Comparison: Official THETA SDK versus Cordova and Unity

After reviewing 360 image, video and application development using a wide range of technologies, my opinion on the best tool for the task is:

The Best

  • Official THETA SDK - best starting point if your commercial application only uses still images.
  • Cordova - best community, filled with JavaScript developers building web, desktop and mobile apps
  • Unity - best at live streaming

The Good

  • Official THETA SDK - good for commercial app starting point. has live preview working nicely
  • Cordova / JavaScript - Everything seems possible eventually, but maybe not right now. Enticing technologies for VR headsets, video, and a wide range of libraries.
  • Unity - Path for desktop, mobile, and VR headset. Very popular and active community. Excellent toolset.

The Bad

  • Official THETA SDK - no clear examples to play videos or handle live streaming. no clear path to modify for VR headset experiences. Documentation is sparse
  • Cordova / JavaScript - 360 video playback may not work on some platforms such as iOS and Android, depending on what you use. Fairly uncharted territory on mobile with limited examples. Applications seem to be at the “enthusiast” or “hey, look. It works” stage
  • Unity - Not really designed to develop things like a mobile app to take 360 pictures and videos.

Official THETA SDK

3 versions

I’m using THETA API v2.1 SDK with the THETA V and an Android Moto-G 3rd generation phone.

It works!

Live Preview works.

Image navigation works.

It’s nice, clear, smooth and beautiful. Adjustment for accelerometer data works.

I can take a picture using the app and download it to my phone automatically. It looks solid and professional.

Navigation with inertia feels great.

Sample application imported into Android SDK with no problems as at all.

Code is organized into a nice structure of view, model, network.

Code builds and installed onto my phone using the standard Android toolchain and a USB cable.

Right after install, application can be run as you would expect it to.

Connecting to THETA V, taking pictures and transferring to your phone, work great with no modification needed

THETA V Verdict

A solid and professional SDK with good basic features, excellent image quality, and best 360 image navigation. The live preview is a wonderful bonus.


Due to the popularity of Unity development, we have an entire category for Unity articles. We don’t have any completed applications on the level of the official Ricoh SDK. Most of the tutorials focus on live streaming

Unity Verdict

If you’re building a live streaming app, this is the way to go.

JavaScript, Cordova

We also don’t have a finished project example for JavaScript.
There are many examples of easily getting viewers to run on a mobile phone as a hybrid app.

There are also several projects to take pictures with JavaScript.

Unfortunately, we haven’t completed a project to combine the image display and navigation with the button presses to access the API.

JavaScript Verdict

It’s fun and exciting to play around with, but it’ll be difficult to finish a commercial application in JavaScript. At least, difficult today. Tomorrow is another day. :theta:


Despite a limited feature set, the user experience and professional appearance of the THETA SDK makes it the best choice for commercial use. Research groups and hobbyists may want to use Unity and JavaScript for fun and adventure.

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