I want to start by saying that it’s impossible to turn your Android into a 360 camera if it doesn’t already have the capabilities for it. However, your Android still has the power to take panoramic pictures, and even 360 pictures meant for VR and so on. You just can’t record 360 videos unless your Android device can magically transform.
Today I’ve got two apps that work in conjunction with two different, but great, 360 cameras, and then three apps that help you take 360 pictures. There are quite a few bad panorama apps out there, but these are some of the best, and one that I’ve picked as an example of one of the worst.
1. VR 360 Camera – Thomson
Starting things off is an app that doesn’t work without another device. VR 360 Camera works alongside your Cocoon Virtual Reality 360 Camera to use your Android device as a wireless controller. As long as both devices are sharing the same connection, this app can connect quickly and maintain its connection during use.
This isn’t the only 360 camera app that works with a camera like this, but it’s a great example of one. As I mentioned before, you cannot use this app without a camera, so if you don’t own a 360 camera like the one above, try one of the other apps below.
2. Panorama 360 Pano Camera
This next app works perfectly fine without any added devices and is a great way to take quick and easy panoramic pictures. It’s difficult to use this app to take a full 360 picture, but it takes wonderful looking 180, and slightly larger, pictures with just one button press.
Simply start where you want one of your picture’s sides to begin, hold down the big red button, and then slowly move your camera to the other side of the shot to capture the whole landscape. I took a quick picture of the view from my porch so you can see for yourself how the app performs.
When you’re done capturing your picture, it takes around a minute or less for everything to process. After processing, your panoramic picture is saved to your local storage and is free to be used however you want.
3. Cardboard Camera
Out of all of the 360 camera apps on the Google Play Store, this is my favorite, and the easiest to use without experience. The cardboard camera turns any environment into a VR ready, 360 picture with just a few simple motions. While holding your camera vertically, start recording from one stationary position, and slowly turn in a complete circle.
Your Android then takes a 360 picture of everything around you available within the app, or your local storage. Ideally, this is meant for use with Google Cardboard, or at least it seems that way, judging by the name of the app. Made of cardboard or not, pictures you make with cardboard camera are usable with any VR device, or just right on your phone.
As a bonus, premade pictures are available inside of the app to get a feel for what you can expect from cardboard camera. I did my best to take another shot from the porch, and I think it turned out well, despite how much my porch needs a good hosing.
360cam is another app that only works with external 360 cameras, but it doesn’t specifically advertise that it only works with certain brands. As long as your 360 camera connects over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, it’ll work with 360cam to turn your Android into a wireless controller, picture viewer, and storage device.
Once you connect a 360 camera and your Android device to the same network, the app does the rest and guides you through the process. In the same vein of cardboard camera, 360cam features a social hub where shared 360 pictures are shown off and downloaded. If you already own a 360 camera and need a good controller, this isn’t a bad choice.
5. Panorama HD
My time with Panorama HD hasn’t been great. It’s the only app I’ve talked about that has a video on its page, so that’s a plus, but I can’t think of many other benefits. When I managed to get Panorama HD to work, my pictures turned out distorted, warped and looked like they came out the other end of a wormhole.
The reason why I’m mentioning Panorama HD and not recommending it is to show that not all 360 camera apps on Google Play work effectively on all devices. Not all of the reviews for Panorama HD are as bad as mine, so results vary depending on the device, and the user. For reference, I’m using a Moto G3 on Android 5.0, with very poor results.
The app boasts plenty of features that make for a great 360 camera, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make proper use of any of them. If you think your device will handle the app better than mine, then I suggest you give it a shot. Otherwise, stay far away, and use one of the other 360 camera apps I mentioned above.
You don’t necessarily need a 360 camera to take panoramic pictures on Android, but to record true 360 videos, you need a 360 camera. Whether you have a 360 camera already, or just want to take shots with your phone with breathtaking angles, there’s an Android option that will work for you.
If you have any problems along the way or have anything you want to share, we’re always open to comments below.