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Monthly Archives: November 2011

iPhone 4S secret panorama camera mode discovered

pamorama photos with the iphone

iPod touch - My PDA.

Image by MJ/TR (´???) via Flickr


This is the first look at the secret wide photo mode for the iPhone 4S and iPad camera, hidden in Apple’s iOS 5 software.

Tinkerers who have unlocked Apple’s software — known as jailbreaking — discovered the panorama camera feature in iOS 5, the operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, 9to5Mac reports.

A panoramic photo is a wide photo, wider than the camera lens can handle in one go. Instead, you sweep the phone across the scene in one motion and the camera captures multiple images, then stitches those pictures together into one widescreen image.

To snap a wide picture, it seems you’ll choose the panorama option from the camera menu, then simply tap the camera button and move your phone left to right, as directed by onscreen guidelines.

The movement and multiple images also mean a camera can create a 3D panorama. Many cameras and phones let you do just that, even if the camera isn’t a 3D model and doesn’t have a 3D screen. Apple hasn’t shown any interest in 3D up to this point, unlike Sony, Panasonic and others, so it’s unlikely the iPhone will do 3D panoramic shots. 3D is just the sort of gimmick Apple likes to stay away from.

If you have a jailbroken iPhone, you can use the panorama mode by downloading Firebreak from outlaw app store Cydia.

If you’re of a more law-abiding bent, you can take panoramic shots using an app like AutoStitch Panorama. For more camera apps check out our favourite photography apps for the iPhone, and let us know what you think in the comments, over on our Facebook page, or even on our shiny new Google+ page.


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Occipital Brings 360 Panorama To Android

Android app for 360 panoramas

It’s a good day for all you Android lovers out there, because today you’re getting a killer app from iOS land: 360 Panorama. The app is from Occipital, the 2008 TechStars grad, also makers of the (now eBay-owned) barcode scanner Red Laser.

This is the first real-time panoramic photo capture app for Android, as the others on the Android Market require manual capture of separate photos followed by stitching. With 360 Panorama, you just move the device around to capture the image.

In case you’re unfamiliar with 360 Panorama, it’s one of the easiest tools to take a 360-degree photo. All you have to do is launch the app and pan your camera around to take the photo. You can then save, email or share your photo to Facebook or Twitter.

If, on the other hand, you previously used 360 Occipital on iOS, you already know that this is one of the better photography apps ever created. And if you were an iOS user who switched to Android, you’ll be happy to know that you can login once again using your same 360 Panorama credentials from before.

For the most part, the Android version is the same as the older iOS app, but there are a couple of differences. For starters, Android users get one new feature that hasn’t made its way to the iPhone yet: an in-app list of saved panoramas. It should also be noted that the Android app doesn’t use gyroscopes at all yet, so it’s not recommended that you pan it against blank walls. (The next update, V1.1, will tap into gyros when it’s more stable).

There’s an interesting side note to the story of this app’s development, too. Occipital had once abandoned Android development when it started back in 2008, citing performance issues. As Co-founder Jeff Powers wrote then:

Objective-C kills the Java implementation on Android.  It’s almost exactly 100 times faster.  Note that I’m unsure if the memory allocation is included in the timing, so a more conservative statement is that Objective-C can run a tight loop 50 times faster than the Dalvik JVM.  It’s also true that real applications aren’t full of tight loops, and a real Android application won’t be 50 times slower than an iPhone counterpart.  Nevertheless, all else being equal, it will be slower, and potentially a lot slower.

For now, we’re sadly going to put our Android development on hold and switch to iPhone, and keep an eye out for performance improvements.

Today, Android is finally ready for an app like this. “Only now has the OS come around enough to make this even possible (thanks to the NDK and Open GL),” explains Powers.

Android users buying new phones will soon get a built-in panoramic photo capture app of their own with Ice Cream Sandwich’s (Android 4.0) default camera app. But 360 Panorama will work on almost any device made in the last two years, running Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and up.

You can grap the new app this morning for 99 cents from


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Google Places gives virtual tours of shops, businesses

Google streets and virtual tours

Google Street View is to come in from the cold, allowing users to snoop around inside shops and business with a newly launched service called Google Places.

Google has been working on the service, which allows businesses to opt in and allow potential customers to have a peek around through a series of online 360-degree panoramas, since April 2010.

The service is currently being rolled out in major cities in London and Paris, as well as major cities in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Customer-facing businesses such as restaurants, hotels, shops, gyms, salons and garages can apply for a Google Places listing via an online portal, and the search giant will send photographers to create the panoramas.

Despite Google Places being opt-in, the news has already prompted some to question the privacy implications of the new service, fearing that customers could be caught shopping in places they shouldn’t be, or vital information could be disclosed that could aid criminals or terrorists.

Google seeks to allay these fears on its Google Places FAQ page.

“We’ll either run the 360-degree imagery through our state of the art blurring technology to blur out faces of any employees and customers who appear in the imagery or we won’t publish the still photos if people are in view,” it says, adding: “Business photos capture nothing different to what a customer would see by visiting the business in real life.”

The first business to get the Places treatment is Comics Toons N Toys, a comic book store in Tustin, California. Potential customers can explore the shop using the now-familiar Street View-style navigation arrows.

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