Google wants to bring 360 degree photos and videos to more websites and mobile apps, and the company has launched a new tool called VR view to do it.
Google says Android and iOS app developers can add 360 degree images or videos to their sites by using the Google Cardboard SDK and adding a few lines of code to their apps in order to embed content.
It’s not quite as simple as going to YouTube, hitting a share button, and copying/pasting the code. But it’s pretty close. I managed to get the iFrame code for the image
and video included in this article by simply viewing the source for two Google web pages.
Update: I’ve removed the video from this page because it auto-plays.
Once that’s done, users will be able to interact with 360 degree imagery using a mobile phone with a Cardboard viewer (or Samsung Gear VR or similar device), or using a desktop web browser (although the experience isn’t nearly as immersive when you have to drag the imagery around with a mouse).
Now that premium virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are starting to ship, the difference between true VR and simple 360 degree imagery is becoming more clear. While Google Cardboard-style devices let you explore content from all angles by moving your head (or mouse cursor), you’re still pretty much stuck to a single position in space.
More expensive VR experiences allow you to move through those spaces as if you were walking (or flying, driving, etc) through real environments.
Oculus, HTC, Sony, and others have also taken steps to make their VR devices more comfortable to wear for hours on end than a piece of cardboard strapped to your face. There’s a reason Google’s Cardboard specifications don’t include a head strap: the company only expects you to use its low-cost 360-degree viewer for brief periods at a time.