YouTube brings 360-degree video to Android
Google loves bringing new video types to YouTube. Problem is – for a lot of us, anyway – is that they can be a real pain to view. Like YouTube supporting 4K-resolution video is a great way to prepare for the rising availability of 4K-class displays, but for the moment not a lot of us can view it in its native res. And while you can always cross your eyes and get YouTube’s 3D video working in a pinch, the number of us with dedicated hardware designed for consuming such content is still pretty low. Today Google is bringing a new class of video to YouTube, and in what’s a lovely change of pace, it’s something your smartphone is already perfectly engineered to display.
We’re talking about 360-degree video: panoramas shot with any manner of custom hardware that – in contrast to the still panoramas you stitch together with your phone’s camera – are full-motion video. If you’re reading that and wondering, “how the hell am I supposed to watch that on my PC without it looking like a distorted mess?” you’ve got a point. But the screen in your pocket has one important thing your desktop monitor doesn’t: the ability to sense motion.
As a result, YouTube on Android is able to play these 360-degree videos in a much more accessible format. Load one on your phone or tablet and you’ll be able to move the device around to see the full experience; point your phone one way and you’ll get one view of the action, or spin it around to see what’s behind you. The best you’ll get on the PC is mouse-controlled panning (and then, only if you happen to use Google’s Chrome browser). And iOS support for these 360-degree videos is coming, but isn’t here quite yet.