The other major change to the View's design becomes apparent when you look into the headset for the first time. Comparatively speaking, the new Fresnel lenses used to magnify a phone's screen are huge. Google made the change to increase the headset's virtual field of view by 10 percent, and while that sounds like a pretty modest bump, it meant I take in more of whatever world I was in at a glance. More important, these new lenses also make the sweet spot -- that point where your eyes can perfectly focus on the screen -- a little larger than before. After five or six minutes of trial and error, I got the ideal strap lengths locked in, and I've been staring at the sweet spot ever since.
So yeah, the hardware has been improved in subtle, helpful ways. The software experience, meanwhile, hasn't really changed. You'll be plopped into the same virtual forest in front of the same virtual menu to access the same virtual apps. That's what makes the new Daydream such a hard sell: Because all of the heavy lifting is handled by the smartphone, the actual experience isn't hugely different from before. When it comes to content, Google still has a ways to go -- at current count, Google has around 250 Daydream apps, but the Gear VR's head start still means it has a stronger catalog of exclusive apps to work with. In particular, Samsung and Oculus' mobile headset has a better selection of licensed experiences -- you'll need a Gear VR if you want to cruise through Blade Runner's techno-noir LA or peer into a handful of Disney-themed worlds.
Ultimately, the new Daydream View is a solid new choice for people with compatible phones looking for a crash course in virtual reality. If you already have an old View and haven't run into the trouble others have, there's no pressing need to upgrade. And if you fall into the category of people who yearn for a more powerful mobile VR experience, well, you should probably just wait for Google's standalone headset instead.