In the race for mobile VR market share, the Samsung Gear VR has situated itself comfortably ahead of the pack. With 2016 sales exceeding both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the demand for Samsung Gear VR app development provides a rare opportunity for developers.
But why is the Samsung VR headset so popular, and why should mobile VR app developers target the VR Gear?
There are three basic reasons why the Gear VR has captured market share, and why Samsung would have had to work hard to fail. First, the $99.99 price tag allows even cash-strapped users to enjoy mobile VR videos and gaming. Second, unlike the Google Daydream View, the Gear VR is powered by a phone that is already enormously popular — the Samsung Galaxy series. Lastly, Gear VR users can choose from among a huge library of more than 700 apps, which the Google Daydream View cannot yet touch.
While the Gear VR cannot compete with the high-end, PC-driven Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for performance, its ability to compete for mainstream market share makes it the ideal platform for your next VR app.
And it just got better.
Gear VR 2
Samsung has raised the bar even higher with the recent release of the newest generation, known unofficially as “Gear VR 2.”
From the initial release in November of 2015, the Gear VR has been in a class by itself. The attention to detail shown in the latest model reflects Samsung’s commitment to keeping it there.
Among the improvements included in the latest model is support for the larger Galaxy S8. The pixel density of the S8 — 570 ppi — gives the Gear VR a noticeable edge over the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, with resolutions of 441 ppi and 447 ppi respectively. With higher ppi comes not only an improved visual experience, but less “virtual reality sickness” as well. Galaxy 7 users need not fret, however; your ppi is 576.
Samsung has also addressed one of the chief complaints common to all VR headsets: user comfort. Even though Samsung, from the beginning, designed the Gear VR with use comfort in mind, they just made it comfier. The revised ergonomic design purposefully accommodates a wider range of face shapes and sizes. The redesigned cushioned liner even does a better job of sealing out external light, and nothing kills the immersive experience faster than evidence of the external world seeping in.
While the 101° field of view is comparable with its high-end counterparts, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, it far surpasses that of the Google Daydream View.
In addition to improving the headset, Samsung paired the new model with a wireless controller, which can be used to navigate the VR landscape, or as a gamepad.
Even though none of the changes we see in the newest Gear VR are game changers, they make the #1-selling mainstream VR viewer even more desireable. And that translates into an even greater market for mobile VR app developers to target.
How to Make Your First Gear VR App?
OK, so the Samsung Gear VR is hot. But how does one go about capitalizing on the platform’s popularity by creating killer apps for it? Although we can’t teach you how to develop mobile apps within this article, we can explain the general process for developing VR apps for the Gear VR.
Developing applications for the Samsung Gear VR means developing for the Android OS. Android Studio makes development easy — at least, as easy as mobile app development can be, by providing a full suite of tools to make developing within a user-friendly IDE. If yours is a gaming app, you will want to also use Unity 3D, the de facto cross-platform gaming development platform.
While the process for creating apps obviously varies widely, depending on the specific features and specifications of the app, the basic steps for game app development for Samsung Gear VR could be summarized as follows:
Step 1: Download and setup Unity to work with the Android environment. Since Unity is a cross-platform platform, you must configure it to work with the Android OS.
Step 2: Download and install the Android Studio IDE.
Step 2: Download and install OEM USB drivers for your device. The USB drivers are needed so that your PC OS can communicate with your device.
Step 3: Enable developer settings on your Android device. This allows you to test your app on an actual Android device, which is a crucial part of the development process.
Step 4: Following the online instructions for Android Studio and Unity, develop your gaming application.
Step 5: Test your application on an Android device, and revise your design as necessary.
Step 6: Create an Android Manifest for your app. The manifest includes important information about your app, such as landscape orientation and device compatibility.
Step 7: Create an Oculus Signature File. This file is a required part of the application process for placing your game in the Oculus Store.
Step 8: Follow the detailed instructions provided by Oculus for making your app ready for distribution.
This basic outline of the development process assumes that you have the prerequisite skills needed for developing on an Android device, and that you can exhibit proficiency using SDKs and gaming development platforms. If your idea is beyond the reach of your development capabilities, you can still capture your fair share of the market by working with an experienced developer.
Mobile VR Heating Up
The global market for VR app development is exploding. Research firm SuperData forecasts the VR market to reach nearly $38 billion by 2020, a 20-fold increase over 2016.
While Google Cardboard helped VR to go mainstream, Cardboard shipments are expected to continue to decline, while “real” VR headset sales will enjoy steady if not exponential growth. What this means for the developer is that the time has come to get serious about VR. No longer can anyone suggest that VR is a fad; now it is big business. Discussion over.
The VR market is showing growth in both hardware and software products. However, The spit is rapidly shifting toward consumer software, from a 16% share in 2016 to an expected 52% of the market by 2020. With market dollars increasingly going to apps, it is a perfect time for Gear VR app development to capture even more market share.
What Kind of Apps?
A quick search of “VR applications” could lead you to believe VR is all about gaming and video. And it is. But the innovative developer will realize the unfathomable opportunity that lies in other sectors, as well.
Here are just a few industries where Gear VR app development can penetrate, or disrupt, markets that have nothing to do with entertainment.
- Architecture and Design
- Law Enforcement
To get a better idea of the opportunities that await the developer, consider that each of the above sectors have numerous sub-sectors, each a ripe market for virtual reality technology. Business, for example, can benefit from VR technology in facilitating B2B communications, by utilizing VR for realistic demos, and by using VR as a meeting platform. The healthcare industry can benefit from VR applications that target dentistry, nursing, surgery, phobia treatment, treatment for PTSD, treatment for autism, and therapy for the disabled. Even sports provides opportunities for streaming VR video of high school games, high-resolution data-enhanced viewing of sporting events, and it provides a realistic training platform for athletes at all levels.
Games and video aside, the number of existing and new markets for VR applications are limited only by the developer’s imagination. And there is absolutely no reason that Gear VR cannot be the platform from which such VR solutions come.
How AppReal-VR Can Help?
The market for VR applications is poised to grow exponentially by 2020. Despite increased awareness of VR by the general public, growth will ultimately be driven by innovation, rather than market demand. That is because the markets are too immature to know what they need. It is up to developers to both identify the need for VR technology across multiple sectors, and to satisfy those needs with innovative VR solutions.
App development for Samsung Gear VR will be the force that propels VR technology into the classrooms, the operating rooms, and the boardrooms. It will also be how mainstream users experience the next level of VR video and immersive games. The question is, are you ready to make it happen?
AppReal-VR offers the VR development solutions you need to bring your mobile Samsung Gear VR application to life. We are experts at mobile app development, VR technology, and all the platforms that bring the two together. We operate several R&D labs across Western Europe, allowing us to serve you efficiently, regardless of your location.
If outsourcing your VR app development makes more sense to you than trying to go it alone, why not call us today for a free consultation?