If you’ve got an Android device running version 4.2 or later, chances are you’ve tried capturing a photo sphere — one of those nifty little 360-degree panoramas that let you spin around to capture your surroundings until vertigo sets in. Instead of just letting those photo spheres languish on your phone or on your Google+ account, though, Google has thought up something awfully keen for them.
You know what I’m getting at (the headline was probably hint enough). Google has fired up a new Views page that lets users tie their photo spheres to specific locations for when static maps and satellite fly-bys just aren’t immersive enough.
The process is simple enough: once you’re logged in to Google+ and mosey over to the Views page, you’re given the option to import all of the photo spheres stored in your Google+ account. Haven’t uploaded them to Google+ yet? That’s fair — you can upload them to Google Maps straight from the stock Android gallery app, too. Google Product Manager Evan Rapoport also confirmed that users who share those photo spheres will also be able to view them from their own Views user page, which looks a little something like this. As you’d expect, you’ve got easy access to a grid of all your photo spheres, but a single click lets you pull out into a wider map view to see where all of those spheres were captured.
It’s all rather neat, but to be quite honest it’s about time Google managed to make the whole photo sphere experience meatier. Sure, they’re easy enough to shoot, and the end results are generally pretty impressive, but users were always fairly limited with what they could do with those photo spheres after the fact. At least now users who have dedicated themselves to creating awesome photo spheres (I’m sure there are more than a few people who fall into that category) have a centralized spot to show off some of their most impressive work. Of course, it’s not hard to see how Google benefits from this.
As intrepid as Google’s crew of drivers and trekkers are, there’s only so much in terms of resources the company can devote to making the world’s varying locales accessible from a web browser. Now that it’s easier for folks to share their photo spheres, Google could theoretically serve up on-the-ground views of any (human-accessible) location by displaying those photo spheres in Google Maps proper. I wouldn’t expect Google to try anything quite that bold until Android 4.2′s adoption figures swell a bit, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye out for.