Photo Sphere, the feature that allowed users to create attractive 360° photos using their smartphone camera, was removed from the Google Camera app (also known as GCam) in the latest Pixel 8 series.
The decision is not being welcomed by those who used the feature diligently, as it happened without warning. In addition, the 360° photos they have taken for years using Photo Sphere are now displayed as normal photos in the gallery of their phones.
Photo Sphere removal from Google Pixel 8 series Camera app taking users by surprise
By enabling ‘Photo Sphere’ mode in the Google Camera app, users could easily create 360° photos in the shape of a ‘mini planet’. They just had to point the camera of their phones to the area indicated by the UI to capture the different areas of the scene, then the app created a single image combining them all.
The feature has been present for years in the GCam app, although it has not been improved for some time. But, now, Google decided to completely remove it. The most curious thing is that the removal only happened on the Google Pixel 8 series for unknown reasons.
The Google Pixel 8 series comes with Google Camera v9.1, which integrates the new features that were promoted during their launch. This update also reached previous Google Pixel generations (albeit without the Pixel 8’s exclusive features). However, older models maintained the feature even after updating the Gcam app.
The disappearance of the feature took by surprise numerous Pixel 8 series buyers who just discovered it upon receiving them, as Google had not mentioned anything about it. Sadly, there is no official word on the matter, and the fact that it is still present in previous Pixel phones generations is causing some confusion.
Now users can’t even see their 360° photos from their phones
As mentioned at the beginning, the situation is not being well received by many fans of this feature. Neither those who used it regularly nor those who used it less (or never used it at all) find a logical reason for its complete removal.
This decision by Google not only makes users unable to capture 360° photos, but also leads to another problem. According to reports, they are now unable to view the 360° photos they have been taking for years since the dedicated viewer was also removed from their phones. These photos are now displayed as normal ones on their phones, without the 360° effect.
It’s noteworthy that people were not only using the feature to capture 360° photos. Multiple reports indicate that Photo Sphere captured better quality panoramic photos than the GCam ‘Panorama mode’, thanks to offering better image stitching between the different merged photos.
So, the surprise removal of Photo Sphere is proving to be a disappointment for many Pixel 8 series buyers. One of those affected describes how they used the feature to search for new locations for their astronomy club, as they could import 360° images into Stellarium (a digital planetarium) and advance the time to see what the night sky would look like at certain hour. This exemplifies how practical the feature could be.
Photo Sphere was also used for better panoramic photos and immersive memories
People who constantly visit natural settings are also being especially impacted by the decision. They describe how Photo Sphere allowed them to capture stunning 360° images from inside a cave, or even a volcano. For instance, Redditor demonjrules shared one of these 360° images which you can see here (it is still possible to see the 360° effect from Google Photos web version).
But you don’t have to travel to destinations with extraordinary views to take advantage of the feature. There are also people who loved being able to save precious memories in an immersive image that they can show off with their friends.
Recent Google generative AI advances make the removal even more inexplicable
For others, Google’s recent advances in generative AI and image editing make the removal of the feature even more inexplicable. After all, the performance of options like the new Pixel 8 series ‘Magic Editor’ (which can even generate missing parts of elements in the image) could be leveraged to further improve Photo Sphere results.
It’s noteworthy that this is not the first time that Google has done something like this, as they have a long history of deleted services and apps. There are even platforms like ‘Killed by Google‘ and ‘THE GOOGLE CEMETERY‘ dedicated entirely to record every service that Google is getting rid of. The first one records 293 items, while the latter shows 14 pages full of services that suffered the same fate.
However, Photo Sphere removal on Google Pixel 8 series seems to be especially affecting many, as there are even suggestions to send massive feedback to Google to reconsider the decision and to prevent the removal from spreading to previous generations of Pixel phones.
A workaround to see your 360° pictures from your phone
Sadly, for now, there is no way to recover the Photo Sphere feature on Google Pixel 8 phones. But, at least there is a way to still be able to view your photos in 360° from your phone. Basically, you will need to install the Google Street View app, but being another of the services ‘killed’ by Google, you will not find it in the Play Store.
However, you can safely download the latest version from the APK Mirror platform, then install it manually on your phone. This will allow you to enjoy the immersive effect of your 360° photos created with Photo Sphere.
On the other hand, if you want to view them from a PC while maintaining the immersive effect, just upload those photos to your Google Photos account, and open them from your browser.
Let’s hope that Google reconsiders this decision so that Pixel 8 series users can get Photo Sphere back and prevent its removal from previous Pixel generations down the road.
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