No time to read? The orientation sensors aren’t working properly in Chrome on Android. This is the gist of the fix:

  • In Chrome on Android, type in the address bar ‘about:flags’
  • Click the ‘enable’ link for the flag ‘Enable experimental Web Platform features’

 

Your mobile phone has sensors to detect how your smartphone is oriented. This information is used to allow you to look around in Virtual Reality using your phone. Now, developers of Chrome are changing the way the orientation of your device is measured, this has resulted in multiple issues when viewing VR in Chrome.

Although the Chrome developers are working on a solution, meanwhile this means that viewing VR in your Chrome browser (e.g. when using VRapp) on your Android phone may not function properly. The issues can range from your phone not following your head or body orientation properly, to not following your orientation at all in VR.

We apologise for any inconvenience this might have caused you when using the VRapp platform on Chrome for Android. We are in contact with Google Chrome developers to get these issue resolved as soon as possible.

Next we will discuss the situations in which the bugs occur and what you can do about it:

  • Chrome 45
  • Chrome 46, and higher
  • Android 6 (Marshmallow)

Getting version info

Before we continue, to know the version of Chrome your are using, go to the Chrome app on your Android phone and type “about:version” in the address bar. The version is listed after “Google Chrome”.

Further, to know which version of Android you are using, go to the Android settings, scroll down to the bottom, select “About phone”. Next you will get an overview of your phone. Look for an item called “Android version”.

Chrome 45

If you have Chrome 45 on Android you may experience the VR view to rotate back while you rotate your head or body. Further, we have noticed issues with VR video on OnePlus One in Chrome 45.

To resolve these issues, upgrade to Chrome 46 through the Google Play Store and follow the instructions given next.

Chrome 46 and higher

To resolve the issues in Chrome 46 and higher that are also experienced in Chrome 45 (see above), you need to set an ‘experimental flag’ in Chrome. To do this open the Chrome app on your Android device and type ‘about:flags’. You will see a large list of flags you can enable or disable.

Scroll down to “Enable experimental Web Platform features” and click “Enable”. The end result, thus after enabling, should look like this:

Enabled 'Experimental Web Platform features' flag

Enabled ‘Experimental Web Platform features’ flag

Chrome 46 or higher, with Android 6 (Marshmallow)

UPDATE 4 Jan. 2016: Per Android 6.0.1 this bug is fixed.

When you have upgraded to Android 6 (Marshmallow) you may experience that your head or body orientation is not tracked at all. In this case you will see a static image in VR.

As far as we know this issue only occurs in combination with the Nexus 5 Android phone. Unfortunately there is no easy fix for that at this moment.

If you experience this on another device then the Nexus 5, please let us know in the comments.

Technical background of issues

For the technically inclined, more information about the issues can be found on the Chromium issues website:

  • Issue 397824: VR with Cardboard unusable with current Device Orientation API
  • Issue 540629: Device orientation not working on Android 6.0

Are you experiencing any issues?

Let us know in the comments!

 

— Freddy Snijder, CTO @ VRmaster

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