Virtual tours come to mobile Apple users
International photography company PhotoWeb has realized a technical breakthrough that until now has been beyond the reach of mobile Apple users – the ability to view panoramic virtual tours online.
This is an important development as more and more people are using mobile rather than fixed computers for their web searches. The number of global mobile search devices is predicted to grow to 1.8 billion by 2014 – outstripping the current PC and Mac internet population of 1.4 billion.
With hotel research and booking now done almost entirely on the web, and many people wanting to make informed comparisons and decisions via mobile searches as they travel, accurate and realistic virtual tours of rooms and facilities are increasingly important to PhotoWeb’s hospitality clientele.
But because Apple mobile devices haven’t so far supported Flash, Java or QuickTimeVR – the three popular virtual tour technologies available today – their users have until now been missing out on this functionality.
All that’s now changed, thanks to a recent update to the Safari web browser combined with the innovative new Universal Multimedia Viewer system developed by PhotoWeb. This can identify a mobile Apple user and automatically switch to an HTML5 code to provide full 360 degree viewing. No apps, plug-ins, downloads are needed.
“Our goal is to automatically provide all mobile devices with an image that’s exactly sized and optimized to load quickly and match the resolution of the device” said David Firestone, VP of Sales and Marketing for PhotoWeb. “So the viewer we’ve developed will recognize the device that’s being used, and source an appropriate image from a single high resolution file, using the technology preferred by the device. This means that in addition to supporting the iPad, iPod, iPhone and other small mobile devices, we can also offer optimized viewing in high resolution on larger screens, including a massive 2560 x 1440 view on a 27″ Apple iMac.”
As well as displaying virtual tours, PhotoWeb’s new viewer runs video and presents still photos, using three tabs to access all content. It includes a “book now” button that takes users straight into the booking channel, a mapping function that includes the location of the user and the hotel, and a “share” button to link to Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and hundreds of other social media sites.
PhotoWeb’s Universal MultiMedia Viewer is being implemented on thousands more travel sites and affiliates, including Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Priceline, Kayak, Yahoo, and Google – allowing visitors to finally be able to view all rich media content on their mobile devices, before deciding where to book.
Try out the new Universal MultiMedia viewer on all your devices at:
PhotoWeb was established in 1996, and recently completed the largest ever hotel photography assignment for the world’s largest hotel group, involving 3,500 IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) properties. PhotoWeb is in the process of converting all 40,000+ panoramic images of hotel rooms and facilities held on its servers to the new format that’s viewable on mobile devices.
VP Sales and Marketing
Offices in the USA, EU, Asia & Australia