Google Maps wants to let visitors now add their own gorgeous photos to the amazing maps that are constantly being created with Google Maps.
"Today, we are launching a new community site called Views that makes it easy for people to publicly share their photos of places by contributing photo spheres to Google Maps (photo spheres are 360-degree panoramas that can be easily be created with your Android phone)," wrote Evan Rapoport, product manager for Google Maps and Photo Sphere, in a July 30 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.
"Photo spheres can be created with the camera in Android 4.2 or higher, including most Nexus devices and the new Nexus 7 tablet," wrote Rapoport. "This short video will show you how to get started. You can also share panoramas you've created with your DSLR camera (learn more on our help center)."
The images created with photo spheres can be spectacular, from incredible landscapes to lovely urban images filled with detail, color and clarity. Photo spheres are captured by Android devices through a series of multiple photos that can automatically be turned into a seamless 360-degree experience, according to Google's documentation. Users can also turn their digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera panoramas into photo spheres, according to Google.
To upload 360-degree photo spheres, users can sign into the Views site with their Google+ ID, then click the blue camera button on the top right of the page, wrote Rapoport. Users can then import their existing photo spheres from their Google+ photos. They can also upload 360-degree photo spheres to Views from the Gallery in Android by tapping "Share" and then selecting Google Maps, he wrote.
Rapoport includes the example of his own Views page, "which is filled with photo spheres and descriptions about my experiences in the places I've visited," he wrote. "I created these during my travels, including day trips and hikes around the San Francisco Bay area, as well as far away adventures to Hawaii, Sydney, Beijing and Paris. Sometimes, I also share photo spheres around the Google campus in Mountain View. You can explore them all on this map."
The new Views page also incorporates the Street View Gallery, which means that visitors can also view the incredible panoramas of other Google Street View collections, wrote Rapoport, from the Grand Canyon to the Swiss Alps. "Just click on “Explore” at the top of the Views site to browse a map of these special collections right alongside community-contributed photo spheres."
Google is seemingly always at work making improvements to its Google Maps and Street View services. In July, Google unveiled a new maps layer for developers so that they can better integrate their data with images in Google Maps. The innovative DynamicMapsEngineLayer gives developers the abilities to perform client-side rendering of vector data, allowing developers to dynamically restyle the vector layer in response to user interactions like hover and click and makes it easier for developers to visualize and interact with data hosted in Google Maps Engine.
In June, Google for the first time released its Google Maps Engine API to developers so they can build consumer and business applications that incorporate the features and flexibility of Google Maps. With the Maps API, developers can now use Google's cloud infrastructure to add their data on top of a Google Map and share that custom mash-up with consumers, employees or other users. The API provides direct access to Maps Engine for reading and editing spatial data hosted in the cloud, according to Google.