Photos in Daydream VR offers a powerful trip down memory lane

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I’ve resolved to take a lot more panorama images from now on, and Daydream View is the reason why. Google’s new mobile VR headset, which makes it possible to use Daydream VR in Android 7.1 on the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, is an easy and enjoyable way to try out virtual reality, and its most powerful feature might be your boring old photo library.

We’ve already reviewed Daydream and covered how it might be a big step forward in terms of mass VR adoption, provided it comes to more Android hardware quickly. But something that Daydream offers right now is a powerful way to virtually step into your memories, using the standard Google Photos app included in Android and any images you’ve captured using either the Cardboard camera app, or with the standard Panorama capture mode in the stock Android camera app

Viewing even narrower-angle panoramas in Photos in Daydream VR is a breath-catching experience – literally in my case. It does actually feel like you’re standing inside your memories, and provided you captured them with a decent camera to begin with (most of mine were snapped with a Galaxy S6), they appear sharp and vibrant as well as life-sized.

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My only complaint with Photos in Daydream isn’t levied at Google – it’s pointed at myself. I have around six photos total that work in VR, and I took one of them yesterday. The others are luckily collected from a few cherished trips, and looking at them in the Daydream View feels as close as I’ve ever come to actually stepping back in time.

This will be among the most difficult experiences to convey to people who don’t own their own Daydream but who are interested in trying one out, because it’s intensely personal, and requires that you already have your own panorama photos and a Daydream VR headset/smartphone combo that allows you to see them in the VR Photos app. But trust me when I say that it’s actually breathtaking, and one of the Daydream features that I think will actually change my behavior significantly long-term.

Now, I’m off to take some more panorama photos.