Earlier in the year Oculus VR parent company and social networking giant Facebook revealed that it would be bringing 360 degree spherical videos to its site in the future. The company announced that owners of the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) would be able to use the device to look around content shot by their friends as if they were really there. It’s now been suggested that, as part of this effort, Facebook is developing a brand new 360 degree video app that will be heading to smartphones in the future.
Wall Street Journal cites sources ‘familiar with the matter’ in saying that Facebook is working on a standalone 360 degree video app for both the iOS and Android operating systems (OSs) along with others. As with other 360 degree video apps, users will be able to explore content by tilting their phones in the direction they wish to look. The report doesn’t mention any possible support for mobile HMDs but, if it were to support such hardware, it’s likely that it would incorporate Oculus VR’s own mobile kit, Gear VR, which is co-developed with Samsung.
The report suggests that the app is in the early stages of development, so much so that its release isn’t even guaranteed let alone providing a possible launch date. It also makes no mention of the previously-confirmed support for the Oculus Rift on PC. Given that this content has been announced to be on the way to the browser version of Facebook, however, it makes perfect sense that the company would be looking to develop a mobile solution for this content too.
Mobile 360 degree content is already growing in popularity. This year has seen Google add 360 video to its YouTube platform and, more recently, allowed those using the Android version of the YouTube app to view this content using a Google Cardboard mobile HMD. Support for the iOS version of the app is also on the way. VRFocus will continue to follow every company’s work in this field, reporting back with the latest updates.