When Google released the Android Camera app to the Google Play Store, I wondered, with little hope that it would ever be released for iOS. Google’s Camera app is amazing and though there are alternative iOS apps, nothing free comes as close to what’s available for Android. Google has just released Photo Sphere Camera, an iOS app that is free and lets you take a 360 degree photo of a place. The app is meant to be used outdoors mostly so that users can take photos of places they visit, geo-tag them, and upload them to Google Maps. The photos become available to anyone using Google Maps. This isn’t as much about personal photography as it is about crowdsourcing photos for the map service but the app is excellent and we took it for a spin.
The app gives you a brief tutorial on how to use it and advises you use it outdoors to get some practice before using it indoors. If you’ve never used the Camera app on an Android phone you’ll need to learn how the app work. It’s very different from how you take a panorama from the stock camera app on iOS. The app guides you using circles; the first frame you capture is captured by centering the ring around the first circle guide and then repeating it for all other circle guides you see on your screen. Once you’re done, tap the check mark button. You don’t have to capture a frame for all guide circles. If you’ve captured as much of the area as you wanted, just tap the stop button.
The app will then stitch the frames together. Depending on the number of frames you captured, this can take time and you will notice your phone heating up. The photo is automatically uploaded and there isn’t an option to stop it from doing so. You aren’t signed into your Google account so they can’t be traced back to you. You can also choose to opt out of geo-tagging.
Viewing a photo in the app is a great experience; you can pan around and look in different directions. The photo can be removed from the app and it’s location tag can be edited. From the app’s settings, you can set the photo resolution and opt to automatically add a geo-tag, save a copy of photo to your album, and choose to upload the photo only if you’re connected to a WiFi network. All photos are uploaded with an open source license.
Take it for a spin and let us know what you think. If you’re going to try it indoors, sit in a revolving chair. It makes taking the 360 degree a lot easier.