Popular US streaming provider Hulu has discontinued support for Google’s Daydream platform. Hulu was a launch partner for Daydream VR in 2016. Variety reports that this support has now been discontinued. According to Hulu website, the support was quietly discontinued during a July update. While users with the older versions of the Hulu VR app will still be able to access the virtual reality experience, it will now be impossible for most Daydream users to access Hulu videos on the Daydream View VR headset.
If you have the older version installed and haven’t upgraded the Hulu Android app for quite a while, you will still have access to Hulu in VR on your Daydream headset. Hulu’s support pages state that support will no longer be available on Android mobile devices running the latest versions (version 3.55 or newer) of the Hulu Android app. However, the app will still be available and accessible on the Daydream-capable devices running the older versions (version 3.54.1) of the Hulu app.
The Hulu video service had enabled Daydream owners to gain access to the whole catalog of its offerings via a virtual theater-style setting. The service also included a small collection of 360-degree content. The Hulu app service will, however, still be available on other virtual reality headsets including Samsung Gear VR, PlayStation VR, Oculus Go and Oculus Rift.
Hulu’s exit from Daydream comes on the heels of the recent decision by HBO to remove its HBO Go VR and HBO Now apps from the Daydream platform early this year. Like Hulu, HBO had also been a Daydream launch partner. In June this year, even Google itself discontinued Google Play Movies on Daydream.
Is Google Finally Killing Daydream VR?
The decision by these service providers to ditch the Daydream platform are probably the tell-tale signs that the Daydream platform is about to be dealt a death knell or die its natural death. Although it was launched with much excitement three years ago, the platform never really caught on with end users or the industry.
Initially, it ran on various handsets from Google and other hardware manufacturers. Data from third parties had indicated lagging usage behind its Samsung Gear VR competitor which somehow caught on with users. In spite of the dismal performance, Google had shown confidence in the device and even went ahead and released a new version of the Daydream viewer. The tech giant also announced its plans for standalone devices from various manufacturers that would be based on its 2017 Daydream device.
But HTC, one of Google’s partners in the project, had quit even before the standalone device was released. In May 2018, Lenovo, the other partner, went ahead and released its Lenovo Mirage Solo VR which is based on Daydream. Like the Google Daydream VR Viewer, the Mirage Solo failed to catch on with the end users and it is now listed as sold out on the Lenovo website. In a recent statement to Variety, Lenovo stated that it was selling the device in some “select markets”.
Will Google now pull the plug on its Daydream headset? There are the exits by some of the major Daydream partners such as Samsung which is no longer supporting the headset in its latest smartphones. Besides, Google doesn’t seem too interested in the platform; it was last updated in 2017.
Additionally, Google isn’t certifying new devices to work with the platform anymore. All of Samsung’s 2019 smartphone releases aren’t compatible with the platform. The most telling sign is Google’s decision not to add Daydream support to its own budget-priced Pixel 3a smartphone which was released early this year. This could be the clearest sign yet that Daydream is as good as dead.
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