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VR on iPhone Safari

Virtual Reality (VR) works on mobile phones thanks to the data received from the gyroscope or accelerometer. This data provides information about the spatial orientation of the device and is used to track the head movement of the user. By combining a dynamic, fullscreen rendering of the photo with the orientation data, Kuula creates the VR effect.

Unfortunately, Apple iPhones restrict access to orientation data and do not provide a fullscreen mode. This article provides instructions and workarounds for both these issues.

Enable VR in the iPhone

Sometimes you or your clients might notice that panoramas on Kuula in VR mode do not move on Apple devices. Depending on which version of iOS you are on, you might need to take different actions/

iOS 13

iOS 13, released in September 2019, introduces a new way to grant access to motion sensors. Under iOS 13, the website will ask you for access during the visit. If you agree, gyroscope controls will be enabled and there is no longer a need to adjust settings. The permission dialog looks like this:

The dialog will not show up until you start interacting with the panoramas or the page containing it. A simple tap is enough to bring the dialog. If it never shows up, go to Settings > Safari and select Clear History and Website Data. Then go back to the page and try again.

If you grant permissions Kuula or the page where the player is embedded one time, there's not need to do it again until you clear your browser cache.

iOS 12

In iOS 12.2 (released on March 25th 2019), Apple requires users to opt-in for Motion & Orientation Access first. Before you can enjoy VR on your iPhone, you need to make sure this feature is activated. Fortunately, it's quick and simple!

You can do that by opening the Settings app and accessing the Safari panel from the list. Inside the Safari settings panel, enable the Motion & Orientation Access checkbox:

That's it! You can now go back to Safari, refresh the page and you should see the 360 panorama correctly react to the device movement.

The good news is that you need to do it only one time and it will apply to all Kuula tours and also all other VR enabled websites for as long as you keep this setting on.

Safari on the iPhone lacks another key function for a great VR experience: full screen mode. When browsing a tour in VR you do not want to have any system user interface, such as the top browser address bar. Kuula team implemented some workarounds to make that work, but sometimes you'll need to take an extra step. Please find some tips and tricks below.

Oder iOS versions

On version of iOS older than 12, there is no need for any special action to enabled gyroscope controls. It should just work by default.

VR troubleshooting tips

After entering VR mode and rotating your device to landscape mode on an iPhone, the image may sometimes appear misplaced and unwanted UI elements may be present on screen. Here are a couple of tips on how to deal with those issues.

Rotate to portrait and back

A simple tip, but a powerful one! Safari is very sensitive and if you accidentally touch the screen in the wrong area, it will bring the user interface back. Whenever that happens, just rotate the phone to portrait and back to landscape. Typically this brings back the fullscreen VR experience.

Close all tabs

Sometimes, open tabs will remain visible on the screen in landscape mode:

WebVR view on Safari / iOS. Image credits: McGrew Aerial, Pergabb

Safari will show the address bar in landscape mode - if there are mutiple tabs open. This effectively ruins the VR experience.

The best workaround is to simply close all the tabs and leave only the tab with the Kuula tour. After that, try to rotate your phone to portrait and back to landscape again and you should get a nice, fullscreen view without anything obstructing the VR experience!

Only use Safari

Even though you will find browsers such as Chrome or Firefox on the Apple Appstore, they are not what they seem. Apple doesn't allow any browser other than Safari to be available for iOS, so all the other browsers are simply a version of the Safari engine with a branded user interface wrapped around it. Those browsers are typically a coorporate afterthought - experimental and buggy.

Kuula does not recommend using them and we do not provide support for those browsers. Please always choose the default Safari browser.