Leveraging the extra depth data found in certain recent iPhone photographs, Facebook today announced the rollout of 3D Photos: images that look flat at first, but can be examined from different angles either through Facebook itself, or using Oculus VR headsets. The basic premise of a 3D Photo is that the dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus, X, and XS model can capture depth data in addition to the flat image — data that has generally been used solely to create blurred backgrounds in portrait mode. However, software can use that data to understand some of the scenes three-dimensional characteristics, then simulate them in an image you can move around with your finger or a cursor. Simulation is the key word here. iPhone apps have offered similar functionality since before Apple started to include depth-sensing cameras on its devices, and the results ranged from somewhat interesting to ghoulish; imagine a person appearing to bulge out of a flat surface as if their skin were attached to the wall. But with newer cameras and better depth data, Facebooks results can look pretty believable. The company suggests composing images with multiple layers, colors, and textures to achieve the best results. Youll need one of these listed iPhones to create a 3D Photo; doing so is just a matter of creating a Facebook post; tapping on the three dots (a new addition) to bring up a list of post options; selecting 3D Photo; and picking an image from your Portraits album. Once posted, the image will be viewable by any Facebook user, as well as in VR through the Oculus Browser on Oculus Go or Firefox on the Oculus Rift. The viewing feature is rolling out to users today, and the creation feature will start with some users today, becoming available to everyone in the coming weeks, so it may or may not be available when you go to use the app. A tutorial video is available here.
Facebook is rolling out a feature today which will allow users to post photos with a 3D effect to their feed — essentially photos that show your subject in richer detail. Despite the name , the photos wont be truly 3D, per se. You wont be able to spin a photo of your dog around to view her from every adorable angle, for example. But the photos will have depth that lets you see things from different angles and tilts within the photo. Facebook describes it as being kind of like looking at your photography subject if they were standing still behind a window. Those sweet cool gadgets? It wont be possible for just anyone to take these kinds of photos. For starters, youll need phone with dual cameras. Facebook gives, as an example, all iPhones which have a Portrait mode. After you take the photo, Facebook uses AI to create the rest of the image based on what the cameras have taken — basically painting in the parts of the picture the camera doesnt show. Facebook gives a brief tutorial explaining how to take the best 3D shots, which basically amounts to dont stand too close and use a subject with interesting color and texture (thanks, Facebook, thats not at all what I try to do with every picture Ive ever taken). The photos can also be viewed within the browser of an Oculus headset, but its cool you dont need one for the 3D effect. 3D photos are rolling out for everyone to view today, and the ability to upload one is rolling out to everyone in the coming weeks.