Google is adding a shared rooms feature to YouTube VR as part of an update to the app as well as an update to the Daydream platform in general. The feature is not yet live and won’t be added into the app until sometime later in 2017, but once it launches YouTube users will be able to do things like engage in voice chat and watch 360-degree videos together for a unique way to experience YouTube that is more akin to enjoying content together with friends who may be in the same room.
According to Google users will be able to enter into a shared room for a specific 360-degree video and their personas will be represented by the likes of 3-dimensional avatars. Since comments won’t be the form of communication for such an experience, each person’s avatar will appear to be speaking whenever any of the users engage each other with the voice chat functionality. This should give things a more personable and immersive feel and make it feel less like a virtual interaction between friends, though it should be quite obvious that it will still be noticeable that experiences are happening in virtual reality. Nevertheless it has potential to get more users on board with the Daydream platform and jump into YouTube VR to allow for experiencing things together as a group instead of alone. This in itself would be another element to potentially raise the adoption rate of VR as more people might be inclined to try it if they could enjoy it with others at the same time.
While it might be easier to remember this feature as simply watching YouTube videos with friends in virtual reality it’s being referred to as a “Co-Watching experience” by the YouTube VR team, which does make perfect sense as that is what’s happening – users will essentially be watching YouTube videos in a Co-Op mode of sorts. Currently there’s no time frame for the feature add, so users who are interested in giving things a try will just have to wait until Google or YouTube announces the feature as going live. That said, knowing that it’s coming gives users something to look forward to.