Google’s ‘YouTube VR’ App is Coming to Gear VR Alongside Social Viewing Update

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Google is finally bringing the official YouTube VR app to the Oculus Store for Samsung Gear VR soon. Google also announced a new social feature coming alongside the Gear VR app which will allow you to chat with friends while watching videos.

Gear VR owners have been waiting for an official YouTube VR app since the headset officially launched in late 2015. Previously, users would need to navigate to YouTube via VR web browsers such as Samsung Internet or Oculus Internet, which admittedly wasn’t to best way to view the video platform’s variety of content, which spans 360 degree, VR180, and standard formats.

Another recent development in the world of YouTube VR is the app’s new social viewing mode, dubbed ‘Watch Together’. Google says in a blog post that the new feature will let you “watch and discuss videos with others in a communal, virtual space,” although we have little to go on in terms of how that’s handled outside of this short gif below which shows thumbnail versions of avatars while viewing a 360 video. The company says it will be available on Daydream View and Gear VR.

The company also proclaims that YouTube VR now supports Samsung Gear VR, Daydream View, HTC Vive, and PSVR. That’s not really the whole story though.

Despite the fact that Gear VR is ‘powered’ by Oculus, and hooks into the Oculus Store for content, noticeably missing from the list of supported devices is any mention Oculus Go or Oculus Rift, the latter of which is actually supported via the YouTube VR app on Steam; it would be nigh impossible to create a HTC Vive exclusive when publishing through Steam using Valve’s OpenVR API and added benefit for user-created custom keybindings for SteamVR-compatible controllers.

While the Gear VR app isn’t out yet, it could be possible that Oculus Go will see de facto support too, but Google just doesn’t want the headlines to skew that way right now. Oculus themselves tell developers that “most Gear VR apps will run unmodified on Oculus Go,” so it may be when the app launches that Go users can get a crack at it too, although this is pure speculation.

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We’ll be keeping our eyes out when the Gear VR app launches later this week, and updating this piece when more information arrives.

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