This week Google announced Daydream, the company’s initiative for high-end mobile virtual reality. While Google didn’t reveal a dedicated dev kit, the company says developers can cobble together their own using the Nexus 6P smartphone, Cardboard, and a spare phone.

Google says that the Nexus 6P is not officially among its ‘Daydream Ready’ phones—those which will be certified for Daydream’s high end mobile virtual reality experiences—but it’s good enough to function as a temporary Daydream dev kit.

To start developing for Daydream today, devs need three things:

Once you’ve got the ingredients, Google will walk you through getting them ready to function as a Daydream development kit.

See Also: Samsung, HTC, LG, and More Bringing ‘Daydream Ready’ VR Phones to Android
See Also: Samsung, HTC, LG, and More Bringing ‘Daydream Ready’ VR Phones to Android

The basics are that the Nexus 6P will need to be running the Android N developer preview (version 3 or higher), which has enhanced components built in to create Daydream VR experiences. Google warns that “The 6P’s thermal performance is not representative of the consumer Daydream-ready devices that will be launching later this year. In particular, expect the 6P to thermally throttle CPU and GPU performance after a short period of use, depending on workload.”

Google Cardboard will of course be used as a crude approximation of future Daydream headsets, and the company encourages developers to find a Cardboard viewer with a strap, “as a closer approximation to Daydream,” (which is ironic because officially, Google doesn’t certify Cardboard headsets that have straps).

Stealth Action Classic 'Budget Cuts' Comes to PSVR 2 & Quest with 'Ultimate' Edition in June

controller-emulatorNow the clever part: instead of waiting for the Daydream controller, developers (who, if already building for Android likely have plenty of old phones lying about) can use any Android smartphone running 4.4 KitKat or above as a controller emulator. One problem: as the display is used to represent virtual versions of the Daydream controller’s physical buttons, it can be hard to tap them effectively while wearing a headset. But the company has already thought about that, and provides printable paper templates which can be overlaid onto the controller emulating phone to give some sense of tactile feedback.

Once you’ve got your dev kit put together, you can visit Google’s VR developer resources, dig into the SDKs and documentation to start preparing for the official public release of Android N this summer. And if you get lost, check out the Google VR Developer community.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    Already trying how it goes, might reduce a lot of details too compared to the PC version we are making.
    Waiting to see what the daydream devices would be and their pricing too, as samsung s7 prices are also very high.
    Ofcourse a PC cost more, but there is also more possible to design with it.

    Our current WIP title is progressing well on Vive, might still be a lot of work to port it over to Daydream devices.
    Not worried about the controller or sensors, they might just be fine, more worried about the graphics capability instead as i did not really see yet very good games on it.
    The NFS demo is illusion as its 2d game on vulcan, requires less rendering performance as VR, all the VR were simple prototypes or maybe not.. who knows.

    It’s hard to tell as we have no idea how a daydream device performs, saying nexus p6 is not certified (for what reason?).

    I tried Samsung s5 with cardboard but it’s really not good for rendering many objects, unless you use pre rendered images (fake3d) and glue them on planes.

    I see the benefit as being a wireless VR platform and for sure like the idea, but cartoon VR is not that immersive as an realistic looking environment in our expierence.
    It can be fun but still it misses some feeling about awesomeness.

    Cant wait till we get to see some real Daydream devices and how good their graphics are improved, lots of talk but no proper videos about it yet.

    • I’ve been doing some VR development for the GearVR with the Galaxy 6 and the Unreal 4 Engine and I have to say it renders alot more polygons then one would think. It does so even with bump mapping and reflections. It does overheat the phone though.

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        Yeah, had similar experience with UE4, seems to better render as Unity5 for android somehow.
        Allthough thee real thing is Vulcan for mobile that would boost, the biggest issue i had is the low performance of the motion sensors in the S5, rendering itself was no issue.

        Are you saying you use the s6 with android N on it?

    • OgreTactics

      Optimisation with Unreal Engine 4 is a nightmare unfortunately, though you might try Simplygon. It’s not great or super stable now, but that’s a start.

      As a general advice I could give for your production pipeline, the best is to either develop high-end and mobile versions side by side so you can work on each iterations or assets at the same time, or from bottom-up with a mobile version first then a higher grad version for PC.

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        THX man, did not use it yet , as i remodel when needed and keep several LOD models during design process, will give it a try.
        I think it can be a time saver if it does what it claims to do.

  • DonGateley

    When there is an applicable Android N build for the Samsung S6 I’ll gladly switch away from its Gear VR capability to follow development of Android VR. A shout out appreciated if anybody knows of such a ROM. Seems a natural.

  • Locateneil

    Converge VR has launched their VR for daydream Dev Kit. 120 and 96 FOV Interchangeable optics, Looks pretty good. Snapdragon 820 should be compatible with Daydream VR. I am hoping that someone develop a 3rd party patch will allow flagship phones such as S7 and G5 turn into daydream compatible phones.