Facebook ends software updates for Samsung Gear VR. In addition, users can no longer access movies or download the Oculus Video app.
The Samsung Gear VR is a smartphone-based VR headset. As with Google Cardboard and its plastic derivatives, users plug into their smartphone, which functions as a display and computer. Unlike cardboard, however, it has a special gyroscope and accelerometer and operates the same mobile Oculus platform and memory as the Oculus Go.
The first Gear VR was released for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Edition in late 2014. “The product was essentially the first modern VR headset for end users.
Over the years, new versions have been released that support the latest Samsung phones. The headset has not changed significantly except for the inclusion of a 3DoF controller from 201
No updates, no movies, no new 360 video users.
Samsung phones no longer receive new Gear VR features through Oculus OS updates.
As of today, the Oculus Video and Oculus 360 Photos apps can no longer be downloaded to Gear VR. If you already have these apps installed on your phone, you can continue to use them, but rented and purchased movies are no longer available. Existing users with purchased movies should get an Oculus Store credit, which is "the cost you paid for the titles you bought," according to Facebook. Users should still be able to use other movie services like Netflix, Prime Video and Fandango Now. However, we should note that some developers who supported Gear VR stopped as soon as it became clear that Facebook would no longer update the platform.  The included Oculus Browser is no longer updated. In Facebook's own words, this can "pose an increased security risk, as when using an outdated web browser". At Oculus Connect conferences, the browser was named one of the most used apps for mobile VR.
Samsung's own Samsung Internet is available for Gear VR, but has not been updated since April 2019. Other third-party browsers exist in the store, but with low user ratings.
As of September 15, developers will no longer be able to support Gear VR for new apps released on the Oculus Store.
Gear VR was already dead.
The announcement was won. For those who will follow Gear VR in months, this is not a surprise.
At Oculus Connect 6 in September, Oculus' then CTO, John Carmack, declared the Gear VR essentially dead.
This was prompted by the message from Samsung that Galaxy Note 10 would not support VR. The Galaxy S20 followed that year and ended Samsung's support for the platform.
Google's competing Daydream smartphone VR platform is also essentially dead, since neither Pixel 3a nor Pixel 4 support it and the sale of the headset itself ends.
In December, the Oculus SDK discontinued support for Gear VR, and in January the Unity engine that created most VR apps declined support.
Smartphone-based VR caused many problems. The time it takes to plug and unplug the phone and the fact that the user's phone is unusable while docked on the headset reduces the likelihood that users will want to use VR regularly. Depending on the device and the conditions under which it is used, a Gear VR session can also end after a few minutes because the phone's processor reaches its thermal limits. Smartphones pack all their components in an incredibly small space. While Samsung is improving its passive cooling design almost every year, there are physical limitations that cannot be overcome if VR is packaged into a device that was first developed as a phone.
Standalone VR headsets, however, contain screens and computer hardware and are designed for better cooling. Despite standalones with roughly the same graphic limitations as smartphone VR, Carmack claimed that the Oculus Go Rift-like retention levels were found, while the Gear VRs were much lower.
Facebook previously ceased producing cables for the original Oculus Rift, leaving many owners with no repair option if it broke. Oculus Go's social features were discontinued late last year. Facebook said Quest will be supported "for years to come", but Go appears to be on the way out.
This story originally appeared on Uploadvr.com. Copyright 2020