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An attendee looks through a Google Cardboard VR viewer during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco in May. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The New York Times’ virtual reality app was downloaded more times in its first four days than any Times app before, and viewers spent an impressive average of nearly 15 minutes using it, according to the Times. That’s a welcome result for the involved players, which spent unusual time, energy and money trying to achieve liftoff with a nascent consumer technology.

The project was the biggest ever for Cardboard, the VR viewer from Google that…