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Google to announce standalone Android VR headset at Google I/O 2016 next week

We’ve reported that Google will host its Google I/O 2016 conference from May 18th-20th, but we now have an exciting announcement to present to our readership. According to the source, Google intends to launch an Android VR standalone headset at the conference next week.

In one sense, we’re not surprised: we’ve seen a native VR mode in Android code and figured that something along the lines of a new VR headset (not Google Cardboard) was on the way. With Android N soon to be released this Fall, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together and conclude that the search engine giant would have to launch the headset sometime. The real surprise in all of this is that the headset will be standalone and that it will possibly be called Android VR. It’s rare to see a device released under Google with the “Android” moniker (although there has been Android TV and Android Pay).

Peter Rojas, the co-founder of tech blogs Gizmodo and Engadget, took to Twitter a few days ago to announce the arrival of Android VR and also gave thoughts on what he’d been told: that is, Android VR will be a standalone headset (you won’t need an Android phone) and that “This is what I’ve heard: Better than Gear VR, not as good as Rift/Vive,” he said.

Of course, Android VR will require its own display and battery power, so it’ll be interesting to see just how this new standalone VR headset fares when it’s announced and released into the mass market. Pricing will be another factor, with LG having released its 360 VR headset (which still has to be tethered to the phone) for $200. Samsung’s Gear VR headset costs $99, and the Korean giant has made it accessible to all Galaxy S7 and S7 edge users who purchased the company’s newest handsets. LG’s 360 VR headset is the most expensive, with Google’s Cardboard being the most inexpensive (but not worth it for those looking for a hands-free experience and better build quality).

This is all we know for now, but we’ll keep our eyes and ears to the ground.

What do you think? Are you ready for an Android VR headset? Think it can compete with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift?

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