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Facebook introduces 360-degree videos

Facebook has started to roll out 360-degree videos in the service’s News Feed, in an effort to take immersive content “a step further”.

The new feature lets viewers choose the angle when they play back compatible videos on Facebook– doing so on the web by dragging the video with a mouse cursor, or on mobiles by touching the screen or turning the device.

Major publishers and brands including Vice, Discovery, Star Wars, NBC’s Saturday Night Live and GoPro have already started to share 360-degree videos on the site, with Facebook commenting that these help to show the range of possibilities with this new medium.

“Our goal at Facebook is to connect you with the people and things that matter, every single day. Over time, we’ve seen that people enjoy more immersive content in their News Feeds. This is one reason video has been so successful on Facebook, and we’re excited to take it a step further with 360 video,” said Maher Saba, Facebook engineering director, video.

“In the future, imagine watching 360 videos of a friend’s vacation to a small village in France or a festival in Brazil — you’ll be able to look around and experience it as if you were there. Along with updates from your friends and family, you will also be able to discover amazing new content on Facebook from media companies, organisations, and individual creators.”

Special cameras can be used to record 360-degree videos and Facebook said that video creators will be able to upload videos in this medium over the coming days.

Web and Android users will be able to see these videos in their News Feed “soon, with an iOS rollout to follow “in the coming months,” according to Facebook.

At its F8 developer conference earlier this year, Facebook first previewed its “immersive, 360-degree video experience”.

The introduction of the new feature comes after YouTube has started to support 360-degree video uploads in March.

It also comes in the same week that Disney led a new US$65 million (€58 million) funding round in cinematic virtual reality (VR) firm Jaunt, with Sky also upping its investment in the firm and ProSiebenSat.1 coming on board as an investor.