Facebook opens up 360-degree live streaming to all

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Facebook just made live streaming 360-degree video relatively easy, provided you have the equipment to capture the content. Users of devices like the new 2017 model Gear 360 just announced at the S8 smartphone launch, or the Insta360 Nano (for iPhone) and Air (for Android), or a host of higher-end models designed for pros, you can go live and broadcast an immersive feed for your audience.

The feature works using Facebook’s livestreaming video tech, providing 1080p, 30fps playback and a maximum streaming time of four hours, which should be plenty for whatever you’re planing to immersively immerse your immersion hungry audience within. You’ll need a decent connection to make for a smooth broadcast, as Facebook recommends 4 Mbps down to ensure quality, and you can use either a camera’s dedicated app to go live, or navigate to facebook.com/live/create to use with cameras not already set up specifically to stream using Facebook’s new tool.

If you have the Insta360 Air or Nano, both of which I’ve used before, the process is pretty simple. An update available today for the companion apps for both cameras will allow you to select Facebook Live as a broadcast destination when you select the live feature within the app’s options. These provide real-time views of what your audience is seeing on your smartphone’s display as you’re broadcasting, too, which is not something available via some other pro-level options. The app’s interface will also show you how many viewers you currently have, watch the tally of Likes and other reactions, and check out comments as they roll in.

Insta360’s cameras already support live broadcasts to Periscope and to YouTube, but Facebook’s in-app integration is a useful way to reach more people with minimal effort and promotion. Live 360 broadcasts aren’t yet embeddable on other sites, however, and they can’t be viewed via Apple TV or Chromecast for big-screen playback just yet. Still, it’s a strong start and a cool content delivery alternative for reporting from the field.

The next best thing to being there might just be virtually being there, and this new offering from Facebook might be one of the easiest ways to do that, with a built-in large audience.