Google launches YouTube VR on Steam, but Crashes and Burns
If you're a big fan of virtual reality, Google had just the perfect Christmas present, if it would run properly, that is. YouTube VR is now out on Steam for free, but it's caused a fair number of users a lot of problems.
Google has been working on virtual reality solutions for a few years now, and their latest offering is the YouTube VR app, which is designed to give you a virtual multimedia experience in film. YouTube VR is Google Daydream's killer app, enabling you to experience a film in amazingly immersive ways, such as creeping through zombie-infested woods from AMC's The Walking Dead. The problem was, it was exclusive to the Daydream platform, until now. Google has released the Steam version of YouTube VR, meant for a wide release for free on all PC platforms using the HTC Vive VR headset.
Unfortunately, the app seems to be encountering a fair share of problems. There is a lot of feedback on the app crashing and not launching at all, in addition to a wide spectrum of other problems like forced left-handed controls and a lack of captions and video quality settings. To be fair, the app is still in Early Access on Steam, meaning it's really not stable or final, and it is being offered for free, so you lose nothing trying it other than the small 60MB of data and the few seconds you need to download it.
Still, it's a little off-putting and many software titles and apps ended up badly due to a poor initial showing. Google can no doubt put this to right eventually; YouTube VR works flawlessly on Daydream as you'd expect, and Google has the expertise and the resources to make this work in due time.
When it does, it'll introduce a whole new segment that couldn't afford a Daydream-ready setup to explore Google's vast library of VR content, as well as experiencing regular YouTube content in a totally different way. If you're willing to wait and let the dust settle a bit, you can put that HTC Vive headset to good use once Google has ironed out the kinks. Or, if you're feeling impatient, you can always just get a Daydream-ready phone and setup and jump right in.