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In 2014, Facebook bought virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion. Ever since then, the world has speculated over the social media platform’s ambitions in virtual reality. A lot of those questions were answered today with the unveiling of Facebook Spaces.
The VR app allows users to hang out with friends in a virtual environment. In that shared space friends can draw, play games, share photos, and experience 360 video together. The beta version of the app is available now for the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch. The launch of the app was announced at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Jose, California.
One of the stranger features of Facebook Spaces is the use of avatars. Users select an image of themselves and have an avatar automatically generated, and can customize their virtual appearance as well.
Spaces also allows you to video call people in the real world, giving them a window into the virtual environment. Facebook says there are plenty more features to come, and will learn from the feedback of users during the beta phase.
“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,” the company said in a blog post.
Right now, Spaces, in a similar way to VR in general, feels a little gimmicky, and not quite worth the thousands of dollars you need to spend on the equipment to enjoy it. But as headsets get cheaper and the technology becomes more mobile and accessible, apps like these have the potential to grow in popularity dramatically. Facebook clearly sees a big future in virtual reality social media. The company has a huge investment in the virtual reality industry, and will likely have plenty more products in this space in the years to come.
Check out the video below to see exactly what Facebook Spaces offers.