Google’s experimental photo apps are impressive from the start
Photography apps are quite popular with smartphone users, according to the recently released list of top apps by Google and Apple for the Play Store and App Store, respectively. These apps are created to take advantage of the improved camera hardware in ways the default camera app cannot. Some of these apps focus entirely on one element of photography, such as editing, or adding filters. For instance, Microsoft’s Hyperlapse lets users capture time lapse videos, while Google Motion stills used electronic image stabilization tool to minimise shakes in videos.
Now, Google for Research has released three free and experimental apps called Storyboard, Selfissimo and Scrubbies, on similar lines.
Released only on Android, Storyboard can convert videos into a series of photos laid out like a comic book. It works by automatically selecting interesting video frames from the videos uploaded by users and applies one of the six styles available on it. Users can save a particular photo/frame on the device in case they want to share it later on social media. What makes the app more fun is the ability to change the frames quickly with another set of photos, through simple swipe down gesture from the top of the screen.
Google claims there are 1.6 trillion different ways in which the app can show the same set of frames. However, to see more options, the video needs to be longer and have multiple unique frames.
Unlike many photo apps such as Prisma, which need internet connection to apply filters, Story Board works offline and doesn’t need internet connection at any point.
It has a simple and minimalistic interface with a single button to load videos. Tapping on it will open the video gallery from where videos can be loaded in any file format and size. We loaded an mkv video of over 1GB and it took a few seconds to process it.
It is smaller in size and requires 85MB of space to install.
Available on both Android and iOS, Selfissimo is a unique camera app which can make life easy for selfie enthusiasts. What makes it different from regular selfie apps is the ease with which it removes the shutter button out of the equation. So users don’t have to tap on the shutter button every time they want to click a selfie.
Users are only required to pose and the app will keep clicking pictures. They can stop a session by tapping anywhere on the screen and save the entire session or a particular photo on the smartphone.
This app can come in really handy for group selfies where the hand holding the smartphone is stretched to accommodate everyone in the frame and users have to somehow shift the camera at the last moment to tap on the shutter button.
Selfissimo has a simple layout with a single Start button. Its biggest limitation is that it can capture images only in black and white mode. Also, there are no unique filters or stickers in it, which are quite popular with selfie fans. It works offline and takes up 95MB after installation.
Limited to iOS as of now, Scrubbies allows users to alter the speed and direction in a video playback to create video loops replaying specific moments in it. Users can shoot a video and play it backwards by swiping with one finger on the screen. Swiping with two fingers will record the same video in a loop and save it in the phone gallery. It works offline and needs 30MB of space to install.
According to Google, the three new releases is the first instalment of photo apps developed in-house by the Google Research team using advanced camera tools such as object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms and efficient image encoding and decoding.
Google isn’t the first company to experiment with camera apps. Facebook’s MSQRD app and Instagram’s Boomerang and Layout are some of the examples of photo apps with unique set of features that allow users to be more creative with their photos and videos.
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