Using Android's Panorama and Photo Sphere Modes - dummies

Using Android’s Panorama and Photo Sphere Modes

By Dan Gookin

The stock Android Camera app features shooting modes beyond the standard still image and video options. Two additional modes that can be truly engaging are Panorama and Photo Sphere.

To experiment with these bonus modes, touch the Camera mode icon in the Camera app. The four modes available from the Camera mode icon are illustrated in the figure.


The panorama and photo sphere modes let you capture the world around you in a unique way.

  • The panorama mode is a wide shot. It works by panning the phone across a scene. The Camera app then stitches together several images to build a panoramic image.

  • The photo sphere mode is like a wraparound panorama, covering left, right, up, down, and all around. The end result is an interactive image that you can pan and tilt to see everything around you.

To shoot a panoramic shot, follow these steps in the Camera app:

  1. Choose Panorama from the Camera mode icon.

  2. Hold the phone steady, and then touch the Shutter icon.

  3. Pivot in one direction.

    Use the touchscreen’s feedback to guide you; follow along with the animation.

After the panorama has been captured, watch as the image is rendered. It’s saved to the Gallery, along with all your other photos.

To create a photo sphere, obey these steps in the Camera app:

  1. From the Camera mode icon’s menu, choose Photo Sphere.

  2. Position the phone so that the dot on the screen lines up with the circle.

    Use the artificial horizon that appears on the screen to help you line up the camera.

  3. Systematically turn in every direction, lining up the camera with the dots that appear on the screen.

    You’re not done until you’ve lined up the camera with every dot.

After the photo sphere image is complete, the Camera app renders the final result. You can peruse it in the Gallery or see it immediately by swiping the screen to the left. Touch the Photo Sphere icon to interact (pan and tilt) with the image preview.

Photo sphere shots work best with static surroundings, such as landscapes and still life images. Trying to take a photo sphere image of people or other lively objects, such as a stampede, yields disappointing results.