Google has been planning to shut down panoramic photo sharing site Panoramio since September 2014. The initial plan was to merge it with Google Views which was a similar product. However, due to feedback from the Panoramio community they held off that move. Frank did an in depth post about this in June 2015. Since then Google Views itself was merged into Street View. Google has now announced that they are finally shutting down Panoramio for good. As of November 4th, 2016, they will stop allowing new photos to be uploaded or new signups. Users will still be able to access their photos for one year (until November, 2017) at which point the service will be taken offline completely. Users have the option of transferring their photos to their Google Album, and they can optionally also be shared via Google Maps.
GEB reader ‘Hiking Mike’ has written a blog post about the change and some of his concerns about the move. His three main concerns with moving to Google Maps appear to be a lack of community, poor attribution, and the fact that Google Earth doesn’t support user contributed photos.
At the current point in time, there are significantly more photos available in the Panoramio layer in Google Earth than user contributed photos in Google Maps. For areas that do not have Street View, this is quite significant. For example, we chose a location on Hainan Island, China and found just one photo in Google Maps, but a large number of photos in Google Earth’s Panoramio layer:
Hainan, China. Just one photo sphere in Google Maps.
Hainan, China. There are a lot more photos than are shown here. More icons are displayed as you zoom in.
Although Google Earth does sometimes show blue circles indicating the availability of user contributed photos in Google Maps, it is not actually possible to view them in Google Earth. Hopefully, this is something Google will address before turning off the Panoramio layer. It is likely that the Panoramio layer will continue to function in Google Earth for as long as the Panoramio servers are on, so it will probably continue to be there until November, 2017. This is just a guess, not a guarantee.
About Timothy Whitehead
Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
Ashley Welborn says
I thought Google blurred people’s faces in photos etc. Well guess what Google I have several photos of clear faces . You can actually see the faces of people clearly.
Timothy Whitehead says
Google tries to blur faces in Street View. It does not do so in Panoramio photos or other user provided photos. The Street View blurring is done algorithmically and is not perfect.
A highly retrograde move. The layer did need significant editing and thinning where icons cluster like a pox in popular tourist areas, but there will be a huge loss of information in places away from streets – have a look for example at the photos along national walking trails or of tens of thousands of beautiful historic buildings – and obviously as the post says in a highly discriminatory way where there is no Street View, say virtually the whole of Africa.
Panoramio photos also open to many stunning individual photographers’ galleries, often themed or covering rarely visited parts of Earth. It would be good to have news of whether these collections would still be accessible through maps.
One can only conclude that the layer is going because the lack of direct monetisation is being given higher priority than the overall quality and ultimate commercial value of the product.
Timothy Whitehead says
The photos will only end up in Google Maps if the contributors choose to do so. This will undoubtedly lead to a significant loss of coverage as, at a minimum, photos belonging to no longer active users will not be transferred. As for the reason behind the move, it does make sense to consolidate products as it is quite expensive to support products at Google scale.
As Earth and Maps stand at the moment I suggest it could in no way be described as a “consolidation of products” as the extent of coverage and frequent quality of Panoramio images for example in remoter parts of Earth such as the stunning landscapes of Tierra del Fuego are strikingly better than those in Maps, which are in addition laboriously slow to bring up. Are Google short of money?
Hey, thanks for the mention 🙂 Now let’s hope that Google adds much needed improvements to Google Maps for contributors, and that Google Maps images get into Google Earth!
From the Panoramio statement – “Your Panoramio photos that appear in Google Maps will continue to appear in Maps”… if the user has linked their Panoramio account with Google+. It is hard to say how many have done this. It has been a highlighted message and an option for Panoramio users for years to do so, so perhaps many recently active users would have done it. But you are right that there will surely be a major loss of coverage.
I myself have not linked my account to Google+. Unfortunately I realize I would rather have my Panoramio photos linked to a different Google account than it is currently, and that is not changeable. It may be better for me anyway to start fresh, so perhaps I will upload my photos to Maps if they fill in some features and make it better to use.
But what about Google Earth? That is a big question still. They have a monopoly on this type of product if they want to keep it. I know they have added Earth features to Maps, and are aided by advancement of web technologies such as HTML5, but I don’t know how they can combine them since Earth has so many different abilities. Perhaps someday they can have a Google Earth-like product that uses the very same engine as Google Maps, and works online only, but has many different options like what Google Earth does now. Google would charge a small subscription for that perhaps, or they would leverage it in other ways. I would love to have a small idea of Google’s plans in this area.
Sad times 🙁
Madelain Vincent says
What about the panoramio API?
We use it as mashup in our public virtual globe in order to display all the panoramio photos.
I didn’t found anything about it.
Ali Elrayes says
Oh come one Google! Panoramio was an excellent resource for pictures of all sorts of places. How can Google Maps possible replace that? I wonder if they will ever provide access to the thousands of pictures they currently have stored.
As mentioned, the Google Earth Panoramio layer has a lot more pictures than Google Maps. But I would also add that there are even more pictures once you go to the Panoramio site and check the “Also show photos not selected for Google Earth” checkbox.
It’s just sad to see such a database go.
I am really very disapointed that only very few of my photos show up in Google maps, and, worse is, they have no koordinate information, only very “rough” place connection. and no view count.
It looks like a joke as a replacement for panoramio. sad, sad, very sad.
Tobias Schorr says
It is a real pity if Google closes this opportunity of interactive content!
What is going wrong with Google´s philosophy????
Timothy Whitehead says
Google scale applications are very expensive to run. It makes financial sense to consolidate them where possible. In addition, Google Maps gets a lot more eyes than Panoramio, so it makes sense that Google would want the Panoramio photos to migrate to Google Maps.
Most people unless they were photography junkies haven’t even heard of Panoramio when it was up!
because it wasn’t meant to go mainstream? it was a photo sharing site and a good one at that.
Sometimes the best communities are the small ones. Seen lots of great photos from there.
Checkout mapsights, the old users are migrating there to avoid google.
What is going to happen? Is google just planning to cater for the lowest common denominator?
Timothy Whitehead says
Although Street View works slightly differently from the Panaormio layers, it still offers the opportunity to view user contributed photos in Google Earth. The key difference at present is that Panaromio has much greater coverage. Lets hope that in the coming year Panaromio contributors move their collections to Street View.
why should you hope that? and why would they continue to use google when google screwed them over?
The users have started to migrate to Mapsights. I’m glad they found a new home.
I really hope that someone can save Panoramio. Guides is useless to anyone with a conscience! besides, I CANNOT imagine Google Earth without user contributed photographs!!!!!! Please someone step up and offer to manage Panoramio, or AT LEAST create an open source software that is compatible for GE uptake!
Greg Kendall says
I have discovered so many cool places from Panoramio photos that I would never have known about. It is very sad to me the Google wants to concentrate on business locations and photos of business locations and doesn’t give much interest in helping outdoor adventurers. We are going to loose so much information about our outdoor areas because of this decision to close down Panoramio. I am very very sad. Please support http://mapsights.com. They are trying to copy all the Panoramio photos into a new map system before they disappear. More and more these days I am worried about Google and it’s direction. I am hoping Google will in some way allow photos to be posted to gps locations not associate with a street address or a designated POI on the map.