While some traditional media players rush out virtual reality apps in slapdash fashion, hoping to ride the trend with me-too, lackluster efforts, Hulu’s attempts are actually promising.
On Wednesday, the company released an update to its mobile VR app for the Gear VR and its desktop app for the Oculus Rift, both of which make watching Hulu content in VR even more immersive.
Now you can use your Oculus Avatars on both the Gear VR and the Rift to join friends in Oculus Rooms to watch Hulu content. Although Oculus Avatars on the Oculus Rift are well rendered and highly customizable, at this point, there’s not a lot you can do with them.
Opening up the Hulu app to Oculus Avatars on both the Rift and the Gear VR (which offers a less customizable, but nonetheless effective 3D avatar) begins the process of getting users accustomed to meeting in VR for social activities like watching movies and television shows that are primarily available through subscription TV streaming services.
The other update to the Hulu VR app is the addition of Oculus Touch functionality for the Rift. Now you can use your virtual hands to pick up objects in the Hulu living room as well as use your virtual hands to rifle through the video and film library.
Although the new virtual hands offered in the app are welcome, they’re not remarkably more useful in terms of operating the app itself.
Nevertheless, this interactive touch is an important signal that Hulu is serious about delivering a quality VR experience, a must for content companies truly attempting to leverage the possibilities of this still emerging platform. Your move, Netflix.