The biggest hurdle for virtual reality is getting people to actually watch it. With the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift VR headset not coming out until early next year, the social media giant seems to be getting impatient. So today, Facebook is rolling out 360-degree videos across the network, starting with the web and Android.
The 360-degree videos will show up in users’ newsfeeds just like standard videos, but users will be able to touch and drag to look around a scene, or even just move their phones to see what’s going on around the camera.
While there are some consumer devices that can record 360-degree video, Facebook has partnered with big brands to introduce the functionality. Star Wars is the biggest name at launch, bringing views from what appears to be a speeder bike to users’ phones. Discovery Channel, Saturday Night Live and VICE are also adding 360-degree content.
Interestingly, GoPro will show off some VR-style video on Facebook as well, despite partnering with Google to produce a 360-degree camera rig. The search giant enabled 360-degree videos in March, letting users pan around shots on their phones or through a web browser.
Users will be able to upload their own 360-degree videos soon. (Update: User-uploaded 360-degree videos are possible.) Support for the web and Android are rolling out today, with iOS functionality coming in the next few months. Facebook, which bought VR headset maker Oculus for $2 billion last year, has a strong interest in getting more publishers to create 360 degree videos now so the Oculus will have a strong library of content when it launches next year.