Coinciding with the debut of Google’s new Daydream View VR headset, YouTube this morning announced the launch of its YouTube VR app, which is available first on Daydream. The standalone application turns all of YouTube’s content into an immersive experience, even if the videos weren’t built for VR viewing. To do so, YouTube VR will display standard videos in a virtual movie screen in app’s new theater mode. Of course, 360 degree videos on YouTube will work best in this app.
In the theater mode, the video itself fills the main portion of the screen, while video information – like the title and description – is off on one side. The other side of the screen displays your queue so you can see what’s coming up next. Player controls are down at the bottom.
This way, you can watch and browse at the same time, says Google.
The app also includes other features like voice search, support for spatial audio, and the ability to sign in to your YouTube account so you can follow your subscriptions and view your playlists.
Today, much of the content on YouTube is not optimized for VR, but Google believes the format will become a more popular means of storytelling in the future.
That said, the company is investing in the technology by seeding the network with VR content. It has been helping YouTube creators gain access to VR equipment in YouTube Spaces, as well as learn how to use it to film in 360 degrees.
At launch, that means there’s already a number of videos to watch in the new VR app. The company calls out a few examples of those across genres, including videos from beauty blogger Meredith Foster, Tastemade’s cooking videos, HuffPost RYOT’s breaking news, as well as others from Curiscope, Natural History Museum in London, StyleHaul, and Fitness Blender, to name a few. The NBA will soon have videos for YouTube VR, Google also noted.
In order to use the new app, you’ll need a Daydream-ready phone, like the recently launched Pixel, and the Daydream View headset.