Samsung‘s VR efforts are one leaky ship lately, with a report today echoing earlier rumors that the company would be partnering with Oculus VR for its own headset. Now, a leaked pre-release version of the Samsung VR software has made its way into the hands of SamMobile, apparently revealing some of the early functionality the head-mounted display will have, and detailing some of its workings.
Based on the leaked app screens, the Samsung Gear VR device will indeed mount a Galaxy smartphone in front of your face, likely similar to the way that Google Cardboard works with Android devices. But Samsung’s device will predictably be limited to its own smartphones, at lest according to rumors. It’ll also plug into VR via USB 3.0, which is only supported on current Galaxy devices including the S5 and Note 3, likely because of the increased bandwidth for data made available through use of that connector.
The app leak also reveals that upon installation, Samsung’s VR software will begin downloading apps called “VR Panorama” and “VR Cinema,” which means that out of the box it should at least support viewing panoramic photos captured with the devices it pair with, and the Cinema app implies an immersive movie-viewing mode. There are already third-party apps that offer this, complete with 3D effects, on Google Cardboard.
Device management software illustrates that Gear VR will have a touchpad and a back button on its surface, in order to compensate for these being inaccessible on a docked smartphone, and the back button can also act as a pass-through switch, allowing a user to switch from immersive VR to a view of the world around them as seen through their docked device’s camera. Users can also issue voice commands to their device using “Hi Galaxy” to begin operation, per this leak. It also optionally reminds a user every hour that they’re in a virtual realm, so they don’t get lost in the Matrix.
All of this adds up to a device that still sounds like it will have fairly niche appeal out of the gate, and that will likely look to developers to build strong apps that can drive more consumer interest. The modularity could help hook users who might not otherwise look twice at a VR device, however, especially if Samsung can also price this thing fairly low, given the phone will be handling the bulk of the work.