The only thing we know for sure is that Google is moving beyond Cardboard. All we have now is a name: Android VR. Until now, Google’s virtual reality pretty much meant the Google Cardboard, whose design was licensed out to third-party companies. However, last few days there have been rumors that suggested that Google could launch a standalone headset next week, on their next I/O conference.
Entrepreneur and former tech journalist Peter Rojas has tweeted that Google will launch an untethered Android VR headset next week according to his multiple sources. This would make it a direct competitor of Samsung’s Gear VR (rumors suggest that they also are working on a standalone device that would not require a phone). Rojas noted his sources had confirmed that the headset will be “less powerful than the Vive or Rift,” which given its standalone mobile nature is no surprise.
Samsung has gotten an early advantage in the mobile VR space with the Gear VR, but it has done so by selling the headset at only $99. Currently, Samsung has more than one million people on the Gear VR platform, by giving the headset away for free with S7 pre-orders.
Folks at Android Police have spotted within the Google Play Developer Console a new icon and words that say “Android VR” (to the far right, next to the Android Auto icon). We should take this with a grain of salt because, considering that Android VR is listed next to other platforms like Android Wear, Android Auto, and Android TV, Android VR could also be a virtual reality platform for developers to help develop content for the likes of the Google Cardboard. So let’s not rush to the conclusions.
Google I/O will be very VR-focused this year so maybe a VR headset would still be in the cards, after all. Either way stay tuned for their event.