Facebook brings its 3D photos feature to users with single-camera phones

Facebook first showed off its 3D photos back in 2018, and shared the technical details behind it a month later. But unless you had one of a handful of phones with dual cameras back then (when they weren’t so common), you couldn’t make your own. Today an update brings 3D photos to those of us still rocking a single camera.

In case you don’t remember or haven’t seen one lately, the 3D photos work by analyzing a 2D picture and slicing it into a ton of layers that move separately when you tilt the phone or scroll. I’m not a big fan of 3D anything, and I don’t even use Facebook, but the simple fact is this feature is pretty cool.

The problem is it used the dual camera feature to help the system determine distance, which informed how the picture should be sliced. That meant I, with my beautiful iPhone SE, was out of the running — along with about a billion other people who hadn’t bought into the dual-camera thing yet.

But over the last few years the computer vision team over at Facebook has been working on making it possible to do this without dual-camera input. At last they succeeded, and this blog post explains, in terms technical enough that I’m not even going to attempt to summarize them here, just how they did it.

The advances mean that many — though not all — relatively modern single-camera phones should be able to use the feature. Google’s Pixel series is now supported, and single-camera iPhones from the 7 forward. The huge diversity of Android devices makes it hard to say which will and won’t be supported — it depends on a few things not usually listed on the spec sheet — but you’ll be able to tell once your Facebook app updates and you take a picture.

Google’s VR180 cameras get their own app that live streams to YouTube

Just ahead of Google’s big developer conference next week, Google I/O, the company has quietly rolled out a new mobile app for its VR180 point-and-shoot cameras, allowing users to set up their device, view and manage clips, and upload photo and video content to Google Photos and YouTube.

At CES in January, Google had shown off new VR180 cameras including Lenovo’s Mirage, and one from a Chinese manufacturer Yi, called the Horizon.

The name, VR180, refers to a new VR format for capturing 180-degree panoramic images, that was created through a collaboration between YouTube and Google’s Daydream VR division. The idea is that photographers could use these new cameras to capture photos and videos that are immersive, but don’t stretch all the way around in a full 360 degrees.

The content captured by the VR180 cameras includes 3D photos and ultra HD 4K resolution videos, but these can be viewed and shared in both 2D and 3D. To view them in VR, you can use a VR headset, like Google Cardboard, Daydream, or PlayStation VR.

The new VR180 app, which launched yesterday on both iOS and Android, according to data from Sensor Tower, is meant to support the VR180 cameras.

Explains the App Store description, the app lets you set up and manage your VR180 camera from your mobile device and can be used to capture 180-degree VR content with the camera using a “Live Preview” feature.

You can then transfer files to your phone or cloud – meaning Google Photos or YouTube. You can also use the app and camera to live stream to YouTube, the VR180 website explains.

And you can share clips directly with friends and family, or discard unwanted clips.

The app will also give you information about your camera’s status, like the battery charge, capture activity, available storage, and more.

The introduction of a simpler way to capture VR content – point-and-shoot cameras – is meant to encourage more people to try VR, and offer a new way of remembering moments in time. For example, the app store screenshots tout the camera’s personal use cases – for capturing things like videos from a wedding or of a mother with her baby.

The idea that VR will be used to create immersive re-creations of our memories that we can dive back into a later date is not unique to Google. Facebook this week also announced something called “VR Memories,” which will take your old photos then leverage computer vision to turn the flat 2D images and videos into spatial point clouds that can be explored in VR.

[gallery ids="1633750,1633749,1633748,1633747,1633745"]

Facebook will soon bring 3D photos to the news feed

Facebook made a small but interesting announcement at the end of its F8 keynote today: you’ll soon be able to post 3d photos to your newsfeed. For now, we know very little about this feature — or even how you’ll capture these photos — but chances are you’ll see them pop up in your friends’ status updates in the coming months.

How exactly Facebook will pull this 3D effect off, which looked pretty good in today’s demos, but also quite limited in how ‘3D’ these photos actually are, remains to be seen. What’s most likely, though, is that Facebook will use some of its machine learning smarts to power some of this, especially given that the company also announced its (somewhat odd) ‘3D memories‘ feature today which uses machine learning to recreate the scenes of old photos in VR.

Facebook already supports 360-degree photos and video in the news feed, so the addition of 3D photos makes perfect sense in this context. For now, though, we’ll have to wait and see how exactly this will work.