Google is ramping up its virtual reality efforts, with YouTube VR.
The company, which owns YouTube, has been working with YouTube creators, recording artists, and partners to produce VR videos, all with the purpose of loading up the website with tonnes of immersive content so that you'd have plenty to watch and experience when YouTube VR launches. Well, launch day has arrived. On 10 November, Google launched the YouTube VR app. Here's everything you need to know.
What is YouTube VR?
Ever want to take a tour of your favourite beauty vlogger's apartment? Or maybe learn a new recipe from a TV chef? Or watch your news as if you were in the middle of the action? No? Just us? Anyway, YouTube VR app lets you experience that sort of content.
YouTube VR is a standalone app built from the ground up and optimised for VR. With it, you can watch any video on YouTube. All videos provide an immersive VR experience, whether it's 360-degree video or a standard video shown in a cinema-style mode. The app, which is launching first for the Daydream View headset, also features voice search and the ability to subscribe to channels.
How does YouTube VR work?
- Download the Daydream app on a compatible Android phone (currently, that's just the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones by Google). You may be asked to update your software, as it requires the Daydream support included in the Android 7.1 Nougat update. You can read more about how the Daydream platform works from here.
- Download the YouTube VR app for Android.
- Open the Daydream app, then go to the slide-out menu from the right, and tap library. There, you will see the YouTube VR app. Tap it to launch the app. You'll be asked to place your compatible phone into the Daydream headset. Keep in mind you can also just slip your compatible phone into the headset to automatically launch the Daydream interface, where you'll see your installed apps. Use the Daydream View controller to select an app.
- Once you've entered the YouTube app and signed into your account, you will see suggested videos and options to search. Again, use your controller to navigate and turn up volume (to turn up the volume, use the rocker on the side of the Daydream controller). And that's it.
What does YouTube VR feature?
Full YouTube experience
YouTube VR provides the full, signed-in experience of YouTube. You can view subscriptions, playlists, watch history, and more.
YouTube VR let's you switch between voice and keyboard controls so you can browse and search with ease. Also, the app provides the same browsing experience as the YouTube mobile app; the player controls let you watch a video and browse at the same time.
Google has included spacial audio tech, meaning you'll be able to hear real-world sound, "where depth, distance, and intensity all play a role depending on where you look with spatial audio," according to the company.
Whether you're watching a 360-degree video or a standard one, the YouTube VR app will enter a "theater mode" that mimics a big-screen experience. It'll feel like you're boxed in, with no outside light, so when combined with spacial audio, it should feel like going to the cinema.
YouTube VR is launching for Daydream View first, so you can launch the app on a Google Pixel smartphone, slot your phone in the headset, and begin watching 360-degree videos. To move around, just use the controller to grab the screen and move it. There's no need for you to stand and spin. The screen can also be repositioned so you can have the most comfortable experience possible.
Several content providers have partnered with the video streaming service, including the Natural History Museum, StyleHaul, Curiscope, Tastemade, Buzzfeed, CollegeHumor, NBA, and SWooZie. They each made VR content that will be available soon or immediately.
When will YouTube VR be available?
YouTube VR is available now for iOS and Android. It's free to download.