Those panoramas trapped on your phone will finally get a better viewing experience, both on News Feed and the Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR, which Facebook now says has 1 million monthly users — the first time it’s released monthly usage stats.
Facebook’s upcoming “360 Photos” feature will let people upload flat panoramas like those taken on iPhones, Google Photospheres, or photos from 360 cameras. Facebook will then morph them into 360 Photos for News Feed where users will be able to hold and drag to pan around the photos, or move their heads to look around them on the Gear VR.
360 Photos made from panoramas could democratize VR content creation by allowing people to make it with no special equipment. They’ll just need an iPhone running iOS 6 or later, an Android running v4.2 or later, or one of many 360 photo apps available for download. In fact, many people will have already created this content, which before was tough to view.
Google, for reference, built its Photo Sphere system into Android, allowing users to take full 360 panoramas and then watch them on VR headsets like Google Cardboard.
Facebook has had support for 360 videos in the News Feed since September, but good 360 videos are tough to shoot and often require designated hardware. Now a large percentage of smartphones can shoot for VR.