It’s no secret that Google is biased about its Pixel phone. After all, it is its first, and so far only, “made by Google” phone. Just look at its exclusives: Google Assistant, unlimited Google Photos storage, and Daydream View compatibility. That last one, however, seems to be changing little by little, thanks to some investigation and hard work by the Android community. With just a somewhat simple workaround, a rooted Nexus 5X, possibly even any rooted Android 7.0 smartphone, has the potential to be compatible with Google’s fashion-conscious virtual reality headset as well.
For all the talk that Google is doing about its new Daydream VR platform and its fancy new Daydream View VR headset, it hasn’t gone out of its way to make that technology available to the masses. Initially compatible with only the Pixel and the Pixel XL, Google has at least opened the doors for the Moto Z, Moto Z Droid, and Moto Z Force Droid to join the Daydream View party. Well, not anymore. Sort of.
In theory, it may be possible to make any smartphone compatible with Daydream apps. The first requirement is that it should be running Android 7.0. Second, it should be rooted. Third is to edit a system-level file to enable VR features on the phone. Reboot and voila! Daydream VR on your smartphone. So far, it has been confirmed to work on the LG-made Nexus 5X, a 2015 phone, and at least one has done it for the LG V20.
That said, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Google’s Daydream restrictions might not be so arbitrary. As older VR players have already learned, hardware, especially screen resolution, could make or break the VR experience. A Nexus 5X is definitely not cut out for the task. And even the Moto Z Play might not be as well. Also, the tests were done using a Google Cardboard acting as a Daydream viewer as well as an emulated control taking the place of the actual controller, which possibly contributes to the less than impressive performance.