Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai hinted that Cardboard was “just the first step in VR.” Now a Financial Times report reveals how the company plans to leap forward later this year with new hardware and software.
According to several anonymous insiders who spoke with FT, Google is working on an updated VR headset with a nicer plastic design, built-in sensors and new lenses, similar to Samsung’s Gear VR. The device will support a variety of Android devices, though it’s unclear if it will also support the iPhone. Google Cardboard currently works with Android and iOS handsets, but the upgraded headset may require new Android VR software as well.
FT notes that Google plans to integrate virtual reality software directly into its mobile operating system. That may help reduce lag-induced nausea, which can be an issue with Cardboard. It would also make it possible for third-party developers to build more complicated VR smartphone apps, which should help Google compete with Facebook’s Oculus, the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.
Google’s new headset isn’t expected to launch until later in the year, when the company typically reveals its new Nexus devices. However, we may get a look at Android VR as soon as May at the annual I/O developer conference where Google typically announces the newest version of Android.