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Google Intros Android-Based VR Platform

Google used its I/O developer conference Wednesday to unveil Daydream, an Android-powered virtual reality platform that represents a big leap beyond its initial work around its Cardboard viewer.

Daydream is being built on top of Android N, a new, higher-performing version of the operating system.

“Together with Android manufacturers, we're working on upcoming phones, and sharing designs with them for a VR viewer and controller that will be really immersive, comfortable and intuitive to use,” Google said. “Your favorite apps and games will be coming to Daydream too, including Google's—like YouTube, Street View, Play Movies, Google Photos and the Play Store. More to come this fall.”

Like the Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR (and even the entry-level Cardboard viewer), Daydream will require VR users to pair viewers with compatible smartphones.

In addition to providing a reference design for viewers and controllers, Google is also working on its own mobile VR headset that will debut this fall, Variety reported.

Hulu announced that it will be among the first publishers committed to making its VR app available on Daydream. Hulu introduced its VR app for the Gear VR in March.

Ubisoft, Netflix, and Electronic Arts will also develop apps for Daydream, which will be supported by several smartphone makers, including Samsung, HTC, LG Electronics, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE, and Asus, according to The Verge.  Google’s own services, like YouTube, Street View, Play Movies, Google Photos and the Play Store will also be optimized for Daydream.

Google’s new mobile VR platform will be entering the fray alongside high-end platforms such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well as Sony PlayStation VR, which is slated for an October 2016 launch.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Google was working on a successor to Cardboard and that the company was also working on a higher-end, self-contained VR platform.

At I/O, Google also announced a voice-activated smart home product, called Google Home, that will compete against products such as Amazon’s Echo. Google said it will release that product later this year.

The company also previewed Android Wear 2.0, an OS that will feature a revamped user experience and support standalone apps.