Macs Now Play Nice With Photosynth's Nifty 3D Photo Albums

Photosynth, Microsoft’s impressive photo viewing project that stiches together images to create pseudo-3D worlds, got a major upgrade last week. The app has ditched Direct 3D (which only works on Windows) in favor of Silverlight, Microsoft’s cross-platform viewer, which means that Photosynth is now Mac friendly. So if you’re on a Mac and have only been able to look longingly at our coverage of the app over the last two years, here’s your chance.

Mac and Linux users have been able to take advantage of an experimental Silverlight Photosynth viewer since December, but the viewer has been missing a few key features until now, and Mac users haven’t been able to really participate in the Photosynth community. Now all Photosynth embeds will be in Silverlight by default. Also included with the update is a new ‘highlights’ feature, which makes it easier to find important landmarks and impressive photos in the Synths you’re exploring (previously you had to wander around aimlessly to find the best shots).

The Photosynth blog notes that the switch to Silverlight comes with some sacrificies – namely, users may see slower frame rates and ‘delayed point cloud density’, but the team is working to improve on these issues and the benefits afforded by Silverlight outweight the setbacks.

Photosynth hasn’t exactly hit the mainstream yet, but it’s starting to get more attention. Earlier this year CNN featured a Synth called ‘The Moment‘ that captured President Obama’s inauguration (it’s really a must-see if you didn’t get around to it in January). Also worth checking out is the unofficial Photosynth viewer iPhone app, which came out last month.

It’s nice to see that the team is still going strong, despite Microsoft’s decision to dissolve Live Labs (of which Photosynth was a part of) and distribute its projects to other product groups. Update: Live Labs isn’t shutting down, according to a post on its site, though some of its personnel have gone on to join other products.