In times when digital photo wasn’t a thing, printed photos took up most of the drawer space. Each one of us ought to have piles of those old memories printed on variety of papers and stored in a remote corner of the house. And let’s accept the fact that digitizing those thousands of printed photographs is a painful, and also expensive, job. But what about those major throwback days when you want to desperately share your photograph when you were six? You quickly take out your smartphone, click a photo of the photo and darn, the glare is hard to get rid of. To help you deal with these issues, Google has introduced its new PhotoScan app. The smartphone app for iOS and Android is basically a photo scanner that digitizes your printed photos, for free. Also Read - Happy Father's Day 2021: Google Doodle wishes dads with cute pop-up greeting card
PhotoScan is a dedicated app to capture old photos which are in print. According to Google, the app uses what is called as ‘computational photography’. Like HDR and Panorama, the technique captures the subject in different angles to result in one whole picture with minimal errors in terms of color contrast or alignment. We used the PhotoScan app to capture the few available (printed) photos with us to see how the app works and here are our first impressions. Also Read - Google might be working on a 'Find My' network clone for Android users
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The app has a no-nonsense design as it is specifically meant to do one job — click a photo of a photo. Once you fire up the app for the first time, it will show you a guide on how to capture the photo. All you need to do is position the printed photo within the given frame and once you click, the app prompts you to further move around the camera over four different points on the photo to show you the final image. There is also a flash option which further assists in capturing better details. Post capture, the app gives you an edit frame option, rotate option, and a delete option. The photos can either be saved onto your camera roll (on iPhones or iPads) or the gallery (on Android devices).
How it works
The video by Nat and Lo, explains the process behind the app. As the printed photo is recorded from four different angles, there are chances the final result will turn out blurry. To minimize the chances, PhotoScan first breaks the photo into smaller blocks and then aligns the pieces together based on feature points. After the pieces are aligned, the app then identifies glare and removes it. All this is done within those five seconds of processing.
PhotoScan is fairly simple to use, you only need to make sure your intended photo is within the frame as prompted by the app. Whether it is a glossy photo paper that is more prone to glare or a matte one that could appear duller when captured again, the app gets the results right in 80 percent of the cases. If you are lazy and not capturing the photo keeping your hands still, like I was with a few clicks, the app is still able to offer good results. All you need though is a good ambience light to get the best out of the photo. The app takes about 4-5 seconds to process the photo. However, there have been instances when I did not keep my hand still and moved the camera too much. In this case, the output turned out inverted yet with minimal distortion.
Because it is a very basic app, I personally feel it can be used by anyone, including grandmas who absolutely swear by the printed photos but are also amused by the new technology. Once any user gets the basics in place, it is a child’s play to capture the basic frame and move around the camera to over the dots to get a good glare-free photo of the photo. Digitizing couldn’t have got any easier. PhotoScan also comes with a feedback option, where details about the photo, device, and time of capture can be sent to the developers’ team so they could further improve the app.
One of the features that could have made PhotoScan stand out from other third-party photo scanning apps is an option to share on social media or filters to further enhance the photos. Although one can still edit the photo, it still feels like an extra step to first save the photos to the smartphone’s gallery and then go to the gallery to edit it before publishing it on social media. A handy tool to upload the photo on social media or one-tap filters could have helped throwback lovers.
PhotoScan is the simplest way you could digitize all your favorite memories from the past. It is less tedious a process, can save the photos on your smartphone, and make throwbacks easier than before. However, with a lack of certain features, including editing tools, it stops just short of being the perfect solution. Despite the certain shortcomings, PhotoScan is a handy tool to help you complete the long-pending task of digitizing old photos.