If you’ve ever met the online editor of GadgetGuy, you’d know that he’s a bit of a VR nut. Playing with headsets from an early age, this is one of the areas in tech he digs, so you can imagine how delighted he was to find out what Samsung’s latest idea was.
Anyone that has a Gear VR in their possession can now from this week log on to their favourite websites and view them from inside a virtual world, as Samsung delivers one of the world’s first virtual reality web browsers.
This is one of those things that might make a difference in the virtual world, bringing a use to VR beyond that of video or gaming experiences, with an app that actually does something you might want to do, which in this case is browsing a website.
The question you might be asking yourself, though, is why would you necessarily want to browse a website in virtual reality?
Well, there’s a clear answer to this, and it is size.
Take a look at the smartphones around you, and the growing size of these devices, as well as the popularity of tablets, and it’s pretty easy to see that large sizes are back as an actual thing people want.
Larger sizes are here in the tablet and tech space to help us consume our content in bigger ways, and thanks to the phablets and tablets of the world, we can now read a website just as well as we could a magazine a few years ago, almost at the same size (and in the case of some of the 12-13 inch tablets, at pretty much exactly the same size).
So size is important.
In the world of virtual reality, when you press a small screen up to your eyes and look at it through lenses, your brain interprets it as being bigger than what it actually is thanks to ocular distances.
That small screen looks much bigger in the VR world, and so while it might be tiny on the display, your brain will see it as a big screen that sits in front of you, allowing you to read off of what is essentially a big screen.
In Samsung Internet for Gear VR, a big screen is essentially what you get, taking the mobile view of a website and blowing it up in front of you with separate windows for each tab. You can browse GadgetGuy or YouTube or any other site, and while you can type it in, you can also speak to Google and let it interpret for you.
There’s even a “gaze mode” to let you look at menus and select them, so no touch needed from the touchpad on the side of the Gear VR headset, which is required at other times.
“As a pioneer in the mobile VR industry, Samsung has continually worked to provide our users with a fully immersive mobile experience in the evolving world of virtual reality,” said Samsung’s Chan-Woo Park.
“As the demand for 360-degree, immersive video content rapidly rises, Samsung Internet for Gear VR further enriches the VR content ecosystem for our consumers, setting an industry standard for the VR viewing experience.”
Right now, this one is a free app, and looks like it will be for a while, though we suspect it’s more of a beta than anything else, with a final version expected next year. You will need a Gear VR and the required Samsung Galaxy phone to make it work, however, so unless you have one of each, don’t expect to try this until you nab both.