Motorola touts Daydream compatibility for Moto Z and Z Force

Motorola's Moto Z

Motorola Mobility said its Moto Z and Moto Z Force will become the first non-Google phones to support Daydream, Google’s virtual reality platform.

The division of Lenovo said on its company blog that it will roll out Android 7.0 (Nougat) to the two handsets globally this week. The software upgrade will include compatibility with Daydream, enabling owners to use their phones in conjunction with Google’s virtual reality headset, which sells with a controller for $80.

The only other phone on the market to currently support Daydream is Google’s own Pixel.

“These are the first smartphones from another manufacturer to be recognized by Google as Daydream-ready devices—a distinction given to phones that have been certified for the Daydream platform and are built for VR with high-resolution displays, ultra-smooth graphics and high-fidelity sensors for precise head tracking,” according to Motorola. “With Daydream, you can explore new worlds, attend a sporting event or concert, enjoy your own personal cinema and so much more.”

Motorola, which was acquired by Lenovo in 2014 for $2.9 billion, is clearly hoping to boost sales by hitching its wagon to Google’s VR star. Lenovo restructured its organization earlier this year in a move that saw Motorola chief Rick Osterloh leave the company—Osterloh went to work for Google soon after—and in September, Lenovo said it would cut more than 1,000 jobs primarily from Motorola in a continuation of its restructuring.

Last year the company announced roughly 3,200 layoffs in its nonmanufacturing workforce around the world, equaling roughly 5% of its total headcount. And Lenovo was knocked out of the list of top five smartphone vendors worldwide in the first quarter of 2016, IDC said earlier this year, as Chinese upstarts Oppo and Vivo saw sales surge.

Smartphone manufacturers are increasingly viewing virtual reality as a potential differentiator in a brutally competitive market. Google has touted VR functionality in its heavily marketed Pixel, and Samsung emphasized support for its Gear VR headset when it introduced the Galaxy S7 at Mobile World Congress in February. Whether consumers find virtual reality an important factor when choosing a handset has yet to be determined, however.