Google I/O 2017 Recap: New Standalone Daydream VR Headset, Google Assistant on iOS, and Android O Details

Google I/O 2017, the Google equivalent to say, Apple’s WWDC, had its keynote on May 17th, 2017, and there was a few interesting things to come out of it. The big gaming-related reveal is Google announcing a standalone Daydream VR headset along with HTC and Lenovo. These will use a technology called WorldSense, which is described as inside-out tracking. While the headsets are still in the prototype phase, they’re aimed for the “mid-hundreds range" in terms of pricing for the standalone headset. Check out what the WorldSense technology, which uses some of the advances of the Tango augmented reality technlogy, can do:

If Google’s making their own VR headset tech, that makes some more sense as to why they acquired Owlchemy Labs for VR content. Not that Daydream is going nowhere, but I almost wonder if having a standalone platform will help the reputation – and ability to sell content – for mobile-based VR. That’s not to say that Daydream via phones is going away. In fact, a curious announcement was made: the Galaxy S8 is going to support Daydream. That’s big news because that’s one of the most popular Android phones in the world, yes. But also because it raises the question of what does this mean for Oculus and Gear VR, the Samsung-exclusive VR platform?

Google announced new details about Android O (it’s gotta be nicknamed Android Oreo, right?) and it’s not going to be a big feature-packed update. Instead, it’s going to be about improving factors such as battery life and security. Google Play Protect will help detect and protect from malware that can wind up on phones. System bottup times should be twice as fast and apps should run faster, with background activity helping to drain the phone battery less. And a supposedly more modular architecture will make it easier for manufacturers to update their devices. Granted, Android is a very different beast than iOS in that security and feature updates often come to earlier version of Android, but getting the latest and greatest is never a bad thing.

Google is also announcing a new version of Android called Android Go. Designed for low-powered phones, this streamlined version of Android will have a the Google Play Store that will feature optimized apps for these devices.

iOS users will be happy to know that Google Assistant is available as a standalone app, so if you want to get into the whole Google Home architecture, there’s a good entry point. Google Assistant will be coming to all Android TV devices, though the Shield TV is already slated to get Google Assistant itself.