It's been 10 years since Facebook began letting people upload photos to Facebook, and boy has a lot changed since then. Today, the company is introducing support for 360-degree images, which can be uploaded to your news feed and be viewed by others with or without a virtual reality headset.
Facebook has big plans for its social media platform, some of which it shared with us during April's F8 conference in San Francisco. The company anticipates virtual reality to play a particularly important role its website's future, envisioning a future where users will be able to stick on a pair of virtual reality goggles and jump into 360-degree photos together, amongst other things.
The launch of 360 Photos, then, is a small but important step in Facebook's wider ambitions. To make use of the new feature, just take a photo on your smartphone in panorama mode and then upload it to Facebook as you would a normal photo. The website will then automatically convert it into an "immersive" 360-degree image.
You'll be able to identify 360-degree photos uploaded by your friends by looking for a compass icon on the right-hand side of the photo. You can then look around the image on mobile by tapping and dragging the photo or by moving your phone, and on a computer by clicking and dragging. At the same time, users will be able to explore promoted photos from celebrities, publishers and other companies.
Samsung Gear VR owners will be able to view 360-degree photos inside the headset by clicking "view in VR" in the top left corner of the photo, placing their phone into their goggles and then strapping them on.
Facebook will start letting users share 360-degree photos over "the next few days". The company said in a statement: "Hundreds of millions of photos are shared on Facebook each day, from fun snapshots to photos of major life milestones, and everything in between. Today, we're improving photos on Facebook so that people can share more immersive views of their world."