May 18, 2017

Google's plan to make VR a less solitary experience

Screenshot by Axios

While virtual reality lets you go to Mars, attend a sporting event or concert or tour a refugee camp, it is often a pretty lonely journey limited to the one person wearing a headset. Google hopes to change this.

At its I/O conference on Thursday the company announced a few new ways it is making virtual and augmented reality efforts a more social experience.

Among its announcements:

  • The ability to use Google Cast to simultaneously share what you are seeing on VR headset with others on a nearby TV.
  • An option to share screenshots or short videos from a VR experience on social media or via messaging.
  • An update to YouTube VR that will let people gather together in a virtual room to watch a YouTube video together and chat.

Also: Google detailed the next version of its Daydream software, known as Euphrades, will support standalone VR headsets from partners. The first two, from HTC and Lenovo, are due out at the end of this year. Meanwhile, on the augmented reality front, the next Project Tango-capable phone, the ZenFone AR, is coming from Asus and will be sold by Verizon starting this summer. And it is finally bringing its Chrome browser into VR later this year.

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Pope Francis delivers Palm Sunday sermon to empty St. Peter’s Basilica

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on listeners in his Palm Sunday sermon — on the first day of Holy Week — to "reach out to those who are suffering and those most in need" during the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Francis delivered his message inside an empty St. Peter’s Basilica, broadcasting it over the internet to churches around the world.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 a.m. ET: 1,213,927 — Total deaths: 65,652 — Total recoveries: 252,391Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 a.m. ET: 312,245 — Total deaths: 8,503 — Total recoveries: 15,021Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Virus vices take a toll on Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans are doubling down on their worst habits to cope with the mental and emotional stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on health of the American people, in part due to the habits they will pick up during the weeks and months they are forced to stay home.