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.