Facebook is jumping on board the 360 video bandwagon with a little help from Oculus VR.
The camera angles of these videos can be changed by dragging around your mouse or moving around your smartphone. Facebook says these videos are inherently more "immersive" than normal videos because "you'll be able to look around and experience [the scene] as if you were there." You can see what it's like in this video from our colleagues at VICE.
The videos are debuting first on Android and the web, and will come to iOS in the "coming months." YouTube, Facebook's primary competitor when it comes to online video, debuted 360 videos earlier this year.
Facebook leaned on Oculus VR, which it bought for $2 billion in 2014, to create the video format, telling The Verge that it was the result of a "positive collaboration" among engineers and product managers. Video creators must use a special 360-degree camera setup (similar to this unit from VSN Mobil) to create the videos.
Why should anyone care, besides the initial "gee, that neat" reaction? Well, as Time magazine will tell you, VR is very much the future (or so it's thought), and 360 videos like these are baby steps in the direction of getting people used to the idea the immersive format. Besides, Hollywood is already charging head first into the concept, with a couple high-profile 360 video trailers (including one for the upcoming World of Warcraft and Star Wars movies) already adopting the format.