Earlier this year, Facebook revealed that it would be working in conjunction with Oculus VR, the virtual reality company it acquired back in March 2o14, to bring 360-degree videos to the web and on Android. Now the social media giant has published the feature on iOS, and for those unfamiliar with the technology, it may come as a surprise that it requires no additional hardware — other than an iPhone or iPad.
It’s a solid attempt to encourage production of 360-degree video. Considering just about everyone has access to at least one of the supported devices, content creators are actually provided an audience for their 360-degree video, even if only a select few are using VR headsets to watch it. The first video to debut the feature, for instance, was a trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which allowed audiences on Facebook, be it on the web or on mobile devices, to scroll in any direction to see what’s going on in the rest of the scene.
Additionally, those early adopters fortunate enough to get their hands on one of Samsung’s Gear VR headsets can now watch 360-degree videos on Facebook. The social network boasts that this freshly-implemented feature will make for “a more immersive viewing experience.”
For the time being, publishing videos in 360 degrees is limited to a few select distributors. For anyone else, Facebook says it’s developing a way for anyone who owns a Theta, Giroptic, or IC Real Tech camera to upload their videos directly, using an in-app “publish to Facebook” button.
In order to monetize what Facebook hopes will result in a phenomena, the company is also starting to push out 360-degree ads from sponsors like AT&T, Corona, Nescafe, Samsung, and Disney. For the sake of anyone reluctant to watch a commercial before a trailer, let’s hope there’s a 360-degree ad blocker to suffice.