VR Panorama on the LG Optimus Pro

LG Photosphere from the Nexus 4 and improves it on its newest device

Android Central at Mobile World Congress

It's no secret that I'm a pretty big fan of the 360-degree Photospheres you can shoot with the Nexus 4. Fire up the camera app, spin around a few times and you get a really cool shot that can be panned and zoomed, and shared on Google+, or embedded with Google Maps. It's a novelty, yeah. But I'm enjoying the hell out of it, and there are some great Photospheres being published every day from remarkable locations.

But so far the only phones with that feature have been Google's Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus. Until now.

LG, which also manufactured the Nexus 4, has a new version of Photosphere built into the camera application on its Optimus G Pro, which the company is showing off here in Barcelona, Spain, at Mobile World Congress. (The phone actually is available already in Korea.) And we recently took it for a spin in Pla├ža de Catalunya to see how it works.

VR Panorama

Called "VR Panorama," LG's version is updated from that on Google's Nexus devices. LG says it's better, but it also seems to take a little practice to get the hang of it. Instead of a dot showing you where to maneuver the lens for the next frame, you get a square outline. And it's not as linear as before. You'll need to tilt the camera at different angles to complete the shot, whereas on the Nexus devices it's more about just pointing in the right direction.

VR Panorama on the Optimus G Pro

This slightly different system takes a little practice, but presumably it makes for better end results. We'll need more practice with it. The usual rules apply here -- large spaces work best. And try to keep objects still; folks walking through the frame might well lose half their body in the finished picture.

Once the image is stitched together, you can view it on the phone, or share it on Google+, same as with the Nexus.

You've got a couple options for viewing the panoramas. There's the usual pan-and-zoom. Or there's an option to use the phone's gyroscope so that the picture pans as the phone moves. It's a little dizzying, but still cool.

So LG's the first bring Photosphere-type pictures to a non-Nexus device. Not a huge surprise, given that it had access to the code before other manufacturers. We're going to need some more practice with this phone (and scenes with fewer people walking through it) before rendering a final verdict. But resolution of the finished image is much higher what you've got on the Nexus 4. We have a feeling our VR Panoramas will get better as we take more of them.

And let's hope the likes of VR Panoroma and the original Photosphere find their way to more devices this year.


Reader comments

LG's 'VR Panorama' puts Photosphere on the Optimus G Pro


The latest Galaxy S3 update, to 4.1.2, includes a Panoramic camera feature, too. I don't know how it compares to PhotoSphere, but I believe it brings "Photosphere-type pictures to a non-Nexus device" as well. At least for those who have gotten the update.

Panorama and PhotoSphere are not the same thing. Where as "Panorama" mode will allow you to take "long" pictures on a horizontal plane (even up to 180 degrees), Photoshpere will allow you to capture the images above and below that plane as well. This creates a "sphere" or images, hence the name :)

There *are* quite a few apps for taking 360 degree panoramas in the Play store but none of them (that I've found) will do the actual "sphere" photo effect, where you can look up and down as well.

As for 360 panoramas, check out Panorama360, or Camera360 (both free) in the Play store.

"snap photos in every direction and come them together into a panorama image."
Interesting choice of words.

I look forward to seeing if Google will improve PhotoSphere and release it at this years Google I/O. Or perhaps an improved PhotoSphere will turn up with Key Lime Pie.....or maybe they won't do anything and it will decay for a bit before having a massive update further down the line.

Apps for doing this has been in the App Store for the iPhone for years, now - free. It's nothing new. I have Microsoft Photosynth on my phone, right now, that does this.