360-degree video has arrived on Facebook.
The social network is beginning to add the immersive videos to the News Feed, the company announced Wednesday. The videos will be viewable from the web and from Facebook’s iOS and Android apps.
The videos will be available on the web and Android app first and will roll out to the iOS app “in the coming months.”
Facebook is partnering with a select group of publishers on the videos — including Disney and Lucasfilm, GoPro, Vice and Saturday Night Live — to start but says it will open up the videos to more people “who are at the cutting edge of exploring this medium” in the next few days.
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The eventual plan, it seems, is to open up the video to all users, not just filmmakers and media companies.
“In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil — you’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there,” Maher Saba, Facebook’s engineering director for video, writes in a statement. “Along with updates from your friends and family, you will also be able to discover amazing new content on Facebook from media companies, organizations, and individual creators.”
But 360-degree vacation videos may be farther off for most Facebook users. Though consumer level cameras, like RIoch’s new Theta S, are increasingly common as Google and others move to adopt the immersive videos, relatively few people have access to the equipment necessary to make these videos.
The videos also have big implications for the company’s virtual reality ambitions. Facebook users will eventually be able to view the videos through the Oculus Rift and other virtual reality headsets; the videos were created as a collaboration with the Oculus team, The Verge reports.
The social network is also rumored to be working on a standalone video app for the 360-degree clips and executives have made it clear they see virtual and augmented reality as the next big medium for Facebook to tackle.
“When Facebook was founded, it was primarily a text based site: there was status posts and there were wall posts,” Jay Parikh, the company’s VP of global engineering and infrastructure, said at the company’s @Scale engineering conference last week. “We’ve moved in to a world where most of the world today is focused on photos. But we’re quickly moving into this world where I think, in the next couple years, most of the experience on Facebook is going to be about video. It doesn’t just stop with videos … what we see happening in the next couple years is bringing augmented reality and virtual reality to the experience that is on Facebook.”
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