YouTube VR Review: A ‘New Reality’ for Virtual Content

One of the world's top-ranked video platforms is expanding into the immersive content market space

YouTube VR Review: Exploring YouTube VR
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Published: October 29, 2021

Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter

Virtual Reality has become a pretty versatile platform over the last few years.

Originally perceived as the new frontier for gaming, virtual reality is now an environment where teams can collaborate, designers can innovate, and consumers can entertain themselves. If you’re not much of a gamer, you can still find all kinds of ways to step into a new virtual world. This includes exploring VR experiences within your favourite video app.

YouTube VR originally launched back in 2016, offering people a way to view VR experiences on a VR headset. You can still access VR videos on YouTube from a desktop or smartphone, but you have to click and drag your mouse to look around a scene, rather than just turning your head.

Let’s take a closer look at YouTube VR, and what it can offer.

YouTube VR Review: Features

YouTube VR is a sub-application of the YouTube video sharing website. Essentially, it’s an app you can download for a range of devices. You can use your smartphone to access more immersive 360-degree videos and VR experiences with smartphone VR headsets. Many environments like DayDream and Oculus also offer access to YouTube VR direct from your VR headset.

When initially launching, YouTube VR was packed full of custom-made VR experiences intended to show people what the solution could do. There were “Walking Dead” videos, where you could jump into a VR world and look around you as you enjoyed a trailer for the show’s upcoming season. Today, YouTube VR is more of an environment for developers and creators hoping to design more memorable experiences for their audience.

Features include:

  • Cross platform performance: Though intended for VR headsets, you can still use YouTube VR on a desktop or smartphone. This makes it more accessible for today’s consumers.
  • All the features of YouTube: Users can create videos and share them in VR mode, or just explore the content created by the favourite streamers.
  • Immersive visual experiences: You can create your videos with 180-degree and 360-degree angles so people can look around when enjoying the content
  • Directing and shooting guidance: YouTube has a series of useful guides and support available for people who need help getting started.
  • Voice search: Natural language processing allows users to search for the content they want without having to deal with the headache of typing in VR.

Though regarded by some users to be more of a novelty than a new platform on its own, YouTube VR has captured the attention of many content creators in the new digital world. As swarms of consumers and businesses make their way into the VR landscape, immersive content is growing increasingly popular. YouTube VR gives companies and individuals a way to create and share unique video experiences which surround the viewer.

YouTube VR Review: Benefits

The benefits of a solution like YouTube VR for consumers are clear. We’re all looking for the most immersive content today. Videos that you can actually step inside of are bound to be more entertaining and informative than their static counterparts. Where YouTube VR really shines, is in the opportunities available for creators.

YouTube VR comes with access to a series of creator tools and community solutions to help people take advantage of a new generation of content creation. You can choose what kind of format you want to produce in and get assistance on how to edit your creations. Some of the benefits of YouTube VR include:

  • Cross platform access: Though VR headsets are growing more affordable, it pays to have a VR environment people can access on any device. The YouTube ecosystem doesn’t discriminate against those without a headset. Viewers can still drag their way around a video to view content from different angles.
  • Multiple VR modes: YouTube allows creators to produce their VR content in a range of formats. The easiest, and more popular way to begin is with 180 content, which immerses viewers in another level of visual experience without too much extra complexity. Audience members can look side to side and up or down. With 360-degree mode, creators with more in-depth VR content development experience can immerse viewers in an entirely new world.
  • Creator resources: As mentioned above, YouTube wants to help companies from all backgrounds to embrace the benefits of VR and immersive content. This means offering people access to a wide range of different resources, like workshops, labs, and downloadable templates to help you start designing. There are also plenty of videos to give you a head start on what your content should look like.

Though a relatively simple approach to what VR content can offer, YouTube is taking a positive step in the right direction for virtual reality video. Currently, the number of truly immersive VR content offerings on the platform is constantly growing, giving people the chance to go surfing with their favourite athletes, or walk around a sunny landscape somewhere in a distant land. YouTube VR gives us a taste of what VR entertainment is like outside of video.

YouTube VR Verdict

In a lot of ways, YouTube VR seemed to start life as a “me too” solution, produced to take advantage of the growing interest in VR and extended reality. Over the years, however, it’s grown into something more. The platform now represents a wonderful place for content creators to start thinking about the way they interact with viewers in new dimensions.

Particularly during the last couple of years, with the arrival of the pandemic to consider, people have been looking for an easier “escape” from the real world. YouTube VR offers that escape, accessible through a VR headset, smartphone, or even just your desktop computer. It even gives real estate companies a chance to show their customers what a location might be like before they buy, or travel companies a way to introduce travellers to new destinations.

We can definitely see how the potential of YouTube VR will grow in the years ahead.

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