Facebook says it will let you upload and view 360-degree photos on mobile and the web in the coming weeks. The feature will function similarly to 360-degree videos, so you'll be able to click and drag to explore an environment on desktop or move your smartphone around as if its screen were a viewfinder. The feature is part of a greater mission to frame Facebook as a way to explore faraway places. It's also tied directly to Facebook-owned Oculus VR's push for more live-action photography and video you can experience with the Gear VR and Rift headsets. Both devices will also be able to view 360-degree photos shared on the social network.
While 360-degree video has been available on Facebook since September of last year, it will still be quite a while before users and creators embrace the new format in large quantities. Now Facebook is making its platform more friendly to photos, which can be shot with a smartphone instead of an expensive video rig. So we may see a steady uptick in both professional-grade and consumer-shot 360-degree content. The update will let you upload panoramas captured with native smartphone cameras, 360-degree photospheres made with third-party apps, or photos shot using a dedicated 360-degree rigs.
Facebook wants to urge people to produce as many photos and videos as possible
Facebook wants to urge people to produce as many photos and videos as possible, so much so that it made a camera of its own. During its annual F8 developers conference, Facebook announced a reference design for a new 17-camera array called Facebook Surround 360. The company hopes third-party manufacturers will create their own 360-degree cameras using the blueprints. Because at the end of the day, the more photos and videos that make their way to Facebook, the more time people will spend immersed within the social network.