Google Spotlight Stories

App review by
Galen McQuillen, Common Sense Media
Google Spotlight Stories App Poster Image
Cool, immersive 360-degree movies, but no content filters.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not intended for learning, though as it's updated there may more more educational content.

Ease of Play

Swipe through the movies, push "play" button, and move the device around toward whatever part of the immersive 360-degree movie you want to see.


One of the four movies (HELP) features a space alien going on a rampage, and a police officer shoots at it.


In Duet, an illustrated woman wears form-fitting dance wear, and the film is a romantic story, so her physical features are portrayed as important to the plot. Also includes a passionate kiss.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Google Spotlight Stories features digital shorts that are viewed in 360 degrees, so that the viewer moves the device to see different pieces of the content. There's no way to lock kids out of specific movies within the app, and there's a potentially scary alien and some (animated) passionate kissing, so parents may want to supervise. It's also worth noting that there certainly may be more movies on the platform soon, and without any ratings or indication of appropriateness in the app, parents will want to preview new titles as they appear. There is also a share button for each movie, so it's possible to get to social media from within the app. At the time of review, it has very limited compatibility with older devices. To learn about the types of information collected and shared, read the app's privacy policy, which is the general Google policy.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 12 years old January 3, 2021

Good Google app

First reviewer ❤️ This app is good for anyone

What's it about?

GOOGLE SPOTLIGHT STORIES is a collection of immersive 360-degree movies, where viewers move their mobile device around to look at whatever part of the action they're most interested in. Two of the films, Windy Day and Buggy Night, are whimsical animated stories about forest animals, and a third, Duet, is an animated coming-of-age romance between a man and a woman. The newest film in the series, HELP, is an alien-invasion adventure with some violent action and heavy suspense and is directed by Justin Lin, director of the Fast and the Furious films. There are no parental controls, so all content is available to all viewers, and users can share to social media.

Is it any good?

Not only is this video viewer an innovative approach to how we watch videos, but the movies currently on display are interesting and beautifully animated and feature fantastic storytelling and music. The technology is the real standout feature; moving the device around to look at anything you want in real time with the action of the film is a truly phenomenal experience that really does immerse you in the story in a whole new way: It's virtual reality without the headset. The only drawback is the lack of any curation or gate features, which would differentiate the content for kids, teens, and adults. Also, as new content comes along, parents will want to preview it. For teens and adults, however, this is a unique use of the screen that adds new excitement to short-form film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about immersive storytelling and the evolution of media formats. Since the emotional experience of watching a film where the viewer controls the perspective is a genuinely new thing, you can ask kids about the difference between watching this type of video and a YouTube video, for instance.

  • Talk about some of the themes in the films, such as persistence, patience, justice, kindness, love, affection, and commitment. 

  • Discuss the depiction of women in popular media: What roles do women often play? What about men?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: July 31, 2015
  • Category: Entertainment
  • Size: 16.50 MB
  • Publisher: Google Inc
  • Version: 1.0.5
  • Minimum software requirements: 8.0
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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