If you use Facebook, you'll have slowly noticed a number of "360" videos appearing in your timeline - videos that encompass a full 360-degree view and put you in control of the playback navigation.
There are a number of ways to capture 360 videos and photos, ranging from handheld devices that cost a couple of hundred pounds, through to professional rigs that will set you back thousands of pounds.
The Insta360 Nano is, as the name suggests, a small 360-degree camera that connects to your iPhone 6 or 6S and uses the phone's screen to allow you to frame the picture or video before sharing your 360 moments on social media.
But can the Insta360 Nano still produce good results given its size and price? We've been snapping and filming to find out.
Insta360 Nano review: Using the iPhone as a viewfinder
The Insta360 Nano is well-built and tiny. The add-on device measures 110mm x 33mm x 21mm and clips onto your iPhone via the Lightning connector. That's why it's not compatible with earlier versions.
Independently powered (it's charged via a micro USB) the camera has been designed specifically for the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus models and snuggly fits the phone's curved edge. The smaller iPhone SE and iPhone 5 aren't the right match. Because of that snug fit you'll have to remove any protective case you've opted to use on your phone too; it simply won't fit otherwise.
As the Insta360 Nano connects to the bottom of the phone, you are forced to use your iPhone "upside down" while in the Insta360 Nano app. That can cause some disorientation at first, but it is easily learnt once you've used the device a couple of times.
The camera itself features two 210-degree f/2.0 fish-eye lenses which face forwards and backwards, allowing you to capture a full 360-degree view of your surrounding area.
There is a microSD card slot that allows you to use the camera independently of the iPhone, although like many action cameras you are shooting blind if you opt for this. You can't wirelessly connect the device to the app to still use the iPhone as a viewfinder - it has to be connected for this.
When used solo, the Insta360 Nano has a dedicated shutter button and a small notification light. It's all very easy to use and certainly provides greater flexibility than having to ensure you've got the camera plugged into your iPhone all the time.
Insta360 Nano review: VR headset in the box
Normally a product box is either packed in the loft for another day or thrown in the bin. But understanding the virtual reality market, the company behind the Insta360 Nano has made the packaging a makeshift VR headset.
Shoot your photos or videos on your phone and then slip it into the box to view. It's as simple as it is clever and beats you having to buy a Google Cardboard VR headset (or something snazzier and pricier) to enjoy the VR element of your photos and videos.
Insta360 Nano review: Shooting in 360
The Insta360 Nano comes with its own dedicated app, used to shoot pictures or video and then playback and share your images and footage. It's basic to say the least, but does get the job done.
Both still photographs and video, once caught, can be enjoyed as Fisheye, Perspective, or Planet - and you can opt to view them either by dragging your finger across the iPhone's screen to explore the image further or by using the phone's built-in gyro to physically move in order to navigate the image, like a window onto a virtual world. There is also a VR mode that allows you to use a VR headset (like the one handily included in/as the packaging).
On the video front the camera will shoot up to 3K (3040 x 1520px) at 30 frames per second and the image stitching seems flawless.
The quality does struggle somewhat in harsh lighting conditions, while, although the resolution is high, there is still quite a bit of blocking and distortion when it comes to video playback - especially when viewed on a bigger screen than your mobile phone.
Most people should be more than happy enough with the end results, though, and viewing in the app is better than viewing back on YouTube, for example.
Something to bear in mind is the speed of capture and the inability to zoom/crop after the fact. Taking pictures means you've got to be ready. Press the shutter button and then you are left waiting a few seconds for the image to be saved. It's slow enough that you won't be able to capture "blink and you'll miss it moments" but if you are setting up a scene you'll be fine. You'll need to get as close to the action as possible too.
Video is a lot easier. You can just press the record button and then swipe up on the iPhone screen for longer recordings. But remember that you are in the frame too - so no picking your nose.
Insta360 Nano review: Sharing 360
As you would expect, the app focuses strongly on allowing you to share your new 360 footage with others. In the app there is support to share still images to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, while videos can also be shared directly with YouTube. Furthermore, you can also save footage to your iPhone photo album to share with other applications.
Sharing to the relevant platforms is easy. Depending on which social media platform you choose from will depend how your photo or video is displayed. Photos, for example, are uploaded to the Insta360.com website to be viewed via a dedicated web interface that works on both desktop and mobile. From here you can view the image, change the type of view to far more viewing options than you can in the app, and access the gyro or VR modes mentioned earlier.
Strangely you can't just share straight to the company's online sharing tool. You have to go through a social platform to get the direct link to the Insta360.com site. However, sharing video bypasses Insta360.com and saves the video to your photo album to be natively uploaded to YouTube or Facebook.
When it comes to live streaming, you can either stream to the company's own live streaming service (which is not public at the time of writing), YouTube or Facebook. For the purpose of this review we opted for YouTube. It's a bit of a faff, but once you have the right details (follow the instructions in this video) it's easy.
Once you've created a YouTube Live Streaming Event and made it live (you need to have a verified YouTube account too), you can then share 360-degree video directly from the camera to your adorning fans around the world. Great.
For £199 the Insta360 Nano is a dinky little bolt-on for the iPhone that gives you 360-degree photos and video quickly and easily without breaking the bank. We love the fact you can snap and share quickly, and although a bit cumbersome, share live YouTube videos too.
Where the Insta360 Nano falls down is its far-from-perfect accompanying app. A number of sloppy bugs and UX issues stops this product really shining. It's silly things like the odd error message in Chinese, or an option being hidden by a keyboard, that can make the experience frustrating. If insta360 can resolve those issues then the Nano is a cool way to embrace the wonderful world of 360 photography and video.
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