Edit 360 photos on mobile

First question. Why would you want to edit 360 photos on your mobile?

Facebook have recently added the functionality to their mobile platform to upload and share 360 photos. This means you can share an immersive experience of your travels and friends.

What does it take

As it turns out, not much. Start with your 360 photo and upload via your mobile device. Facebook will recognise your 360 photo, and boom there it is:

To see the embedded 360 content, click through the above image
(opens in a new window)

Because I like to keep things simple, I shoot with the Theta S and edit 360 photos on an iPhone. This basically means I can take the image, edit and post it all from the same location.

Edit 360 photos on mobile

Recently Eric Cheng published a note on Facebook tackling how to edit 360 photos and consequently inject the missing metadata that is striped out during some editing processes. Eric’s process involves editing the 360 photos on photoshop.

However, I don’t always have the time to edit my photos in editing software like Photoshop, and like to edit on the fly using the powerful mobile apps that are available. So I started to explore what was possible in order to edit 360 photos on mobile.

In the Edit // Generally I will use VSCO on my mobile device to edit any photo. Why? Well it gets the basics right and has an easy interface to use on mobile.

I have found that you are able to edit 360 photos in VSCO, tweak all the elements you’d like to (similar to editing normal photos on Instagram). Bonus feature is you can export out at the original resolution, so it won’t try and re-format your photo for mobile in any way. And that’s important, as it preserves the metadata.

Why is metadata important? //  Usually, metadata contains boring information about the device you captured the image on or even geo-location of where you took the photo. In the case of 360 photos it lets platforms such as Youtube and Facebook know this is a 360 photo and is displayed differently.

If that metadata is deleted from the image, as some processes strip it out, Youtube and Facebook are no longer able to tell if it is a 360 photo, hence why it is displayed as a strange looking regular image.

Fortunately, the process I have outlined above with VSCO, maintains the crucial metadata.


Upload to Facebook via the mobile app

Troubleshooting // The process isn’t perfect, but I have a solution which works with my set up.

When you reach the stage of uploading the image to Facebook via the mobile app, all being well, you will see the ‘360’ icon in the bottom right of your selected 360 photo (see image left).

If the exported image doesn’t display the ‘360’ icon, that means the metadata hasn’t been saved.

But worry not!

I was able to go back into the Theta S app on my phone, browse to my images in my camera roll, as if I was going to share my photo to Theta’s own 360 network (yes they have one).

At that point the image I select in the Theta S is recognised as a 360 photo. Exit the Theta S app.

Return to your Facebook app on your phone, re-select the 360 photo you wanted to share, and boom there it is.

Summary of the Process

  1. Edit in VSCO
  2. Export original resolution
  3. Upload to Facebook via the mobile app (make sure the ‘360’ icon is displayed)
  4. [OPTION] Open your 360 photo in Theta S app to ensure metadata is added to your photo
  5. Sit back enjoy your beautiful 360 photo

Learn more

If you’re interested in learning more about 360 photos on Facebook, and you definitely should.

Check out Facebook’s dedicated site to all things ‘Facebook 360‘. They helpfully break down how to upload and share your 360 photos and what devices you can get if you want to up your game.

Alternately, they have a Facebook Group where you can explore the work of other people sharing their experiences and 360 photos.

For more of my work on 360 photos, please follow me on Facebook.