Facebook has introduced support for 360-degree videos on iOS devices.
The update may not sound like much, but it marks the completion of a concerted move from the social network to compete with YouTube. Earlier this month, the VOD site unveiled a renewed focus on virtual reality videos, through 360-degree content, 3D footage and the Google Carboard viewer. With every new feature YouTube launches, Facebook falls behind – and the site is putting more and more effort into catching up.
In September, Facebook launched the ability to share and view 360 video in users’ News Feeds, with publishers such as ABC News and BuzzFeed uploading titles. While computer browsers and Android devices could view them, though, Apple customers were left out – a key part of the market to cater to.
As of today, 360-degree videos can now be watched on iPhones and iPods, while people using a Samsung Gear VR viewer and supported Samsung smartphone can easily play 360 videos from News Feed in their Gear VR, enabling a more immersive viewing experience.
Facebook, though, is not stopping there: to support its growing ecosystem, the social network has also launched a new 360 video microsite dedicated to providing relevant resources and information. The site includes upload guidelines, common questions, and a set of best practices authored by Chris Milk and Aaron Koplin of virtual reality studio Vrse.
Facebook has also introduced an optional video control setting for Pages uploading 360 video on Facebook. Page owners will now have the ability to edit the initial camera position and vertical field of view before uploading their 360 videos, allowing for greater control in post-production.
Camera support has also been added for Theta, Giroptic, IC Real Tech, and 360fly, who now provide in-app “publish to Facebook” options.
360 video as an advertising format is being tested too, with parnters piloting the format including AT&T, Nescafe (Nestle), Samsung and Walt Disney World (Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) – a line-up of big names that reminds that Facebook can carry just as much clout as Google’s rival. The announcement follows the launch of Facebook’s new dedicated video platform, an in-app area for users of the social network to watch and share videos.