360 Video/VR News

360 Video DI

☀☀ The 360 Video Digital Immersion app features a lot of random events designed to show off the the virtual 360 video model in HD. Digital Immersion is a French studio that creates 360 videos and promotes itself through the app. If you want to see some of the ways VR can be done, or to get ideas, the app is useful, but it does not appear to be a platform of newsworthy events. Instead, 360 Video DI appears to be a platform solely for the DI French Studio. — Jamee Lind


☀☀☀☀ Splash is virtual reality app that allows users to create their own VR content with a 360° scope. Just tap the screen and you can map an area or event with photographs, video and sound. The content can be created and shared within a matter of minutes, going out from the app itself or through Facebook. Other Splash content is available to view. This app is useful for journalists because they can use it to create quality interactive VR content in the field without the use of specialized equipment. — Victoria Grijalva

☀☀☀ Splash is a virtual reality app featuring crowdsourced 360 videos from around the world. Users share videos through Facebook or Splash itself. The quality of the social-network VR video varies widely, but overall it’s relatively high. Users can create their content with photos, videos and sound. An app like this makes creating and sharing VR content easy. Journalists could use this to share 360 video content with people quickly without having to purchase expensive equipment. — Carly Henry


☀☀ Ryot is a virtual reality app that presents news stories and short documentary videos by partnering with news organizations, such as the Associated Press and charities such as Save the Children. The films are short and varied, from the refugee crisis in Greece to the Iowa caucus. The app is easy to navigate and can conveniently be used with or without virtual reality gear. But when using VR glasses, the video quality seemed distorted and (to me) nauseating. Without any sound and only a short introductory description, viewers miss critical context, lessening the potential impact of the stories, not good for journalists who want to learn about virtual reality as a storytelling tool.  — Lauren Hornberger


☀☀ Scopic is a developing VR app based in Amsterdam. There are only four high-quality videos currently featured. The app layout looks like a work in progress; virtual reality is still new and developing. I like the company’s clear mission statement. Scopic looks to have a promising future in the world of virtual reality.  — Ashley Altmann


☀☀☀☀ Jaunt is a video player that houses the top virtual reality videos in one place. Available on Google Play, the App Store, and now the Playstation VR system, you can use a headset to view the videos, or simply use your phone. The videos are broken down into categories; the app interface of the app is well organized. Released in 2014, Techcrunch tested the app off the bat and was impressed with the early capabilities. Now, it has grown to encompass more platforms and content, from sports to world news, helping journalists keep up with current events in an engaging way. — Cole Feinbloom

☀☀☀☀ Created by scientists, engineers and broadcast professionals, Jaunt is a virtual reality app that collaborates with brands, artists and filmmakers. Users can choose experiences ranging from visiting Disneyland to exploring the migrant crisis, with environmental sound and cinematic quality. The programs last from one to six minutes. The app is intuitive and easy to maneuver. Users can proceed with or without VR viewers, making it more accessible. Jaunt uses 360-view, which may be difficult for some users to adjust to. Great for documentary journalism, international journalism, and news that requires a detailed visual component. — Victoria Grijalva


☀☀ in360Tube is supposed to allow you to “enjoy your favorite 360 degree videos from Youtube making playlists.” But when I first opened the app, it was in Spanish although the app store clearly said it was English. There were only 10 “destacados” to choose from and a search feature that did not work. I was impressed with some of the 360 videos, but other 360 apps would probably do a better job of displaying them in a more user-friendly way. —Melissa Szenda


☀☀☀☀ My view: The New York Times has again revolutionized journalism. Its VR app, free in the App store and Google Play, only requires a smartphone and Google Cardboard or Daydream VR rig. Engadget’s review points out that viewership will depend upon adoption of goggles, and we aren’t there yet. Still, I loved the different environments, from troop movements in Iraq to exploring old jail cells. Using 360 technology, journalists can tell their stories with real world settings, for their stories and even VR-based articles. — Ben Jacobs

☀☀☀ The NYT VR experience is impressive — and you don’t have to have VR goggles to view 360-video on this smart phone app. You can live-stream or download the video (but downloading takes a lot longer). Advertising videos placed among the news videos, only distinguished by a tiny company logo, lessened the experience. Clear labels would be an improvement. That said, this app offers unusual ways of seeing a news story, or having “an experience” as the app calls it.  — Jamee Lind


VisitVR? Don’t.

The downfall of many apps can blamed on sluggishness, glitches or crashes.  VisitVR.com has been taken over by Turkish hackers (as of November 2016). The app, listed on GooglePlay, promises to deliver virtual tours for Google Cardboard. Instead, “TURKISHSPYHACKER” occupies VisitVR.com in classic hacker-esque aesthetic, striking red text over black. The hackers call for Muhammed Fethullah Gülen to return to Turkey. They promise to spread the “power of Turkish and Islam.” Even before the hack, one reviewer wrote:  “Don’t Download … you might as well just go onto Google and search “low resolution nature photos.” — Kelsey Hess


Vanguard V

☀☀☀ In the third-person VR game Vanguard V, you control an astronaut in a spacesuit and a robot companion. Learning time: less than five minutes. You move your headset to control the gameplay. The point of view switches to first-person sporadically, changing perspectives between the astronaut and the robot companion. Most of the game consists of dodging debris and meteors and protecting the “heat shield.” Vanguard V is fun, but don’t use a headset without a strap; there’s a lot of head motion involved. Its journalistic value is minimal: you can learn how to use a headset. — Garrison Murphy

VR Stories

☀☀ USA Today’s VR Stories needs improvement. Its interface is difficult to navigate. Users can’t maneuver through the app while the phone is in the virtual reality goggles, which made using it a hassle. It falls short in its goal of integrating users into news stories. Some of the “videos” on the app were not videos at all, but lower quality 360 pictures. Most of the app’s videos left something to be desired in overall experience. The app has potential for immersing users into stories but has not yet reached the quality of other VR apps out there. — Carly Henry