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Google PhotoScan lets you digitize your dusty old prints with ease

By Ng Chong Seng - on 16 Nov 2016, 7:08am

Google PhotoScan lets you digitize your dusty old prints with ease

For new photos that you’ve snapped, be it on a smartphone or digital camera, Google Photos, a photo and video storage service by Google, is a good place for them to live on. But what about your old photos - you know, those that were actually printed? Are they in some yellowed photo albums sitting on your shelf; or worse, stashed in boxes somewhere in your store room? I’d wager a bet that you haven’t gotten down to digitalizing them with a scanner and archiving them, be it to a local network-attached storage device or on the cloud.

If you don’t need a 6,400-pixel optical scanning resolution or the ability to scan slides and negatives, basically features found in specialized flatbed photo scanners, then Google has an easy-to-use software tool that it’s just launched today called PhotoScan. Available on both iOS and Android, this is a scanner app that lets you scan photos quickly, automatically adjusts them so that they look good, and then sends them on their way to Google Photos for backup.

Of course, to have us lazy humans get into the flow of digitizing our old photos, Google has to make PhotoScan’s interface simple. And it is. There’s no login required, and when you open the app, it goes straight to the camera mode ready to snap. When the photo is in the frame, four dots will appear near the corners, and what you need to do next is to move the phone over each of the dots and hold it there till the circle fills up. (I’d posit that this is to get a higher-quality capture of each section of the photo, which is not possible if you simply take a photo of your photo.) Once that’s done, the photo is scanned, and you move on to the next one. Rinse and repeat.

Scanned photos are automatic cropped (using edge detection), rotated, and straightened with the correct perspective. And with a tap, you can save them to Google Photos for free. While PhotoScan is part of the Google Photos family, it's not a must to use the storage service. You can still save your scans to the camera roll on your phone. That said, with the separate Google Photos app, which is frankly quite excellent, you can search for your photos, apply filters, and edit them further.

Google Photos receives an update, too

Speaking of Google Photos, the app (iOS, Android, web) is also updated today. There’s a new auto enhance tool that balances exposure and saturation for a better photo; 12 new machine intelligence-driven filters (or “looks”) that make smarter edits based on the individual photo; and advanced editing controls for tweaking lighting, color, and more (e.g., use the Deep Blue slider to adjust the blues of your seas and skies). The types of auto-generated movies (using your photos) are also increasing: one for your child’s first months, one for holiday traditions over time, and one for highlights from the year, with more coming.

Source: Google.