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NY Times launches VR app with Google Cardboard giveaway

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
October 20, 2015
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The New York Times is launching a VR app, and will give a million plus subscribers a Google Cardboard VR viewer to use it. It'll also debut a VR film for the app called The Displaced, which details the struggles of three children caught in the global refugee crisis. Executive Editor Dean Baquet said the NYT "created the first critical, serious piece of journalism using virtual reality, to shed light on one of the most dire humanitarian crises of our lifetime." The film is best viewed on Cardboard, but will also be available on YouTube and smartphones via a 2D version of the app.

The Times will release a series of VR films for the app, including an existing piece showing how it made the New York Times Magazine "Walking New York" cover. It said the app also "supports virtual reality playback for Google Cardboard as well as playback of 360-degree video mobile navigation." Executive VP Meredith Kopit Levien said "the great irony here is that it takes (a 164-year old) print newspaper... and its still remarkable distribution system to deliver one of the most advanced digital storytelling technologies to more than a million people."

The great irony here is that it takes (a 164-year old) print newspaper... and its still remarkable distribution system to deliver one of the most advanced digital storytelling technologies to more than a million people.

The Times advised subscribers to keep their Cardboards for subsequent releases coming in December and later. (If you're a subscriber and not sure what we're talking about, Google's Cardboard is a fold out device that turns your smartphone into a basic virtual reality viewer, letting you see 3D and 360-degree videos.) The app will arrive on November 7th for Android and iOS, and subscribers will receive Cardboard with their weekend paper starting the same day. Times Insiders and some digital subscribers will instead get a promo code for the viewer, which normally runs about $25.

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