In the midst of IFA's volley of tech hardware news, Google Maps has announced a spin-off Street View app that allows you to upload your own spherical photos. Yes, you're now a human Street View car. The app lets you not only shoot photo spheres from your phone but also connect directly to spherical cameras, like Ricoh's Theta camera series. The announcement came alongside the latest Theta camera, which is of course compatible with the new feature. It sounds like Street View will turn into a combination of Google's own photography and crowdsourced spheres. Charles Armstrong, Google Maps product manager, said the new app will allow "people all over the world to explore user contributions, Google's own imagery, and their own published photo spheres through a seamless world map of landscapes, landmarks, business interiors and more."
From the home screen, you can search for any place in the world and then scroll through a series of tabs such as "Collections" and "Explore," which contain relevant panoramas uploaded by both Google and other users. Once you've launched one, you can hold your phone in either portrait or landscape and swipe around to take in the scene -- alternatively, you can press the compass icon to look around using the phone's accelerometer.
The slide-out menu on the right-hand side reveals two upload options: Camera and Spherical Camera. The former allows you to shoot a regular Photo Sphere, just as you would with Google's stock Android camera app. It's then immediately saved in a "Private" tab on the home screen where you can review it and ultimately publish to Street View, allowing others to take it in for themselves. Selecting the "Spherical Camera" option, meanwhile, will connect your device to external hardware that we mentioned earlier. Both Android and iOS apps are out today, so it's time to start exploring.
Additional reporting by Nick Summers
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