exactly that, “Meh.” I tried it and thought it was ok at best, but it was truly a novelty for me. Then I decided to try VR using MWR. NIGHT AND DAY. The mobile was crap compared to the headset. When I show people the difference, they now say, “OMG, I never knew it was this good!” Good riddance to mobile VR. This is a great move for VR for the future.

  • Hivemind9000

    I’m seeing similarities with game consoles vs PC. A big problem for VR on mobile phones (and with PCs) is everyone has a different performance spec, screen size etc, making developing a consistent quality experience difficult – ending with dumbed down, lowest-common-denominator experiences (or limiting your market by only appealing to those with good enough specs).

    Headsets like Oculus Quest give a more targetable and consistent experience – built for purpose – just like a games console. I personally have a high-end PC (and a Pimax headset) but can see the future of mass-market, high-end VR is really going to be in next-gen consoles (well the PS5 at least for now).

    • dk

      nah the main thing is it’s 3dof and sucking your phone battery and the overheating is pretty annoying if u have that issue
      …and at some point there will be dozens of all in one headsets like the quest with different specs and they all will be running apks …and apparently even oculus r not that stupid and they want to have give us the pc connection support even with the quest and most likely it will be far better with future headsets

  • sfmike

    The really sad part is Google also giving up on supporting and promoting 180° degree photography which they had supported for awhile.

    • Atul Salgaonkar

      Are you sure? I had not heard that Google is stopping its support of its VR180.

    • dk

      hmm stopping making 180 cameras and not paying people to promote it and so on I can buy …..but support and so on makes no sense

    • The best VR180 cameras are not official. I use an Insta360 EVO to take VR180 photos and it does not support googles vr.jpg format. That said the photos still work well as equirectangular side by side photos on most platforms. I have notice that a lot of VR180 videos are popping up on YouTube despite the lack of “official” cameras so I hope they will keep the feature. That said the easiest way for me to share my photos has been to make them slideshows on YouTube so photo sharing is still and issue…

  • RIP Daydream, RIP mobile VR

    • dk

      and long live mobile 6dof vr …in stand alone form factor

  • DanDei

    Every time people told me they had seen VR on a phone got this reply from me:
    “Do you remember those red/green cardboard glasses you would get to see a 15 minute segment of Shark Week in 3D? Compare that to the 3D of a modern IMAX movie theatre and you get a rough idea how far away you were from actually experiencing VR.”

  • Vicente Machado

    I’ve got a Daydream and a Moto Z2 Force, besides an Oculus Rift and an Oculus Quest.
    The Daydream running on the Z2 Force actually surprised me. I used it as a portable and quick way to play VR. I played the game Virtual Virtual Reality all the way through on it, and it felt great. But now that I got a Quest, I don’t feel the need for the Daydream anymore. Quest is my favorite VR so far.