Google 360 product images launched in 2012. Just recently, Google Shopping updated its mobile features, so you can now see 360 product views of items right on your phone or tablet. Below is what Google 360 product images look like. To experience one of their 360 product views in action for yourself, search for “Google Nexus 10” and click on the “3D” link that appears over the Nexus 10 photo.

Google attributes this mobile update to the growing number of people shopping on their mobile devices instead of in store or on a traditional web browser.

So what does this mean? We think it’s exciting for the industry that Google is moving toward a holistic 360 shopping experience, and that many manufacturers and retailers will follow suit. Google has shared some of its reasoning for venturing into the 360 space, with which we agree:

“Life-like imagery of your products draws in the right shoppers, which can lead to increase brand awareness and consumer understanding of your products.”

“Higher level of consumer engagement: On average, our metrics show that consumers interact four times longer with 360º Product Images than conventional product photos.”

“Buyer confidence: Shoppers can more clearly see the features, design, and quality of your products.”

“Differentiation: Help your products stand out with this dynamic shopping experience.”

 

We spent a bit of time studying the design of Google’s 360 viewer and made a few interesting discoveries:

– Similar to Arqspin, they take the same approach of storing spins in multiple formats (two types of videos and a set of images). Based on the browser that is being used to view the spin, the viewer selects whichever representation will load and display the fastest.

– Interestingly, the images themselves are stored in a single file as a “filmstrip.” We presume this is done to reduce the number of HTTP requests that must be made to load the spin. However, it seems like a possible downside to this approach is that it makes it more challenging to support progressive loading whereby a small subset of the spin images are initially loaded in order to reduce the important “time to first view” metric while the rest of the frames are loaded in the background.

– The image resolution of the Nexus 10 spin is 640×460.

As a comparison, here is the same Nexus 10 spin on the Arqspin platform. You can decide for yourself which viewer is better.

Arqspin Viewer

We’re thrilled that Google is making strides in the direction of 360 product images, though we find some aspects of its service limiting.

Anything you want a 360 spin of, you have to ship to them and let them create it. This gives users limited flexibility with the composition and editing of the spins. There’s also some tricky fine print in that only manufacturers or brand owners can sign up for a 360 images account. And, as products are updated and newer versions come out each year, you’ll have to keep sending them in to Google for updated spins.

However, we think this is further proof that interactive 360 product images are here to stay and will only become more common in online shopping. We love that we give our users the ability to create beautiful spins and interactive websites to stay competitive in this industry. What do you think of Google’s 360 product images? Let us know!

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