Why Create a Virtual Reality App from Your 360 Video?

While creating your 360 story is an accomplishment unto itself, for most people, it’s not the end goal. You’ve likely created your immersive story to share with others — whether that’s with a specific audience, at a trade show, with sales prospects, or the wider Internet audience in general. You now have to figure out how to get your immersive story into the hands of your audience, and make sure whatever approach you take actually works for them!

One potentially valuable approach is to use the 360 Video as the anchor for a full Virtual Reality app, rather than simply offering the footage itself for viewing. There are multiple advantages to such an approach, and creators can often drive more profitable engagements by including such initiatives in their overall project to their clients.

7K0A0032Let me give you more money please!

Delivers Presence With a Virtual Reality Headset
There is a concept in the VR world of “presence” — when the user actually feels, to some extent, as if they are there. In this regard, there is a very big difference between watching 360 video that you can move around and virtual reality from within a headset. If you’ve never used a VR headset (Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, etc.), this statement will likely ring hollow. But, I cannot overstate this — using a Virtual Reality headset is a completely different experience from watching a 360 video on a flat screen.

Viewing a 360 video on a desktop computer is really just watching a flat video, with the added feature that they can use a mouse to control what direction the flat video is pointing. Someone experiencing your content through a headset is transported inside your story, connecting with the experience on a completely different emotional level. Watching a YouTube 360 video on a computer is cool — you can see from the perspective of a skydiver and pan around to see what is around. Watching the same content through a headset gets your heart racing, and I’ve seen more than one person pull their feet up at the end as they’re about to “hit the ground” — I’ve never seen such a reaction from a user watching a flat video.

Unfortunately, current 360 viewers do not offer a simple, broadly supported approach for this type of experience. YouTube 360 does have the ability to switch into Cardboard mode and use it with a headset — but only if they are using an Android phone. If the user has an iPhone (often a majority of your target audience), they’re out of luck and are back to watching a flat video for which they can control the perspective.

By packaging and releasing an app, you can make sure that your audience can get that all important sense of presence whether they’re using iOS or Android.

Provides a Stronger Branding Opportunity
We’ve found that having a branded app, that has the logo and connection to you or your customer and the content you’ve created, is powerful by itself. By releasing a branded app for your customer, you are delivering a higher end, more comprehensive experience that can deliver more value to your customer (at a higher price point) beyond the 360 video production.

Makes Getting Started Easier
No matter the use case, creating a standalone app makes it much easier for the intended audience to get started. It’s better than expecting/hoping end users will follow the steps necessary to install a viewer, download your content, load your content into the viewer (often in a special directory for it to work), launch the viewer app, and select your 360 video in the generic viewer. One misstep and the end user can easily get frustrated and give up — it’s much easier to install a branded app via a link or keyword search term in the public app stores.

Allows for Interactive Calls to Action
By releasing a full native app, clear calls to action (Contact Us, Share with a Friend, Schedule a Demo, Visit Our Website, etc.) can be integrated and presented to your audience at appropriate times. While this can be integrated directly into the immersive experience, it can also be done before and after, as part of the traditional app interface. You are in control of the audience experience, rather than dropping your content into someone else’s viewer ecosystem.

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Hello, I just used your app, and I had to contact you. I can bearly contain myself.

Limits Audience Exposure to Competitive Messages
Delivering content as a custom app also keeps end users from going to something like YouTube 360 where, after seeing your content, they are then bombarded with “similar” (potentially competitive) video options from other creators. You have complete control over the experience, and aren’t subjecting your audience to advertisements and other imagery over which you have little to no control.

Provides for Ongoing Engagement with Audience
If you are telling a story over a series of content releases, a native app is a great way to push content to your users over time. After they install the base app, they can download later experiences or chapters as you release them. These content releases do not have to go through the app store review process again; rather, the user simply gets the new content by running the app. The application on your audience members’ phones serves as a bookmark to remind them when new content is available, rather than relying on them to seek you back out online to check for updates.

Strengthens Copyright Protection
As many content creators have discovered, videos posted to services like YouTube and Facebook can be easily downloaded by anyone and re-purposed for unlicensed uses. A simple search on Google returns pages of results for solutions to allow even non-technical users the ability to download YouTube videos. Once downloaded, they can post the video, edited or unedited, on their own site or post right back on the same sites, but under their name and account.  There is nothing more frustrating than finding your work posted on another site, being used to sell someone else’s services.

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A native app, however, can be constructed to keep users from being able to download the raw content. The footage can be bundled into the app and only accessible via API with authorized keys. This allows the end user to still access it easily, but only in the manner in which you are offering it.

Are you a professional 360 photographer or videographer wanting to create custom, native VR Apps for your clients without having to learn any of the above or touch a single line of code? Our VR Launch system might be just what you need to get going quickly and profitably. Take a look to see if it’s right for you!