Have you ever seen a photo sphere? They’re somewhat addictive, creating a bubble-like picture around the camera location that can be panned around with a finger in an app. Google wants to get more people capturing and uploading photo spheres, and the company took its existing Photo Sphere iPhone app and has renamed it to Google Street View (free).
As the new name implies, the app also provides a way to view and navigate the street-level imagery that has made Street View so popular on Google Earth and Google Maps. Google Street View has curated collections of photo spheres, or you can explore almost any location on Earth where someone has used the app or a spherical camera to take a photo.
Most people choose to use the app to take a photo sphere, and it’s quite easy… although time-consuming. The photographer simply taps the shutter button, then moves the iPhone or Android smartphone to line up with dots that appear on the camera’s real-world view. After about 36 photos, the app stitches the image together — that takes a bit more time. Upload them to Google, and they’re added to the growing library of immersive images. How popular are these photo spheres? I’ve uploaded only 22 of them, and they’ve been viewed a total of almost 74,000 times.
The app also adds support for spherical cameras like the Ricoh Theta S that take 360° images with one tap and process them in about thirty seconds to speed up the process. Google hopes to make it possible for anyone to use Street View to see the outside and inside of locations from museums and monuments to restaurants and small businesses, and the revised app is a smart move in that direction.