Google Photos is arguably the best photo service for storing your photos and videos, and now Google’s got a new app called PhotoScan that makes it stupid easy to digitize old printed photos and upload them.
The free app launching Tuesday on iOS and Android uses Google’s powerful machine learning to turn print photos into digital pics in seconds.
The real pain of digitizing print photos is what a hassle the entire process is. You either need to use a big, slow scanner or get them professionally scanned, which costs money.
Another popular option these days is to just take a photo of the print. But you often end up with all kinds of unwanted glare and reflections in your photos
PhotoScan works like magic and produces a reflection-free image.
You start by taking a photo of the picture you want to digitize, and then the app overlays four circles on top of the image. Simply move the circle outline above the four circles displayed on the photo until they turn blue, and voila, you’ve got a perfectly scanned photo.
But how’s the app actually producing a reflection-free digital scan? The answer is pretty simple: The app is actually taking four different photos when you match the circles up and then composites each photo into one final image, intelligently omitting out the areas that are overexposed (white) while cropping and auto-rotating it.
There are also tools for more advanced users who want more control over the cropping.
From start to finish, digitizing a photo takes less than 10 seconds. And because they’re all stored in Google Photos, you have access to all of the powerful object and face recognition search features.
The quality of the scans will depend on your phone’s camera. From what I could tell, scans taken with a Google Pixel looked good, but just don’t expect anything super high-res.
Google also updated Google Photos with a few new features, including fun editing tools and filters.
Some of the new editing features let you go in and really tweak a photo to, say, make skies and water bluer, while maintaining skin tones. It’s really powerful stuff, and Google says it’s only possible using its machine learning to isolate parts of a photo.
The new filters like “Bazaar” and “Modena” are designed to replicate old film stock.
For “Movies” in Photos, there’s a new “Lullaby” montage template that auto-creates a short video out of photos of your baby sleeping and sets it to a slow lullaby.
Google says there are more of these video montage templates planned. A Christmas template that’ll create a “holiday tradition” video of past Christmases will roll out in December, a template to celebrate pets will come out in April in time for National Pet Day and one for celebrating the outdoors will arrive for Earth Day.
Like all of the auto-generated Google Photo Movies, users will have up to 25 days to save them before they expire.
And lastly, Google’s made it easier to share photos from everyone’s devices with Google Photos. You can now send a batch of photos to friends and family via email, text or a messaging app. Recipients will receive a link with thumbnails of the photos sent and they can add their own photos to the shared folder you created.
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