Facebook is arguably *the* social space for anyone into social interactions over the world wide web. Facebook is releasing Facebook Spaces in beta form to act as the same in virtual reality – a way of getting together with friends and family in a more immersive way compared to even voice or video calling.
According to the Facebook newsroom release, Spaces enables its users to interact with others in a virtual environment as if you were all in the same room. Moreover, it’s the perfect medium to explore 360 videos and photos together with your friends and family. It’s now available on the Oculus Rift, with support for Touch, and can be downloaded through the Oculus Store.
There’s a lot of notable features built right into Spaces – quoting from FB’s newsroom post:
Be Yourself in VR – It’s easy to create an identity that represents the real you in Facebook Spaces. This helps people recognize you and makes VR feel more like hanging out in person. Just choose one of your Facebook photos and you’ll see an array of options for your VR appearance.
Get Together, Have Fun and Share Experiences With People You Care About – Once you’ve decided on your look, jump into the experience and invite your Facebook friends to join you. You can draw in the air with a virtual marker to create anything you can dream up, from a decorative hat to a handmade tic-tac-toe board.
You’ll also find the rich variety of Facebook content at your fingertips to view with friends in VR, including 360 videos and photos that can transport you to new places. You and your friends can relive personal memories from your own Timelines, or even make new ones as you explore things that interest you from people and Pages you follow.
Bring Anyone In On the Fun – Why should the people in VR have all the fun? Facebook Spaces lets you easily phone a friend in the real world with Messenger video calling, so you can bring even more people into your VR space. They can answer your call on their phone to instantly open a window into your virtual world.
Control Your Experience – We want Facebook Spaces to be a comfortable place for everyone. You have control of your experience, including the ability to pause at any time. Pausing moves you into a quiet space where you can take a break away from other people and activities. You can also choose to mute your friends or remove them from your space. Facebook Spaces is all about connecting with friends and family that you know and trust, and we’re committed to making VR a positive place for all.
What’s Next – Today is only the beginning. We’re launching in beta, and we’ll add new features as we learn from your feedback and continue exploring what makes social VR experiences most meaningful. We also plan to bring the experience to more platforms over time. We’ve only just scratched the surface of social VR technology. In the future, it will continue to transform the way people around the world stay connected with their communities and those closest to them. We can’t wait to get there.
Notable details include the ability for your non VR-owning friends tojoin in the fun – after all most cellphones and PCs will be able to at least display 360 content through panning or mouse-click-and-hold movement, and I see this capability as crucial to spreading the VR experience to anyone who otherwise would have passed over trying out VR due to price or apathy.
I’m also happy to see that Facebook is approaching Spaces and VR in general with caution when it comes to privacy and protection of personal space. Another important detail is the promise by Facebook to make Spaces available on other platforms – the VR community is not so big as to afford ignoring essentially half of VR users, if you count the Vive plus other options.