During a Nintendo Direct presentation this morning, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that the Japanese Wii U eShop will be updated with the Google Maps and Panorama View apps early next year. Iwata then demoed both apps — which are far cooler than they sound — using a completely ridiculous helmet-cam setup.
Nintendo first revealed the Panorama View app at E3 last June. During those demonstrations the app would play a prerecorded video on the Wii U and the GamePad simultaneously. As the video played the user had the ability to view the entire scene in a 360 degree view by moving the GamePad around as if it was a window into that world.
During today’s presentation Iwata demoed Panorama View in conjunction with the Street View in Google Maps — you can see the demonstration by skipping to the 40 minute mark in the video on Nintendo’s website. Panorama View basically worked the same way as it did at E3, and allowed Iwata to see the entire Street View scene by spinning around the room with the Wii U GamePad.
As it relates to Google Maps, Panorama View is little more than an interesting feature. The real appeal of the app would be for use in some future unannounced title. For example, a Pokemon Snap-type game could work by having the player to use the GamePad to see a 360 degree view of the game world and then take pictures of the objects and creatures they find.
I’m personally excited to see what Nintendo has planned for Panorama View outside of Google Maps. Hopefully this is not just a case of The Big N coming up with a great idea and then not following up with it in any meaningful way.
Google Maps and Panorama View are currently scheduled to launch on Japan’s Wii U eShop in January and “Spring” of 2013. Both are expected to be released in the West, however, Nintendo did not announce a release window today.
[Update] Nintendo of America and Europe have confirmed the Panorama View app for a Spring 2013 release.