Microsoft gets panoramas right with Photosynth app

May 31, 2011
Tech

I’ve been drinking Apple’s Kool-Aid for years now, so I’m as shocked as anyone to be giving a Microsoft product my seal of approval. (Yes, that Microsoft.) The app in question is Photosynth for iPhones 3GS and 4, fourth-gen iPod Touch and iPad 2. Through the app, you can quickly capture panoramic 360-degree gyroscopic images […]

I’ve been drinking Apple’s Kool-Aid for years now, so I’m as shocked as anyone to be giving a Microsoft product my seal of approval. (Yes, that Microsoft.) The app in question is Photosynth for iPhones 3GS and 4, fourth-gen iPod Touch and iPad 2. Through the app, you can quickly capture panoramic 360-degree gyroscopic images that look really, really cool.

My favorite part of Photosynth is that it requires little user effort to shoot an image. The app gives you instructions on startup, but basically you tap the screen to turn on the camera and then line up your camera with whatever you want to photograph. If the box is green the area will be captured. When the frame turns white the area has been added to your image. As you physically move the camera, the frame will continue to turn green and automatically capture your surroundings. If you want to snap an area manually, you can do so by tapping the screen. It’s OK if your boxes overlap some — once you hit the “done” button, the image will automatically stitch together and remove seams.

You also don’t have to worry about taking your photos in order; Photosynth can handle jumping around, although it’s best to not move around too much (by this I mean shooting something on the left side, then flipping to the right and so on). On one of my test images I did this, and a few portions of the panorama were off in scale.

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While Photosynth is stitching together many frames, you can edit the image’s properties, and give it a name or a geotag. Once the image is complete, you can view it in its gyroscopic form within the app, or share it to Facebook, Bing maps or Photosynth.net (Windows Live ID required). A flat version of the panorama will be saved to your camera roll.

Oh, and have I mentioned that Photosynth is free? Good work, Microsoft, this is an app I’ll hold onto.

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