By now, everybody should already know that Google is aggressively pushing for virtual reality across its services and this includes YouTube. Last Nov. 9, the company unveiled a dedicated VR app for the video-sharing platform called YouTube VR.
Dedicated YouTube App For VR
Simply put, YouTube VR will let users browse the YouTube website and watch uploaded videos in 3D VR setting.
The app's release seems part of a systematic VR rollout, which includes the launch of the Daydream View VR the day after. The YouTube VR app should complement the Daydream View platform and the looming Chrome WebVR support. Together with the VR headset and the Google Pixel smartphones, an entire Google VR ecosystem is close to complete.
It is not yet clear why Google made a standalone app instead of merely integrating a VR or 3D functionality into the YouTube app. It possibly involves an algorithm challenge or Google simply wants to ensure that VR content has its own space for organizational purposes.
What Can YouTube VR Do?
In addition to being able to consume VR videos, YouTube VR users can start immersing themselves to standard rectangular videos. YouTube currently has a 360° Videos page, which lists an impressive number of 3D/360° content.
However, users can still view all of YouTube video content regardless of whether it is 3D, 360° or in rectangular format within the VR space. Videos in standard format can be viewed in a virtual big screen through the app's specially designed Theater Mode.
Browsing and specific interface-related actions such as subscribing, searching and discovering are all done via voice command or through keyboard. Google claimed that switching between these two control mechanisms is easy and seamless. The app also allows users to watch videos and browse at the same time.
To complement the visual content, Google has also integrated a so-called spatial audio in the YouTube VR app, which provides depth and distance to the sound depending on which direction the spectator is looking.
Downloading The VR App
It is interesting to know that YouTube VR is already available to all Android users, which means it is already a stable version. Nevertheless, since the app is still in its infancy, users should expect to encounter bugs and performance issues.
Currently, it can only be installed on Daydream View but Google plans to support other VR devices. It can be downloaded at the Google Play store or via a downloadable APK file.