Earlier this week, YouTube launched HDR (high dynamic range) video support, something it had initially promised at CES. Not content to add one major service to the platform, the company has added another major feature to YouTube: virtual reality.
YouTube has supported 360-degree video for some time now, but with VR, you feel as if you’re truly surrounded by the environment in the video. While this will likely be supported across a number of headsets recently, it is currently limited to Google’s own Daydream View, similar to how HDR videos are currently only viewable on TVs via the Chromecast Ultra.
Fortunately, Google has taken steps to keep you from having to be active in order to enjoy VR videos. You don’t need to stand up and spin in order to take in your surroundings, for example, instead you can grab the virtual screen and move it in order to look around. Spatial audio complements the video, letting you hear what’s around you in addition to seeing it.
To celebrate the launch, a number of VR videos are available from popular YouTube creators. Beauty vlogger Meridith Foster offers up tour of her apartment, while cooking videos from Tastemade and breaking news from HuffPost RYOT are both available in VR. Rooster Teeth has even remimagined its popular Red vs Blue series to be enjoyed in VR.
Like the rest of YouTube, this is meant to be personalized, and your subscriptions, playlists, and watch history are all available from within the VR interface. Even standard videos can be watched in this format, with the headset allowing them to be viewed in a specially designed “theater mode” that lets you give your favorite cat videos the big screen treatment.
To get started, you’ll need the Daydream View headset and controller, as well as a Daydream-ready phone like the new Pixel series. Once you’re set up, any of the 360-degree videos available across YouTube are ready to be viewed in a much more immersive format.