During the heyday of Google’s VR push back in 2015, the company launched Expeditions. The software allowed teachers to take their classrooms on virtual field trips to far-away locales and distant eras of human history with the help of Google Cardboard. Moving forward, you won’t need to be a student to access the tours — nor will you need a VR headset, for that matter. Google is adding the majority of its existing 360-degree tours to its Arts & Culture platform, where you’ll be able to access them for free.
With the feature making its way to Google Arts & Culture, the company plans to shutter the standalone Expeditions app. After June 30th, 2021, it will no longer be available to download. Google says it came to this decision in light of how the coronavirus pandemic has affected teaching throughout the world.
“We’ve heard and recognize that immersive experiences with VR headsets are not always accessible to all learners and even more so this year, as the transition to hybrid learning has presented challenges for schools to effectively use Expeditions,” the company said.
However, just as likely at play here is the fact that Google has all but abandoned phone-based VR over the last few years. Starting with the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, none of the company’s recent phones have supported its Daydream View headset. Over a few months last year, the company also shut down both its Spotlight Stories VR studio and Jump VR platform. But when you get down to it, this is a positive development for Expeditions. As the company itself points out, moving the experience to the Arts & Culture app makes it more accessible to a greater number of people.