During Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, Head of Social VR Rachel Franklin took the stage to show off the company’s latest efforts to make VR more social.
Now Facebook friends can join you in VR in the Rift with Facebook Spaces.
The new VR app takes some of the best social features of Facebook and brings them into your VR space, letting you spend time with friends and family like you’re really there. You can step inside 360 videos with friends and even draw and play with Touch controllers.
The beta launches today for Rift and looks to deepen the sense of immersion. Facebook Spaces lets you create an avatar so you’ll be familiar to the people who know you best. Choose one of your Facebook photos and the app will generate several options that recreate your likeness in VR. Start with one of these options, then customize until it feels just right. You can change your eye color, hairstyle, facial features and more until your look fits your identity.
Once you’ve created your avatar, it’s now time to join your friends. Use the magic marker to draw up anything from tic-tac-toe boards to fencing swords, then grab your drawing and hand it to a friend—wherever they are.
You’ll also find Facebook content at your fingertips to view with friends in VR, including 360 videos and photos that can transport you to new places. You and your friends can relive personal memories from your own Timelines, or even make new ones as you explore things that interest you from people and Pages you follow.
Also shown on stage is the ability to use Messenger to call friends who don’t have a VR headset via video chat. They’ll take the call on their device in the real world, but they’ll talk to your avatar in VR. From there you can show off your latest 3D drawing, play a 360 video for your friend or just spend time chatting.
And of course there is the selfie stick. Use it to take photos of your experience and share the memories you create to your Facebook feed.
This is only the beginning of Facebook’s social VR efforts. Now launched in beta, Facebook hopes to add new features based on feedback and also plan to bring the experience to more platforms over time, which could be just what VR needs to bring the platform mainstream. Because we all know, VR is always better with friends.