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360-degree videos come to Apple TV for the first time

Web giants like YouTube and Facebook have been showing off a slate of 360-degree videos in recent months, using the format for Christmas specials and iOS News Feeds, but the clips have so far been conspicuously absent from one format — Apple TV. That's changed today with the launch of an Apple TV app by Littlstar, a network of virtual reality and 360-degree videos, that makes 360-degree videos available for the first time on the fourth-generation Apple hardware.

Littlstar hosts 360-degree and VR videos

Littlstar launched in 2014, using funds provided by Disney's accelerator program, and is already home to a wide variety of 360-degree videos. The network feels more like Vimeo than YouTube: it accepts video submissions from its users, but partners with big names including National GeographicThe Wall Street Journal, and Mountain Dew, curating 360-degree videos of everything from shark dives and car races to chicken farms and football games. This new Apple TV app is just the latest of the company's releases — Littlstar apps already exist for iOSAndroid, and Samsung's Gear VR.

Although Littlstar doesn't have the breadth of videos of YouTube, the fourth generation Apple TV hardware feels like a natural home for its 360-degree videos. Where watching the videos on desktop or laptop requires clicking and dragging to navigate inside videos, the Apple TV's Siri remote allowing for smooth panning, making the videos more responsive and easier to control. More suspect is just how useful these videos will be in the long run. For now they work more as gimmick than as a tool for real education or illumination, but as bigger companies invest more into both 360-degree videos and virtual reality, they might enable new forms of reporting.

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