Travel Tech

Google may be fighting a continuous battle with Apple over their competing operating systems, but the software giant still understands the importance of the iPhone platform. With this in mind, Spotlight Stories, a Google app that features 360-degrees films, has now been made available on iOS devices.

Naturally as this is a Google-authored application, it began its life on the Android platform. Android is one of Google's most important products, and is the most widely utilised mobile operating system in the world. Most mobile devices apart from the Apple range of products run Android, and this has proved to be an incredibly profitable niche for Google.


Thus, Spotlight Stories remained exclusive to Android for two years, with iOS users hoping for some time that the immersive storytelling application would eventually be able to be enjoyed on iPods, iPhones and iPads. This innovative video application is designed with a specific entertainment aim in mind, namely enabling the user of the software to alter the perspective of animations by simply manipulating the angle of their smartphone or other device.

This has proved immensely successful, and Spotlight Stories has become a highly regarded piece of software. The app utilises a combination of 2-D and 3-D animation in order to enable users of the program to enhance the stories in question. Google describes Spotlight Stories as the result of a great deal of toil and hard work, and proclaims that “engineers and critically-acclaimed filmmakers are bringing stories to life using the latest advances in mobile technology” with the Spotlight Stories software.

Another interesting aspect of this popular app is that it utilises sensor fusion technology, which encompasses a gyroscope and accelerometer. Sound sphere technology and the 360° spherical cinema-quality video that was popularised in vast cinematic productions in the last couple of decades are also embraced by this mobile app. Users can select any number of possible angles and perspectives by simply manipulating their hardware with their movements, bringing films to life and delivering a theoretically infinite number of different productions to any movie.

There was concern at one time that Google may decide to keep the Spotlight Stories software as an Android-exclusive app. But although there can be a somewhat testy relationship between Apple and Google at times, the iPhone range in particular is such a vast commercial market that programmers at Google have been working on an IOS version of the software behind closed doors for sometime.

The popularity of the iPhone is underlined by the fact that Apple still expects to expand the scope of the range during 2015. Reports have recently suggested that Apple will produce 90 million iPhone 7 units before the end of the calendar year, a figure which would make this yet to be released smartphone more popular still than the hugely successful iPhone 6.


In order to mark the release of the application on iOS, users of Apple devices are able to enjoy certain feature films included as part of the package. These include Windy Day, made by a group of former employees of the iconic animation studio Pixar. Three other stories are also available for the consumption of users, and these include Buggy Night, Help, and Duet (a film also directed by Fast and Furious director, Justin Lin).

Although this application has become one of Google's most prized possessions, it actually began life as a Motorola development. After Motorola was purchased by Lenovo in 2011, Spotlight Stories lay dormant until Google picked up the baton to continue development of the software. As the popularity of the Spotlight Stories develops, it becomes clear that Google is fully committed to the 360° cinema concept.


As digital marketers become more interested in communicating with potential customers via video, applications such as Spotlight Stories offer huge potential. The ability to present realistic representations of destinations that can then be manipulated by potential travellers through a full 360° is an obviously attractive prospect for many travel-related companies and DMOs.

The Digital Tourism Think Tank has reported previously on how communicating with customers through video is becoming increasingly important. Live video applications such as Periscope and Meerkat are ensuring that this is becoming a more cemented trend in commerce in general. And the visual nature associated with travel marketing means that any such 360° video application can be particularly valuable for this market. By way of comparison, travel brands have gained considerable traction on visual-based social media such as Instagram.

Spotlight Stories can now be downloaded in Apple’s app store and Google Play. Other than the four stories it presently carries, the app is reported to feature additional movies which might also be available on YouTube imminently. Google Spotlight Stories is a mobile movie theatre that offers massive potential to digital marketers.


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