Google Launches Mobile VR Push with Daydream SDK

Google launched its push into mobile virtual reality (VR), called Daydream, with a new SDK, updated developer site and invitations for select coders to get in on the action early.

Announced at the annual Google I/O developer conference in May, Daydream improves upon the previous Cardboard smartphone holder, providing a complete mobile VR system designed for new phones equipped with components such as special sensors and screens.

In addition to compatible smartphones -- few and far between now -- Daydream will work with special headsets yet to debut, providing VR on the go.

"Today, we are proud to announce that the Google VR SDK 1.0 with support for Daydream has graduated out of beta, and is now available on the Daydream developer site," the company said in a blog post last week. "Our updated SDK simplifies common VR development tasks so you can focus on building immersive, interactive mobile VR applications for Daydream-ready phones and headsets, and supports integrated asynchronous reprojection, high fidelity spatialized audio, and interactions using the Daydream controller."

Along with the new SDK, Google published documentation for setting up a DIY developer kit is also available, requiring a Daydream-compatible Nexus 6P smartphone, another Android phone and a VR viewer such as Google Cardboard.

The company also opened up applications to its Daydream Access Program to let select developers publish Daydream apps to the Google Play app store. Participants also get early looks at dev tool updates and enhanced communication with the Daydream development team and general community. Interested developers can submit an app proposal to be included in the program.

To provide game engines and tools already familiar to game developers, Google partnered with Unity and Unreal to provide native integration with those platforms. The Google VR SDK for Unity lets developers "Easily adapt an existing Unity 3D app for virtual reality or build your own VR experience from scratch," while the description for Google VR SDK for Unreal notes that "Support for creating Daydream applications is built into Unreal Engine 4."

The final component of the Daydream SDK triad, Google VR SDK for Android, helps developers "Build apps that display 3D scenes with binocular rendering, render spatial audio, and track and react to head movements."

With that SDK, Google said, developers already familiar with the cross-language, cross-platform application OpenGL API can simplify common VR development tasks such as:

  • Lens distortion correction.
  • Spatial audio.
  • Head tracking.
  • 3D calibration.
  • Side-by-side rendering.
  • Stereo geometry configuration.
  • User input event handling.

The company is also providing the Google VR NDK for Android which features a C/C++ API for developers writing native code.

Google provided more information on the hardware powering Daydream, moving beyond Cardboard.

"Daydream-ready headsets are designed for the high-quality mobile VR experiences that Daydream enables," the developer documentation says. "Unlike the Google Cardboard viewer, they are designed for extended use. Instead of a trigger button, users interact with VR applications using the Daydream controller.

"The Daydream controller was created with mobile VR in mind. Designed to be both accessible and expressive, it can track its rotation and orientation with high accuracy. It also includes a clickable touchpad and two buttons called APP and HOME. The APP button can be used by apps and the HOME button is reserved for system use."

More Daydream-related developer information can be found at:

"When you create content for the Daydream platform, you know your apps will work seamlessly across every Daydream-ready phone and headset," Google said. "Daydream is just getting started, and we're looking forward to working together to help you build new immersive, interactive VR experiences. Stay tuned for more information about Daydream-ready phones and the Daydream headset and controller coming soon."

That could come next week, as Google will reportedly unveil new Pixel smartphones and a Daydream headset that might be called Daydream View at an Oct. 4 event.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.