Google has reportedly formed a team comprised of 'tens of engineers' who are currently working on a spin-off of its Android operating system designed specifically for virtual reality use.

Although its revenue is generated nearly wholly through advertising, Google has its fingers in many pies - and nowhere is this more obvious than its Android operating system. Based on the Linux kernel, Android was acquired by Google to power its first smartphone products and now accounts for the overwhelming majority of smartphone devices in the market. Since launch, it has been used to power everything from watches to tablets, and recently split into numerous separate divisions: Android, for mainstream use; Android Wear, for wearables; Project Glass, for the Google Glass head-up display; and Android TV, for smart TV and set-top box use.

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that 'tens of engineers' are working on yet another string to Google's Android bow: Android VR. Designed specifically to power virtual reality hardware, Android VR is claimed by the paper's anonymous sources to be planned as a free release for developers and device makers - a common tactic adopted by Google to capture market share which can later be monetised by its advertising division.

Google's plans in this arena, which have not been confirmed by the company, make sense: as well as its Google Glass wearable, the company has released an open-source headset design dubbed Google Cardboard which is designed to use almost any Android smartphone as both the brains and the display device. It also rings true from the perspective of trying to capture a burgeoning market: with companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Valve spending billions on virtual reality, despite the base technology being decades old and having failed to break into the mainstream at any other point in history, companies are betting big on the new market.

Google has, as is usual for the company, not commented on the claims made by the paper's anonymous sources.
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