Google has just unveiled the first headset for its Daydream VR platform: Daydream View, shipping in November for $79. Daydream View is both a consumer product and a general reference design for all future Daydream headsets, which Google hopes will proliferate next year. It's the same device we saw as a line drawing a few months ago at I/O, when Google first announced Daydream. But we now know a lot more about what's actually shipping next month.
Daydream View's body is made of foam and soft fabric, with a hinged plastic panel where you place an Android phone. Google says it weighs 220 grams, making it significantly lighter than the competing Gear VR headset. The face mask is held in by velcro, so it's removable and hand-washable; people will also be able to buy replacements separately. Currently, Daydream is only working on Google's new Pixel and Pixel XL phones, but the View is supposed to hold any phone that ends up supporting the platform — the hinges slide out slightly to accommodate different thicknesses or even phones in cases. Similarly, future headsets based on the design should work with any Daydream phone.
View tries to solve basic issues like cleanliness and complicated setups
The goal of Daydream View is to make a VR headset people can get their phones into and out of within a few seconds. To that end, it's revealed a few new features. When you put an unlocked phone on the front panel, an NFC chip will tell it to launch Daydream, after which you can close the panel and start using the headset. When you latch it shut with the elastic loop on the top, a pair of rubber nubs on the face will help the phone detect its position and automatically center the image.
While we've already seen the basic Daydream controller design, Google is now showing it off as an actual piece of hardware. The controller has one home button and one menu button, plus a clickable trackpad on the end, volume buttons on one side, and internal sensors that can detect motion — it can't tell your absolute position in space like Oculus Touch or the HTC Vive, but it can sense which direction it's pointing, and loosely follow your hand. When you're not using it, the controller fits into a slot on the inside of the headset, so the whole device is self-contained.
At launch, Daydream View will come in one color of headset and controller, called slate. Later in 2016, it will add "snow" and "crimson" versions, both of which will come with an off-white controller. In the US, preorders for Daydream open on October 20th through Google, while the headsets will go on sale in early November at Best Buy, Verizon, and the Google Store. It will also launch in Canada, Germany, Australia, and the UK in early November.
As for what you'll be able to do with Daydream View, Google began getting into that, too. It announced a game that ties in with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, showed how Google's Street View and YouTube's 360-degree videos look, and said that Hulu, HBO, and Netflix will all be available through apps. Of course, it's probably the games that you'll be looking for, but Google didn't have much to share yet on that front.
Correction: the Daydream View weighs 220 grams, not under 200 grams as Google initially told us.