YouTube got an 8K upgrade on the Meta Quest

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    Google has been releasing YouTube VR upgrades on a regular basis, and the most recent version on the Meta Quest platform now supports 8K SDR content. As long as you’re using YouTube VR app version 1.54 or higher, any non-HDR video posted in 8K should allow you to play it in full definition.

    Below is a screenshot of a clip from The Avengers running at 8K in the YouTube VR app on the Met Quest 3.

    YouTube VR

    To locate material in 8K, simply search for “8K videos” on the YouTube VR app. When you open a video, hit the video settings icon in the bottom left corner and pick 4320p from the list of available resolutions. Keep in mind that HDR videos will only be available in 4K resolution for the time being. The screenshot below shows what the player looks like when 4320p resolution is selected.

    (Image credit: YouTube VR screenshot by Android Central)

    It should be noted that YouTube currently does not offer a large amount of 8K material, but the number of 8K videos on the platform is increasing. If you want to view some 360-degree 8k films, go to Hugh Hou’s channel, as supported 8k 360-degree footage is rare to come by.

    This update comes after Google updated YouTube VR with the debut of the Meta Quest 3, enabling “tablet” mode, which allows you to view videos while still seeing the actual world around you owing to the headset’s improved mixed reality cameras. To switch between immersive and tablet modes, simply click the two-arrow symbol at the top of the YouTube player.

    8K videos but no 8K headset?

    But this recent update raises the issue of why. The Meta Quest 3’s screens seem wonderful, but they don’t quite reach 4K resolution, let alone 8K. Regardless, I watched a few films and noticed a significant difference in quality between 4K and 8K when seen through a headset.

    Each resolution increase, like the toggles between 720p, 1080p, and 4K, is accompanied by a bitrate increase, which helps decrease compression artifacts and makes films appear sharper. Still, an 8K video seen through the Meta Quest 3’s relatively poor resolution would not wow you in the same way as a TV of the same size and full 8K resolution would.

    The most difficult challenge right now is locating 360-degree material that supports 8k resolution. While there are lots of films with these specifications, the YouTube player on the Meta Quest is rather selective about which 360-degree videos it will allow you to run at 8K.

    But I believe this upgrade isn’t for the Meta Quest platform at all. Instead, it’s rumored that Google will showcase Android XR at Google I/O 2024 — the company’s upcoming special version of Android designed for mixed reality headsets — and YouTube VR in 8K could be a centerpiece of the company’s plans to launch an Apple Vision Pro competitor alongside Samsung later this year.

    The Samsung XR headset is expected to be released later this year and will use exceptionally high-resolution OLED panels, which might potentially take advantage of YouTube VR’s latest resolution jump. That, together with the Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 that is claimed to power it, might help Samsung separate itself from Meta’s gaming headsets.

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