Google is largely expected to launch a few new virtual reality products at Google I/O this week, but that doesn’t mean it’s ignoring its existing VR offerings. The company has updated the YouTube for iOS app, which now allows you to watch any video in VR mode with Google Cardboard. YouTube for Android was updated to include the feature back in November, but iOS users have been missing out — until now.
Allowing anyone with a $15 Cardboard viewer to watch virtual reality videos on YouTube is actually a pretty big deal — Cardboard has been hailed as perhaps the most affordable way for anyone to experience virtual reality, and a big part of that is watching videos in VR. Not only that, but YouTube has become a big site for watching VR videos, and the update basically gives iOS users access to the largest VR content library around.
Of course, it’s important to note that VR mode doesn’t magically turn videos into 360-degree videos. Unless the videos are specifically shot for VR, you’ll basically just be watching the video really close to your face. Still, it should help make videos a little more immersive, if nothing else. There is some 360-degree content uploaded to YouTube, however, so the update will be helpful for those wanting to view that content on a more immersive level.
To access the new feature, you’ll need to make sure your YouTube app is version 11.18 or later. When you play a video, you’ll see a new Cardboard button, which you can press to go into Cardboard mode. Then simply slide your phone into a Cardboard viewer and enjoy being immersed in the video.
As mentioned, Google is largely expected to announce more virtual reality products at Google I/O later this week. Google has been a champion of affordable virtual reality ever since it released Cardboard, but it will be interesting to see what the company comes up with beyond Cardboard.