The launch of Android 4.2 in October of last year brought with it the ability to create special 360° panoramas called “Photo Spheres.” But as cool as these panoramas were, there was no real way to share them with the exception of a widget Google released a few months back.
Since the benefits go both ways here — not only do you get a place to upload and share your panoramas, Google gets to populate Google Maps with panoramic views they didn’t have to send anyone out to capture — Google has made sure the site is as easy to use as possible.
All you have to do is sign in to the Views site using your Google+ account and click the blue camera button on the top right to pull selected Photo Spheres off of your Google Photos. If you don’t have a Google+ (or you don’t upload your photos to it), you can also upload them directly from your Android gallery by clicking “Share” and selecting Google Maps.
All of your uploaded 360° panoramas will then populate your own personal Views page that will look something like the one below. Your spheres populate a grid, complete with any descriptions you might have added. You can also pull out and view your spheres on a map based on location data:
“Wherever life’s adventures may take us, our photos help us remember and share the places we care about,” writes Google Maps and Photo Sphere Product Manager Evan Rapoport on the Lat Long Blog. “So, when you’re on your next adventure, don’t forget your camera and your Android phone to create and share some photo spheres of places that inspire you… we can’t wait to see them!”
Non-Android users need not fret. Although you might not have any Photo Spheres of your own to upload, Google is making sure there’s plenty to browse through and enjoy by incorporating the Street View Gallery. When you’re done looking through the panoramas your friend just uploaded from Hawaii, you can always take a stroll through the Grand Canyon or the Swiss Alps — just click “Explore.”
And if you’re really dying to contribute to Views but you just can’t bear to part with your iPhone, it’s also possible to shoot Photo Spheres using your DSLR. If you’re not sure how, Google’s help center will be more than happy to help you get started.