Facebook says it's developing virtual reality apps

The revelation is the latest in the social network's increased focus on virtual reality.

Social networking in virtual reality? Facebook says yes. Nick Statt/CNET

Facebook is sharing a little more of its vision for virtual reality.

Less than a year after Facebook closed its acquisition of Oculus VR, maker of the innovative wrap-around Oculus Rift headset and a pioneer in the virtual-reality video game realm, Facebook revealed Tuesday it's developing versions of its apps for use in a virtual reality environment.

Chris Cox, Facebook's chief product officer, discussed the promise of virtual reality and the company's focus during an on-stage talk at the Code/Media conference in Laguna Nigel, Calif.

"I mean, virtual reality is pretty cool. We're working on apps for VR," he told Recode's Peter Kafka.

"You realize, when you're in it, that you're looking at the future, and it's going to be awesome. When you're in Facebook, you're just sending around these bits of experience -- a photo, a video, a thought," Cox said, whereas with VR, you could be "sending a fuller picture."

However, Cox offered few details about the apps, including how they would work or even when we could expect to see them in the wild.

"We're a long way away from everyone having those headsets," he said.

App development seems a logical step for Facebook, which acquired Oculus for $2 billion in July. When Facebook purchased Oculus, the social-networking giant's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said he saw opportunity beyond video games to communications, medicine and education.

"Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction," he wrote in a blog post. "But the Internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones."

But that doesn't mean Facebook is ignoring virtual reality's entertainment potential. Last month, the Facebook-owned startup unveiled a new subsidiary called Oculus Story Studio that will be tasked with producing movies in virtual reality. Oculus has also unveiled its own video-watching program for the Rift, called Oculus Cinema, that places the user in a virtual movie theater.

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