News that Google was enabling VR support inside of Chrome left a lot of people thinking the browser would be the next app added to the ever-expanding portfolio of Daydream apps, but for now that's not the case. Instead, Google has built parts of the Daydream experience into Chrome itself so you can enjoy Chrome VR with or without a headset.
Here's how you get started!
Chrome VR is an extension of the VR View embeds Google revealed last year. Each of these are regular websites you can go to on any browser, including Chrome on your PC and Chrome on your phone. Right now, Google has five Chrome VR experiences for you to choose from.
- Bear 71 — Explore the intersection of humans, nature and technology in this interactive documentary from NFB.
- Matterport —Tour Matterport's library of over 300,000 celebrity homes, museums, canyons, iconic architecture and other real-life places.
- Within — Watch more than two dozen award-winning VR films.
- Sketchfab —Discover more than a million stunning 3D scenes created by the world's largest community of VR creators.
- WebVR Lab — Use your Daydream controller to experiment and play in the WebVR Lab from PlayCanvas.
When you go these sites with Chrome on your phone, you can move your phone around in portrait or landscape and see everything around you. The accelerometer on your phone moves as you do, and on some sites you can interact with the environment by tapping on the screen. It's a cool addition to what Chrome has done for years with their Experiments, but if you have the most recent version of Chrome on your phone you will also see a VR symbol in the bottom corner of the site.
Tapping that icon launches the Daydream experience. The screen is forced landscape, and you get a message asking you to put the phone in a Daydream headset. From here, this website in Chrome behaves exactly like a Daydream app. Your Daydream Controller works the same, the head tracking is just as smooth, and if you press the home button on your controller while in this Daydream mode you're taken back to the Daydream app. Until you hit that home button, though, you haven't actually left Chrome. In fact, if you take the phone out of the headset and press the back button on your phone, you'll leave the Daydream mode and return to the Chrome page you were just on.
Google is blurring the lines between Daydream app, Chrome app, and website in Chrome with this new VR effort, and it works surprisingly well right right now. This setup is very different from a version of Chrome in Daydream that tasks you with navigating all of the web in order to find these experiences, and for now that's a big deal. Very little of the web is VR-friendly right now, and Google seems poised to slowly change that for the better.