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WordPress blogs now support 360-degree videos in virtual reality

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All blogs hosted by WordPress.com are getting the ability to host VR content today. The site is launching support for 360-degree photos and videos, which will be viewable on desktop, mobile, and through actual virtual reality headsets.

The experience differs depending on how you’re visiting the site. On a desktop browser, you’ll be able to click and drag around a photo or video to change perspective — basically what you can already do on YouTube or Facebook. But if you have a VR headset attached, you’ll be able to put it on and get a proper experience, with the photo or video moving around in response to how you move your head.

On mobile, the experience is somewhere in between the two. WordPress will be able to tap into your phone or tablet’s gyroscope so that the photo or video will respond to how you move the device around. If the phone is inside something like a Cardboard VR viewer, then it’d essentially be the same experience as on a real VR headset; and even if you’re just holding it in the air, it’ll still be more natural than clicking and dragging around.

What WordPress is doing here is by no means novel — it’s using webVR, an open-source tool for letting browsers display VR content — but it’s a notable expansion for VR content. WordPress says the blogs it hosts collectively receive 409 million viewers every month, so today’s addition opens VR photos and videos up to a huge audience.