In much the same way that many of us rolled our eyes when web browsers were loaded onto early Android Wear watches, the news that Samsung had released a web browser on the Oculus Store for Gear VR seemed a bit odd. You have to put your phone — which in this case has a fantastic web browser and a stunning display — in a case that reduces the resolution by more than half to use a browser that will never be as easy to use as the native browser on your phone. It’s the kind of thing that we set up mainly to see if there are any redeeming qualities at all, in the hope of finding a reason for the existence of this thing.
As it turns out, the Gear VR has one big reason to have a web browser, and it’s all about YouTube access.
Samsung Internet Beta for Gear VR isn’t that bad. You get voice access to quickly navigate to a website, a virtual keyboard that works better than Netflix’s super-clunky keyboard gives you the option to log into your VR account, and basic browser functions are always far away from the main user interface. However, it is still a mobile browser floating in the black bubble of virtual reality. Images appear as if you’re viewing them on a sub-1080p screen because there’s still a ton of darkness around the rectangle you’re viewing with. It’s more than unlikely that you’ll be reading your favorite blog or specifically checking Facebook through it.
As a web browser, this is basically pointless. However, as a YouTube app, it’s not that bad.
YouTube is now nowhere in the Oculus store, and this is not surprising. Google is hard at work making their app enjoyable with Cardboard, making 360 video easier than ever, and a standalone Oculus app would be a significant undertaking, especially if it looked like a Netflix or Oculus app. video. when it was finished. Oculus and Samsung need YouTube a lot more than Google currently needs Gear VR users, and Samsung’s internet beta is the best workaround for users to get the video they want. Once you open the app, there’s a big YouTube button on the left, and anything that plays in 360 mode on the YouTube website can be turned on with a quick toggle to populate Gear VR and put the user right in the middle of the action. , freely bend over and look around the world as you would through cardboard.
There may be other options for using the web browser on the Gear VR in the future — after all, this beta version — but right now it’s only used as a time frame when watching 360-degree videos, which isn’t currently available on the Oculus store. , It’s a little clunky compared to the native app, but Samsung’s workaround here is functional enough that the company can claim that users can access YouTube 360, which would be a big step forward.