360-degree photos, not just video, will soon be shareable on Facebook

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There are more than a million people currently enjoying the Samsung Gear VR on a regular basis, proving the early popularity of this excellent mid-way point between basic VR experiences provided by Google Cardboard, and expensive computer-driven headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Oculus is also responsible for some of the technology inside the Gear VR, and its ever-growing app store. Now, the company has talked about its plans for the Gear VR over the coming months, including some exciting developments with owner Facebook.

Until now, Facebook has been happy to show 360 degree videos in the News Feed, and for you to upload them directly, but annoyingly this hasn’t been possible with 360-degree still photos. That’s all set to change over the coming weeks, and 360 degree stills will join the VR video content on the social network. What’s interesting here is that if you own a compatible Samsung phone, then a “view in VR” button will be added to such content, ready for it to be automatically displayed when you insert the phone into a Gear VR headset. You’ll need the Oculus 360 Photos app for it to work, plus it’ll show you panoramic photos too.

Sharing 360 degree content on Facebook, whether video or stills, is about to become more important for Samsung. Its own Gear 360 camera is ready to go on sale next month, and can be pre-ordered now, so having somewhere to share content made with it is essential. Similarly, LG’s 360 Cam — a cheaper alternative to the Gear 360 — and the Ricoh Theta S are both hurt by not having a simple way to share 360 degree stills on any social network. Facebook’s News Feed support could change that. All that’s needed now is for Twitter to add support for such images and video.

While we’re excited to share 360 still photos and panoramas on Facebook and then view them quickly using the Gear VR, video is still the most popular use for the headset. A massive 80 percent of Gear VR use is dedicated to video, and seven of the top ten apps are for video content. Facebook hasn’t said when 360 degree stills will be shareable through the news feed, but at the time of writing the feature wasn’t working for us.