Exploring the world through YouTube VR just got a little bit easier and a bit more inclusive. On Wednesday, July 25, the video platform announced that its VR experience is coming to Samsung Gear VR, building upon its existing availability on Daydream View, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.
But given the popularity of the Gear headset, it’s likely that this latest expansion will help YouTube reach a wide new audience. Beginning this week, Gear VR users will be able to download the YouTube app from the Oculus Store for free.
In the spirit of bringing VR to more people, YouTube is also introducing a new feature in its app that allows folks to watch and discuss videos with other users in a virtual space. After all, what’s the use of exploring a cave in Antarctica if you have to do it alone? With the new Watch Together icon in the YouTube VR app, you can not only explore new worlds with others, but chat about them as well.
“We love VR at YouTube because it’s a powerful way to see and experience the world,” the company noted in a blog post. “Virtual Reality lets you experience these moments as if you’re actually there. When you have questions about the world, it can transport you to where the answers are.”
YouTube is also hoping to transport folks to more places than ever before with more exclusive experiences. As it stands, YouTube is home to more than 800,000 virtual realities, and over the course of this summer, this number will continue to grow. The platform will be bringing viewers backstage to concerts in Portugal, where they can interact with The Man and Hayley Kiyoko as they prepare to go on stage. Or, users can be inspired by female leaders across the globe, including spending time with activist, entrepreneur, and Olympic bronze medalist in fencing Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab during competition for the U.S. team. And if you’re looking for a thrill, SoKrispyMedia will let you take centerstage in a video game.
“VR can take you anywhere, and YouTube VR can bring you to more places in the virtual world than anywhere else,” YouTube’s VR Product Lead Erin Teague wrote. “I’ve never been more excited about the next places VR storytellers, explorers, and the community will take us — letting us experience them as if we’re actually there.”