Thursday, 24 September 2015 09:07

Facebook brings 360-degree videos in News Feed to life

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Facebook says it believes in the future of virtual reality, and with 360 video, it hopes to unlock new perspectives and immersive storytelling for everybody.

360-degree video. It’s the kind of thing you normally only see from virtual reality headsets, but Facebook is making it real this week for desktop browsing and Android, for iOS ‘in the coming months.’

Facebook’s Chris Cox explains that “starting very soon, anyone will be able to upload 360 video, and if you’re on a desktop or Android (or an iPhone in the coming months), you can pan around the video while it’s playing in your News Feed.”

Cox explains that, especially on the smartphone screen, “slowly turning around and tilting your device up and down to watch a scene as it’s playing is a really cool experience that takes you somewhere else. It’s the kind of thing that you run over to show someone else the moment you first see it.”

On the page is a video of the 360-degree video experience being used in a Star Wars setting, where you’re on a speeder, and as you’re driving across the desert on the planet Jakku with a giant crashed Star Destroyer battleship sticking out of the earth in a towering fashion.

However, watching a video of a video is one thing, experiencing it for yourself is another - so if you’re using Firefox or Chrome, you can take a look at that 360-degree Star Wars video here

Sadly the feature doesn’t work in Safari or Internet Explorer, although Facebook makes no mention of Microsoft’s new Edge browser. It should work on your Android, too - try it out. It's one of those situations where something comes to Android before iOS - still relatively rare unless you're talking about Google's own apps, but there you go. 

In any case, Star War is just the start, Facebook links to a selection of launch partners who ‘have come up with really interesting takes on what can be done with 360-video’.

These include shark diving with the Discovery channel, motocross riding in the Idaho desert with Go Pro, LeBron James & Uninterrupted taking us into his training routing, NBC’s Saturday Night Live on its 40th anniersary, and on-the-ground reporting in Afghanistan from VICE - with some really nice looking 360-degree videos, it's definitely worth checking out!

shark diving with the Discovery Channel, on the set of the 40th anniversary of SNL, on-the-ground reporting in Afghanistan from VICE, motocross riding in the Idaho desert with with GoPro, LeBron James taking you inside his training routine. It’s an open-ended format, so we’re really excited to see what creators around the world come up with as they get their hands on it.

At its news page, Facebook’s Director of Media Partnerships, Nick Grudin writes that 360-degree videos is part of Facebook’s focus on building experiences that help publishers and creators reach, grow, and engage their audiences in new and immersive ways.

So, more publishers will soon be uploading 360-degree videos, with Grudin saying there’s’a whole world of publishers and storytellers who are at the cutting edge of innovating with this immersive and interactive medium.’

Grumman then invites publishers developing 360-degree videos to ‘share your creations with your global audience on Facebook,’ and how Facebook ‘can’t wait for people on Facebook to explore new perspectives and experiences through the eyes of innovative publishers, right in News Feed.’

Over the coming days, everyone on Facebook will be able to view 360 videos on desktop and Android, and we’ll be bringing 360 video to iOS in the coming months.

For information on how to get started with 360 video on Facebook, the company has create a guide you can see here

Facebook has even more information on the new capability in another of its online newsrooms here

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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