Photo Sphere returns to Pixel phones, but not the Pixel 8 series

A man holding up the Pixel 7 with the back of the camera in view
(Image credit: Google)

What you need to know

  • Photo Sphere has reappeared on older Pixel devices after a camera update.
  • The feature was first introduced in 2012 before being removed at the time of the Pixel 8 launch.
  • Despite its reemergence, Pixel 8 users don’t appear to have access to this feature.

When the Pixel 8 launched in 2023, one longstanding camera feature was quietly removed: Photo Sphere. Now, after another camera update, Photo Sphere is back – but only on older Pixel phones that previously enjoyed the feature.

A camera update – with the memorable version number – meant that some Pixel users spotted Photo Sphere had reappeared on their camera as an option. A conversation on Reddit started by user PourJarsInReservoirs (via Android Police) confirmed that Photo Sphere had reappeared “all the way on the right of the main selections.”

Interestingly, though, it wasn’t available to all Pixel users, and indeed, it appears to be the case that it is only available on devices that previously supported it. This means that the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are left without Photo Sphere as an option. 

As a reminder, Photo Sphere is a feature that allows users to stitch together a series of photos to create a large, seamless image. But it wasn’t perfect, and if users didn’t move exactly as instructed by the camera app, the results were sometimes far from perfect. 

As a result, it’s questionable how many people regularly use it as a feature and whether there is going to be widespread use of it now that it’s back. The fact that it isn’t available to owners of the Pixel 8 or 8 Pro may suggest that this is a legacy feature that has simply been reinstated.

This would make some sense; after all, Photo Sphere was designed in part to be used alongside the Street View app that Google has previously dispensed with. Users could create a photo sphere and submit their own street-view images to Google Maps. And without an app of that nature, the demand for 360-degree images is likely to be small.  

It doesn’t appear to have undergone any changes during its time away. The same five settings that were there previously have all returned – 360, vertical, wide angle, fish eye, and horizontal. Whatever the reason behind the decision to reinstate Photo Sphere, it’s definitely one to mark in the “nice to have” category, should anyone want to use it.

Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw is a full-time freelancer, but before he changed his career at the start of 2021, he was in the retail industry, leading teams to achieve goals in selling technology products, such as smartphones, tablets, and more. Graduating from the University of Cambridge with a Masters in Medieval History, he's always had a passion for the topic, alongside technology and many Simpsons quotes.