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This iPhone accessory aims to make live-streaming 360 video simple

Giroptic is aiming to turn iPhones into 360 shooters with a simple accessory and app — announced today, the Giroptic iO is a 360 add-on camera for both the iPhone and iPad.

Unlike Giroptic’s previous camera, the 360cam, the iO aims to pair the possibilities of a 360 camera with the connectivity of a smartphone — including live-streaming — by adding a dual-lens camera through the lightning port. The iO uses two f/1.8 lenses to capture a 360 view both horizontally and vertically. Videos are shot at a 1920 HD quality at 30 frames per second, while the JPEGs measure 3,840-pixels wide.

More: Insta360 camera for Android is already halfway to its funding goal after one day

The Giroptic app stitches data from the two lenses in real time, making it possible to instantly broadcast through compatible live-streaming platforms, including YouTube and Facebook. The app allows the user to control the shooting modes, and capture and then share stills and video.

“Giroptic iO simultaneously provides a user-friendly camera and a new platform of services,” said Richard Ollier, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “We’re creating a simple social sharing service and removing previous barriers such as complex editing, lag time, cumbersome processing, and unoptimized compatibility with major social networks.”

The iO sits in an iPhone or iPad’s lightning port — so users hold the device upside-down to keep the camera right-side up, similar to the Insta360 Nano . Built with an aluminum casing, the iO weighs just 2.5 ounces, sitting about 2.9 inches above the iPhone or iPad. A built-in battery means the camera itself doesn’t drain the smart device’s battery.

Designed by Giroptic, a Franco-California company focused on 360 technology, the iOS accessory will go on sale on January 17, 2017 for $249, with pre-orders beginning today on the Giroptic website. “Our exclusive focus on 360 imaging has taught us a lot over the past eight years,” said Giroptic COO Pascal Brochier. “We are excited to leverage that experience to bring to market a very user-friendly solution to power user-generated content around the globe.”

Giroptic provided us with a quick demo. What we noticed is how quickly the 360-degree camera connects with the phone — it starts up nearly instantly once it’s attached to the Lightning port. Unlike standalone 360-degree cameras, however, it doesn’t operate independently. But most 360-degree cameras work better when paired with a phone anyway, and in those cases, they tend to do a terrible job at that. The iO eliminates that issue, which makes sharing content to social media much more seamless. While it uses two cameras instead of three like its 360cam sibling, Giroptic told us that the quality is actually equal, if not better, and the company is very proud of its stitching technology.  Check out some of these samples.