20 January 2020
When Samsung launched the new Galaxy Note 10 series, it didn’t talk about the Gear VR which usually goes compatible with the new phones. Samsung, in fact, didn’t utter a word on its VR headset and later it got confirmed that no version of Galaxy Note 10 is compatible with the GearVR.
The reason behind this incompatibility is unknown but we expected to hear something better from Samsung. It was also suspected that Samsung may offer an adapter to make the new devices compatible with the Gear VR like it did with the Galaxy Note 9 but no such support arrived. And fast forward to now, Oculus CTO has confirmed that Samsung’s latest and future phones will not support the headset and while the software is fully supported, its “days were numbered.”
At the Oculus Connect developer conference, CTO John Carmack took enough time to share a bit of “eulogy” for Gear VR. Calling the VR headset a missed opportunity, Carmack addresses what went wrong and what might have saved it from drowning.
Carmack pointed out he invested a whole lot of efforts into it and it’s been the foundation that they built all the mobile things off. He knew even though Samsung had declined to share the stats that the activations of the Gear VR have been large in number, even larger than Oculus’ handsets.
“Gear VR had good reviews, people liked it, but it wasn’t retentive. Its place was lower than others in the VR industry. It was the kind of the classic leaky bucket that growth companies are advised not to pour effort into.” But, the company rather put a lot of money into the content, “a significant of money.”
Carmack mentioned that he himself did some research to see what’s not working and found that there were so many apps that did almost nothing. So, the investment didn’t give any returns there.
The biggest issue was just the friction of getting into the experience -
He also mentioned that sometimes he’d also complain about not getting enough support internally as the team was rather excited for the standalones and Rift hardware. He also pointed out some of the issues arrived with the Gear VR earlier like the overheating but in retrospect, people were still enjoying using the headset despite the heating issue. Battery drainage was another issue that came like a hurdle in the growth of the Gear VR. But Carmack believes the biggest issue was just the friction of getting into it. Carmack stresses here that putting the phone into the dock for a VR experience, people would use it only twice and they receive a lot of signals where they learned that people essentially are doing that.
Carmack said they could have imagined doing things to improve the experience but it didn’t happen. He pointed out, “the docking was fiddly, the mounting was fiddly. There is also the software of things that they could have done better.”
He even said the “daydream holder was even better than the Gear VR holder.” He further said had they knew the particular size of the phone, they’d have developed a better holder that could fit the device better. With more and more support for phones with different sizes, the holder became less optimal.
He further said even though the holder was insurmountable, there were other directions that they might have tried. Carmack confesses the little touchpad was just not a gaming interface and wasn’t good for long-form entertainment experiences. He also said that they made a simplified controller.
You can watch the eulogy for Gear VR from the cut video uploaded by UploadVR and watch him speaking on the crucial things about the Gear VR.
Now as it's officially announced that no further phones from Samsung will support the Gear VR, we suspect we may see standalones coming from Samsung sooner.