Samsung first introduced the Gear VR mobile headset back in 2014. It was the result of a partnership between Samsung and Oculus with the latter taking care of the software side of things. The company continued to launch new headsets until 2017. When the Galaxy S9 was released the following year, Samsung didn't release a new headset as it was possible to use the existing headset with the new flagship.
The headset wasn't refreshed for the Galaxy Note 9 as well and Samsung just offered a free adapter to those who were interested in using the device with the Gear VR. This was also the case for the Galaxy S10 lineup last year. It became evident that Samsung had all but given up on the Gear VR, especially since the Galaxy Note 10 didn't even work with the headset. If you had any doubts about the Gear VR's future, Oculus will put them to rest as it has decided to kill off its apps for the Gear VR.
Oculus Gear VR apps are biting the dust
Facebook-owned Oculus has confirmed that the Oculus 360 Photos and Oculus Video apps will not be available for download on Gear VR. Those who have the apps in their Library will be able to continue using them but new downloads will no longer be possible. The Films section in Oculus Video, which includes movie rentals and purchases, won't be available either. The company will give customers an Oculus Store credit equivalent to the cost that they paid for any of the titles that were purchased.
Furthermore, the Oculus Browser will no longer get any updates. It will be possible to download and use it on the Gear VR, but don't expect any new functionality and some existing social and recommendations features will stop working. Users may also experience website compatibility issues. This change is going to affect all Samsung Gear VR headsets from April 1, 2020.
Oculus CTO John Carmack recently offered a eulogy of sorts for the Gear VR. “While the software is supported, the days are numbered. And I do think we missed an opportunity here,” he said, adding that customers didn't really use the headsets that much due to the lack of simplicity and concerns over the battery life of the connected device.
It's difficult to say where Samsung's mobile VR efforts will go from here. The company has been virtually quiet on the topic for the past couple of years. It has been increasingly focusing on augmented reality and has even been shipping flagship devices with ToF sensors that allow for enhanced AR experiences. Perhaps this decision by Oculus really does hammer in the final nail in the Gear VR's coffin.