YouTube Bringing 360-Degree Video to the Big Screen

Google Home tacking on features, including free Spotify, integration with HBO Now
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YouTube’s work around 360-degree video is heading to the big screen.

That capability will be coming soon to the YouTube TV app for TV-connected platforms including smart TVs and gaming consoles, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, announced Wednesday at the Google I/O conference.

YouTube, she added, also plans to introduce live 360 video on those connected living room devices, as well.

Google also used the I/O keynote to introduce a handful of new features to Google Home, the smart home hub that works with Google Assistant that was introduced last fall and counts Amazon’s Echo platform as its chief rival.

Google Home has added about 50 features since launch, but the newest features include Proactive Assistance (auto-notifications and messages that will start with things like calendar reminders, traffic delay alerts and flight status changes).

Also coming to Google Home is hands-free calling (toll free to any landline or mobile phone in the U.S. and Canada), and a mix of entertainment-facing additions including access to Spotify’s free, ad-based tier, and integration with HBO Now.  Google Home is also adding support for “visual responses” that will route Google Home inquiries in image form (like Google Maps info) in the home to the smartphone or to the TV screen via Chromecast adapters and Chromecast built-in devices.

Google has shipped more than 50 million Chromecast streaming adapters and Chromecast built-in devices, according to Rishi Chandra, VP of product management and GM of home products at Google. Last fall, Google said it had sold 30 million Chromecast devices so far. Google launched the original Chromecast in July 2013.

The new visual responses capability for Google Home appears to be a step toward the eventual integration of a product with a built-in screen, a feature that’s key to Amazon’s recently announced Echo Show product., meanwhile, announced today it has integrated its platform with Google Home, adding voice control for lighting, security, thermostats, locks and garage doors.