Virtual reality is considered by many to be the future of media consumption, and the New York Times couldn’t agree more. The news agency, which has always been one of the first to embrace new technologies and trends, launched a new app earlier this week that allows users to watch news videos in virtual reality using Google Cardboard. Subscribers to the Sunday Times print edition can even receive a Cardboard headset in the mail if they want.
As new technology appears, news agencies have constantly been reinventing themselves. That’s why the New York Times is rolling out a new smartphone app today that lets you dive into their stories–literally–using virtual reality. The Times has always been a tech-forward outlet–it’s even got a smart furniture-filled R&D Lab that makes prototypes that predict the future of media consumption. Now the 164-year-old newspaper is trying to make VR news mainstream. This weekend, subscribers to the Sunday Times print edition can expect to receive Cardboard VR viewers in the mail. Simply download the NYT VR app for free on Google Play or the App Store, stick your smartphone into the paper-and-velcro viewfinder, plug in headphones, download the selected video, and let ‘er rip. You can watch the videos without Cardboard, as well. It won’t be 3D, but you can still explore the 360-degree “world,” using your phone as a “window” and moving it about to see more of the environment. There’s a short GE-sponsored animated video that basically shows what the app can do: A giant cobra lunges at a parrot (and you); a trippy sequence explains how bird feathers influence jet turbine design.