Google gives Chrome the virtual reality treatment

Google is injecting a little Chrome into its VR platform, bringing the web browser to Daydream headsets, the company announced today. It’s been a long time coming considering the depths of Google’s WebVR experimentation on desktop and mobile Chrome.

The Mountain View tech giant announced it was working on this quite a while ago, back at I/O 2017.

Google has been moving pretty slowly with any big Daydream updates lately, all while Facebook’s Oculus has driven heavy news to its mobile platform thanks to new standalone hardware. Daydream rolled out its own positionally-tracked headset with Lenovo earlier this summer but a major lack of content has been the system’s biggest issue. Bringing the web to Daydream could help correct this, and directing more mobile developer attention to WebVR might be a positive move for Google as it looks to make content discovery more simple.

Last year, the company made it so that you could open WebVR content in mobile Chrome on your phone and then drop it into a Cardboard headset and check out the content, with this you’ll be able to launch inside VR, explore inside VR and then move onto something else.

Loading desktop webpages inside a VR headset doesn’t necessarily seem earth-shatteringly disruptive but there are some optimizations Google has ensured that some non-WebVR content gets special treatment including a “cinema mode” that drops videos into a special environment to keep your eyes on the content. You’ll also get incognito mode, voice search and access to your saved bookmarks.

The browser is available for Lenovo’s Mirage Solo as well as Google’s own Daydream View headset and you’ll gain access after updating Chrome on Android.

The web is largely still an untested wilderness for virtual reality that nobody is racing to conquer given headset volume is still pretty low and a lot of wind has been sucked out of VR’s sails lately. There’s a lot of interesting stuff that the web enables for virtual social environments especially and though most major powers are drawing attention to their own platforms, a platform like Chrome arriving on Daydream could start to spark some developer imagination for what’s possible.