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Giroptic iO is a tiny live-streaming 360 camera for your iPhone

The palm-sized camera handles all the shooting and stitching of spherical photos and videos, but you'll need an iPhone to complete the picture.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Giroptic iO could be the first 360-degree camera to attract regular people rather than early adopters.

Designed to be as simple as possible, the dual-lens camera pops onto your iPhone's Lightning port. Launch its app and you're instantly given a spherical view on your screen. You can then snap photos at 3,840x1,920-pixel resolution or record 1,920x960-resolution video and live stream to YouTube.

All the stitching and processing is done in camera, but everything gets stored for viewing and sharing on your iPhone. The iO does have its own battery, so you don't have to worry about it draining your phone's. This does mean it must be on an iPhone (or iPad) to work.

If the name Giroptic sounds familiar, it's because this isn't its first 360 camera. The company got its start making pro solutions for virtual tours. Then, nearly 4,000 people backed Giroptic's first consumer 360-degree camera, the 360cam, on Kickstarter. The feature-packed camera ended up being such a challenge to produce that it didn't ship until May 2016, well past its projected ship date of November 2014.

Giroptic used that experience to develop the iO, a 360 camera stripped down to the basics, so any level of user could shoot and share immersive photos and video with their phone. It really couldn't be more simple, but that simplicity costs you features and editing capabilities you get with other models. Right now, the app doesn't even support trimming clips. Image quality is geared for viewing on a phone or tablet, too.

The company is skipping Kickstarter this time and going straight to shipping starting in mid-January. The Giroptic iO can be preordered now, for $250, which is about AU$330 in Australia and £200 in the UK.