YouTube on the Quest 3 just got even better with a new update

YouTube on the Quest 3 just got even better with a new update
Watching YouTube videos on the Meta Quest 3 — via the YouTube VR app from the Meta Quest Store — is a really fun twist on traditional media consumption. And the experience has now become even better as the Meta Quest 3 has received support for 8K videos at 60 frames a second.

YouTube in VR works in two ways. There are 360° and 180° videos and there is a 2D mode. 360° videos are fully immersive videos that work great in VR because you can look around in all directions. 180° videos are slightly more limited when it comes to viewing angles but still have the stereoscopic 3D VR effect of 360° videos.

The VR180 format is popular for filming media and giving it a VR touch while retaining most of the action in the center of the screen. An example of this is Eli Roth’s VR horror series The Faceless Lady, which is currently streaming on Meta Quest TV.

2D mode, on the other hand, plays a YouTube video in a flat window in your VR environment. This comes in handy when a video isn’t filmed for VR, or when you want to watch a video in passthrough mode. Passthrough shows you the world around you using the headset’s cameras.

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8K video support for the Quest 3, introduced in version 1.54 of YouTube VR, enhances the experience in one key aspect: fidelity. Though the Meta Quest 3 “only” has a 4K display, the downsampling of 8K to fit that 4K display does wonders for video quality.

This is because YouTube handles different resolutions in different ways when it comes to compression and encoding. Ever notice those weird boxy artifacts in dark scenes in a YouTube video? That’s compression.

Higher resolution videos require higher bandwidth to achieve the same visual result. Play a higher resolution video on a display with less resolution than that and there will be a noticeable difference. This same principle applies to watching 8K content on the Quest 3.

YouTube adding support for 8K videos, alongside the positive reception of the Apple Vision Pro, gives me hope for a renaissance era for XR media. However, we still have a long way to go as VR remains a niche for most applications. As pointed out by a German VR videographer:

—Thomas Hübner, MIXED, January 2023

There hasn’t been any official word on whether previous Quest headsets will receive the update as well. It seems unlikely, given that YouTube VR is already on version 1.55.23 without any signs of bringing 8K to other headsets.

The Quest 3 is probably the only Quest headset with the hardware necessary to run 8K content, adding another point to the list of reasons why it’s such an easy recommendation.
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