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TVs

YouTube 360 video coming to TV screens, game consoles soon

An update to the YouTube apps on Android TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Smart TVs lets you pan around 360 videos using the TV remote or a game controller.

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Do you like big-screen TVs? Do you like YouTube 360 video? Well, has Google got a feature upgrade for you.

The company says its big-screen YouTube app will soon receive an upgrade to enable you to pan around the many 360-degree videos available on YouTube, all from the comfort of your couch.

The upgrade will arrive first on Android TV devices like Sony TVs and Nvidia Shield, then come to the YouTube apps on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and 2017 4K TVs from Samsung and LG. The feature will roll out to all of these devices in the next few months, according to Google's spokesman, but more specific timing was not announced.

I got the chance to check out an early version of the feature at CES in January using the Shield, a $200 streaming/gaming box. The game controller's joystick provided a simple, natural way to control the panning, and playback was smooth and lifelike. This particular video was taken from a jet cockpit, and the effect was really cool.

For TVs and other devices that don't have game controllers, you can use keys on the remote to pan around.

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An Nvidia Shield Android TV game controller panning around a YouTube 360 video.

Sarah Tew/CNET

360 videos are filmed with special cameras that shoot in all directions simultaneously, often allowing users to control the camera to "look" in any direction. YouTube has offered 360 videos on its web site and mobile apps since 2015.