Google building spin-off Android OS for virtual reality

Google is working on an entirely new version of its Android operating system designed as a virtual reality platform.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the search engine giant has assembled a team of engineers to build the spin-off OS.

The Android-based system will power virtual reality applications, with ‘tens of engineers’ and other staff already coding the system.

The article points out that this won’t be a forked version of Android Lollipop designed to run on a VR headset. Instead, this will be a distinct and independent piece of software based on the Android ecosystem.

It’s set to be entirely open source too, which means OEMs will be able to produce their own tweaked Android VR ROMs for future devices.

Google reportedly hopes to mimic the success of its smartphone Android platform. Latest counts put current Android mobile devices in use at somewhere over one billion globally.

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It’s not the first time Google has tried to spin off new software from its core Android platform; Android Wear showcases the company’s efforts in the wearable space.

The firm is up against stiff competition from big tech rivals however. We’ve already seen Facebook buy out Oculus VR, Samsung launch its Gear VR headset, and Microsoft unveil its quirky augmented reality HoloLens device.

Google is, however, one of the lead investors in Magic Leap, a HoloLens-style AR headset.

The company also made a strong entry into the VR space with Google Cardboard last year. That’s the DIY headset that saw smartphone-based virtual reality ship at a budget price point of around £10.

Unfortunately, Google is yet to make any official announcements on an Android VR platform, so we don’t have the full details just yet.

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