Google Brings Social Viewing and Avatars to YouTube VR

Create an avatar and experience YouTube VR content with friends.

YouTube has been thinking about immersive video and the future of viewing experiences for awhile. The video platform became one of the first major players to allow 360° video sharing in 2015. Soon after, YouTube became the largest VR video platform over night by supporting playback within VR headsets like Google Cardboard.

Since then, we’ve seen YouTube introduce 360° live streaming and YouTube VR pop up as an early launch app on Google’s Daydream platform. The social video sharing platform has even gone as far as introducing the ability to watch 360° YouTube videos on your television at home. The update announced yesterday at Google I/O, introduces a whole new type of low commitment immersive viewing experience, while at the same time mirroring closely to how families or friends already watch 2D YouTube video at home.

Now YouTube is taking things even further, looking to add a couple features that have been missing from YouTube VR, but have always been the cornerstone of the platform — and that’s community.

YouTube VR Social Viewing

Announced during day two of Google I/O, YouTube is launching the ability to co-watch YouTube in VR with friends. The cowatching experience, to be released later this year, allows multiple users to get together in a virtual room to watch YouTube videos together.

“Every user has control of their end to end user experience,” said Erin Teague, Product Lead for VR at YouTube during a private press briefing. This means you can control the video playback within your headset, but at anytime you can sync up with your friends and watch together at the same time.

Watching 360° video with friends is one thing, but being able to interact with them takes the platform to a whole new social level. That’s why YouTube VR will also let you customize your avatar in VR and allow you to have an open dialogue with others in the group via voice chat.

Even though we’ve seen group chat rooms and avatar creation in the past with Gear VR and Facebook Spaces, YouTube is making a serious attempt to catch up in the social game, knowing very well their library of content will take the cake at the end of the day.

With a plethora of 360 content, an expansion of Daydream-ready phones, and the desire for consumers to make VR a social experience, this is probably the optimal time for Google to make YouTube VR the place to hang and watch immersive content — together.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder of VRScout.

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