Google’s Panoramio has launched one of the most exciting advances in online pictures since flickr added geotagging. A new “Look around” feature shows you when pictures are available from other angles.
In the screenshot below, you can see the dome of the Taj Mahal highlighted. Clicking on that takes you to a picture of the dome. (Shown in red on the right.)
The UI is a bit confusing. For example, in the screenshot there is a blank image in the middle. I assume that means something, but I haven’t been able to figure out what. The same goes for the overall arrangement of thumbnails. Regardless, it’s a lot of fun to play with.
The feature is only available for sites with lots of pictures. Try the Brooklyn Bridge, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Tower of London and the Ponte Rialto. I had an easier time finding places to explore in Europe than in the United States. (This could reflect the fact that Panoramio is based in Spain.)
Microsoft’s Live Labs has been demoing similar technology called Photosynth for more than a year, using images of the Basilica di San Marco. Photosynth offers a spectacular 3D overview. I’d love to see it out of the labs.
Until then, I’ll be playing with Panoramio. Check out their take on the Basilica.
Read more on Panoramio’s blog.
Disclosure: I work for a Microsoft subsidiary.