Panoramic images are super fast and easy to make now. Here's a sample:
I've used both 360Panorama (my preferred Pano app) and Photosynth in the past. Those both allow you to sweep up and down, and have gyroscopic modes as well for interactive viewing after the capture. All of these tools have their place. Apple's seems best suited for landscape photography and is not meant to be interactive.
The image quality and stitching are superb, and it works very fast. The captured image was huge, measuring 8,640 pixels wide. A message even popped up while I was capturing to let me know I needed to move down as I spun because I was slightly tilting up as I went.