Occipital, makers of the 360 Panorama iPhone application, have implemented a lesser-known feature in Safari Mobile - gyroscope support - into a new panoramic photo-viewing Web app it's calling "Augmented Reality Panoramas." You can see a demo of this feature here at http://occip.it/pt3dmqna.
The website shows the capabilities of the gyroscope, when used in the Safari Mobile Web browser, by allowing you to pan all the way around a 360 degree photo.
Yes, There's a Gyroscope in Safari Mobile!
?Although we haven't seen much use of the gyroscope in Safari Mobile yet, it's not a secret - details about this feature have been officially documented by Apple shortly after the release of iOS 4.2. If you remember, Maximiliano Firtman, a mobile consultant and O'Reilly author, actually discovered the changes before Apple released its own documentation, and excited the mobile development community by posting the news on his blog.
Gyroscope support, as well as the newly added accelerometer support, is delivered through the DeviceOrientation API (application programming interface), Firtman found. The addition is notable because, until now, iOS Web developers didn't have access to these items through the browser - they had to build native apps.
Occipital's 360 Photo-Viewing
What's interesting about Occipital's implementation of the gyroscope - besides being one of first high-profile examples from a well-known developer - is that the 360 Web photo-viewing feature is actually tied to the company's 360 Panorama app, a native app sold in iTunes.
According to the blog The Next Web, which wrote about the feature shortly after Occipital posted the news to its own blog (as did Gizmodo and BGR, among others), you use the native application to take the panoramic photo and upload it to the Web. You can then launch the provided URL in Safari Mobile and a "Gyro ON" message appears on screen. Now you can move your phone around in any direction to move around in the photo in true panoramic fashion.
As Occipital's notes on its blog post, this isn't a true "augmented reality" app, as the name implies. They just thought that sounded catchy. But don't let the misuse of technical terms get in the way of you enjoying this feature, or testing it with your own photos.
If you have a supported device (iPhone 4 or the most current iPod Touch running iOS 4.2), you can see the demonstration of what the experience looks like at ?http://occip.it/pt3dmqna. The 360 Panorama native app is available on iTunes here.