On October 29th, the search giant, Google announced the newest iteration of Android unveiling a couple of key features of it. Since the official event was cancelled due to hurricane Sandy and we’re yet to any reviews on the web, details on Android 4.2 is very less available. However, we do know that instead of delivering a visual overhaul, Google has focused on improving the user experience this time.
Perhaps, one of the most amazing features of Android 4.2 is Photo Sphere, a new camera mode that lets you take full 360-degree photos and even view them in full 3D.
I’ve got hold of a leaked copy of the camera app from Android 4.2, which has been circulating on the internet, thanks to Android Central. After using it for a while for capturing Photo Spheres, I must say that this new feature is nothing but simply stunning.
MAKING PANORAMA LOOK LIKE A THING OF PAST
Capturing photo spheres is a pretty easy job and you’ve to simply move your camera and align it with blue dots present all around you. Photos are taken automatically one-by-one when you hit the dots and not like Panorama mode where you simply move your camera horizontally to take a 180-degree photo, being captured in a continuous shot.
Also, since Photo Sphere involves capturing a full 360-degree, it is obvious that your camera will encounter variations in light levels and some parts might not even align with each other when you’re not holding your camera using a tripod or any support.
View this Photo Sphere in Google+ (Taken in Sikkim Manipal IT, India)
The end result, however, is truly magical. All the different shots are knitted into a single, seamless 3D view by some intense processing. It’s completely impossible to identify that the it’s actually a collection of several photos — there are no noticeable borders or any other hints of knitting. It’s also important to note that capturing a Photo Sphere is a tedious job and eats more than twice the time required to capture a panorama shot. But then, it is truly worth the awesomeness.
Photo Spheres normally appear as strange, distorted panorama photos when you view them in 2D, but go BOOM! as soon as you hit the 3D view button — they become alive! Currently, viewing Photo Spheres is only limited to the official Android gallery app, Google+ and Google Maps.
Google says that (via The Verge), Photo Spheres are actually simple 2D images with an XLM file associated with them, responsible for maintaining their 3D view. What this essentially means is that they can be viewed on any photo viewer which can understand those XML files, be it an iOS app or a Windows app. We can also safely assume that future versions of Picasa desktop viewer might also come with this functionality built-in so that you can view and share your Photo Spheres with others.
Photo Spheres can also be uploaded to Google Maps as a street-view photo of your location, something which Google has been doing usingmanned cars fitted with big cameras and gadgets. The company is usually known for crowdsourcing many of its data such as live traffic information in Maps and I’m pretty sure they will do the same with Street View photos by relying on Photo Spheres taken by users in the future and eliminatingmanned cars.
Apart from Photo Sphere, Android 4.2 also brings a clean interface, HDR mode and quick controls (similar to the one present in the web-browser) to the camera. The leaked version of camera that I’ve been using doesn’t have HDR, but other stuff are functioning properly and I must say that this is the first time I’ve liked the AOSP camera — It’s not plain anymore in terms of features and can give a run for money to other camera apps developed by Samsung, HTC and others.