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Facebook adds 360 video and photo support to Instant Articles

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Facebook is giving publishers the power to make Instant Articles more visually immersive with 360-degree video and photo support.

Launched in May of last year, Facebook Instant Articles are the company’s very own take on Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). The publishing tools essentially allow media outlets and bloggers to host their articles directly on Facebook, with the social network promising faster loading times, ad revenue options, and embeddable “interactive” features. The latter includes a number of visual options, such as high-res photo galleries, navigable maps, and parallax videos that play as you scroll through articles. Now, you can add 360-video and photo support to that already impressive list.

Thanks to the availability of 360 cameras, more creators, publishers, and filmmakers are utilizing the visual format to enhance their work. From awards shows to documentaries, 360 videos are increasingly making the news, but navigating them on a mobile display hasn’t been as easy as it is on desktop. Starting today, that’s all going to change, on Facebook at least.

Now, when you access an Instant Article via the Facebook mobile app for iOS and Android, you will be able to watch its 360 media content by simply tilting and panning your smartphone to guide the action. The visuals will appear in-line with the article, and can be expanded to full-screen with a tap. If you want to keep things traditional, you can also touch and drag the media to the section you wish to view, or (if the publisher has enabled Facebook’s 360 guide feature) you can simply sit back and let the video pan to the best point-of-view.

Facebook media partners USA Today and German paper Bild have already started adding 360 media to their Instant Articles. The former utilized the format within its piece on National Parks, with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns narrating the 360-video segments. Bild used 360 videos in its visual tour of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier. Publishers can add multiple 360 videos and photos to each Instant Article.

“Instant Articles is a complementary canvas for 360 media,” writes Josh Roberts, Product Manager, Facebook. “Journalists and storytellers can share richer stories and paint more vivid scenes by joining 360 content with other Instant Articles elements.”

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