Bangalore's TeliportMe released the second version of 360, its popular Android app for capturing and sharing panoramas, back in October. Since then, it turns out founder Vineet Devaiah and his team have been hiding out in Mountain View, California to participate in the illustrious 500Startups incubator. The app just reached 500,000 users, Devaiah told an audience at the accelerator's low-key demo night in New York last night.

360 has been compared to Instagram but probably has more in common with Flickr. Users can push their panoramas to Twitter and Facebook, but the enhanced images also go into a global stream. Open up the app, and you have the choice of three streams: recent, popular, or nearby panoramas taken by complete strangers. Users can comment on and "fave" each other's panoramas, and embed them from the web.

(Photo credit: vincentlo168)

The app only works when users are logged in, which has resulted in complaints from users who try to take panoramas offline without realizing they've been logged out. For now, at least, 360 is the top panorama app on Android. It works on more than 200 different phones, after the team developed a beta testing platform so it could optimize for Android's myriad devices. As a pure panorama app, it has competition from Occipital's 360 Panorama for Android and Android's built-in panorama mode, released in Ice Cream Sandwich and included in Samsung's Galaxy Nexus. TeliportMe is planning an iOS version sometime in the next three or four months, which will put it up against Microsoft's Photosynth and 360 Panorama's iPhone version.

360 is "like a crowdsourced Street View"

TeliportMe is raising $600,000 with more than half already locked down, he told The Verge. The four-person company is moving to Mountain View and may pick up more cash if enough investors express interest, he said. But the pitch Devaiah gave to the room of investors didn't even include the company's real game plan.

The pretty panorama-centric social network is a "Trojan horse," he said, designed to populate a database of street-level photographs that started with a previous project, Phototour.in, which scraped the web for pictures of buildings. "It's a crowdsourced Street View," he said. "With a panorama of a place, now I know that this wall exists."

And why would you care where the world's walls are? Devaiah hopes his trove will eventually be used as a catalogue of surfaces on which images can be overlaid in augmented reality apps. Crowdsourcing the data is the best way to keep it up to date, he figures. Devaiah claimed Google was about to buy the company in the fall, but he reneged and the talks fell through. "I sold my first company at 15 and I really regret it," he said. "We can do better than that."

While they're waiting for augmented reality and Google Glass to take off, TeliportMe plans to support the app with in-app purchases and sponsored panoramas. A test of the sponsored panoramas last month went well, he said, and he expects the medium will appeal to real estate agencies, hotels, and other advertisers.

This post has been corrected to reflect that 360 works offline, but only when users are logged in.