What is Google Daydream? Super-simple virtual reality

Think VR is faddy and expensive? Check out Google Daydream and its awesome YouTube app…

18 Nov 2016

What is Google Daydream View? 

It’s a virtual reality headset designed to make YouTube, gaming and holiday planning more compelling. You wear it across your face and over your head, in the same way you would the Oculus Rift.

But where the Rift is connected to your PC or laptop, the Google Daydream is powered by smartphone. The smartphone – it currently only works with Google Pixel – slots into the front of the headset.

With its minimalist design, it’s light and comfy to wear and even fits over your specs. And it comes with a hand controller for interacting with video or games. Soon it’ll work with certain non-Google phones too. It’s a great introduction to virtual reality – particularly for watching video.


Google Daydream

Credit: Google

Why’s everyone talking about VR?

Because virtual reality has been the biggest tech story of 2016. It uses clever cameras and headsets to put you slap bang in the middle of your game or video experience.

PlayStation, Oculus, HTC, Samsung and Facebook all got involved in VR this year. Now Google is flexing its VR muscle. 


How does it compare to other VR headsets?

Because it runs using a smartphone rather than being tethered to a PC or a games console, the Daydream is much less powerful than other tethered headsets – namely the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR.

But it’s not designed to compete with these headsets, which cost several hundred pounds and need powerful hardware to run graphically demanding games from the likes of Steam and PlayStation.

HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are packed with sophisticated tech like OLED screens with wide fields of view, and sophisticated sensors to track your movement. 

Daydream is a viewer – your smartphone does all of the work. Using its high-resolution screen, sensor tech and fast graphics to deliver VR.



Daydream and YouTube – a VR dream  

The new YouTube VR app is built into Daydream and has received rave reviews from all who have tried it. To get the best VR experience you need 360° video, of which YouTube has a rapidly growing collection. It’s been working with creators on virtual reality video for some time. Put on the headset and load the YouTube app. You’re presented with a large virtual screen hanging around 10ft in front of you and you can use the Daydream controller and voice search to find content.


Credit: Google

Highlights include…

  • Swimming with great white sharks deep beneath the ocean with Curiscope
  • Reliving the age of the dinosaurs with the Rhomaleosaurus at the Natural History Museum 
  • Hiking in the mountains of far flung countries alongside the guys at FitnessBlender


Beyond YouTube – what else can you do?  

  • Watch movies displayed on a big screen in a virtual cinema with the Netflix app
  • Experience the Pyramids of Giza or the Taj Mahal with a VR tour using Google Maps Street View 
  • Go off-grid with VR tours of remote and uninhabitable islands with Sheep View

Street view

Credit: Google

What about gaming?

Gaming is probably the biggest part of the VR boom and it’s the main reason people are buying Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. It’s not as big a deal for Daydream, but it’s still important. Games like RPG Twilight Pioneers and Poly Runner have even been created specifically for VR. There are plenty more too.

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