360 Panoramas Now Part of Google Earth Photos Layer

Frank Taylor reporting from New Zealand:
Google has upgraded the Photos layer in Google Earth to not only include the millions of geo-tagged photos from Panoramio, but also to include 360 degree panoramas from 360cities.net. The 360 photos were previously viewable in Google Earth if you opened the Gallery layer folder and turned on the 360Cities layer. But, now everyone can find the panoramas with the default Photos layer. The regular 2D photos still appear as little blue icons as you zoom into a place. Now, if 360 panorama photos are available for that place, you will also see little red square icons as well. Click on a red icon and you’re presented with a 2D view of that location in the pop-up window and you can click the photo to fly into the 360 panorama right in Google Earth.
I’m a big fan of 360 panoramas which give you a full immersive experience of a photo location – you can look in all directions, including up and down. During our first year of the Tahina Expedition I have produced many 360 panoramas of places in the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Galapagos, the French Marquesas, Bora Bora, Tonga, and more (see recent 360s of Tonga, see all of the panoramas for Tahina Expedition). Now everyone can find 360 photos like these, and those done by thousands of photographers around the world right in the Photos layer.
I’m thrilled to see 360 panoramas, and 360Cities.net, get more visibility. Jeffrey Martin, who started 360Cities, says that there are more than 60 thousand 360 images in the new Google Earth layer. Congratulations Jeffrey! Kudos to Google for making these photos more accessible! I hope they’ll take the next step and add them to the Photos layer in Google Maps as well.
See LatLong blog post about the layer changes.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. I’ve been enjoying the 360 Cities images via the photo layer, particularly where they take you to places that Street View does not teach, and the GE interface is better than the unstable one on 360 Cities’ own site.
    It’s just a pity that GE doesn’t fly you back after closing an image to where you started when you clicked the red icon, but leaves you in a re-oriented and oblique extreme close up. Also, popular locations are now very cluttered with 2D icons and some editing might help, say a ‘multi shot’ icon opening a gallery of 2D photos when they reach a certain density

  2. Just a quick tip @Chris. You can hit the “u” key shortcut which will re-orient GE to a straight-down north-up orientation after you’re done looking at the 360s.

  3. Frank – good to hear from you and great photos, and still sort of amazing when I think where you are!
    On my Mac hitting ‘u’ after ‘exit photo’ gets me straight down but not north up, but this is helpful, and I just wondered if there is a link to all keyboard shortcuts in GE?

  4. Frank – no problem now, I have found the guide to GE keyboard shortcuts at http://earth.google.com/intl/en/userguide/v4/ug_keyboard.html and ‘r’ gets me right down and north up.

  5. @Chris: You got it right. Indeed, “r” was the shortcut I meant to say.

  6. The icon for 360 Cities has changed to a red X in the ‘photo frame’ larger than the 2D image, and appearing very much larger when zoomed out. This makes 360 images easier to find, and lots of good stuff there, but is intrusive and it seems can’t be selectively turned off if you just want the photo layer in the background.
    Were the little red icons too indistinct, and are the red Xs a temporary solution?

  7. 360 Cities icon – normal service resumed, but the temporary red Xs showed that a more prominent but optional icon might be helpful.

  8. Seems like its very hard to find 360 photos on Google Earth now..you have to zoom very much to see 360 photo

  9. Jess walter says:

    Nice, but how do you create a 360 photo? Galaxy phone? Iphone 6? Microsoft Lumia 950XL? Go Pro?

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      Any smart phone should do. You need the Street View app (free). My phone is a RedMi Note 3.

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