Google is going all in on virtual reality, and we saw the early stages of its plan for VR domination take shape this week at the annual Google I/O developer conference. The company covered plenty of bases during its big keynote event on Wednesday — check out the 8 most important announcements from Google I/O 2016 — but VR was absolutely one of the biggest. In fact, the entire event was streamed live in 360-degree video so that anyone with a VR headset anywhere in the world could follow along as if they were sitting right there in the audience.
The company’s mission is clear: Google wants to own VR. Android is clearly the proper tool for the job, and now another piece of the puzzle is falling into place. YouTube, the second most popular website in the world (behind Google.com), has an official VR experience in the works and we just got our first look at it.
“For more than a year, we’ve been adding support for new video and audio formats on YouTube like 360-degree video, VR video and Spatial Audio,” YouTube’s VR project manager Kurt Wilms wrote in a post on the company’s official blog. “These were the first steps on our way toward a truly immersive video experience, and now we’re taking another one with the YouTube VR app for Daydream, Google’s platform for high-quality mobile virtual reality, announced today at Google I/O.”
And with that comes our first look at the official YouTube VR app:
It might not seem like much in 2D but if virtual reality takes off the way many are predicting, this is our first look at an interface that millions upon millions of people will spend countless hours of their lives immersed in. The user interface isn’t yet finalized, but this early look shows that it provides quick and easy access to all of YouTube’s core features.
“We’re creating the YouTube VR app to provide an easier, more immersive way to find and experience virtual reality content on YouTube,” Wilms wrote. “It also comes with all the YouTube features you already love, like voice search, discovery, and playlists, all personalized for you, so you can experience the world’s largest collection of VR videos in a whole new way.”
YouTube is already home to a treasure trove of 360-degree content that users enjoy in a VR setting, so the natural next step is to create a YouTube experience that serves as a gateway to all that content.