Google started the idea of using a smartphone as the heart and soul of a VR headset and others immediately jumped on the prospect of an affordable VR system for the masses. That included Samsung who worked with the makers of the Oculus Rift to launch the Gear VR for is high-end flagships. That phase of the VR market, however, was rather short-lived and Samsung slowly “forgot” to update its headsets to be compatible with its latest phones. Now Oculus itself is putting some nails in the Gear VR coffin by pulling out active support for the apps that make it barely usable.
To be clear, you will still be able to use the Gear VR and its apps but only if you already have the apps installed. You still have until April 1, 2020 to do so if you want to beat the deadline. After that, various Oculus apps will no longer be available for download and will no longer receive updates.
There are also a few specific changes, depending on the app. The Oculus Video app’s Film section, for example, will no longer be available for movie rentals and purchases, though already purchased videos will presumably remain in users’ accounts until they uninstall the app. The Oculus Browser will also continue to work but will eventually be unusable if it can no longer keep up with modern websites and features.
At this point, very few people will probably shed a tear for the Gear VR’s imminent demise as the writing has been on the wall for more than two years now. It hasn’t launched any headset that will fit the Galaxy S9 and later and its design practically made sure each headset had very limited compatibility.
The idea of using a smartphone to power a VR headset definitely had some appeal but proved to be infeasible in the long run. Concerns about battery life, limitations in sensors, and, eventually, the lack of support from both smartphone makers and platform developers like Samsung, Oculus, and Google led to its very short life.