Google PhotoScan lets you digitize old photos with your phone

google photoscan
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Google is making it easy to digitize and share old photos with a new app called PhotoScan — just in time to embarrass you for the holidays.

PhotoScan is an app that lets you take a picture of a physical, old photo. While the user interface is simple enough for anyone to use, there’s a great deal going on in the background. The app uses machine learning to remove glares, crop out the desk or wall behind the printed photo, and make sure the colors are accurate so that you get a perfect scan.

You simply take four photos of the physical photograph and four white dots will appear above the printed photo. Line up your phone’s camera with the four dots and each will turn blue, as the app takes the photos automatically. Almost instantly, your photo will be processed and stored in the cloud on the Google Photos app, if you have it downloaded.

It doesn’t matter if the photograph you want to digitize is hanging in a frame on the wall or sitting in an album, Google’s machine learning magic will do everything to ensure the end result is just the scanned photo, and nothing else. We got to try out the app at Google’s event in New York City and it is simple, fast, and seamless. The digitized photos were impressively accurate in representing their real life counterparts.

New editing features

But PhotoScan isn’t only new announcement from Google today. The Google Photos app is getting quite a few improvements, including advanced editing features. Until now, the Photos app only had a handful of editing options like “Pop” and the option to adjust the “Light.” It was better to use another app to edit your photos, like Google’s own Snapseed or Instagram. Not anymore.

In the new update, you’ll find more advanced options that allow you to adjust the exposure, highlights, whites, blacks, shadows, and more. Google also has two special options: Deep Blue and Skin Tone. The former lets you make blue skies and water pop for better contrast in photos, and the latter to adjust the skin tone on people in photographs. It’s useful when you crank up the saturation, but don’t want to make someone look orange.

If the advanced editing tools aren’t for you, Google has improved the auto-enhance tool with machine intelligence for better one-tap solutions. There are also 12 new filters in the app, but they’re not your average Lark or Valencia. These filters are “smart” and use machine intelligence to correct “exposure and color balance for that specific look.” It doesn’t just slap a filter on a photo and call it a day. Google says it “studied different genres of photography” to ensure these smart filters offered the best look.

More video slideshows

Back in September, Google introduced “Creative Concepts” for the mini-videos the Photos app stitches together. Rather than meshing videos and photos together set to a song, Creative Concepts focuses on a theme. There have been two themes available so far: They Grow Up So Fast, and Special Day. The former is if you have photos and videos of your kids over the span of several years — the app pulls this content into a video showcasing their growth. Special Day, on the other hand, focuses on one or two days revolving around an important occasion, like a wedding or a graduation.

There’s a new one that will go live today — Lullaby. If you have a lot of photos of your newborn baby sleeping, the app makes a video with all this content and sets it to a lullaby. In December, expect to see Holiday Traditions to showcase all your past Christmas photos; and in April, we’ll see a special movie for cats and dogs in honor of National Pet Day. For Earth Day in April, there will also be a movie curated with all your outdoor photos and videos.

The app lets you edit these movies to add other photos and clips you may prefer, as well as change the song.

PhotoScan is available on iOS and Android today, and the updates to the Google Photos app on both operating systems are rolling out now.

Mobile

Google’s radical Gmail redesign is finally rolling out on Android

Google is slowly but surely giving its apps a refresh, modernizing them and ensuring that they're easy to use. The latest app to get a redesign is the Gmail app for Android, which has been redesigned with a few tweaks.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Photography

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.
Mobile

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.
Deals

Protect your iPhone or iPad with the IPVanish VPN, on sale through February

One of our favorite virtual private networks for iPhones and iPads, IPVanish, is now offering a huge discount on its two-year subscription as part of its 7th-birthday promotion. Read on to find out more about how this VPN works and how you…
Mobile

Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.
Mobile

Samsung’s wide range of Galaxy products means there’s something for everyone

Samsung launched a host of new products on February 20, with prices ranging from just $35, all the way up to nearly $2,000. This was not by chance, and the company believes it has something for everyone in 2019.
Deals

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the new affordable flagship on the block, but at $750, it's $200 more than the OnePlus 6T. Does the Flagship Killer stand a chance against the new generation of flagship devices? Let's take a closer look.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for February 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Product Review

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are a brilliant combination of value and comfort

With six hours of battery life, an extremely comfortable fit, sweatproofing, and a very palatable price tag, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are putting all other true wireless earbuds on notice.
Deals

Amazon drops a sweet deal on the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch for women

Unlike many other smartwatches geared toward women, the Kate Spade Scallop offers a more chic and minimalistic look. With this Amazon sale going on right now, you can get it for $109 off its retail price.
Cars

Lyft’s Shared Saver service offers cheaper rides, but you’ll have to walk a little

Lyft has launched a new ride option called Shared Saver that offers cheaper rides if you're willing to walk a little. Shared Saver designates a nearby pick-up point and drops you off a short distance from your final destination.
Deals

The 5 best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…