Back in 2012 Android phones offered the capability to shoot "photo spheres," Google's proprietary term for 360 interactive panoramic photos. This technology wasn't actually anything new; Apple had already accomplished this feat with the release of QuickTime VR in 1994.
But what was cool about photo spheres and what made them unique to Android devices at the time is that the images could easily be shared via the Web by uploading them to Google+ or publishing them to Google Maps for the world to see.
Google+ was itself nothing original. In fact, it was Google's fourth attempt at social networking that was launched in 2011 after the failure of Google Buzz (2010), Google Friend Connect (2008), and Orkut (2004).
But even Google+ was also doomed to fail. By 2014, the New York Times likened the service to a ghost town, citing Google's claims of "540 million monthly active users but almost half do not visit the social network."
Now after seven years, Google is finally calling it quits. Earlier this week, following a major security data breach, Google announced that the consumer version of Google+ would be shut down by the end of August 2019.
While Google+ may not have been the world's most active social network, it was home to niche groups of 360 photographers and aficionados that loved to share their works including the Photo Sphere community (16,224 members), the Panoramic Photographers on Google community (4,093 members) and even the Google Trusted Photographers community (371 members).
The news is devastating for users who have years of photographs -- be they photo spheres or otherwise -- uploaded on the service.
Fortunately, user +Brian Slesinsky posted this helpful tutorial for creating a backup archive of your posts. Below are his instructions:
- Go to https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout
- Optional: to switch to a Google+ Page click your profile photo at top right, and select the Google+ Page's Brand Account from the list. Once you have switched, you will see the Page's Profile image at top right.
- Deselect everything in the Takeout list except Google+ Stream.
- Download as a zip file. (Creating the archive may take a while if you have a lot of posts)
- Open Takeout folder.
- Open Google+ Stream folder.
- There will be one HTML file per post. Sort by date modified.
- The earliest modified file should be your first post.
- The file should open in your browser. Click the Permalink link to open the post on Google+.
- The archive does not include photos or images you posted to Google+. You can create a separate archive of your photos in Google Takeout > Google Photos (Google+ uploads appear to be in date albums)
- You may see a Google+ Pages archive option. This only archives the Circles of your Google+ Pages, not the posts.
In addition to Google+ Stream, you can also archive Google+ Communities and other data posted across Google. Just poke around with it to dial it in to suit your needs.
If you were affected by the closing of Google+, let us know if this worked for you. We'd also like to know where you plan on sharing you 360 images. If you're an IVRPA member, consider posting them here on our members' gallery that features a gorgeous selection of 360° panoramas, virtual tours, and 360° videos.