New Google App Brings Old Photographs Back to Life

24 November, 2016

Most of us still have lots of photographs sitting around from the days when we used cameras, not telephones, to take pictures.

There are probably many photos stored away that we do not look at and may never see again. But these images, representing memories from our past, do not have to be lost.

Google has created a tool to help bring these forgotten pictures back to life in very high quality.

The recently-launched PhotoScan app works the same as an image scanner. But this software program uses the camera on your phone to capture images as digital copies. It is a quick and easy way to save old photos without having to spend money on new equipment.

The PhotoScan app uses new technology to improve the capturing process. This makes it possible to take a picture of a photo with a camera phone, without glare, a common problem.

Google PhotoScan (Google)
Google PhotoScan (Google)

After opening the app, the user first positions the desired photo within the camera's frame. When this is done, four small circles appear in different places over the photo. The user then moves the phone over each of the circles, which change color after the process is complete.

And that's it! The app finds the edges of the photo, straightens the image, and puts it in the right position while removing glare.

From this point, the pictures can easily be saved to the Google Photos app or somewhere else. If you do have Google Photos, images are organized by face or place and can easily be searched.

The release of PhotoScan came at the same time as some changes to the Google Photos app.

One change is an improved auto enhance tool that Google says creates high-quality effects in just one step. Another tool lets users choose from 12 different looks to improve overall photo quality. The third provides high-level controls for changing light and colors.

Anil Sabharwal is the Vice President of Google Photos. He told CNET the idea for PhotoScan came from his own family's experiences.

He explained that in 1947, his parents lived under British colonial rule in India. They were Hindu and forced to move when their community became part of the Muslim state of Pakistan.

His parents were ordered to quickly leave their home with only a few belongings they could carry. He said they decided to leave behind jewelry and other valuables, but gathered up as many photos as they could take.

PhotoScan is available now for both Android and iOS.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Do you plan to try this app to capture your old photos? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

app n. computer program that performs a special function

scanner – n. device that copies photos or words from paper into a computer

digital adj. using or characterized by computer technology

glare - n. a harsh, bright light

frame - n. outline that forms the basic shape of something

feature - n. new or interesting part, quality or ability

enhance - v. to improve something