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Week in Tech: Oculus risks missing the virtual boat with Rift delays

TrustedReviews’ Stateside scribe Chris Smith muses over foot-dragging at Oculus, the customer-centric new mobile era and why Apple must be careful with future Apple Watch upgrades

No Oculus in 2015? The VR party is getting started without the Rift
There’s no doubt the Oculus Rift birthed the modern enthusiasm for Virtual Reality.

While VR had existed in various fanciful Tomorrow’s World-style “ok, it sucks now, but in the future…” iterations, the arrival of the Rift headset offered that all-important “holy s**t! This could actually work…” epiphany. And work it does.

Oculus invited everyone to the VR party and got everyone psyched for it, but now it looks like they’re going to show up late.

The firm’s overlords at Facebook have once again tempered the possibility of a release in 2015. For those hoping to add the Rift to their Christmas list, the social network had some very sobering words during this week’s earnings call.

Oculus is very much in the development stage,” the company said.

Meanwhile the pretenders to Oculus’ VR throne continued to get the party started without the hosts, this week.

Samsung has placed its Oculus-backed Gear VR for Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, (with an improved design, thinner head straps and an airflow fan) up for pre-order ahead of next month’s release. Meanwhile, Valve has opened up developer pre-orders for the hugely promising HTC Vive headset it is giving away to software makers. Looking slightly further ahead, PlayStation will be showing first-party developed games for Project Morpheus at E3 in June.

Read more: Oculus Rift vs Project Morpheus: Battle of the VR headsets
Oculus Rift

With all of this happening around it, Oculus is busy playing down the prospects of a release in the medium term. While it’s perfectly understandable Oculus and Facebook want to wait until they can fully achieve their vision rather than release a half-complete product, they run the risk of falling behind the competitors attempting to wrest away the initiative. Our VR gaming expert Sam Loveridge is already predicting Oculus will lose the VR war to the HTC Vive.

It’s clear there’s no sense of urgency at Facebook to bring Oculus to market. Perhaps this is because the proposition has changed to something entirely more Facebook-y and the company is unconcerned by what everyone is doing in the gaming space?

However, most of the exciting software innovations and experiences we’re seeing so far have been created for the Rift. The games, the immersive movies, the training simulations, you name it. Surely it’s time the wider world got to see them rather than read about them.

After all of the groundwork it has put in, it only seems fair Oculus gets the widespread acclaim for finally delivering on the promise of bringing Virtual Reality. The delays will matter less if the Rift is the first VR device that truly realises the medium’s potential and arrives head and shoulders above the rest. VR is still very much about the future rather than the now. However, if it is the second, third our even fourth high quality device to hit the market, the deserving acclaim might not be as forthcoming.

Read more: Before you buy: Here’s what we think of the Apple Watch
Apple Watch

A quick hardware update unfair on early Apple Watch adopters
Typical isn’t it? The Apple Watch only went on sale on Friday and already we’re talking about the next one!

this week suggested Apple is planning software-only updates to the
Apple Watch for the foreseeable future. While the company loves its
annual product refreshes, I’d agree with that approach.  

been conditioned to believe smartphones must be refreshed every couple
of years, but people still want an expensive watch to last a decade.

they don’t want is to feel is the luxury timepiece they just spent
upwards of £300 is outdated months after buying it. The Apple Watch
needs to remain an item buyers can proudly flash, not something they’re
hiding under their sleeves because it feels like last season’s fashion.

new, revamped hardware quickly would be a slap in the face to those who’ve placed
faith in Apple to deliver with the first generation

While battery life
optimisation, improved power and GPS support will be a key for the company going forward, hopefully
they can make these refreshes without making a big song and dance about
it being the “All new Apple Watch.”

This isn’t an item we should feel obliged to upgrade.

Read more: What is Carphone Warehouse ID and why is it a big deal?

Project Fi and Carphone Warehouse ID can change everything
As I alluded to in my ‘What is Project Fi?’ explainer on TrustedReviews earlier this week, Google’s MVNO Project Fi has the potential to bring the biggest change to the mobile industry in recent times.

The pay-for-what-you-use data plans, ability to roam internationally in 120 countries and the ability to hop on to the fastest available network at any given time is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

While that’s a U.S. only proposition, Brits don’t need to miss out on a customer-friendly overhaul of the mobile landscape. The new Carphone Warehouse ID MVNO service brings back 12-month contracts, offers free roaming in 22 countries and caps data to prevent nasty bill surprises.

There’s never been more choice for mobile users on both sides of the Atlantic with companies out there now prioritising what’s best for us rather than what’s best for them. Pretty soon the money-grabbing Luddites refusing to offer their users flexible and affordable deals will have to follow suit.

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