Rumor: Google to launch Android VR headset at Google I/O

— 12:55 PM on May 13, 2016

There’s a rumor going around that Google is going to throw its hat into the VR headset ring. The Android news site Android Police has spied something that lends credence to the rumor. The Google Play Developer Console has added an entry for Android VR in its Pricing and Distribution settings.

We've been hearing murmurs of a Google entry into the VR space as far back as February of this year, when Android Police reported on a rumor that the purported Android VR would stake out a middle ground between PC-tethered headsets and Samsung's $100 Gear VR. Tech investor Peter Rojas revived those rumors yesterday on Twitter. He claims that Android VR not only exists, but it'll also be announced next week at the Google I/O conference. He also said that Android VR would be "better than Gear VR, not as good as the Rift/Vive," which lines up with what Android Police reported in February.

Google's current contribution to VR hardware, Google Cardboard, was introduced at Google I/O several years ago. This could indicate that Google considers I/O to be the best venue for this kind of announcement. Android Police also points out that the Google I/O schedule is chock full of VR events.

If this rumor proves true, it would mean that the casual VR scene could see some options beyond Samsung's Gear VR. While the Gear VR is only $100, it requires a recent Samsung smartphone to operate, which might be a deal-breaker for some folks. The February report from Android Police speculated that Android VR wouldn't be tied to a smartphone at all, much less a particular brand. Samsung's partnership with Oculus for the Gear VR makes it a formidable opponent, though. We'll just have to see whether an Android VR device of some kind surfaces next week.

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