How do I install Daydream on my phone?

Google's philosophy with their newest VR platform is simple. In order to offer the best possible experience in Daydream, there needs to be a minimum list of requirements met. The phone must be capable of delivering two video streams at 60fps with no stutter, and when you turn your head inside a Daydream headset there should be as little motion blur as possible. Unfortunately that means no matter how capable your phone is, if it's got an LCD display Google won't be enabling Daydream by default. The "motion to photon latency" in LCD panels being used in phones right now is just too high, and the end result is a VR experience that doesn't meet Google's quality threshold.

That having been said, if you're willing to mess around with your phone a little there may be a way to enable Daydream on your phone without Google's blessing.

Editor's Note: VR Heads does not recommend you attempt to force Daydream onto your phone for daily use. The latency caused by LCD panels dramatically increases the potential for nausea in VR.

Before you get started

  • Your phone must be running Android 7.0 or higher for this to work. DO NOT attempt if your phone is not running this version.
  • You must have root access enabled on your phone for this to work. If you do not know how to root your phone, do not continue.
  • Locate and install the latest version of Google's Daydream app and Google VR Services to install on your phone. If you are not sure you have the latest version from the source you downloaded from, do not continue.
  • Install a Root Explorer app from the Play Store.

This process essentially forces Daydream apps to run on your phone be enabling the code those apps check for in order to determine if your phone is approved by Google. You are installing all of the parts Google enables on a Daydream Ready phone, which includes editing software in your phone that controls permissions. Here's how it works.

Step by step instructions

  1. Locate /system/etc/permissions/handheld_core_hardware.xml in your system, and select Edit.
  2. Locate Root Permissions and add <feature name="android.software.vr.mode" /> <feature name="android.hardware.vr.high_performance" /> to the tag.
  3. Reboot your phone.
  4. Launch Daydream and place your phone inside the headset.

If you can, immediately after you've confirmed Daydream is functional on your phone you should remove root access to keep any other apps from editing files without your knowing. This process bypasses a lot of the security features in Android that keep you safe, and keeping that bypass active on your phone is a bad plan.

That having been said, if you're curious to see what all the Daydream excitement is about and aren't buying a new phone anytime soon this will get you there.