At Twitter's recent #WhatsNext event - in which they outlined the future developments coming for the platform - the company's VP of Ad Development John McFarland noted that they were working on 360 video, saying that they had something in development which was "better than what we're seeing today" in regards to 360 content.
Today, we have the first vision of that product, with Twitter announcing that live 360 videos are now available on Twitter and Periscope.
360 Sunset in Florida. First ever #Periscope360 with @Brandee_Anthony https://t.co/AZWbnnT15S- Alex Pettitt (@Alexpettitt) December 28, 2016
As noted by live-streamer Alex Pettitt in the video, if you tilt your phone up, down, right or left, or if you swipe on the screen, you can look around in full 360 degrees. The responsiveness is smooth, at least in this example, providing a whole new element to the Twitter video consumption experience, and it'll no doubt add another consideration for live broadcasters and their content.
Of course, Twitter's essentially playing catch-up here - Facebook announced 360 live-streaming a couple of weeks back, and similar to Facebook, 360 streaming will not be available to all users initially, with only "select partners" able to go live in 360 via Periscope at first. But even if they are working to stay in touch, it's an important step, as Facebook, with their much larger audience and reach, could quickly overwhelm Periscope as the live-stream destination, which would be a big blow for Twitter's ongoing live ambitions.
Live videos will be highlighted by a new icon - as explained by Periscope:
"Live 360 videos are marked with a badge. When you see a 360 broadcast on Periscope or Twitter, you can change the point of view by moving your phone or tapping and scrolling around the screen - all while watching live."
In terms of how users can capture content in 360 degrees on Periscope, in the video Pettitt's broadcast partner Brandee Anthony shows the equipment they're using and how it works, with an Insta 360 camera that plugs into your phone. The Insta 360 camera retails for around $US150 to $US250.
Periscope also notes that while live 360 videos will only be available to a small group of partners initially, the feature will be rolling out to more users in the coming weeks. You can sign up to be among the first to get access here.
Live 360 content is an important step towards the next level of social communication - that being virtual reality, having an immediate, shared experience within an interactive, simulated space. And while that next progression is still some way off, developments like this are stepping stones, enabling creators to provide a more immersive, engaging and in-the-moment content that get us ever-closer to sharing our perspective and experience.
(And worth noting, TechCrunch has highlighted that the 360 announcement post was authored by Alessandro Sabatelli, Twitter's director of AR and VR)
Users gravitate towards the best connective medium of the time for this purpose - from text updates, to photos and now to video. 360 content is the next stage of this evolution, and as 360 cameras and tools become more readily (and financially) accessible, the option will develop fast, pushing us towards the next stage of our interactive process.
In this sense, it's worth getting a handle on it now - having 360 live content on both Facebook and Twitter will accelerate the medium's adoption, so taking it in and considering how your brand might use it could be well worth the time and effort.