What if you could peek behind whats in your photos, like youre moving your head to see whats inside a window? Thats the futuristic promise of Facebook 3D photos. After announcing the feature at F8 in May, Facebook is now rolling out 3D photos to add make-believe depth to your iPhone portrait mode shots. Shoot one, tap the new 3D photos option in the status update composer, select a portrait mode photo and users on the desktop or mobile News Feed as well as in VR through Oculus Gos browser or Firefox on Oculus Rift can tap/click and drag or move their head to see the photos depth. Everyone can now view 3D photos and the ability to create them will open to everyone in the coming weeks. Facebook is constantly in search of ways to keep the News Feed interesting. What started with text and photos eventually expanded into videos and live broadcasts, and now to 360 photos and 3D photos. Facebook hopes if its the exclusive social media home for these new kinds of content, youll come back to explore and rack up some ad views in the meantime. Sometimes that means embracing mind-bending new formats like VR memories that recreate a scene in digital pointillism based on a photo. So how exactly do 3D photos work? Our writer Devin Coldewey did a deep-dive earlier this year into how Facebook uses AI to stitch together real layers of the photo with what it infers should be there if you tilted your perspective. Since portrait mode fires off both of a phones cameras simultaneously, parallax differences can be used to recreate whats behind the subject. How Facebooks new 3D photos workTo create the best 3D photos with your iPhone 7+, 8+, X or XS (more phones will work with the feature in the future), Facebook recommends you keep your subject three to four feet away, and have things in the foreground and background. Distinct colors will make the layers separate better, and transparent or shiny objects like glass or plastic can throw off the AI. Originally, the idea was to democratize the creation of VR content. But with headset penetration still relatively low, its the ability to display depth in the News Feed that will have the greatest impact for Facebook. In an era where Facebooks cool is waning, hosting next-generation art forms could make it a must-visit property even as more of our socializing moves to Instagram.
Facebook is rolling out a 3D photo feature that adds depth to photos in your News Feed (or your VR headset.) All users will be able to see 3D photos in their feeds starting today. The option to create them is expanding a little more slowly, over a process of a few weeks. And in order to use it, youll need an iPhone with dual cameras — a feature thats been available since the iPhone 7, although its not present in the new, lower-end iPhone XR. A number of other flagship phones feature dual cameras, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and LG V35 ThinQ, but Facebook says it will be adding support for more devices in the future. The 3D photo feature was announced in May, and its relatively straightforward: you select a picture, and Facebook turns it into a pseudo-3D image that changes perspective slightly when you scroll or tilt your phone. TechCrunch explained how the technology works in more detail earlier this year; basically, it draws from the depth map thats automatically created by dual-camera phones, then adds some custom software tweaks that create a more realistic image. The vast majority of people will see these photos on other phones, but you can also view them on the Oculus Go VR headsets web browser, or Firefox on the Oculus Rift. Facebook isnt inventing a new idea here — this kind of perspective-shifting has been around for years on phones — but its making the process intuitive and the results very easy to share. Its also adding yet another little feature that blurs the line between normal Facebook posts and immersive experiences like virtual or augmented reality. And its doing so in a way thats relatively non-controversial, at least compared to the giant home videophone it unveiled earlier this week. Update 3:30PM ET: Facebook has specified that only iPhones with dual cameras are supported for now, not all dual-camera phones.