Google Photos is the best photo-management tool you can put on your phone, but it won’t do you any good if your favorite photos are all in a shoebox.
With a new app built to scan your prints, eliminate any glare you’d get from taking a picture of them, and keep them all straightened out in digital form, Google’s latest mobile app is good news for anyone with a bunch of packed Fotomat envelopes. It’s bad news for anyone in the scanner or shoebox industries.
The new PhotoScan is a standalone app for both Android and iOS, and scanning a picture is a clever combination of manual shooting and computational photography. Once you take an initial photo of… a photo, the app recognizes the four corners of the frame and displays circular overlays on each corner of the scanned image. You then point your phone camera at each circle, create a robust scan of the image, and PhotoScan gets to work from there.
Unlike just shooting a smartphone photo of an image, which is a tricky dance of glare and shadows and blown-out details, the four-corner scanning process eliminates reflections and other aspects of digital deterioration. Like an old-school panorama app, PhotoScan stitches together a single image from those several overlapped photos, making sure to eliminate any glare-infected shots while evening out the overall exposure.
Once it’s captured, a photo is backed up online and added to your Google Photos library, where the app offers its standard face-recognition and manual enhancement tricks. It’ll be a great showcase for Google Photos’ facial recognition over time; the app is already really good at identifying the same person over the course of their life with its computer vision, and the onslaught of old scanned photos should be a brand-new test for the app’s impressive AI.
Updates to Photos App Too
Along with the PhotoScan app, Google announced some new editing features for all Google Photos users: A new version of Auto Enhance that uses exposure and saturation levels inspired by pro photo editors, new controls for light and color levels, and a dozen new “looks” that go beyond your average Instagram filter by adapting their effects to the attributes of each photo.
The free PhotoScan will be available for Android and iOS starting today, while the new Google Photos updates should begin rolling out immediately as well.