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Now you can watch 360-degree videos on YouTube, and they’re awesome

Virtual reality (VR) is the next frontier in entertainment, so the narrative goes. That may be true, but consumers will likely have a hard time justifying expensive viewing peripherals until the all-too-apparent content void is filled. Lucky for VR enthusiasts, today brought positive news on that front: YouTube has flipped the switch on the 360-degree video uploading it promised in January, allowing users to post footage captured with cameras like the VSN V.360.

YouTubers’ 360-degree creations are viewable on desktop in Chrome by clicking and dragging around the viewing window, but the experience is far superior on the YouTube app for Android (Google says iOS support is coming). As long as a gyroscope is present, moving your phone will tilt and pan the frame in the corresponding direction. Presumably, the effect is best experienced with Google Cardboard or a similar frame.

It may be great for viewers, but for creators, the process isn’t seamless yet. Getting YouTube to recognize a 360-degree video requires downloading a script to make the necessary metadata edits. YouTube says it’s working towards a more automated solution.

No doubt in part thanks to the resurgence of virtual reality, multi-angle cameras are beginning to flood the market. The V.360 is a member of a crowded field, which includes Ricoh’s Theta, IC Real Tech’s Allie, Kdak’s SP360o, and four successfully crowdfunded cameras — the Panono, Bublcam, Centr, and 360cam.

The possibilities of 360-degree cameras paired with a VR headset are virtually endless. Imagine a seated perspective at a sporting arena, or the view from a concert mosh pit. Unfortunately, some of the technology isn’t quite ready for prime time — Digital Trends’ own photography editor Les Shu found VSN’s V.360 photo quality lacking. Given the pace of virtual reality hardware, though, there’s a good chance decent cameras will begin to emerge by the time HTC’s Vive, Facebook’s Oculus, and Samsung’s Gear VR hit store shelves.

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