Occipital Brings 360 Panorama To Android

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It’s a good day for all you Android lovers out there, because today you’re getting a killer app from iOS land: 360 Panorama. The app is from Occipital, the 2008 TechStars grad, also makers of the (now eBay-owned) barcode scanner Red Laser.

This is the first real-time panoramic photo capture app for Android, as the others on the Android Market require manual capture of separate photos followed by stitching. With 360 Panorama, you just move the device around to capture the image.

In case you’re unfamiliar with 360 Panorama, it’s one of the easiest tools to take a 360-degree photo. All you have to do is launch the app and pan your camera around to take the photo. You can then save, email or share your photo to Facebook or Twitter.

If, on the other hand, you previously used 360 Occipital on iOS, you already know that this is one of the better photography apps ever created. And if you were an iOS user who switched to Android, you’ll be happy to know that you can login once again using your same 360 Panorama credentials from before.

For the most part, the Android version is the same as the older iOS app, but there are a couple of differences. For starters, Android users get one new feature that hasn’t made its way to the iPhone yet: an in-app list of saved panoramas. It should also be noted that the Android app doesn’t use gyroscopes at all yet, so it’s not recommended that you pan it against blank walls. (The next update, V1.1, will tap into gyros when it’s more stable).

There’s an interesting side note to the story of this app’s development, too. Occipital had once abandoned Android development when it started back in 2008, citing performance issues. As Co-founder Jeff Powers wrote then:

Objective-C kills the Java implementation on Android.  It’s almost exactly 100 times faster.  Note that I’m unsure if the memory allocation is included in the timing, so a more conservative statement is that Objective-C can run a tight loop 50 times faster than the Dalvik JVM.  It’s also true that real applications aren’t full of tight loops, and a real Android application won’t be 50 times slower than an iPhone counterpart.  Nevertheless, all else being equal, it will be slower, and potentially a lot slower.

For now, we’re sadly going to put our Android development on hold and switch to iPhone, and keep an eye out for performance improvements.

Today, Android is finally ready for an app like this. “Only now has the OS come around enough to make this even possible (thanks to the NDK and Open GL),” explains Powers.

Android users buying new phones will soon get a built-in panoramic photo capture app of their own with Ice Cream Sandwich’s (Android 4.0) default camera app. But 360 Panorama will work on almost any device made in the last two years, running Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and up.

You can grap the new app this morning for 99 cents from occipital.com/360/app.