How to Take 360 Photos without a 360 Camera

360 Photos

360-degree photos (more commonly just called 360 photos) provide viewers with a more immersive experience. While they are commonly used to create virtual reality experiences, you can also view them on your device screen (no goggles required). In a couple of upcoming posts, I’ll share how students can create interactive 360 photo experiences, but first, they need a way to take 360 photos. 

The Problem with 360 Cameras

360 cameras are amazing. Just position the camera and click to capture the entire 360 scene as an image or video. Unfortunately, 360 cameras are still pretty expensive. I love my Insta360 One, but it costs close to $200 with no accessories. I’ve also been impressed by the Ricoh Theta 360 cameras, but they start right around $180. 

The Free Solution – Google Street View

Google Street View is a free app for Android and iOS. One of its lesser-known functions is the ability to use your phone or tablet to take a series of pictures that will be stitched into a seamless 360 photo. It takes about a minute longer than a 360 camera, but it’s free and easy to use.

How to Take 360 Photos with Google Street View

Take 360 Photos with Google Street View

  1. Open Google Street View
  2. Tap the camera icon in the bottom right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap the camera icon again on the next screen. 
  4. Point the camera at the orange dot. You don’t have to tap anything, the app will take a photo when the orange dot is in the center of your screen. 
  5. Move your camera to point it at another orange dot. 
  6. Repeat this process until you have taken photos to cover all 360 degrees. 
    • The orange circle around the checkmark icon shows your progress.
  7. Note: When finished, you do not need to pick a maps listing.
  8. Tap to preview your new 360 image. Your image will automatically save within the Street View app.
  9. Tap the sharrow if you wish to export it to another location.

Note: Your image will appear flat in most apps (even photos for iOS) but it will still open as a 360-degree image in compatible apps. 

Video Tutorial

Check out my one minute video tutorial.

Next week I’ll share how to create your own Google Expedition.


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