Just over a week ago I wrote about the sometimes redundant and unclear strategy of Google in supporting two seemingly similar products, one specifically being the odd placement of geo-tagging site Panoramio in their portfolio, which they never mention but actually provides more free storage (2GB), than Google's primary photo sharing site, Picasa. Well yesterday Google pushed out a very cool, very interesting, very powerful update to Panoramio, just when most of the world had forgotten they had any connection to it: The ability to explore an area by directing yourself to different regions of a photo, which consequently moves you to a different photo that shows a different angle of the area you're looking at. It's very similar to Microsoft Photosynth, which consstructs virtual images by piecing together pictures of the same object from different angles. With Panoramio, you can literally walk around an area - try Red Square, Moscow, and click "look around" below the first image. I was pleasantly surprised by the rest of Panoramio as well - it heavily integrates Google maps, bringing in satelite views of your locations, and generally provides a fun environment for world photo exploration.
I'm still wondering, though, how this will sync with their vision for Picasa - for example, I saw no way to import from Picasa the photos I've already geotagged. I would like to be able to point to Picasaweb or Flickr and import the images that I've already collected in another photo community that isn't necessarily all about the focused purposed of Picasa. This seems an obvious feature need for a nich photo site, but Google really needs to sync their photo vision.
[image from Google Operating System]