The new Panorama camera mode demonstrated by Apple during the unveiling of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 Wednesday will also be available for iPhone 4S customers, Apple told The Unofficial Apple Weblog. The Cupertino company also updated its iDevice product pages late Wednesday, confirming that Panorama mode will be available for the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and fifth generation iPod touch.
Panorama mode, which requires iOS 6 and one of the above-mentioned devices, allows users to capture large panoramic images by intelligently stitching together many smaller images.
Using the camera’s on-screen guide, a user sweeps their iDevice in a horizontal motion as large as 240 degrees. The software then intelligently combines the images and compensates for image quality issues such as variations in exposure and subject movement. The feature supports the creation of panoramas up to 28 megapixels in total size.
Fast, intelligent image combination requires advanced processing power, however, and that is the angle that Apple is taking to justify the feature’s limited availability. Only devices with dual-core processors, such as the iPhone 4S and new iPhones and iPod touches, have the capability to accommodate the computational requirements. The iPhone 4, with its single-core A4 chip, is out of luck.
Also left out of the Panorama party is the third generation iPad, which has a dual-core A5X processor and 5-megapixel camera. Apple has not confirmed if Panorama mode will be available on the device, although mention of it is conspicuously absent from the iPad's technical specifications.
Users of non-compatible devices need not feel completely left out. Third party Panorama tools, such as Photosynth from Microsoft, work on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches dating back to the iPhone 3GS. Apple’s built-in Panorama solution will likely offer a faster and easier experience, but third party tools can still be used to create amazing panoramic shots.
The iPhone 5 will be available for pre-order starting Friday, September 14, and will be on sale in retail stores Friday, September 21 at 8:00 a.m. local time. iOS 6, required for Panorama mode on the iPhone 4S, will be available as a free update on Wednesday, September 19. The fifth generation iPod touch will not be available until some time in October.