As first promised back in January, YouTube has officially begun supporting 360 degree video formats in the majority of its mobile and web platforms. It’s a smart move, especially considering the growing interest in content-starved virtual reality platforms.
YouTube says it will support 360 video viewing in its existing YouTube Android app, on YouTube’s website, and in embedded videos on Chrome. Mobile users can tilt their device arund to adjust the point of view, much like you would with an augmented reality experience, while on the desktop, viewers can use their mouse to drag the video and see new angles. iPhone and iPad support isn’t available yet, but it should be available in the future.
Google is working with a number of cameras and manufacturers, including Bublcam, Giroptic’s 360cam, IC Real Tech’s Allie, Kodak’s SP360 and the Ricoh Theta, so that the 360 videos they capture are easy to upload to YouTube. In the future, Google will add additional features like auto-detecting when a 360-degree video has been uploaded, the ability to add filters (because what is life when it’s not viewed through a vaguely retro lens?), and better search functionality for finding these videos.
360 degree video may not be pervasive yet, but a growing number of hardware and software are supporting the form. The Samsung Gear VR, which straps a Galaxy Note 4 to your face with head-tracking goggles, is itching for content beyond Google Street View videos and a handful of gaming titles. Mobile apps like Fyuse, which presents itself as a “spatial photography” offering, also take advantage of the creativity 360 video can provide.
Google has more details about the technical requirements for 360 videos on Github (you’ll need to run a script on your video to ensure it’s equipped with the proper metadata), as well as on its YouTube Creators blog. There are still a number of steps YouTube and its hardware partners need to take before it’s seamless and pervasive. But it’s an important first step towards the fully immersive video experience you’ve been dreaming of since your very first View-Master.