Ricoh preps Android app for Theta spherical pano camera


posted Friday, November 22, 2013 at 6:19 PM EDT


When Ricoh started shipping its unusual, dual-lensed Theta 360° panoramic camera in mid-October, there was both good and bad news, depending on which smart device platform you use.

The good news was that iOS users could Wi-Fi pair their Theta camera with their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch from day one, enabling remote capture, image review, and sharing on Facebook or Twitter using the free Ricoh Theta for iPhone app. The bad news, though, was that Android fans had to wait.

No Android app is yet available, and so the only way to take photos with your Theta if you don't have an iOS smart device is to shoot using the camera's shutter button, then offload the images to your computer via USB. That's a much less satisfactory experience than Apple users are getting. That's about to change, though.

A little over a month after release of the iOS app, Ricoh is about to follow up with Ricoh Theta for Android. It's slated to be available in the Google Play store from next Friday, November 29th. It's compatible only with devices running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later, and if you don't have access to the Play store (as is true on some devices such as Amazon's Kindle tablets), you'll have to fiddle with sideloading the APK from a device which does have Play store access. Still, the mere availability of an app is a big step forward.

Cryptically, though, Ricoh says that "[some] of the functions differ from those in "RICOH THETA for iPhone"," without detailing precisely what's been changed. We'll know in a week, but in the meantime, we can confirm that Twitter sharing won't be supported at launch.

At the same time as its Android app announcement, Ricoh has also issued a firmware update for the Theta camera, which arrived just too late for inclusion in our Firmware Friday roundup. With Ricoh Theta firmware version 1.1, you'll find that exposure compensation now resets itself after the camera is powered off, so you don't need to remember to do this manually. Noise reduction performance is also said to have been improved, and so has the accuracy of exposure control. Mac and Windows users alike can grab the firmware update from Ricoh's website now.

Want to see what you can do with Theta? The company is now featuring a portfolio of spherical panoramas shot by various contributors on its new Tumblr page, Beauty Beyond Boundaries. Check them out!