Facebook adds new creative and video streaming features to its VR hangout app

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Facebook today announced a handful of new features for its virtual reality hangout app Spaces. The news, presented onstage at the Oculus Connect developer conference in San Jose, California, means you now can bring in your own photos and videos into Spaces, as well as live stream 360-degree video. The company also introduced what it calls 3D Posts, which are cartoony, interactive 3D objects that can be crafted using new creative tools in Spaces and then be taken out of VR and posted directly to Facebook.

Spaces, which first went live for the Oculus Rift headset in April, is a social app designed to blend the immersive aspect of VR with all the benefits of Facebook. That way, friends could “hangout” in VR as if they were together in real life. Spaces uses the the virtual subtext to let users teleport around the globe, share photos and videos using virtual pop-up screens, and perform a number of silly tricks like doodling sunglasses and hats to wear.

(Spaces is also what CEO Mark Zuckerberg used to broadcast “live” from disaster-stricken Puerto Rico earlier this week, a somewhat tone-deaf episode the chief exec later apologized for when it came across as disaster tourism.)

Now, Facebook will let Spaces users live stream 360-degree video, so others can experience whatever users inside the virtual environment are seeing with both a smartphone or another VR headset. This builds on the introduction of standard, 2D video streaming for Spaces announced back in July.

Facebook says you’ll also be able to illustrate within Spaces using the VR tool Quill, a stylized drawing tool created to help with the VR film Dear Angelica. (Oculus retained Quill even after it shut down Story Studio, its internal VR creative arm.) With the introduction of 3D Posts, users will now be able to craft objects that can both exist in VR, exist as virtual objects placed into real-life scenes, or be posted as standalone 3D Posts to be viewable in the standard News Feed.

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