I might have mentioned once or twice how Photo Sphere is one of my favorite features of Android 4.2 on the Nexus 4. And I might have slightly bemoaned how the only real ways to view someone's Photo Sphere pictures are on Google+, either in a desktop browser or Android's Google+ app. (And I might have mentioned all that in a single post, yesterday.)
Google Maps also got a nod, and I think it's going to be my go-to method for sharing Photo Sphere pics for a couple reasons.
Sharing photos all over the world
What we're doing here is actually sharing to the Google Street View project. As you can see in the pictures above, folks are doing this all over the world. And now it's your time.
Before you do anything else, make sure your camera app is storing the location of the pictures. (Look for it in the settings.)
First things first: You'll need to submit your Photo Sphere picture to Google Maps. Pretty simple. In the gallery, hit the sharing button, then choose "Google Maps." You'll be greeted with the screen you see above, and warned that pictures over 3 megabytes probably should be sent over Wifi. But this also is the time to reconsider sending the pic. While your backyard might make for a really cool Photo Sphere, you probably don't want to be posting your home address directly to Google Maps, and by extension Google+.
Also note that "Read More" link at the bottom left. There's important stuff there regarding what information you'll be sharing -- and how to unshare if need be -- but we'll highlight this portion:
In Google Maps, when someone views one of your panoramas, they will also see your name, the location, the date the panorama was created, and a link to see the panorama in Google+. Only people in your Google+ extended circles can comment on the panorama.
You can check out the full policies page here. So, again. Be careful what you're sharing.
Once you submit your Photo Sphere ... nothing happens. Google actually approves each picture -- the handful I submitted took about a day, but I've got no real feel if that's the average amount of time it takes.
Once your pictures are approved, you'll be able to view them -- and share links to them -- in Google Maps. Here's what you see when you zoom in to Pensacola -- four Photo Spheres that I just uploaded. Hover over the dots to see a preview. (This works zoomed out in the world view as well.) The buttons at the top of the map let you highlight panoramas that you've taken, or pictures from the community.
How to link to your Photo Sphere
Viewing the Photo Sphere within the Google Maps Street View site (here's that link again) gives you a couple new options. you can click on the contributor's name to view their other submissions in Google+. Click on the location of the image, though, and it'll open the Photo Sphere pic in Google Maps. And from there, you can get a link directly to the panorama -- just like any other location in Google Maps. That means you can direct friends and family straight to your Photo Sphere picture on other services, like Twitter or Facebook (though you don't get good metadata for summaries yet).
Or, even better, you can embed your panorama.
One final benefit of sharing your Photo Spheres through Google Maps -- you get a new album in Google+ titled "Geo Panoramas," which will keep things nice and organized. As since Google+ can still be a little clunky when it comes to adding new images to old albums, it's nice to see pictures added automatically.
There's a lot going on here, and frankly it can be a bit confusing, whether you're talking about Google Maps, or Street View, or Google+. We'd love to see Google pare things down a bit. But the end result is you get to share your Photo Spheres with the world, and you get some deep links to go with them.