Samsung Gear VR Headset Gets an Optimized Virtual Reality Web Browser

The special Web browser lets users view the Internet in a 360-degree virtual format over multiple screens inside the Gear VR headset.

Samsung Gear VR, virtual reality, virtual reality headsets, wearables, Web browsers, Samsung Internet for Gear VR, Oculus

Samsung has released a beta version of an optimized Web browser for Samsung Gear VR users who want to browse the Internet using their Gear VR virtual reality headsets.

The new beta application, Samsung Internet for Gear VR, was unveiled Dec. 2 by Samsung and is available through the Oculus Store. Oculus is Samsung's partner in the Gear VR project. By using the app, Gear VR users will be able to intuitively browse the Web and view what they are seeking in a more immersive atmosphere that doesn't require them to download content to their smartphones, according to Samsung.

"As a pioneer in the mobile VR industry, Samsung has continually worked to provide our users with a fully immersive mobile experience in the evolving world of virtual reality," Chan-Woo Park, the vice president of the product strategy team for the IT and mobile communications business at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. "As the demand for 360-degree, immersive video content rapidly rises—Samsung Internet for Gear VR further enriches the VR content ecosystem for our consumers, setting an industry standard for the VR viewing experience."

The Samsung Internet for Gear VR app supports 360-degree streaming, 3D video streaming and all HTML5 video on the Internet, the company said. The Internet for VR app also provides voice recognition, along with an on-screen keyboard. The app's Gaze Mode lets users select menus by simply gazing at them, without having to lift a finger, according to the company. It can also import bookmarks from the Samsung Internet for Android mobile Web browser and provides features such as Quick Access, Bookmarks and Tab Manager, giving users a familiar Web browsing experience.

The Samsung Internet for Gear VR beta version is available for download in the Oculus Store starting Dec. 2. Samsung devices that work with the Gear VR include the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note 5 smartphones.

The Gear VR virtual reality headset, which went on sale through T-Mobile for $99.99 on Nov. 27, allows users to view video games, movies and more in immersive new ways. The Samsung Gear VR is a less-expensive, consumer version of virtual reality headsets made by Oculus, which give users the ability to dive deeper into VR games and to have 360-degree video experiences.

The Samsung Gear VR weighs 22 percent less than the previous Gear VR Innovator Edition, and includes improved foam cushioning for better user comfort, the company said. The Gear VR's touchpad has also been upgraded and improved, giving users greater control when operating the unit with games, movies and other content.

The Samsung Gear VR is available in Frost White and can also be purchased through Amazon and Best Buy.

To use the Gear VR, a compatible Samsung smartphone is snapped into the device and it then can be used with an app on the phone. Users can then play a game, take a virtual vacation or watch a movie using the device. The Gear VR touchpad controls include a back key, a volume key and a focus adjustment wheel. The Gear VR also has built-in gyro, accelerometer and proximity sensors.

Users can play immersive VR games or share 360-degree video experiences with friends with the Gear VR as they use head movements to explore, aim and interact in new ways to play and be entertained.

A wide variety of content is also available through the Gear VR, turning the device into a home theater with almost limitless possibilities.

The Samsung Gear VR weighs 11.21 ounces. It is 7.94 inches wide, 4.58 inches tall and 3.64 inches thick.