Virtual reality has come and gone from the public’s eye during the past three decades, but Facebook is determined to make it available for mobile users. There are rumors of a stand-alone video app that would allow users to watch 360-degree “spherical” videos, but Facebook has declined to comment on the matter.
The format is usually achieved by shooting from multiple angles, but users will be able to switch the viewing perspective by simply tilting their smartphones. Talking about smartphones, many platforms will support the app, including iOS and Android.
According to people familiar to the matter – who chose to remain anonymous due to the project’s confidentiality, the app is already undergoing development, but still in the early stages, so a launch date is difficult to be predicted.
But we don’t find it difficult to believe that Facebook is actually working on such an app, since its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been pretty excited about virtual reality on repeated occasions, calling it a successor for mobile devices in “computing platforms.”
Moreover, Facebook has managed to spark interest in the field by purchasing Oculus VR – the virtual reality tech company – last year for no less than $2bn. Back in March, the young CEO has also announced that Facebook’s support for video in news feeds is going to include the spherical format. Basically, users will be able to “move around inside the video and view it from different angles.”
Oculus’ Rift headset is expected to ship starting the first quarter of next year, with hopes that it will increase the consumers’ interest in the new immersive experiences it can provide; the company is set to “go big or go home” with their ambitious applications: virtual doctor appointments, VIP seats at a basketball game, or live concerts, all from the comfort of your own home.
Market analysts think that virtual reality will make its way into our living rooms with the help of hard-core gamers or customers who don’t mind investing in the technology. Zuckerberg’s dreams are even broader though, but he’s hoping to get there with the mobile-video app.
In spite of offering a less intense experience than a headset, the app would help Facebook become an even more present player in the field of virtual reality, introducing it to a much broader audience. While Oculus’ headsets are estimated to reach about 1.5 million in sales during 2016, the global mobile phone shipments will exceed 2 billion, making mobile the king.
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