So after several hours trying different approaches and posting on the official Google Help Forum I can confirm that Google’s Street View app will not currently open photospheres from external links.
I intend to outline a number of different solutions. I still want a simple workflow - that allows students to click a link on their smartphone device and arrive in a Google Cardboard ready photosphere - so it is now time to look for third-party solutions.
Roundme is a web and app (iOS and Android) based application that makes the production of engaging photospheres easy. Roundme launched in 2014 and received $3 million of venture capital funding in 2015.
- It is (currently) free and without advertising - but see also the ‘Cons’...
- When using an Android device clicking on the ‘Roundme’ logo on an embedded ‘Space’ opens the Round.me app (as long as it is installed on the device) and then with one further click the photosphere can be viewed in ‘Cardboard’ mode.
- It is easy to upload images taken either using a 360° camera such as the Ricoh Theta, the Photosphere function of the Android Google Camera app or Google Street View app on iOS (the Google Street View app is not available for the iPod Touch).
- Geolocation seems to be one of the core elements of the service.
- You can add notes to the photospheres as ‘Hotspots’ to add learning potential, teaching points and context.
- It is possible to link photospheres together using a ‘Portal’ to produce a ‘Space’.
- It is free and there is no advertising and therefore what is the service’s longevity? (I would happily pay for the service that Roundme is offering.)
- When using an iOS device clicking on the ‘Roundme’ logo on an embedded ‘Space’ does not open the Round.me app (as it does on Android) but instead opens a browser. It would be necessary to know what/where you were looking for within the iOS Roundme app.
- It is a shame to have to use a third-party solution rather than being able to stay within the Google ecosystem of Street View.
There is good news - Roundme is intending to have a mobile browser Cardboard mode available within the next couple of months.