Google announced it has stopped active development on Tilt Brush (2016), the company’s VR paint app. All is not lost though. As the team pivots to creating immersive AR experiences, Tilt Brush has officially gone open source, allowing anyone to modify or even clone the app in its entirety.

Even before Google discontinued its home-spun Daydream platform in 2019, it was fairly apparent that the company’s interest in developing both VR hardware and software had substantially waned. At Google I/O earlier that year, Daydream headsets were nowhere to be seen, revealing the company’s rapidly decreasing enthusiasm for the medium.

Fast forward a few months, and now Google is not only shutting down its 3D object platform Poly, which was announced in December, but it’s also stopping all active development on Tilt Brush. In retrospect, Tilt Brush co-creator Patrick Hackett departing Google earlier this month may have been writing on the wall that the VR paint app was on the chopping block.

In a bid to let Tilt Brush live on, the team has released an open source github repo of the app’s code, allowing others to use, distribute, and modify it for use in other projects. The team says in its build guide that while Tilt Brush is a Google trademark, developers are even free to clone it completely as long as they choose a different name.

Now that developers are free to browse, at least one previously planned feature on the to-do list has raised a few eyebrows in the community, namely the missing addition of multiplayer mode.


The team says in a Google blogpost that Tilt Brush will “always remain available in digital stores for users with supported VR headsets,” however the move to open source the app will allow “everyone to learn how we built the project, and [encourage] them to take it in directions that are near and dear to them.”

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Originally created by indie studio Skillman & Hackett, it wasn’t long before the studio and its impressive 3D art app were snapped up by Google; a 2015 acquisition proceeded the app’s launch on HTC Vive a year later.

Although it eventually went on to launch on all major VR headsets, development noticeably slowed over the past two years, starting back in 2018 when Google was still enthusiastically pushing its Android-based Daydream VR platform.

Tilt Brush’s most recent feature update came in March 2020, which brought to the app a new Camera Path Panel, Sketchfab, and a beta version of Google Drive backup. The app has only had a few bugfixes since then despite releasing concurrently on PSVR.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Good job Google in abandoning all your most interesting XR project. Which one will be the next? Google Earth VR?

    • YouTube VR got delisted from Steam… Sadly there is still no way to watch VR180 videos on PC!

      • TechPassion

        ? DeoVR Player. Whirligig. Perfect for VR180, VR360 etc.

        • Sadly any VR180 videos uploaded to YouTube after a certain date can not be viewed or downloaded outside of the YouTube VR app. EX:

          On PC you only get a 2D fisheye video even if you try to download it via software. This includes DeoVR Player and Whirligig.

  • Surprising that it’s gone open source but you still have to pay for it on VR stores.

    • Xron

      So they can reap profits and people who add some new things to project won’t own them.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Well, that depends on the open source license the whole project is published under.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      That;s because the one on VR-stores is the complete version, the opensource version has some stuff ripped due to licensing requirements, but you can reimplement them yourself if you want.

      • So you’re saying wait a week or so and then look online for someone who posts a free version. got it. XD

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Yep, probably, but be wary when you install something from an unknown publisher, it might have more additions you don’t want (like malware).

  • Xron

    Google is one of the most untrustworthy companies, who abandons lots of projects.

  • sfmike

    As usual with the corporate mindset, as they didn’t make a billion dollars in profit the first couple quarters they just abandon any project even if it does have a long term future. Now the investment guru’s are telling them AR is the next cash cow but as it won’t create that billion dollar profit fast they will dump this too. I’m very pissed at how they have treated 180° 3D video content as they aggressively pushed it and now pretend it never existed. American corporations are all about quick profits and niche markets are totally ignored as disposable. At least they get props for going open source and not being complete dicks.

    • guest

      AR is not just a cash cow. It is a possible threat to Android by Apple and Microsoft, so it looks like they’ve been shifting resources into that. They even mention something to that effect in their Tilt Brush announcement (that is not in the above article).