Over the past year, Samsung and Oculus have quickly transformed the Gear VR from a toy to a full fledged VR platform. There’s no shortage of great content, both in video and game formats, and the new hardware works well for just about everyone. It has become easier to use and with more users moving to the platform every day, it is clear that this is not going anywhere anytime soon. While the popularity of virtual reality is growing everywhere, Gear VR is undoubtedly the most improved in the last year.
However, there are a few things we’d like to see next to Samsung and Oculus to take Gear VR even further into the future.
Right now, if you get a notification in VR mode about what’s happening on your phone, there’s nothing you can do about it in VR mode. That is, you cannot act on it at all. You must remove your headset, remove your phone, complete the notification, and return to VR. Samsung will work well with Oculus in Desktop View in the Oculus environment, allowing the user to see the phone’s home screen and interact with notifications in VR mode. Basic things like answering phone calls or replying to messages are things you can already do with the Gear S2, so why not use VR?
Samsung kicked off 2016 by showcasing Rink’s Gear VR finger controllers. They weren’t perfect, but putting your fingers in a virtual environment was an incredibly compelling idea. The current Oculus environment doesn’t really need another input, but for gaming alone, these controllers would be fine. Do it Samsung!
The Gear VR’s camera pass-through mode is appallingly underused. Where are the Terminator Vision apps or live vision filters to make everything around you look like you’re in an Iron Man suit? While not as purposeful as some of Gear VR’s current features, it feels like a mistake unless using the exceptional camera on the back of Samsung phones for some kind of augmented reality experience. Even if it’s something as simple as an AR code in a QR code, through Gear VR the experience will be terribly surreal.
Full set of experience
Samsung sells the Gear VR for $99, but it won’t take many users long to figure out that you need a good gamepad, a few Bluetooth headphones, and maybe a backup battery if you’re going to be taking this VR experience with you. Samsung should put together a complete package with everything you need to fully enjoy the experience, complete with a nice case just like the original Gear VR dev kit. It’s clear Samsung has worked hard to hit that $99 price point, but there are absolutely people out there who will see their friends’ experience and want to dive in with a full set of their own.