Google is closing down the Panoramio service

Oct 11, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Google is closing down the Panoramio service

Oct 11, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Panoramio has been one of my go-to location scouting tools for quite a while now. It’s an invaluable resource which combines Google Maps with user contributed imagery. Each of these images are GPS tagged, showing the exact spot at which they were made. Its design makes it fantastic for finding hidden gem locations nearby, or for checking out areas you’re visiting before you go.

In recent years, Google have been adding similar functionality into the main Google Maps service. Indeed, whenever you do a search for a location, there’s an “Explore” button at the bottom, and when you click it, a strip of images comes up. But for photographers, or others scouting locations, it doesn’t offer the most efficient workflow.

Google announced in 2014 that they intended to close Panoramio, in order to consolidate things a little. This announcement was met, at the time, with some criticism.

In response to your feedback, we postponed these plans and worked to add features to Maps that better support the level of engagement that you have enjoyed with Panoramio.

– Google

So far, I’ve not seen that level of engagement being implemented in the Google Maps interface.

This is how Panoramio currently presents images of my relatively local area. The map is littered with icons showing where photographs have been taken. The larger icons show a greater concentration of images shot around a particular spot. Zooming in splits those larger icons up into smaller sets representing the images.

panoramio_local_area

Clicking on one of those icons brings up a popup with a larger view of the images, where you can choose to either close it and move on, or go on to view it much larger.

panoramio_click_box

Along the side are images of areas contained within the map split up into various categories. The most popular images, the most recent images, ordered by place names, and some indoor shots of local venues (hotels, churches, visitor attractions). It’s a wonderful tool.

And this is how Google Maps currently presents images. A box along the bottom. That’s it.

panoramio_google_maps_local_area

Mouse over an image along the bottom and a line appears linking to where the image was shot. When you click on an image, it zooms you in to a street level view and then brings up the photo. Exiting and zooming back out often causes the image to become lost again as the map realigns, meaning you have to scan around the map again to find where you need. Maybe you’ll even find the photo again if you’re lucky.

Interestingly, the images shown on Google Maps still link to Panoramio when you click on the titles. I’m guessing these will be transitioned over to a Maps-hosted service at some point in the future.

For those image contributors who have linked their Panoramio accounts to their Google accounts, their images will automatically be transferred over. If you haven’t linked your accounts, Google are allowing access to anoramio for a year, but folks will no longer be able to add new photos, likes or comments.

Although you’ll no longer be able to create new accounts, upload your photos, comment or like other content in Panoramio after November 4, 2016, you’ll still have access to your photos and be able to export your data until November 2017. After that, if your Panoramio account is linked with a Google account, we’ll copy your photos to the Google Album Archive so you can access them even after Panoramio is retired.

– Google

Hopefully, the demise of Panoramio means we’ll start to see similar functionality added to Google Maps itself. It would be a shame to lose it altogether and have to deal with the way Google Maps currently allows you to look at images of a given location.

To find out more, and read the full announcement, head over to Panoramio. And if you’re a contributor that hasn’t linked up your Google account yet, make sure to download and backup your images if you haven’t already!

Do you use Panoramio for checking out locations before you visit? How about Google Maps? Do you prefer the functionality of Google Maps over Panoramio? Or do you think Maps hinders location research? What other location scouting tools do you use? Let us know and tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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3 responses to “Google is closing down the Panoramio service”

  1. MapSights Avatar
    MapSights

    I’m really sad to see Panoramio go. It was an amazing platform with a great community and I used it pretty often. Since Google announced the closing down of Panoramio I’ve been working on MapSights, a project that aims to preserve all photos and location data, and provide a similar interface to Panoramio. Contributors are welcome to join. More than 30,000,000 have already been saved: http://mapsights.com/

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c83131107bfaf5c5a8705bcfa318a5d49f5b899ad9437828715ad97ba8aafde3.png

    1. Dank Farts Avatar
      Dank Farts

      if only the map was more smooth. I like the large amount of photos preserved, please add commenting and great job!

      Nobody should migrate to googles services after what they did.

  2. Wernher Avatar
    Wernher

    The *worst* thing about Google using photos in Google Maps, is that they’re frequently associated with a *name* rather than the actual physical location – so you get images, but not from *exactly* where they were taken from, it’s just a close, random location – you can test this by uploading a few. Utterly hopeless. Also – when are they going to fix adding comments or descriptions to the Google Maps photos? Many of the results in Google image searches are from Panoramio – because people were pedantic about names and descriptions. Not so with Google Maps.