… And Three Main Reasons You Should Consider Publishing to the Web
This past week, we began offering WebVR publishing to our free users for the first time. Publishing to the web has always been one of the more popular InstaVR Pro features. And while free users will still face the normal account limitations — 1 GB total storage, 100 MB app size, InstaVR branding, etc — they can now distribute their VR experiences without needing to create fully packaged native mobile apps.
Why did we start offering this feature to our free users? Mainly for one reason: Sharing.
The VR market is undeniably growing. According to Greenlight Insights, Virtual Reality is expected to become a $7 Billion business this year. Headset prices are falling, while sales are starting to rise, with IDC projecting 100 Million AR/VR headsets shipped in 2021. Even types of media are starting to expand, with Google partnering to offer affordable 180-degree cameras, something InstaVR already supports.
But the fact remains — VR requires both good content and a lot of eyeballs to become mainstream. Utilizing WebVR, in particular, is the easiest way to both distribute and market 360 media. Though the end user experience is certainly not as good as with native VR headsets — you’re not going to have the crispness of an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive experience, nor the ability to do room scale VR — you’ll at least start to introduce users to the value and benefits of virtual reality.
Below we outline three reasons both our Free and Pro users should consider publishing their VR experiences to the Web, in addition to app form. Feel to add your own by commenting on our Facebook page.
And stay tuned this afternoon for an announcement on a contest we’re running in the month of August for users who publish to the Web and share to Facebook…
1. Publishing to Web (and Sharing via Facebook!) Helps Promote Your Native VR Apps
In a perfect world, you would package and distribute your InstaVR-created experiences across all the major platforms. That would allow your audience to experience your media in whatever way they choose. And many clients do just that!
However, merely publishing to a platform doesn’t mean it will be discovered. You still need to promote your work, as creatives in every industry have to do. And even thought there is a coolness and novelty to 360/VR media, you still have to break through all the marketing noise to get eyeballs on your project.
The easiest way to get people to download your iOS/Android/GearVR app is to give them a preview of it on a webpage.
This is what the Smithsonian American Art Museum does for its Renwick 360 Gallery app. You’ll notice their Web Embed is fairly small. Though still useable with a mouse on a laptop, it’s really just designed to get the web site visitor to download the iOS or Android app, where the experience is maximized, particularly if the mobile device is placed in a VR headset.
The other new feature we rolled out last week was the ability to easily share the WebVR through Facebook, including with an adjustable image preview, customized title, and description. Social discovery is a huge thing in the digitial marketing world, and the ability to do an embedded Facebook preview has enormous implications.
We urge you to strongly consider publishing a WebVR preview of your app, even if that’s not the main way your audience will experience your VR. At worst, you’re spending a few extra minutes to publish. At best, you’ll get many more eyeballs and downloads from previewing to your audience what your VR experience is all about.
2. Users Don’t Have to Download an App
Last month, we launched our 360 streaming service. Part of that was to allow InstaVR Pro customers to circumvent the 2 GB limit imposed on iOS/Android apps. Users could now produce VR apps of unlimited length. But another reason for this important feature launch is that we live in a world with too many apps, and not enough phone storage space.
360 media is, for lack of a more precise term, very data intensive — particularly 360 videos. A total of 5 minutes of 4K video shot in 360 panorama can easily result in a 2 GB app. So beyond asking users to download an additional app to their phone, you’re also asking them to have space available on their phone. Now granted, your app doesn’t have to stay on their phone forever, but for many mobile users, particularly owners of older phone models, this can be quite cumbersome.
We’ve made distribution of iOS/Android apps as easy as currently possible, including packaging iTunes/Google Play Store ready apps. Yet the easiest distribution model is still by providing a URL to a VR experience either hosted on our CDN or on our clients’ Content Management System. With more easily found WiFi and LTE & 4G, and 5G just around the corner, WebVR user experience is more closely mirroring that of offline apps. Particularly for authors making VR experiences solely using 360 panorama stills, the quality of display is excellent.
3. Collaborate Easier With Others
This past week we announced our new Live Previewer feature, which allows you to experience your work-in-progress apps natively on mobile devices. Live Previewer, like so many enhancements on our platform, is devised to save you time as your build out your application. You can improve and edit your app, without having to wait to test it out after a package is created. Live Previewer, in essence, allows you to iterate faster as you get closer to your desired finished app.
Collaborating on the InstaVR platform is easy. For a given project, all you have to do is Invite another person to collaborate, and they will get an email invite and access to work and view your VR. But what if you just want to solicit quick feedback on what you’re working on?
WebVR is undoubtedly the easiest way to generate feedback from others on what you’re working on. Not only does Web package the fastest of all the outputs, but it doesn’t require another user to sign in to see a project. All the InstaVR user has to do is send a URL generated by our platform.
This is particularly effective when working with a large number of colleagues. For instance, if you wanted to show off a work-in-progress VR app to your colleagues or clients via a projector, the easiest way to do is to pull up a web page. The experience isn’t going to rival that of putting on a headset and experiencing a native mobile app — but this is more for immediate feedback before finalizing a project. We’re all about authoring, publishing, and distributing faster at InstaVR, and WebVR helps enable just that.
WebVR is incredibly useful! Whether you’re trying to promote your VR application, solicit feedback for quicker iteration, or distribute to the widest possible audience. Nothing can take the place of native VR apps built specifically for high power headsets… but don’t underestimate the utility of WebVR. And now that we’ve included it as part of our Free offering, start creating VR apps and distributing them via the Web!