Oculus made some changes to its mobile VR platform. In addition to revealing the launch date for the next Samsung Gear VR and its new motion controller--the Samsung Gear VR Controller--the company also announced improvements to Oculus Home and other software-related features.
Samsung announced the third generation Gear VR and Controller at Mobile World Congress 2017. The company said the Controller would feature an accelerometer, gyrometer, and magnetic sensors for motion control; a clickable trackpad and a trigger on the back; and home, back, and volume control buttons. Samsung didn't reveal any pricing or launch information, but Oculus announced today that both products will be released on April 11.
A bundled Gear VR and Controller will cost $130. Don't worry if you already own a Gear VR headset and want to use the new motion controls--Controller is available separately for $40. Both will require a Samsung phone to function, of course, and Oculus also sells a $60 gamepad for more traditional input.
On to the software: Oculus also announced that it improved Oculus Home to load up to three times faster than before. Oculus Home's resolution also doubled--Oculus compared the upgrade to moving from standard definition to HD--and a new Explore feature is supposed to make it easier to find new VR experiences. These updates should make using the Gear VR or discovering new apps more pleasant than it was in previous versions of Oculus Home.
Finding something to do with the new Controller will also be easy. As Oculus said in its blog post:
We’ve created an incredible lineup for the Gear VR Controller at launch. You’ll have nearly 20 titles to choose from in April, with 50 more to follow over the next few months.Existing library games not requiring gamepad can all be played comfortably with the built-in touchpad, but new titles designed specifically for the controller take things to another level. The additional trigger unlocks a number of new gestures in VR, like drawing constellations in the night sky, casting a fishing line with precision, and firing guns at your opponent in live, multiplayer standoffs.
That "existing library" consists of roughly 700 apps and games. If that isn't enough to keep you occupied (Oculus-pied?), Gear VR has also been updated with the Oculus Avatars and Oculus Browser announced during the Oculus Connect 3 dev conference in October 2016. The former lets you create a custom avatar to chill with friends in eight-person Parties; the latter, as the name suggests, lets you browse the web.
Oculus said on its website that the Gear VR with Controller bundle can be pre-ordered from Samsung, but at the time of writing, the company's online store hasn't been updated with the bundle. The Controller itself is listed as "coming soon" by Oculus; we expect it'll be available in the near future. If you don't feel like pre-ordering, and you expect Samsung to keep them in stock, the bundle and the individual Controller will be available on April 11.