While YouTube is rapidly growing as a leading source of 360 degree video content, an official YouTube VR app has been notably absent from the high-end tethered headsets, even after its debut on Google’s Daydream VR platform. Now, PlayStation VR is the first to get support for the app, while the Rift and the Vive will likely have some time still to wait.

After a small initial deployment of an update to PS4’s YouTube app a few weeks back, users in both US and EU are reporting that the 1.10 YouTube patch has added support for the PlayStation VR headset (if you don’t have it yet, click the Options button while highlighting the YouTube app on PS4 and press Check for Update).

youtuve-vr-psvr-updateWhen launching the app, users can now choose between launching the Normal version or the PlayStation VR version of YouTube. The PSVR version of YouTube now supports both 360 monoscopic and 360 3D video, and adds a ‘360 Videos’ category along the interface’s top row. The interface is otherwise identical to the Normal version.

youtube-psvr
Among a number of 360 videos on the platform, this one will let you swim with the infamous Great White from the comfort of your couch.

Inside the videosphere of a 360 video on YouTube you can look around in all directions to see the action, but of course there’s no positional tracking because the video is a standard single point capture (which means if you lean from side to size, the view won’t move). Non-VR 3D videos don’t appear to be supported by the application yet, but hopefully they will be in time.

For reasons that are likely more political than technological, PlayStation VR is the first of the big three tethered VR headsets to get an official YouTube VR app. Notably, as PSVR is console-based, PC VR headsets still have no official YouTube VR app despite being available for much longer than PSVR.

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The sporadic availability of the app speaks to continued strategic maneuvering by Google and competitors vying for the best position in the early VR landscape. Ironically, one of Google’s biggest competitors, Apple, saw their iOS platform get official (albeit rudimentary) YouTube VR support thanks to the iOS YouTube app getting ‘Cardboard’ VR functionality in the middle of 2016.

YouTube VR on Daydream has built from the ground up for VR.
YouTube VR on Daydream has built from the ground up for VR.

The irony continues as one of Google’s biggest allies on the Android front, Samsung, has seen their Gear VR users deprived of a YouTube VR app while Google made sure it was part of the launch lineup for the mobile Daydream VR platform in late 2016.

Other major video platforms like Netflix (and even speciality VR video platforms like NextVR) also continue to be curiously absent from the industry’s best tethered headsets.

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  • hyperskyper

    360 degree videos simply aren’t high enough quality yet to be enjoyable and larger videos would take forever to download and likely wouldn’t be able to stream. It still does annoy me that YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc. just act as if the Vive and Rift don’t exist (especially the Vive). It seems like the headsets with the most open platforms get the least support from big name companies. It is probably because the shadier companies will pay a lot for exclusivity.

    • PrymeFactor

      If you really think Sony is paying for YouTube VR, you’re dumber than a brick.
      Put your inane conspiracy theories away. Gear VR gets Netflix et al because of the much larger user base than Vive and Rift combined.

      PlayStation VR will outsell Vive and Rift quite easily (thats if it hasn’t already done so) and as such it makes far more sense to pot it over to that headset.

      • KUKWES

        Who cares about low res 360 videos and Netflix on a VR devices. I know most people that bought their vr headsets didn’t buy it for those reasons. In the end Vive and Rift are superior products to PSVR. The next version of the headsets and line of video cards will further make the PSVR look like a peasant. The PC vr market is going to explode this year.

      • hyperskyper

        I’m not dumber than a brick and my theories are not crazy at all. In this example, I don’t think that Sony paid for YouTube but it has happened many times before with other apps and games. Google doesn’t usually make decisions about supporting a platform based on money. They usually weigh out the pros and cons of keeping their app exclusively on their platform or branching out and supporting another platform or two. It’s quite strange in this example that they aren’t supporting the Vive on Steam, as Tilt Brush is exclusively available on Steam so far. Google isn’t the most unified company so that is likely the reason. Anyway, go find someone else to be rude to. Good community members don’t mock others for having different opinions.

    • Brandon Smith

      I’m not sure why this would shock you. “Open” is a concept that has traction with nerds, but corporations don’t really like or respond to “open”. “Open” doesn’t make money.

      • J.C.

        Mm, in this case, it’s likely just that they don’t feel that there are enough users to justify building an app. Since the ads would be forced in ahead of content, “not making money” is only from not having enough users to get it.

        I’d love a proper YouTube VR app, I’m mildly surprised someone hasn’t made an app for this already.

      • hyperskyper

        It doesn’t shock me. It just irks me. I don’t really care in this case though

      • Pre Seznik

        That is just very, very far from the truth. Many tech components to do with the subject of this news article are open, to start with.

    • Miqa

      Considering that both Rift and Vive are PC based, it wouldn’t really make sense to have a dedicated app for it with WebVR on the vergre.

  • Brandon Smith

    Exciting! I’m about to go check this out.

    Resolution has been a problem in all PSVR 360 videos so far, though. I really enjoy the 360 music videos, but I can only watch one or 2 highly compressed videos before my eyes can’t take it anymore.

  • Keith.

    Just tried it out today and some of the 4K stuff isn’t bad. Definitely the best VR video app on PSVR to date.

  • Pre Seznik

    360 video is shit. Stop pretending this is VR.

    • benz145

      360 3D video that’s made-for-VR can be a genuinely good VR experience. Have you seen any work from Felix & Paul? Inside the Box of Kurios is fantastic and entertaining:

      http://www.roadtovr.com/inside-the-box-of-kurios-cirque-du-soleil-felix-paul-studios/

      There’s definitely a lot of 360 video out there that is *not* good for VR, and often it seems to be because a lot of 360 video today is shot in a way that’s supposed to work across desktop, mobile, and VR viewing, with VR getting the least amount of consideration because it’s such a small audience today compared to desk and mobile.

      The technology is still evolving too. 360 video will get better for VR as 360 3D cameras become cheaper and easier to use. There’s also next volumetric capture technologies in development which will blur the line between 360 video and real-time rendering, like HypeVR:

      http://www.roadtovr.com/believe-hype-hypevrs-volumentric-video-capture-glimpse-future-vr-video/