Time was, getting a 360-degree experience meant going outside and simply turning around. What a chilly waste of time.
Now, with the advent of stellar smartphone cameras and nifty stitching software, 360-degree photos and videos are ten a penny.
In fact, scroll through your Facebook timeline and you’ll likely find a raft of all-around shots snapped by your pals across the world. Or in Peckham.
Panoramic doesn’t seem quite so astounding, though, on a flat phone screen – which is precisely why Facebook has announced the Facebook 360 app for Samsung Gear VR. Yippee!
What does it do?
In short, download the Facebook 360 app and you’ll get a streamlined carousel of 360-degree content from your timeline – all of which can be enjoyed through your Samsung Gear VR headset.
Content is navigated simply by looking around the virtual media room – and, just in case your pals aren’t so keen on sharing 360 snaps, you’ll be able to explore a world of VR content from outside your circles.
There’s an ‘explore’ tab, for example, through which you can find heaps of videos from all kinds of creators, as well as a ‘timeline’ option to look through your own photos and videos in a novel way.
You’ll even be able to react to content from within the app, with further features penned to arrive soon.
Facebook reckons more than 1 million 360-degree videos have been shared on the platform to date, so you probably won’t run out of fun any time soon – even if a good proportion of those are ski slope fails and funny cat videos.
Mainly that you’ll soon realise how few people have figured out how to maximise the potential of 360-degree videos.
Sure, some dedicated content is truly mind-blowing – such as this pilot’s view of an F/A-18 Hornet – but there’s also a host of dodgy, blurry videos out there that, wrapped around your face in a Gear VR helmet, might feel a little shoddy or, worse still, nauseating.
It’s also a shame that the app is only available for Gear VR at the moment, with no sign of support for HTC’s Vive hardware or, indeed, Oculus’ own Rift headset, which uses the same store as the Gear.
Still, things can only get better – and, with Facebook making such a commitment to 360, there’s every chance we’ll start to see better content hitting timelines everywhere.
Where can I get it?
From the Oculus store, of course. It’s entirely free and available right now – simply fire up the broadband, slap on your Gear VR headset and get looking.