It looks like the new Google Play Services rolling out today held one more surprise besides hints of Android Device Manager. With the latest update, Android's Photo Sphere viewer can make use of the on-board compass, allowing you to navigate a sphere just by moving your device, much like Streetview's "Compass Mode."

To enter compass mode, users need only press the arrow icon in the lower left corner of the screen. The icon automatically disappears when you aren't touching the screen, allowing you to look at the sphere uninterrupted.


This is a small enhancement, but one that makes Photo Spheres just that much more awesome. Don't have the new Play Services yet? Head to our earlier post to grab the download.

Update: Since noticing the new Photo Sphere's button looks decidedly low-res, some users report that perhaps Google's rolling out different Play Services apk files for devices with different screen densities. We aren't sure whether this is the case, but if we come across any new information, we'll update the post again.

Update 2: Since it's likely Google is distributing multiple Play Services apks, we recommend that you uninstall updates then update directly from the Play Store once the update has reached a wider rollout (probably in several days' time). Until then, using the downloadable apk shouldn't hurt anything, but it may not be optimized for your device.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Floris

    WOW, the button is reaaaally low res on my Galaxy Nexus.. Cool feature though, but if they aren't going to fix that, this definitely deserves a place in Ron's upcoming "Stock Android isn't perfect 3" article.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Yeah, the button is extremely low quality. Not really sure why, unless its inclusion was an accident or something.

      • Floris

        I think Brandon Enriquez is correct about the different APK's for different screen densities, just like in the new Google Maps app.

    • http://www.prosoftstudio.com/ Brandon Enriquez

      Hasn't Google been release different APKs for different screen sizes? Maybe was the source who provided the APK using a lower resolution phone compared to yours? Maybe just a thought.

      • silaslenz

        I got the update without sideloading on my Nexus 4, and it's still low resolution.

        • Simon Belmont

          I got it on my Galaxy Nexus automatically too and it's the same MD5 as the one posted above. It's low resolution as well.

          I think Google just used a low resolution resource. Hopefully they fix that when they push the stable version.

  • Billy

    I may be late to note this, but has anybody noticed the Tiny world button on photospheres in your Gallery? You can create an awesome little top-down view of a photosphere.

    • Floris

      This has been around since android 4.2, if I recall correctly. It only appears at a full 360 turn.

      • Billy

        Well, damn me... I guess I haven't made too many full 360's. That is actually really cool.

  • Jordan Long

    what app version is the new play services?

    • Doug Mason

      The update is 3.2.25 and also includes the Android Device Manager, as mentioned in a previous article.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    The Internet was invented for comments like this one:

    Could you imagine the implications this could have on google glass? since this sways with your head it could create an almost virtual landscape for you to view!
    Imagine your friend being on the golf course while you're at work or home. He sends you a photosphere of his next shot. It shows the hole and the golf ball and you can look around in your virtual google glass headset like you're there. So you can look around and see the whole hole. including the jerks behind you that just tee'd off when they know they're in distance of hitting you. You can just imagine the "fore" coming from behind you as you want to run scared from the golf ball that could be coming right after your head.
    Or you get a photosphere at work of the beach where your girlfriends at. You sit in your cubicle while having the beach up on your heads up display. You place headphones on and listen to the soothing ness of the beach as you dwell deeper into the beach. As you look around you see shiny tan legs and go... DAMN I'd look good with shaved legs, even though yours are the palest legs in comparison. so you go home and shave your legs and they look disgusting.
    Or how about your wife or girlfriend sending you a picture of "Just waking up! This is my view!" photosphere. You bring it up on your google glass and start looking all around your heads panning as everyone on the street thinks that you've gone insane. You see the gorgeous opening where it's looking over a cove, the sunrise is coming up just perfectly and you can almost feel the warmth of the sun even though you're in rainy Seattle. As you look around her room you see all her clothes strewn around and see how expensive the room is as you pan past the naked man in the bed. You realize that there's a naked man in your bed so you pan back and do the little dog head cock of non understanding, then realize it's your best friend. You start crying on the street with everyone on the sidewalk wondering what the hells going on. but it's still on the photosphere and can't look away. So you turn around and see that gorgeous opening in the screen door of the beach and the sunset. And everything seems just fine.

    Credit: http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/1jmw8o/new_google_play_services_also_introduces_photo/cbgah2g. Amazing.

    • perfectlyreasonabletoo


    • Austin Spangrud

      I didn't think my comment would go this far. Thanks for the repost!

  • Doug Mason

    I have an HTC One Google Play Edition (that started life as an AT&T HTC One) that's now running 4.3, and must have received the Play Services update sometime today. Anyways, the button on my phone also looks low-res, and I didn't download from any 3rd-party sources...think they just might've used a low-res icon...prolly see an update to remedy that in the next few days.

  • Trevor Colt

    pfffff, my LG Optimus G Pro has been able to do this for months on it's stock gallery app

  • Tom

    This is what I expected from Android 4.2.2