Google’s YouTube VR application is coming to the Samsung Gear VR this week, the company announced today, potentially expanding the virtual reality video service’s audience by “millions of people.”
YouTube VR is pitched as a “3D world” filled with YouTube’s existing content and channels, including access to videos that are specially formatted for VR devices. Until now, the service has been limited in availability to only a handful of platforms: It was first launched on Google’s Daydream View for Pixel and Pixel XL phones, with subsequent launches on HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, the latter its only platform with over two million users.
This week, the app will become available from the Oculus Store as a free download for Gear VR, which could radically increase its base of users. Samsung said last year that it had sold over five million Gear VR accessories to turn certain of its phones into basic VR devices, though it’s unknown how many are still in use.
According to Google, YouTube VR will offer additional exclusive content to users this summer, bolstering its existing collection of 800,000 VR experiences. New videos will include behind-the-scenes looks at musicians in the VR180 Rockstar VR series, a day in the life of Olympic bronze medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, and a game-themed racing video from SoKrispyMedia.
Daydream and Gear VR users will also gain the ability to “watch and discuss videos with others in a communal, virtual space.” A new Watch Together icon is being added beneath the Daydream View’s and Gear VR’s apps’ play controls, presumably with the potential of future support for the feature on other platforms. Google hasn’t committed to apps for additional devices, but is said to be working to bring YouTube VR to as many users as possible.