UPDATED: See below.

The new interactive panorama app from Microsoft, Photosynth, is an interesting one. In many ways, it’s really cool and fun. Its advanced stitching algorithms are fast and amazingly accurate. But Microsoft has released a surprisingly good interactive panorama app.

Photosynth has a lot of great and well-designed features. For creating some cool looking panoramas, Photosynth is easy to use and guides you every step of the way. The app uses the iPhone’s gyroscope to position the captures. There are plenty of audible and visual cues while the app continuously captures images to stitch together. If you think it missed a spot, simply tap the screen again to add an image. In the settings, exposure lock can be enabled to help minimize the banding that can sometimes occur when stitching multiple images together.

It stitches really fast and with an accurate capture, stitches pretty seamlessly overall. All processing is done on the device and will shoot and stitch in Airplane mode. It assembled the pano so quickly, I first thought it was uploading the raw captures off-device to be processed in the cloud. When finished rendering, the app gives you the option of cropping your pano. The crop is a good feature to clean up rough edges, but here it’s hidden away and really, really teeny, making it clunky to use.

Images save to your camera roll at roughly 2000-3000 pixels wide. Unlike most photo apps, there are no save button or review features. Images automatically save to your camera roll.

Click here to see a Photosynth interactive pano on Photosynth.net

The app is similar to the cool-but-buggy 360 Panorama in how it captures and creates 360° interactive panoramas, except I think it’s a lot less cranky and doesn’t have all the glitches 360 does. I got much smoother, more seamless panos from Photosynth. Also, the app doesn’t suffer from the “gyroscope drift” where the capture starts to skew. I always encounter this when using 360.

Photsynth has limited sharing capabilities, currently only Facebook or Windows Live. Using your Windows Live login will create yet another new account on Phothosynth.net to share and view the 360° interactive panoramas, which are pretty cool to see. Sharing is super easy in the app — there just aren’t many choices.

Images share to Facebook at a maximum width of 2048 pixels. Other than the two Microsoft networks, the app doesn’t share to any other social networks such as Twitter, Tumblr or Posterous. These are surprising omissions as they’re all pretty standard now.

Photosynth really needs to be able to share with other networks besides Facebook and Microsoft. I’d really like to see the option for higher resolution images in both the flat panos and interactive ones. Using the app without a network connection currently causes the app to “forget” any usernames and passwords you have stored in the app requiring the user to sign in again. Frustrating.

Despite its few quirks, Photosynth is a very cool pano app. It’s fast. It’s free. It creates great looking, fairly seamless flat panos and cool interactive panos. I’ll use it more than 360 Panorama. It’s a fun app that’s easy to use and easily shares with the limited number of networks it talks to. It won’t replace AutoStitch on your iPhone, but it will make for some very interesting wall posts. All this for free.

UPDATE: I’d stated in my original review of the app that Photosynth did not save flat panos to your camera roll. I was mistaken and have corrected this review to reflect the fact that there is no save button and that flat panos are saved automatically to your camera roll. My apologies to my readers for my oversight of this critical feature.  =M=

Photosynth is FREE in the App Store. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (4th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi, and iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Photosynth - Microsoft Corporation