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 Plaça de Catalunya to see how it works.
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.
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.