Google Street View has a long history dating back to 2007 when it launched in the United States on May 25 using Immersive Media technology. In 2010 Google invited businesses to take part in the action and made available indoor views of businesses. In fact, Google invited users to contribute panoramas of their own using gadgets loaded with Android 4.2 (otherwise known as Jelly Bean). Google highlighted user-contributed panoramas with blue circle icons on Google Maps. All of that plus some meant nothing to most business though until about a year ago when Google released the free Photo Sphere app now known as Street View app. The app allows you to easily take 360º Google Street View images with just your built-in smartphone camera and then post them on public Google Maps archives.
Until now though there have been no social media platforms taking advantage of this incredible tool. That is until Facebook publicly introduced their 360 photo capability on June 9, 2016.
Immediately businesses, social media marketers and consumers alike began posting panoramic photos of everything from catching big waves in Tahiti to flying with the Blue Angels to a backstage tour of Walt Disney World Studios, using minimal “equipment” but delivering in a quasi-VR wide-screen effect. At the time though what seemed to go unnoticed is that this new Facebook feature also accepted Google Street View images created using the aforementioned app.
So sure you can purchase expensive gear like the Ricoh Theta, Samsung Gear 360, or the GoPro Omni, but it is really the photo-stitching tool of Street View that utilizes your smartphone camera and creates an amazing result with little effort.
Once I had downloaded the Street View app for my iPhone 6 I was able to quickly give access to both my camera and my photo album and instantly begin taking panoramic photos. To capture a 360º image of my house and yard I spent just at three minutes rotating in a circle (looking rather silly I imagine), aligning my phone’s camera with the app’s 360˚ markers, and creating the panorama I wanted to show the world.