Importing Google Cardboard Photospheres





Introduction: Importing Google Cardboard Photospheres

About: Im a bit of a geek of all trades. Of late most of my free energy has going into Making sure our hacker/makerspace is awesome! Come check us out!

The Default Google Cardboard app can display any photospheres taken on the "kitkat/nexus" camera app, but its also fun to go out and see places you have not yet been. First thing i wanted to do was load other panorama images, but even photospheres friends sent me never showed up.

So I delved deeper.

Step 1: Getting Panos

There are lots of ways to get 360 degree panoramic images. you can find them on google+ you can find them on google image searches. you can find them on websites like, Some of of my favorites were of a panorama stitched from one of the moon landings, and a selfie done by the mars rover (with an edited in amazing sky.... Some of them are as easy as right clicking and downloading, some are trickier, (not the time or place to go into stealing images if you can't find it out in the open to download, consider finding/writing the creator to ask for a copy.)

You are welcome to snag some I've collected, only about 1/3 are my own photos, so if you own the rights to any of them and want me to take them down, just let me know.

Then once you have the panoramas, you need to get them to your phone, you can transfer them to a folder via usb, you can email them to yourself and save them on the phone, you can find them via apps like sphereshare app, and download them (may require paid version)

Step 2: Step One Try Just Renaming the File to PANO_wherever.jpg

In preparation for our hackerspace getting some cardboard vr kits from Instructables I started dabbling with how it loaded photospheres.

I hunted online and found the following information.

Any photosphere you take on your own phone should work and just automatically show up. Photospheres can be tricky to download at full resolutions(and with the needed data intact). And then one needs to know if they still have the exif data(meta data in the file, you can’t often see, that tells cardboard that it is a photosphere and where to start…. try renaming the photograph to PANO_whatever.jpg and emailing it to yourself. save it on the phone

Open google cardboard and go to the photospheres option and click through the images to see if it worked.

But the name format is only part of it. it will work for genuine photospheres generated by someones kitcat camera app, but if it was made otherwise, or uploaded to some place that strips meta data, there are some exif/metadata tags that are probably missing. So I delved deeper.

Step 3: Adding XMP/exif Metadata.

If The file is named PANO_blahblah.jpg but still not working.

There is an Android app, Photosphere XMP Tagger that I found that will attempt to put the right metadata on a copy of your photospheres(those already on your android phone) and I have found it works pretty well on any actual photospheres. (and even on some other types of panoramas, although if they are not full 360 it often makes for a very odd view. )

Install the app from the google play store, go to your photo gallery, find the photo you want to add the tags onto. and use "Share menu" and then the tagged image is saved as "***_XMP.JPG" in the same folder.

Test it with the cardboard app, if its on your sdcard or phones memory it should just find it, (often the newest ones popup first) just magnet click through (or tap your screen)them all until you see it.

Or if you don't see it. go on to the next step.

Step 4: So If Its Still Not Working....

There are many other 360degree flat panoramas that you can find, but they don't work with just the tagging with the previous app. (im not totally sure why, perhaps still missing critical meta data.)

For those i found a web app, you should email or usb transfer the file from your phone (or if you still have it on a desktop do it there (ive had mixed luck doing this with the phone browser, although it should work) (Defunct.. but here is a working link!) Click the button to upload the file.

Then you have some options, like setting where along the photo is "center" or "north"

Also you can set the dimensions, not all panoramas are all the way to under your feet, some have a dead space or are cropped, if you make it a full sphere it will be oddly distorted. so if its not a full 360, you might need to adjust those settings. (warning it will look like you're standing on a black hole, or there may be a line where the scenery does not match (behind you in the photosphere))

When done it will spit out a file to download, it will have some of the missing data tagged in. you can then email or usb transfer it to your phone, (make sure its properly named, with PANO_xxxxxxx.jpg and try it out, if it still wont work try the previous app on it again.

Step 5: Other Bits and Troubleshooting.

I ran into a image that was portrait not landscape, it was very wrong when wrapped into the photosphere. that one iIhad to rotate and then re-tag the image.

Here are some panos you should be able to just download onto your phone, i only take credit for those i made, and the adding of tags. if you find your works in here and you don't want me distributing them let me know.

If you enjoyed this tip or you have any other better ways to do it. feel free to comment.



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    20 Discussions

    replaced the broken link with a new one.

    Is there any way to edit photo's taken using the cardboard camera app and then re insert them in? I'm trying to edit them in photoshop and add specific elements for a uni assessment. Nothing seems to work. Once the panoramas have been edited and re-saved, Cardboard won't recognise them. Ps. PANO_ did not work..



    Is there anyway to view my photo spheres through google cardboard? I can do this very simply with android by selecting photo spheres but on google cardboard IOS this option is not even there? Help please!

    1 reply

    Sadly, i don't have any IOS devices so someone else will need to help you with that.


    1 year ago

    Here's what worked for me:

    Download the photo spheres from Google Photos onto your PC(didn't work when downloading on phone as files were non-readable), rename them to match the following format: PANO_xxxxxxxx_xxxxxx.vr.jpg , and transfer them via email or something onto any folder in your phone. They should now show up fully viewable within the Cardboard Camera app.

    That was very interesting. Incidentally I have created a simple app that will take a rectilinear image as input and wrap it onto a sphere to allow its immersive viewing. The app is not fussy about images, it assumes the rectangular image coming can be wrapped onto a sphere. Though it would be best to try smaller ones of a power of two to start, e.g. 2048 *1024 or if they don't show up, before trying larger 4096*2048 images, the max size being dependent on the GPU of the user's device, and presumably some image formats will look better than others. Perhaps some will look awful, I've not tried the various formats out. It's and Android app called Cardboard Photosphere viewer.

    1 reply

    Fantastic, thank you so much I can now view 360 photos taken on my Samsung GR 360 on google cardboard.

    Is there some sort of 360 explorer, where I could see all 360 pictures from my phone and select which one I want to experience on my cardboard?

    Hi, if I download a photo sphere from!/gallery it can be viewed in Google Cardboard as a panorama but not a sphere. When I click on the cardboard icon I get 'This is not a VR photo'. How can I tag or edit so it becomes a VR photo?

    Not working for me on my Android and 2016 Google Cardboard. I even tried the XMP tagger on your files and the Cardboard player says not a VR photo. Bumbed so far. The pix I take with my phone work great.

    2 replies

    can you post the picture online somewhere and i can try?

    Here are 4 Google Cardboard 360 pictures taken with a Samsung S4 and the Google Cardboard camera. These play back great on my device.

    In Windows, Right click on each link above and select "save as" to a directory on your hard drive then move them to your DCIM/Cardboard Camera directory on your Android phone. Enjoy. Mike

    Rename to PANO_<something> did allow for the cardboard photosphere viewer to see it however street view will not. The Photosphere XDT app said that it added the metadata but street view still can't see the file. The website you mentioned doesn't seem to be active.

    My goal is to convert a Google Cardboard Camera file to photosphere and upload it to streetview. Is this possible?

    1 reply

    i don't know the specific answer, i suspect it has to do with location metadata. you might look for a exif photo data examiner/editor and compare the data between a google camera photosphere and the converted ones.

    PANO trick worked. Thanks so much!

    Yes, it often will! I am also a member of Quelab & Killbox is who I learned that trick from. I have only used it for photospheres I have taken myself, with my phone.

    VERY COOL ! Thanks a LOT !

    I was stuck with that and now ! Perfect