Facebook 360 Has Launched on Samsung Gear VR

Facebook Newsroom
The bulk of Facebook's work with Oculus has been little more than speculative. We've seen concepts, demonstrations, ideas and potential approaches but almost nothing complete, nothing publicly available which marries Facebook to VR. Now, with the release of Facebook 360, that's all changed.

Facebook 360 is a standalone app for the Samsung Gear. It's a photo and video viewing platform, stocked with 1 million videos and 25 million photos, sourced from various publications, companies and individual creators. Like the standard Facebook platform, you build up your news feed by adding friends, share content and react to content. In particular, you can add reactions to the videos in the same way that you react to 360 videos on the desktop platform.

This is the first real push by Facebook to take the platform's structure into the VR world, and although much of the content present was already available on Oculus Rooms, Facebook 360 is offering a completely different experience to that. It seems inevitable that we'll eventually see a full version of Facebook which exists entirely in VR, and this is the first screen test of that concept.

Sure, it's a lot more limited than Facebook, how could it not be, but it's setting out to demonstrate that you can network comfortably in VR, and that doing so opens up an amazing range of possibilities. If they're really going to draw users in, though, Facebook are going to have to do a lot better than a library of 360 photos and videos.

Given how many different ideas Facebook have paraded around since they first picked Oculus up, it seems like they have plenty of irons in the fire, and interestingly it looks like they're establishing an ever-wider divide between Facebook VR and Oculus VR. In both cases, Facebook are forging a path which will likely be closely followed by other companies, they're setting a precedent for what VR will become, for better or worse.

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