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Sony  has introduced an app called “AnywhereVR” during it’s press conference at the Tokyo Game Show 2016.  It is Sony’s take on relaxation apps. Unlike other VR relaxation apps, they also wants to integrate your smartphone in it. Because nothing’s more relaxing than flipping throught your tweets by the ocean, right? Does this mean we will have a second screen in VR?  Well not quite, but it does open to many possibilities.

When inside AnywhereVR app, you can summon your  smartphone in the virtual space. You are not controlling anything from the VR interface, you are actually using your phone in your hand, to keep the intuitiveness of the smart phone touchscreen. Sony’s trailer shows it’s vision: You come home from work and put on the PSVR headset, you will than find yourself in a wonderful world with relaxing music. If you select your smartphone the image of the smartphone is transmitted to the PSVR. You can then tweet, play small games and chat with your friends via Whatsapp for example. The big question is: Is it usable?  Because you don’t see the real phone, will users really be able to use their phone inside the app and mostly, will they want to?

After all, the smartphone’s screen will probably look pretty blurred because of the PSVR’s screen resolution compared with the phone’s screen resolution.


AnywhereVR has potential, but also limits

Unfortunately, in this case the smartphone is not being tracked in space. This makes sense as your smartphone is not being recognized by the PlayStation Camera. Whether the app works on all phones is currently unclear. Presumably Sony will limit itself down to it’s own smartphones as it usually does. The AnywhereVR app will probably be available worldwide and will be released at the launch of the PlayStation VR headsets.

AnywhereVR is not an overlay, it’s a PSVR app in itself, so you won’t be able to see your smartphone’s screen in every games, only  in AnywhereVR. Maybe they will set the tone for such features in future games and apps. This  concept  is not a new one. The HTC Vive offers the possibility to show your smartphone’s notifications in VR as well, but it doesn’t let you use it as much as the PSVR approach.

While using your phone inside VR might sound a bit silly, there are many features that could be interesting, such as companion apps, recieving calls without quiting the VR world or browse for info inside your favorite game. We hope to see such features develop over time to bring something more to the VR experience.

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Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

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