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YouTube Now Supports 360-Degree Videos

It is cool as heck.

Posted on March 13, 2015, at 2:32 p.m. ET

YouTube is now an immersive video platform.

On Friday, the streaming site enabled native support for 360-degree video, giving users the ability to upload clips that offer a point-of-view experience reminiscent of Google Maps' Street View feature.

For YouTube, 360-degree video is another attempt to develop new ways of connecting with its audience. Earlier this year the company began offering limited support for multi-angle video. The debut of 360-degree video is the next step and a new benchmark for the company, which wants users to experience videos -- not just watch them.

"Immersive experiences are the next step," YouTube product manager Sanjeev Verma told BuzzFeed. "There's a big gap between someone who watches YouTube and someone who uses Google Cardboard; this opens that huge middle ground."

You can see YouTube's new 360-degree video feature in action in a half dozen clips posted to the company's "Creators" channel. That's a small selection, but one that YouTube hopes will expand quickly as consumers warm to 360-degree camera technology.


The Ricoh Theta 360-degree camera

Though there are several 360-degree cameras on the market right now, they tend to be pricey. The Ricoh Theta, for example, runs around $300. But prices will likely drop as consumer adoption rates rise. And with more than 1 billion users, who better to help speed adoption than YouTube?

YouTube is working with camera makers to ensure that 360-degree videos shot on their cameras will be formatted to work on the site.

Initially, YouTube's new 360-degree video feature will be available on Android devices and HTML5 desktop browsers. But the company hopes to bring it to Apple's iOS devices soon, as well.

View this video on YouTube

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.