With Android 4.2, Google asks users to submit their panoramas

Users of the latest version of Android can choose to upload their "Photo Spheres" to Google Maps.

Casey Newton Former Senior Writer
Casey Newton writes about Google for CNET, which he joined in 2012 after covering technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is really quite tall.
Casey Newton
A user-contributed panorama of San Francisco's Dolores Park.
A user-contributed panorama of San Francisco's Dolores Park. Screenshot by Casey Newton/CNET

Google Maps' Street View feature has long allowed users to get a glimpse of far-flung destinations in 360-degree panoramas. Today the company is inviting users to contribute panoramas of their own.

Today Google unveiled Android 4.2, whose features include a new camera option called "Photo Spheres." A Photo Sphere is a 360-degree panorama akin to similar offerings from Microsoft (Photosynth) and the namesake product of startup TourWrist.

Only Photo Spheres, though, can be uploaded to Google Maps.

"Your images will help make Google Maps more comprehensive, and enable other travelers to get an accurate preview of a location before they arrive," Google's Evan Rapoport said in a blog post.

Google highlights user-contributed panoramas with blue circle icons on Maps. The company also created a Web site to highlight places in the world where you can find them. There's also social integration: Photo Spheres will be associated with users' Google+ accounts when they choose to share them publicly, the company said.