A new Apple TV app called Littlstar is putting the remote’s touchpad to clever use with a set of interactive 360-degree videos.
The free app lets users swipe around on the touchpad to look around in a variety of video settings. For instance, there’s a concert video of Robert Hill & the Muskogee Four in which you sit among the band, and a flyover tour of Iceland from the outside of a helicopter. As Gizmodo points out, many of the videos come from well-known partners such as National Geographic, Showtime, and the Wall Street Journal. Littlstar also digs up quality 360-degree videos from individual users or smaller brands.
You don’t need an Apple TV to view the videos, as Littlstar also puts them up on its desktop website and mobile apps. Those apps are best paired with a virtual reality headset such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, so you can look around in 360 degrees.
Compared to those virtual reality experiences, TV viewing is the next-best thing, and it’s not something other streaming boxes could easily replicate with a traditional D-Pad remote. (At best, a game controller’s thumbsticks could come close, but for now Littlstar’s apps aren’t available on any other platforms.)
I gave the app a quick spin on the new Apple TV, and found it quite enjoyable, though gamers who aren’t used to inverted look (myself included) might find it a bit disorienting at first. My only other complaint is that the videos didn’t look especially sharp on my 70-inch TV, which could just be a consequence of trying to quickly stream such a dense amount of video content. At the very least, it’s a neat party trick to keep handy.
Why this matters: Thanks to the swelling interest in virtual reality, we’re seeing a boom in 360-degree video from content providers both large and small. The Apple TV’s unique remote makes it easier to enjoy those videos without having to strap an oversized piece of plastic or cardboard to your face.