Google is expanding its Spotlight Stories program in a big way at I/O this year, taking the short films beyond Motorola phones and toward the Android ecosystem at large — and during today's ATAP presentation Google confirmed they would be coming to YouTube as well. The news came during a presentation about the way Spotlight Stories have expanded from the earlier animated shorts, put together by classic animators like Glen Keane, and into the world of live-action — most specifically with Help, a short from Fast & Furious director Justin Lin about an alien invasion descending upon Los Angeles. Variety broke the YouTube news earlier this week.
Rather than going for the full field-of-view immersion that something like Oculus (or Google Cardboard) strives for, Spotlight Stories use the screen of your smartphone as a virtual viewfinder, allowing the user to spin around and look wherever they like in a full 360-degree environment. Details like binaural audio complete the illusion using a simple pair of headphones. The Spotlight Stories app is out now for Android, and Google also confirmed that an iOS version would be coming "very soon." The stories will be arriving on the mobile YouTube app sometime this summer, and while it may not seem like a big leap given that apps will already be available for the two major mobile platforms, the ramifications for exposure are enormous. Putting Spotlight Stories directly into YouTube mobile gives Google an incredibly large audience for these experiments with a turn of the switch — and exposing that many more people that might want to jump in and create one of the new immersive experiences for themselves.
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Verge Video at Google I/O 2015: An exclusive interview with Sundar Picahi