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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Virtual Reality Apps

12 tips and tricks for Google's Daydream View

Before you get lost in the virtual world that is Daydream, read through our list of tips.

James Martin/CNET
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Forget Google Cardboard, Google's first VR headset is available and it's pretty darn good. Before you dive deep into a virtual ocean, or find yourself trying to diffuse a bomb with the help of teammates, there are a few things you need to know.

First, download the app

As you wait for your Daydream View ($80.00 at Amazon.com) headset to arrive, or while charging up the remote for the first time, take a second to install the Daydream app on your phone. Without this app, the headset is just a fancy looking pair of glasses.

When you place your phone in a Daydream headset, it's this app that runs the entire experience. The Daydream app is also where you can find Daydream apps, and adjust settings.

Give the controller a solid charge.

It will be hard to resist the urge of putting Daydream View on and playing right away, but if you start playing without a fully charged controller you will run into connectivity issues. Google suggests charging the controller for 2 hours before you use it for the first time. Doing so will give it enough juice to power through 12 hours of use or an entire day on standby.

Install new apps on your phone, not in VR.

You can browse Daydream apps while you have the headset on, but the process is so much faster if you open the Daydream app on your phone and go through the apps there. Plus, if you have to enter your password before every app download, you're not going to enjoy pecking away with the controller on a virtual keyboard.

screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Are you a lefty?

Surprisingly, during the setup process you aren't asked which hand you hold the controller with. (As someone with two left-handed kids, this is a big oversight.)

You can set your preferred hand, however, in the Daydream app's Settings under Controller or from the Settings icon on the homescreen when actively using Daydream.

You can wash the face pad.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Depending on how often you wear Daydream View, you may need to wash the face pad to keep it from getting smelly. Gently pull it out, and hand wash it with a bit of warm water and soap.

After it's all clean and dry, place it back in the headset. There are some patches of velcro that you need to line up, but outside of that it's a breeze.

Speaking of velcro...

Don't place Daydream View in a bag or backpack where you have velcro fasteners. It turns out, the fabric Google used for Daydream View is susceptible to getting caught on the velcro, and it could damage the fabric. Nobody wants a headset with strings hanging out of it.

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Put it on the right way.

Instead of putting Daydream View on and cinching it to your head in the same way you would ski googles, think of wearing View like you would wearing a crown. That is to say, a light touch and not too tight.

Get notifications in VR (or not).

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

You do have the option to receive notifications while using Daydream. You will need to tailor priority notifications to ensure you aren't interrupted by something you don't care about.

Of course, you can disable notifications completely if you'd prefer. Open the Daydream app, slide out the menu drawer, tap on Settings > Notifications to adjust the settings.

Don't forget your headphones!

The most effective way to immerse yourself in the virtual experience is to use a pair of headphones, especially if you find yourself in a noisy environment unable to hear a movie or game you're playing. And keep in mind at any time, you can control the volume with the controller.

If you have a pair of Bluetooth earbuds, those are going to be your best bet. The last thing you want to do is get yourself tangled in a headphone cord as you swing the controller back and forth while casting spells in Fantastic Beasts. You can find a decent pair of wireless headphones for around $30; read through some of our suggestions here.

Remember, you can easily recenter your view.

It's easy to get caught up in a game, and find yourself turning and twisting your neck to center the field of view. I've done it a few times when playing games in Daydream, only to realize after a few minutes that you can recenter the screen and pointer at any time by holding the controller straight out and pressing the Home button for a few seconds.

Don't lose your controller.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

If it looks like a remote, it can get lost as easily as a remote. A good habit to develop is when you're done using Daydream View, place the controller back into its dedicated slot inside the headset.

Use Cardboard Camera.

Install Google's Cardboard Camera app, ask your friends to install it too, and starting using it to take photos. There are Android and iOS versions of the app. The app is designed to take immersive photos, be it of your living room or a visit to the Grand Canyon. You can then use Daydream to view the photos captured in 3D.