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Google launches Photo Sphere app on iOS

The search company is bringing the app that takes 360-degree photos to its rival mobile platform -- in line with Google's desire to expand its photo products.


Google on Tuesday said it is bringing an app called Photo Sphere -- previously only available on the company's Android operating system -- to Apple's iOS, which powers iPhones and iPads.

The app lets users take a 360-degree photo of a certain place, stitching it all together to create one image where you can pan left and right, and up and down. Users can then publish them to social networks or Google Maps. The company will pick some photos to pair with local places when users look them up on Google Maps.

Evan Rapoport, the app's product manager, said in a statement that one of the goals for the Maps integration is to help people "virtually explore the world."

For Google, the small expansion is twofold. It helps build out the company's Maps product, enlisting users to help it index individual places. It also falls in line with the company's desire to make sure its photo products are in as many hands as possible -- even if it means coming to a rival mobile platform.

Earlier this month, news reports said that Google is planning to unbundle its popular photo features from its fledgling Google+ social network. The company revamped the features in October. Some of those include new algorithms that let users search more easily through big dumps of photos and better back up photo files. The company also introduced Auto Awesome Movie, a live video version of its photo-editing feature, that lets users create quick films by stringing together movie clips. The software adds background music and filters.

Vic Gundotra, then-chief of Google+ who has since left the company, said at the time that the service was "trying to revolutionize the field of photography."