Google's Android VR could be a big stepping stone for mobile VR

Android VR

Just a day after mention of Android VR was found lurking within Unreal Engine code, even more evidence has surfaced that points to a big VR announcement at next week's Google IO 2016.

Peter Rojas, creator of reputable tech domains like Engadget and Gizmodo, shared with his followers on Twitter that Google's next VR venture, Android VR, is slated to "definitely be announced next week."

We recently reported on some findings within the latest update of the Android N developer preview, which included several mentions of VR that suggest Google might possibly integrate it across the entire mobile OS instead of limiting it to an in-app experience à la Google Cardboard and Samsung's Gear VR.

Speaking of Gear VR, as well as the more capable Oculus Rift and HTC Vive: where does Android VR fit in the picture in terms of performance output? Rojas also shared that it will be positioned somewhere in the middle. In his own words, the standalone headset that will likely operate with your smartphone slotted inside "will be less powerful than the Vive or the Rift."

While not entirely surprising, given that the quality of the experience is contingent on the power of the device inside, smartphones are only going to get more powerful.

More VR for the masses

What makes the idea of Android VR so appealing is that it would open up the entire Android user base to more advanced and nuanced VR, or at least the ones who are eligible for an Android N upgrade.

Sure, just about anyone can use Google Cardboard, which is awesome, but most will agree that it's a pretty limited experience. And unlike Samsung's Gear VR, which is only reserved for its Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and a few of its other recent devices, Android VR would be more inclusive, so long if you're using a device with the required amount of power. That said, it probably won't extend to the iPhone 6S or the upcoming iPhone 7.

How Google plans to create an experience that scales across many, many devices is something that I'm very interested to hear about. Make that one more reason I'm excited for next week's Google IO.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.