Originally only available on Android, Google’s Photo Sphere app now allows iOS users to see what all the fuss is about, in stunningly immersive, 360-degree clarity.
Blowing traditional panorama-style snapshots out of the water, Photo Sphere enables iPhone and iPad users to take 360-degree snapshots that can be geo-tagged and added to Google Map’s public gallery of images.
Photo Sphere is easy to use and requires little explanation. When shooting an image, the user simply taps the app’s shutter button and moves their smartphone viewfinder to line up with a series of shifting dots that collect a sequence of individual snapshots – capturing the perspective of looking up, down, left, and right from a single vantage point. Once full coverage is obtained, the app stiches all of the images together and returns a 360-degree photo that can then be uploaded and published to Google Maps.
Images can be saved to the iOS device’s photo gallery and don’t have to be shared (geo-tagging can be manually turned on or off) but in order to see the end result in its full 360-degree glory the image has to be viewed either through Google Maps or in the app itself. When Photo Sphere pictures are opened on the iOS device’s native viewer, the result is a super-wide panoramic shot.
The app is highly impressive when used properly, but has a tendency to return slightly flawed images when it’s not. That’s no fault of the application itself, and more the result of taking snapshots in the presence of moving objects that can distort the final outcome. For the more experimental out there, this can be an equally fun pursuit resulting in some strange and interesting photographs.
In addition to enabling and disabling geo-tagging, the app’s settings menu gives the option to change image resolution to low, medium, or high. Additionally, the app can be set up to only upload images to Google Maps when connected via Wi-Fi.
Google Photo Sphere is available now for free and runs on iPad and iPhone devices with iOS 7.0 or later installed. The app has been optimized for the iPhone 5 and isn’t compatible with the iPhone 4.