According to new reports, Facebook is working on a new standalone app to bring virtual reality to smartphones.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is in the early stages of developing a virtual reality app for smartphones. The app is a standalone video app that supports viewing of 360-degree or "spherical" videos, typically filmed using multiple cameras like GoPro's Odyssey. The app allows users to explore the videos by tilting their phones to change the viewing perspective. In March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the social network would support spherical videos on its news feed and called virtual reality the next "computing platform" after mobile devices. In news feed, Zuckerberg explained, users would be able to "move around inside the video and view it from different angles." Facebook declined to comment on the VR app at this time and WSJ's sources could not confirm when or if the app will launch.
While virtual reality may not make its way to smartphones any time soon, Facebook hopes that its Oculus Rift headset will spark a new VR movement. "Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones," said Zuckerberg earlier this year. The Oculus Rift headset is expected to launch in early 2016 and Zuckerberg hopes that one day, VR will be able to power "immersive" experiences. "Oculus firmly believes that VR will initially be popular with hard-core gamers and enthusiasts who are willing to invest in high-end desktop computers for gaming for the next two years," said Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler in a research note on the topic. "Zuckerberg's own vision is much broader than this, but it may take a few years to play out."
Photo: © Oculus VR.