Virtual reality has become a reality for Facebook users. Today, the social media network announced the availability of 360-degree photos.
While the network added 360-degree video in September, the platform’s latest update now allows for 360-degree still shots. Photos taken with 360-degree cameras like the Ricoh Theta S, Samsung Gear 360, and LG 360 Cam are, of course, fair game, but users can also upload 360-degree photos shot with their smartphones.
Simply take a 360-degree panorama shot with a 360 app, Facebook product manager Andy Huang explains, and share the photo like you would any other image. Facebook will automatically convert the panorama to work within the news feed. Facebook users still need a dedicated 360-degree camera to shoot videos
“The big difference with 360 photos is you can take them with your phone,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in his announcement post. “Just take a panorama or use a 360 camera app, then post it to Facebook and we’ll take care of the rest.”
A compass icon on the right will differentiate a 360-degree photo from other still shots in the news feed. The VR stills can be viewed on a mobile device (with the app update released Thursday) in two different ways: by tapping and dragging the photo around or by moving the phone.
Of course, the 360-degree images can also be viewed with a pair of VR goggles. On compatible Samsung phones, for example, 360-degree content on Facebook will display with a “View in VR” button, which will essentially bookmark the content, then automatically display it when the phone is added to a Gear 360 headset.
Facebook shared that the 360-degree still photo was in the works just a few weeks ago. Today, users can view such photos with an app update. Facebook says it will be rolling out the ability for every user to upload their own 360-degree shots in the next few days