Google is working hard to implement a VR shell into Google Chrome as it will enable viewing any website in VR and not just those that are built for it.
Google has played a big role in enabling website creators to make their websites VR compatible and they have gone a long way. But the big problem is that we already have millions of websites that are not in WebVR and you have to take your VR headset when you visit them. Google has a vision to make all websites VR compatible with one shell that will be added to Google Chrome.
The latest builds of Google Chrome Beta and Google Chrome Dev on Android bring two important new features for making this a reality. Chrome Beta now contains a WebVR setting which enables enhanced VR device compatibility with VR websites built against WebVR standards. Chrome Dev (one extra step back in development from Beta) now contains a ‘VR Shell’ setting which Google’s Chromium Evangelist François Beaufort says“enable[s] a browser shell for VR” which “allows users to browse the web while using Cardboard or Daydream-ready viewers.” Both options are available in the browser’s Flags page, accessed by entering chrome://flags in the URL bar.
The VR shell isn't fully functional yet but both options are working their way through Chrome’s various development channels with the goal of eventually landing in the stable release that goes wide to all users.
Google WebVR developer Josh Carpenter tells us what's the difference between the Chrome beta WebVR and the limited functions of WebVR that are already working in other browsers.
“Today I can view a WebVR scene on an iOS [device], even if Mobile Safari doesn’t support WebVR API, thanks to a polyfill + device accelerometers. Which is awesome. The web’s got reach,” he explained. “What the WebVR API gives us on top of that is much richer ecosystem support, things like link traversal between WebVR experiences without dropping out of VR mode, and more.”