Taking another step towards bringing virtual reality (VR) technologies to the masses, Facebook started to bring 360-degree photos to its newsfeed Thursday. Facebook users can now upload 360-degree photos for their posts, and they should be showing up in everyone’s newsfeed soon.
360-degree photos are spherical photos either taken with a dedicated VR camera, or stitched together based on multiple individual photos. On mobile, these photos can be explored by simply tilting one’s phone. Desktop users can click and drag to move the photo and look at every angle.
When viewed with a compatible Samsung phone, Facebook will also display a dedicated “view in VR” button. Users then simply have to insert the phone into their Gear VR headsets to watch the photo in a more immersive experience.
What’s missing thus far from the Facebook app is the option to actually take 360-degree photos. Facebook product manager Andy Huang instead advised users in a blog post Thursday to use “a 360 photo app.”
Granted, 360-degree photos aren’t exactly the most exciting way to experience VR. But the addition of the media format to Facebook’s timeline could be an interesting hook to get more people excited about VR, especially as ownership of mobile VR headsets continues to increase. Samsung saw over one million users of its Gear VR headset in April alone, and is currently giving away the headset to anyone buying a qualifying phone.