How to shoot 360-degree panos with Google Street View

Learn how to create a 360-degree panorama with your phone and Google Street View


Shooting 360-degree panoramas may seem like a complex photographic endeavor, but with the Google Street View app on your smartphone, it’s incredibly fun and easy for anyone to accomplish. You don’t need expensive cameras, a complicated rig, or any special photographic expertise to produce a glorious spherical pano. You just need a smartphone and an app. While Google Street View is one of many 360-degree camera apps capable of creating and uploading panos, it is one of the most popular, and offers the potential to give your images worldwide exposure on Google Maps directly from the app.

Google Street View encourages you to explore the great outdoors, including world landmarks and natural wonders, and even indoor venues like museums, arenas, restaurants, and small businesses. The app facilitates your own creation of 360-degree imagery of your neighborhood or anywhere you visit using your smartphone camera or a certified Street View-ready camera to add locations to Google Maps.

Google Street View on the Web

Google Street View features five categories that let you view, shoot, and post pano collections to the service. The Featured and Explore tabs take you to different parts of the world to preview street views shot by fellow pano fanatics. You can view each one on your phone, along with the map of exactly where each place is located. Either swipe to view the entire scene or tap the Viewer icon where you can choose to view the scene through your VR headset — Google Cardboard is always a good, cheap choice. The Profile tab is about all the images you post, which are accessible through Google Maps and often get an astronomical number of page views. If you have already posted panos, all of them will be listed alongside the number of views they have received.

You can download Google Street View on Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store. The interface for both iOS and Android is similar. Below, we used the iOS app to show you how to create your own 360-degree street view using just your smartphone.

Get ready to shoot

After downloading and launching the app, you should be able to start shooting your pano immediately — but first, make sure you have given Street View permission to access your smartphone camera in settings. The app also uses location services, so it’s a good idea to grant the app that privilege at least while you are using it. Decide whether you want to restrict uploading to when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, or if you don’t mind using your data plan to post your panos.

Start shooting

Tap the orange icon at the bottom right of the screen and choose Camera. A large empty dot appears in the middle of the screen and it will guide you through a series of shots that will construct your pano. Hold your phone in a vertical position and keep it close to your body as you move your phone around to line up each orange circle with the dot. The circle and dot appear automatically, prompting you to follow, and the app automatically shoots an image when both the orange circle and the empty dot are aligned. Another circle at the bottom of the screen tracks the pano’s progress as you move the camera around your stationary position.

Shoot up and down

The initial movement of the circle prompt will be located around eye level. But a 360-degree image is a sphere, so once you finish with the middle part of the scene you want to aim your camera up toward the sky and move around in a circle again, twice. The app automatically detects which parts of the scene have not yet been recorded, so the dot and circle continue to prompt you to follow them in order to fill in the sky. Keep pointing up and moving the phone around until all the gaps are filled. Then aim your camera at the ground and do the same thing around your feet.

When all the shots are compiled, the Street View app stitches all the pano fragments together automatically. There are no opportunities to edit the pano, though a tap and hold blur function lets you blur faces, addresses, your feet, or anything else that might be distracting in your image. Other than that, there are no sophisticated editing tools available in Street View. If you want to edit further, make sure you elect to save the pano to your camera roll on iPhone or Panorama folder on an Android device. That way, you can open the image in an editor like Google Snapseed for iOS or Android and use the healing brush or other tools to enhance your photos.

If you edit your pano, you’ll have to use the Import 360 Photo function to place it in the Street View app in order to upload it. Do not go overboard in editing. Google has rules on authenticity that preclude cropping and other invasive fixes that falsify the look of the location.

Place your pano on the map

When you’re done shooting your pano, you want to label it with the nearest location. Because Street View is heavily aligned with Google Maps, your phone’s GPS already has some idea where you are and automatically offers a list of nearby locations and venues that you can use to tag your image. Just pick the closest public place that best describes your location.

Post to Google Maps

You need an internet connection in order to post your pano to Google Maps. If you’re shooting in areas where there is no cell connection or Wi-Fi, the program automatically saves your pano privately. As soon as you get to a place where there is a strong connection, tap the card and it will upload your image for the world to see. You will periodically get emails from Google letting you know how many people have viewed your pano.


The Google Cardboard of scanners, this Kodak takes film from attic to Instagram

The Google Cardboard of film scanners, the Kodak Mobile FIlm Scanner uses a piece of cardboard and the camera that you already have in your pocket to get film in the attic on Instagram without a major investment.
Smart Home

The best outdoor security cameras to make burglars think twice

Worried about intruders entering your home? With wireless, weatherproof, 2-way talk, and night vision options, you can always be in the know about who or what is on your property. These are the best outdoor security cameras for 2019.

Enjoy your music on more devices: Here's how to convert FLAC to MP3

FLAC files sound awesome — that is, if your device can handle the lossless format. No matter your OS there's a converter for you. Here's how to convert FLAC to MP3, so you no longer have to worry about incompatibility issues.

Seeking photo storage and backup in the cloud? Google Photos gets the picture

Google Photos offers free, unlimited photo storage in the cloud, making photos instantly accessible and sharable. Google also uses artificial intelligence image analysis to organize photos and videos, making them easy to search and edit.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
Product Review

Price be damned, the OnePlus 7 Pro is bigger and faster than ever before

OnePlus has delivered its biggest, and fastest smartphone ever in the OnePlus 7 Pro. It’s also more expensive than before, with a $750 price tag hanging from the most technically impressive model.

Leak shows Android running on purported Nokia feature phone

A leaked image appears to show a Nokia feature phone running a modified version of Android, complete with Google Voice Search, YouTube, and all. This would be a market-changing collaboration between Google and HMD.

The best Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus cases to protect your $1,000 phone

Can't get enough of big phones? The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus is absolutely up your alley. But it's still fragile, and damage is easily gathered through normal life. Protect it with the best Galaxy S10 Plus cases.

Apple’s iOS 12.4 brings back Walkie-Talkie, makes improvements to Apple News+

Apple has finally taken the wraps off of iOS 12.4, bringing a number of tweaks to Apple News+, plus the reinstatement of the Walkie-Talkie feature on the Apple Watch, which was disabled after the discovery of a security flaw.

Apple is reportedly about to buy Intel’s modem business

According to a report, Apple could be buying out Intel's 5G modem business, which would give Apple at least some of the intellectual property and staff required to develop its own modems for iPhones.
Social Media

Facebook admits to Messenger Kids security flaw but insists it’s fixed

Facebook has confirmed it missed a flaw in its Messenger Kids app that meant children could have communicated with users who hadn’t been parent-approved. The firm says it has now fixed the issue and contacted those affected.

Huawei’s blacklisted status contributes to more 5G decision delays in the U.K.

The decision over which companies will be involved in creating the U.K.’s burgeoning 5G network has been delayed again, and Huawei's presence on the U.S. Entity List is partly to blame.

Honor puts a shiny target on the back of its desirable new 9X phones

Honor has announced the Honor 9X and Honor 9X Pro. The two new phones have currently been unveiled only in China, but the company often goes on to release its new devices internationally, provided it can overcome some challenges.

Huawei denies reports it is helping North Korea build its wireless network

Tensions between Chinese mobile giant Huawei and the U.S. are likely to rise even higher after the Washington Post reported the company has allegedly been secretly working with a Chinese state-owned firm to build and maintain North Korea's…