Google Brings Its Interactive, 360-Degree “Spotlight Stories” To YouTube

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Google is bringing its Spotlight Stories – immersive, 360-degree animated videos meant to introduce a new form of storytelling – to YouTube, the company announced this morning. The first story to arrive is a holiday film called “Special Delivery,” from Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations. This movie will now be viewable on the YouTube app on many Android devices, allowing you to experience the interactive movie by moving your phone around to watch various scenes.

The technology for making these mini-movies was first developed by Motorola Mobility’s Advanced Technology And Products (ATAP)  division, but Google continued to fund its development over the years following Motorola’s 2011 Google acquisition. Originally intended for Motorola devices like the Moto X, the technology wasn’t immediately compatible with all Android devices. That continues to be the case today, as Spotlight Stories still only work on select Android phones.

Google this year has been rolling out other types of viewing experiences on YouTube, beyond traditional video, including VR features to YouTube’s Android application and 360-degree video. Spotlight Stories, however, are a bit different because they actually take advantage of a phone’s sensors to create the interactive experience.

The format lets movie creators take advantage of sensors like the gyroscope and accelerometer in order to create an immersive viewing experience that involves 3D and 2D animations and 360-degree video. A collection of these Spotlight Stories had previously been available on Android devices through a dedicated app since 2013, and arrived on iPhone earlier this year.

As Google explains today, you can follow the action in “Special Delivery” from any angle you choose and, as you move your phone around, you’ll unlock other mini-stories within the movie. To enjoy the full experience, you’ll want to look for all 10 subplots. Plus, there are three ways to view the ending and over 60 moments where you can choose to follow the story in different ways. In other words, every viewing of the movie can be unique.

Because Spotlight Stories only work with the YouTube app on certain Android phones, Google has also created a YouTube 360 version so those with other Android devices can still view the movie, as well as those on iOS devices and the web. And there’s a Google Cardboard viewing option, too.

More Spotlight Stories will roll out next year to the YouTube app on Android and the YouTube iOS app, Google notes.