Since making its debut on Android a little over a year ago, Photo Sphere has been one of those "Hey, look what my phone can do!" things that Android users have lorded over their non-Android friends. Today, though, Google is opening the doors to iPhone users with the Photo Sphere Camera app of iOS. This is good news for those of us who love looking at these awesome images.
For those not immediately familiar, for the last year Photo Spheres has been built right into the native Android camera app. It allows you to take an immersive 360 degree panoramic image of the world around you. You stand in one place, hit the shutter button, and then virtual dots appear on your screen, anchored to the scenery around you. You tilt and rotate the camera around, capturing each one of these blue dots, until you have a full 360 image—like you're standing on the inside of a globe, looking out.
If you're having trouble visualizing that, Google Maps' how-to video below should clear it up.
Once you've captured all of the images for your Photo Sphere your phone will automatically stitch everything together. You can then scroll around the image with your finger to see everything as you originally saw it. If you like it, you can choose to upload it to Views (or even to Google Maps directly). Views basically acts as a repository for all of your Photo Spheres, and it makes them easy to share.
Yes, it sounds like a gimmick, but I used it last week to show some friends a vacation spot we all might want to chip in on and rent this fall, and the Photo Sphere I took enabled them to see the house, the deck, and the surf it overlooked. It doesn't have that weird, stretched look of your typical panorama, it just looks like it did when you were standing there. You can use it for everything from beautiful landscapes to the inside of your new apartment so your family can see it.
If you doubt the appeal, head over to Views and check out some of the amazing Spheres already on there. I recommend this sweet underwater view in Bermuda and the Temple of Bayon at Angkor. As of today, the Photo Sphere Camera app is free on iTunes. If you make something awesome with it, let us know. [Google]