Photosynth is… eh

Earlier this week, David Pogue from the New York Times reported on the “official” launch of Microsoft’s Photosynth app. This is not exactly news—lead developer Blaise Aguera y Arcas demo’d an early version last March at the TED conference, and beta versions have been available on Microsoft’s Live Lab site for months.

The new dedicated Photosyth website ( allows Windows-users to upload and “synth” their photos online, and then share with others. Photoscapes are rated by their coverage, so National Geographic’s 3D panorama of the Taj Mahal is “100% synthy” while Vaporetto’s vista of the Grand Canal is only “83% synthy.” After browsing the site for a few minutes, I felt a permanent lisp coming on.

Plus, since there’s still no love for Macs (17 months after TED, guys) I can’t actually do anything on the site, so I’ll have to leave the critique to Pogue:

Microsoft has designed Photosynth to be less a virtual-reality tool than a glorified slideshow, a clever way to arrange a bunch of discrete photos in space. That’s fine, but it does make photosynths less magical than they could be. Compare Photosynth’s one-photo-at-a-time focus with, say, the seamless views of a QuickTime VR scene (Google “QuickTime VR gallery” to see some), where everything is in focus as you look up, down, left, right, forward or back, as if you’re inside a giant wraparound photo.

Even so, Photosynth is wicked cool, and it will find all kinds of new uses. At the very least, it represents another milestone in the evolution of place-description technologies. Until someone comes up with brain-to-brain image sharing, that will have to do.

Read the full review here.


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