WebVR Origin Trial results so far (Chrome 57)

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Brandon Jones

Apr 26, 2017, 5:54:23 PM4/26/17
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The WebVR origin trial started in Chrome 56. Chrome 58 is the last release it is intended to be available as an Origin Trial. We are continuing collected various feedback and are sharing it according to the Origin Trials process.

Note we’re publishing feedback before the end of the trial in order to provide time to land code, enable or disable the feature etc in the first release after the trial ends.

During the course of this origin trial we determined that the API shape would need to undergo multiple large scale ergonomics changes. Once those changes have been established we intend to run a new experiment with the revised API.

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Spec and chromestatus.com entry

Spec: https://w3c.github.io/webvr/spec/1.1/

Chrome Status: https://www.chromestatus.com/feature/4532810371039232

Developer interest

As of April 26, 2017, 253 origins have registered for access to the origin trial. Tokens were renewed 131 times for this feature.

As an example, https://webvrexperiements.com has recently launched to highlight various WebVR experiences and demonstrate novel uses of the technology.

We found usage was split approximately:

31% Commercial

17% Personal

30% Experimental

22% Unknown

Developer feedback

Developers loved having access to VR features in the browser, and frequently cited ease of use and content distribution as high points. Ability to convert existing WebGL content into VR and add VR as a progressive enhancement were also mentioned as positives.

Since the last report, feedback has been given or reiterated in new token renewals for the following:
  • Support for Desktop headsets.

  • Better controller APIs.

  • Ability to avoid the Daydream DON flow.

  • Improved performance.

Lessons learned from our goals for experimentation

Is the WebVR API shape useful and ergonomic?

  • Many sites have been able to use the features exposed to create a variety of interesting content, so the feature set appears good.

  • We received a lot of feedback on how to improve API ergonomics and allow it to mesh better with the rest of the web platform from platform leads during the experiment. The API shape is being completely revised as a result.

  • Developers had issues with how the VR API interacted with media APIs. User gesture requirements made it difficult to begin playing media after the user had completed the transition into VR, which itself requires a user gesture but triggers a separate calibration process which suspends Chrome (pausing any media). When the calibration process returns control to Chrome the user gesture has been lost and the media remains paused, requiring another user action to resume it. (crbug.com/705733)

Are there use cases supported by earlier version of the API that are not supported well now?

  • No specific feedback was heard on this point.

Do the gamepad API extensions meet developers needs for VR input?

  • A fair amount of developer feedback centered around difficulty of using the gamepad API for input. A dedicated VR input API is being considered as a result.


First stable release enabled: Chrome 56 Stable, Jan 31, 2017

First stable release with feature shipped/disabled: Chrome 59 Stable, ~Jun 06, 2017

Usage data (UMA)

The following metrics come from UMA and are adjusted for UMA opt in rates. Since the WebVR origin trial became available in the Chrome 56 Dev channel releases:

  • `navigator.getVRDisplays` was called 493,452 times

  • `VRDisplay.requestPresent` was called 4,019 times

  • The deprecated `getPose` and `fieldOfView` APIs were only called 328 and 889 times respectively, confirming our decision to remove them in an upcoming origin trial.

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