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The new iOS app that brings back the old days of photography

Before digital photography took off, taking snaps was a question of pushing a button and then waiting days or weeks to see the finished results, once you’d got your roll of film printed. A new iOS app called WhiteAlbum is looking to replicate this same experience on the mobile smartphones of today.

Once you take a picture with WhiteAlbum, it disappears — there’s no finished image shown on screen and nothing is added to the camera roll on your device. After you’ve taken 24 pictures (and you can take as long as you like to finish a roll) you’ll receive printed copies through the post for a $20 fee. The pictures come on premium, thick matte paper so they’re suitable for displaying around the home or in albums.

Related: 1-Hour Photo app brings the feeling of film photography to mobile devices

WhiteAlbum may seem like a step backwards but it’s an interesting experiment in how the instant and disposal nature of digital photography changes the way we snap pictures — do we take the same time and care to compose shots as we used to? Are we more likely to cherish moments that we’ve taken longer to record? More than one study has suggested that our memories are failing because we’re taking so many photos, and apps such as WhiteAlbum could be the antidote.

If you find today’s mobile photography much too easy and disposable, then it might be worth giving WhiteAlbum a try — be warned though that you won’t know if someone was blinking at the wrong moment until you get the pictures back in the post. The app is free to download so you only pay $20 for each batch of 24 photos that you complete.

Your pictures come with the date and time and an optional album name printed on the back. “Too many memories are stuck in the digital world,” say the developers of the app. “Too many images are snapped, then never seen again. With WhiteAlbum, you take pictures for you, not your network. The photos you shoot will be printed just for you to keep forever. To hold onto or to give as a gift. To hang on your fridge. Or to put in a shoebox that gets discovered in 20 years.”