Not everyone who knows about Google Maps might be aware that a lounge for Photo Spheres exists within it. But for those that are hooked on viewing the collection available on Google Maps Views, Google just announced a treat for them. It has placed +1 buttons and comment boxes in Views so that viewers can show how much they like those photos, and give the photographers a bit of social compensation for their hard work and masterpieces.
At first, it might seem weird to find photo spheres, more appropriately the purview of photo sharing sites, on Google Maps, but think of it this way. These photo spheres allow users to see what a particular location on the map looks like from all sides. Sort of like a less interactive crowd-sourced version of Google Street View. Interestingly, over time, Google Maps Views actually drove more traffic to Google Maps than, say, social networking sites. This inspired Google to turn Views from a static photo viewing site to a dynamic social community.
Viewers can now show their appreciation for awe-inspiring photos or get in touch with photographers to know more about those locations, in case they were planning on a vacation there. Photographers, on the other hand, especially hobbyists, can benefit from the added exposure, feedback, and even rediscovery of photos long forgotten. Of course, there is also the risk of turning Views into a noisy marketplace, but the photo sphere crowd is still relatively small for that to become a problem. At least, for now.
Of course, for those who really dig photo spheres, Google Maps Views might be a bit too limited for them. In that case, a more focused app and service such as SphereShare might be in order. The service does also provide location-based search and selection, but when it comes to maps, nobody probably does it better than Google anyway.