360 Video/VR News

Orbulus

☀☀☀☀ Imagine being immersed in stunning visuals from around the world. Orbulus mojo VR delivers striking images set to audio. Best with high-quality VR goggles. A drawback: the images are stagnant. (Other apps, such as Within, use video.)  Journalist can use this app to provide a snapshot of places halfway across the globe without having to  move. Interestingly, the app doesn’t have many reviews and has not been updated since its release in early 2015. — Hailey Koebrick

FullDive

☀ FullDive VR attempts to be a gateway to any virtual reality media on the web. Users can find dozens of VR videos on different subjects. The videos, however, are subpar. Their quality falls short of current industry standards. VR competitors such as Within and Google Arts and Culture are fully immersive. But the 360-degree-turn feature on FullDive is flawed (and at times non-existent). FullDive only shows what is in front of the viewer, killing the experience. Journalists could use VR to make their content more interactive, but much better VR options exist. —Kyle Dowd

360fly

☀☀☀ 360fly provides a platform for homemade videos shot with the 360fly brand camera. Most of it is athletic, sports-based content such as snow-biking or skydiving. 360fly could be used journalistically after a newsroom is equipped and trained. The app offers a chance to see homemade 360 videos from enthusiasts. Unlike most other 360 cameras, the Fly can be paired with the app to show a live feed on your phone. Even without the external camera, 360fly is well worth the data space for a fun viewing experience. — Kelsey Hess

Google Arts and Culture

☀☀☀☀ The Google Arts and Culture app helps you explore everything from museums to historical landmarks. With audio-guided tours, journalists (or anyone) can get a sense of a place without going. Learn about the Statue of Liberty’s construction. See the Taj Mahal. Get access to places that are restricted to the public. Still, the tours have a flaw. They use photographs rather than video, the images blurring as a user turns to see the whole 360-degree scene. Environmental sound is absent as well. Overall, however, the potential for this app is immense. — Kyle Dowd

Guardian VR

☀☀☀ Guardian’s 6×9 virtual reality is an authentic (and disturbing) experience explaining the psychological damage caused by extreme isolation. Voice-overs explain a prisoner’s daily life of solitary confinement from a prison cell. Users of this free app should be adults. You’ll hear  graphic descriptions and real sounds from the Maine maximum security prison. The video is deliberately unsteady, occasionally causing feelings of nausea and discomfort (which took away from my experience). Be advised: watch while sitting.  Many virtual reality (VR) apps require goggles, but 6×9 offers a full screen alternative. This app allows journalists to see how a story can be told from the inside. — Emily Taylor

Discovery VR

☀☀☀☀ Discovery VR, a virtual reality app that acts as a tour guide, is available on both the App Store and Google Play. Check out new content, such as the “Born in China” experience. Discovery VR can be viewed without goggles in your browser. It is already being used for journalism by the Discovery Channel. Discovery documents the world’s locations, inspiring ideas about the world we might not have considered. However, it could use more video over still frames. — Connor Van Siclen

☀☀☀☀ Ever wonder what it’s like to swim with a frenzy of sharks? Discovery Channel VR dives into the world of virtual reality with content that immerses viewers. This app’s content includes high-definition 360° clips from Discovery’s classic television shows. Visit places you’ve never seen without leaving your couch. This app’s large library of quality documentary content makes it special.  (I watched a clip of Mythbusters in virtual reality.) Journalists can explore how high-definition immersive content is changing storytelling. — Scotty Bara

Within (formerly Vrse)

☀☀☀☀☀ Within is a professional VR platform, home to high-quality and captivating video.  The app, formerly Vrse, hosts everything from a Mr. Robot TV promo to a New York Times magazine project. You can see a U2 music video, Saturday Night Live tapings or a variety of TED Talks. The Within app runs well, with bright, organized features, including options to stream or download videos. It is a great showcase for immersive storytelling.  — Kelsey Hess

☀☀☀ Vrse allows users to view virtual reality news and entertainment videos that include a variety of topics created by organizations like The New York Times Magazine, Saturday Night Live and Vice News. Out of the 19 videos available on the app, I viewed only two. The reason: it took about 5 minutes to download each individual video onto my phone. There was no option to just press play and watch the videos directly from the app. This made the process time-consuming and almost not worth the wait. Overall, I think this is an interesting and professional app that could use a few adjustments. — Ashley Altmann

☀☀☀ Vrse creates compelling integrated VR stories. The app offers several stories that are cooperative pieces between Vrse and other news organizations. Narrated 360 videos tell the stories. Drawbacks include a design flaw which makes selecting a story after your phone is in the Vrse goggles difficult as well as some stories only available for download (others are available for both streaming and download). Despite the flaws, Vrse is one VR app worth checking out. — Carly Henry

Google Cardboard Camera

☀☀☀☀☀ The Google Cardboard Camera is onto something great. Its new app helps the user stitch a panoramic photo together for an almost 360-degree view. You can’t yet use it to shoot 360 video, but you can capture sound to complement the high-quality picture. It’s not true 360, more like a panorama shot that goes around in the circle. You can’t look up or down; the app blurs out everything beyond the photo. Still, it’s fun to experiment with: it even records corresponding audio as you record the picture. (That said, you don’t need a photo app or a special camera any longer to take 360-style pictures.) — Kelsey Hess

Coachella Explorer

☀☀☀  Coachella Explorer is a VR accessible app that allows users to explore a virtual rendering of the Coachella fairgrounds that host the Coachella music festival each year. The app is simple to use and can be used with or without a headset. Similar to Google Earth, the user can navigate the festival grounds by selecting an arrow in front of their field of vision. The user can control whether it is daytime, dusk or nighttime in the virtual world. I do not see any traditional journalistic use of the app unless a journalist is covering the Coachella music festival and needs to map out the venues beforehand. —Garrison Murphy

Vrideo

☀☀ Vrideo appears to be like the Youtube of VR videos. This platform allows you to view 360 videos based on a category that you are interested in such as comedy, education, activism and nonprofits and many more. Vrideo allows you to watch the videos both vertically and horizontally, but Google Cardboard goggles will do you no good as each video is in a single scene format. The ultimate downside of Vrideo is how much 360 porn and inappropriate content seems to be available on the platform. — Jamee Lind