Facebook announces improvements to its Live 360 feature

Facebook users who want to view live, 360-degree videos in ultra-high resolution and virtual reality are now able to do so.

The social network announced some improvements to its Live 360 feature Tuesday, including support of 4K resolution for live videos and the ability to watch them in virtual reality using a special app for Samsung's Gear VR. Other significant changes to Live 360 include additional fundraising and scheduling capabilities, stabilization and guide tools for profiles and pages to use when posting video and an array of third-party cameras and software programs.

The improvements — which come amid a wave of new tools for publishers on the platform — mark the most recent development in Facebook's 360-degree video feature, which launched in December and was rolled out to all profiles and pages in March.

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"People have shared moments like weddings and vacations with their friends, and publishers and creators have immersed audiences in unique experiences, like going behind the scenes at a sports team's warm up or on stage with a band during a show," said Product Manager Chetan Gupta and Product Marketing Manager Caitlin Ramrakha in a Tuesday blog post. "Today we're excited to announce some updates that improve and simplify the Live 360 experience for both creators and audiences."

The fundraising and scheduling updates — both of which are being brought to Live 360 from Facebook's regular Live feature — include donate buttons that allow verified nonprofit pages to raise money via live videos and the ability to schedule the dates and times of broadcasts so that users can receive one-time reminder notifications. Both are available via Facebook's Live API.

The updated stabilization and guide tools are part of what Facebook is calling the "Post-Live Experience," in which users and pages can alter their Live 360 videos to create a better experience for viewers. Stabilization fixes shaky video, while the guide tool allows publishers to direct viewers' attention to important areas of the broadcast. They can also refer to Facebook's heatmap tool, which shows what audience members focused on the most.

Finally, Facebook has launched the Live 360 Ready Program, a recommended list of cameras and software for publishers to use when creating Live 360 videos. The group includes 10 cameras and seven software suites optimized for the platform, all of which will be labeled with the Facebook Live logo on their packaging or websites

"We're excited to see all the great moments you share in 4K with Live 360, and how your friends and followers experience these moments in fully immersive VR," Gupta and Ramrakha said in the blog post.

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