Immersive 360 Degree Panorama Apps for the iPhone

Immersive 360 Degree Panorama Apps for the iPhone

Vivian Kim
May 6, 2011

There are plenty of iPhone apps for making panoramic images, but there are few that actually allow you to create your own immersive 360 pano that you can swipe through and "look around" in. 360 Panorama and Photosynth are two apps that do just that, and the results are nothing short of amazing. With summer coming up, these 360 pano apps will give you a new way to capture those memories on your next vacation. We'll take a look at both apps and some of their pros and cons.

360 Panorama ($1.99) - 360 Panorama lets you take a quick panoramic shot by panning your camera around. The gyro in the iPhone knows where you are pointing it in space and starts stitching the pictures in real time as you look around. Once captured, you can share your panorama as either a flat or interactive image. The interactive 360 image is where this app really shines. The linked picture allows anyone to view and look around the picture 360 degrees (think street view in Google maps). The interactivity of the picture makes you feel like you've been taken to the place where the person was actually standing. If your friend also has an iPhone, the picture can tap into their gyro as well, so they can stand up and look around—the picture will move depending on where they point it. They'll basically be seeing what you saw and the iPhone will even point the picture in the direction you were facing (if you look north, the picture will face north).

Photosynth (Free) - Photosynth is free app by Microsoft that lets you capture interactive panoramas, much like 360 Panorama. You can save either as a flat panoramic image or an interactive 360 pano. Unlike 360 Panorama, Photosynth doesn't stitch the photos together in real time. Instead the app snaps pictures as you slowly move your camera around, overlaying the previous image automatically. After the images have been captured, Photosynth has to process the pictures in order to view it in interactive mode. The extra process takes a bit longer than 360 Panorama, but the overall stitching is definitely cleaner. Photosynth also captures a complete 360 from your toes to the sky, while 360 Panorama only captures across and not up/down. As for photo sharing, surprisingly Photosynth doesn't allow you to email or tweet your interactive panorama. You can only share your image via Facebook or by uploading it to photosynth.net. Photosynth interactive pictures are not also not viewable on other iOS devices since it uses Silverlight.

Overall, Photosynth seems to offer better photo stitching quality and more immersive images with a wider view. However, 360 Panorama offers more when it comes to sharing your images. The two apps are still worth downloading and since Photosynth is free, it wouldn't hurt to try out both.

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