Google Maps product manager Evan Rapoport revealed another Android 4.3 change on Google+ this morning - better photo spheres. Photo spheres were introduced in Android 4.2, and I truly believe they're one of the biggest things to happen to personal photography in years. They're limited to Nexus devices for the time being - and viewing outside of Maps / Google+ is still hard - but it's encouraging to see that Google is still going strong developing the feature.

There are two changes to photo spheres in Android 4.3, but they're big ones. First, alignment and stitching are "much better" - arguably two of the biggest problems with photo spheres. Second, exposure compensation across individual frames is now better, meaning your photos won't look weirdly washed out or dark in certain regions as you pan around.

Tl;dr - your photo spheres are going to look prettier. And based on the sphere Evan uploaded to showcase the changes, I believe it - there is still some visible stitching and a couple of alignment anomalies, but the exposure is remarkably consistent compared to a lot of the older spheres I've seen, as is the overall composition. Just one more thing to look forward to (for Nexus users, at least) in the latest version of Android.


David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://twitter.com/cooltay105 Tay

    Will there be a 4.3 camera APK, so those of us on non-Nexus devices can get in on the updated photosphere goodness?

    • Justin Foster
      • http://twitter.com/cooltay105 Tay

        Wow, I had already installed this a few weeks ago. Derp. Anyway, thanks for posting it again!

      • TomZ

        This is the one from the end of June unless I'm missing something.

        • Derek Robinson

          Has there been a new one released since then?

          • Justin Foster

            Nah, but I guess that AP just noticed the upgraded Photo Sphere. I didn't test the 4.3 cam much since it force reboots my tablet.

  • http://tumblr.dominick.co/ Dominick Scarfogliero

    Is Photo Shere included in any of the new Droids? I wonder about the Moto X?

    • Michael Pahl

      I flashed the Google Edition camera from the GE S4 on my Razr Maxx HD and it works well, besides HDR mode.

  • Justin Foster

    Any comparison photos?

  • mgamerz

    I've noticed my galaxy nexus feels much more snappy, especially with chrome since it got 4.3.

    • Thomas’

      Yes, Chrome somehow improved on my Nexus 4.

      • mgamerz

        I wouldn't say its buttery smooth by any means, but its not a chili covered saltine anymore.

        • Paul_Werner

          Mmmm, I'd take some chili and saltines over just butter any day... lol

      • http://them3blog.wordpress.com/ Abel

        same here, feels much better

    • Haunter

      I've been waiting on the inevitable "Wow, 4.3 feels way smoother and faster that 4.2" comments... and am currently taking bets on it all being in the user's head.

      • jonathan3579

        You make it sound as though Google cannot introduce improvements with Android upgrades.

      • Tim Glaser

        It's not all in the user's heads. Watch this panel from I/O a few months ago.


      • Thomas’

        Maybe its because of some cleanup during the patching or the improved OpenGL drawing - however i noticed improvements on some animations which were jerky EVERY time on 4.2.

      • SickoPsycho

        You know- every time there is an Android update those of us that don't have the update pushed directly to our phones have to do a clean install in order to reap the benefits. I installed it last night and compared to how my phone ran before? It's like night and day. Of course, I did have 213 apps installed before- and my memory was getting down to MB instead of GB... but even after I installed my base 140 apps it still runs really well. Better? Seems smoother and more responsive... but it could all be in my head because I'm just stoked about having the latest and greatest... =)

      • Stacey Liu

        Yeah why don't you read before jumping to conclusions..? http://developer.android.com/about/versions/jelly-bean.html

        Top thing: Faster, smoother, more responsive.

    • Simon Belmont

      You can probably thank the huge improvement in GPU usage in this update for that. In some cases, eliminating half the extraneous calls to the GPU but still accomplishing the same end result.

      This, of course, smooths the UI, speeds things up, and reduces battery usage. Way to go, Google.

  • brnpttmn

    I noticed the improved quality when I installed the APK a couple weeks ago, and mentioned (somewhere) that it appears to be the result of the program requiring more individual exposures for each sphere (i.e., each picture is closer). However, this is offset by what appears to be significantly faster "take times" for each exposure (i.e., you hardly have to stop your scroll).

    • Merri Mogridge

      Yeah I've also experienced the faster take times on the 4.3 apk. I just took one in my room and this caused a couple of the images to be blurred while turning. Still though, the render doesn't show much of this and looks pretty impressive!

    • Paul_Werner

      This!!! Also, I love that they added a noise when it snaps each shot now. Helps when you are out in the daylight and can't quite see if you it those upper spots. Though it could be louder

  • Greyhame

    This is awesome! I love that feature. I work commissioning hydroelectric generators and visit hydro plants all over the world. Being able to photosphere is a feature that, after having it, I cannot go without. These were the two biggest issues I've had (especially the exposure uniformness, or lack thereof), and Google are fixing them. Can't wait to try this out!!!

  • http://www.nonsensebb.com/ Dextro

    The image crop screen used for contact images and wallpapers was changed as well: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5f0cqo6qla8x4ji/2013-07-25%2020.21.21.png

    • Merri Mogridge

      Ah I thought this was due to my theme! But it's because I installed the 4.3 Camera/Gallery app when it was posted on here. Thanks for letting us know :)

  • GryphKid44

    Does this apk work on 4.2.2 or do you need 4.3?

    • Mastermind26

      That's my question too.

      • GryphKid44

        I installed it and it works fine.

        • Mastermind26

          Ya. Went ahead and installed it. Everything seems to check out fine.
          Although at startup it was noticeable sluggish (gone now).

          • Justin Foster

            Does anyone else's device force reboot when RE-opening the 4.3 camera app? I mean if it's still in recent apps and you open it again from recent apps, homescreen, or app drawer.

          • Mastermind26

            Nope. not mine. But it DOES eat your battery when doing panorama or sphere shots.

    • Sean

      Works fine.

  • Guest

    And for anyone that wants the apk...


    • Mastermind26

      2 things:
      1) You're awesome.
      2) Does this work with 4.2?

  • Paul_Werner

    I've been saying the same thing since the camera app leaked. They work much better indoors now too. Much less items overlapping, severed head & limbs

  • Rolf

    The interface to enhance photos in the gallery also has changed.

  • HugoMathee

    Is there a difference between this apk one and the one from the Google Edition phones.

  • palf91

    That's a long Tl;dr. I suggest:

    Tl;dr - your photo spheres are going to look prettier.

  • tyguy829

    Does anyone know why the new camera found in the google edition phones isn't in 4.3? My galaxy nexus still has the 4.2 one with the full circle controls even though I am running 4.3.

    • Simon Belmont

      Looks like the new one on my Galaxy Nexus. Are you sure you updated?

      I just got the update OTA pushed to me today (it downloaded over mobile data, haha). It's great.

  • David Anderton

    they need to make it so you can retake sections of the sphere if you muck them up or they are messed up by somebody walking into your shot.

    • Will

      You can. There's U-shaped "back" arrow in the corner of the screen, and tapping it cancels the last shot.

  • http://www.mobileosworld.com/ Xen Lee

    Can somebody post the link to his photosphere created with 4.3

  • didibus

    I still find Photo Sphere greatly lacking. I've had way better experience with Microsoft Photo Synth and even Camera 360 app on iPhone. I think this is one thing Google must absolutly keep improving to make me really use it, photo spheres in door suck big time.

  • Chipsy4

    Nog een verandering in Android 4.3. Photosphere is geupdate.
    Uitleg van Google Maps Product Manager Evan Rapoport vindt u hier:


    • Guest

      Sorry accidental (wrong) post. My apologies.

  • Will

    The most important improvement to Photo Sphere is that it now lets you take straight-up and straight-down shots of the ceiling/sky and floor/ground. Always killed the effect a bit to have big black spots at either end of the sphere...