So when I started the YouTube VR app on my Oculus Quest for the first time, my expectations were very high. Facebook had announced in this year’s F8, an event where they present their plans for the future, that you will be able to watch all of your “normal” youtube videos within a virtual theater
So when you start up the app, it is exactly what you see: A cinema room with some chairs and posters of movies around you. The main screen shows up and there are several buttons popping out right away; Playlists, Library (contains all your saved videos), Trending (popular videos currently) and Search (to find specific videos). You can also access settings here but unfortunately no audio or video quality settings yet. But you can upload to YouTube in 4K so this should be no problem. But don’t get me wrong here, the default video quality looks really good already.
Before I start playing a video, there are two other things I want to bring up: The first one is that you can watch VR content together with friends using the Oculus Venues app which will be released soon, or in VR with your Facebook Friends since it is an official Facebook product after all. And second of all, you might wonder if there are any restrictions for video content considering that many parents use their Quest to let their kids play some games – Google has prepared for this and there are special Restricted Mode videos which means anyone who wants to watch “normal” videos can not do so.
The theater room itself with the posters and screen is a cool addition, although I can see that some people might not like it and prefer just seeing their own little window. The landscape orientation was also surprising but if you want to change this for specific videos there will be an option to do so in the settings at one point. But for now, keep the landscape as it is most comfortable. Speaking of comfort: Watching these larger than life videos on such a big screen feels really good and since you are inside of the virtual world, your eyes never get tired or uncomfortable which is great after several hours of watching VR content.
After uploading my first video to YouTube VR I wanted to play some other stuff but sadly everything was muted even though the sound was turned up to 100% in the settings. I also did not find an option for subtitles yet which would be a nice feature if you want to watch foreign language videos sometimes.
I noticed that there are no 360° previews of the videos coming up when you select them, however, this might just be because they are being uploaded via Quests streaming capabilities right now. It should change soon though but the app overall felt really comfortable and smooth while browsing through all these different playlists. That’s it so far – only playing around with it for about one hour but overall YouTube VR looks very promising and seems to have everything you need for watching all your normal 2D content in virtual reality.
YouTube VR Review Score: 4/5 -Good