We’re seeing a number of new cameras entering the market right now with support for taking 360-degree photos. LG kicked off with their LG 360 Cam last month and Samsung is expected to launch their Gear 360 soon. With the hardware coming, the problem is sharing. Google Photos supports, (as does Flickr), but Facebook has just announced that the worlds largest social network also supports it.
According to Facebook, anyone with a 360-degree camera can now upload the image to Facebook where they will automatically ‘convert it to an immersive 360 photo that people can explore’ on either a smartphone or on their desktop. According to Facebook, once uploaded, a compass icon on the right-hand side of the photo will appear, indicating to people viewing your news feed that some interaction is available – at which point, they can tap and drag to move the image around, or even just move their phone around using the accelerometer.
It’s not just on phones and desktops though, the Oculus powered Samsung Gear VR is also being promoted as a great way to view the images, with Facebook saying:
On Samsung Gear VR-compatible phones, you’ll see a button in the top left corner of your photo that says “View in VR.” If you tap on that button and insert your phone into your Gear VR headset, you can see your 360 photo in virtual reality.
Even though 360-degree cameras are available, they aren’t cheap. So to get a bit of recognition going, Facebook is pointing people towards 360-degree photos uploaded by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, as well as images taken by NASA on the International Space Station.
Facebook has been supporting 360-degree video for some time now, but it’s the support for 360-degree photos that really has been quite long awaited at least for owners of these cameras. It’s with the full implementation of both photo and video on Facebook that cameras like the Fly360, Ricoh Theta S, LG 360 Cam and the Gear 360 are going to take off. Google Photos and even Flickr to an extent these days are fairly niche, but Facebook, well Facebook is used by almost everyone – 1.65 billion monthly active users earlier this year – and this will certainly drive the platform.
Now. Before you get excited, it doesn’t seem to be quite working just yet. I’ve been testing out uploads from the Ricoh Theta S since the announcement and none of the uploads has displayed as a 360-degree image as yet. It’s very likely just being switched on so don’t worry too much about it.