How Good is Google’s Photoscan App?: Results From Our Test & Survey

We don’t normally try to take on Google but we decided to do a quick test to compare the digitized output from their Photoscan app with Scancafe’s. Just for our own reference. After all, we pride ourselves on our photo scanning capabilities. If an app claims it can do the job as well and with minimal pain for the user, we are curious to know exactly how it works.

The best place to find out about all things Google is on Nat and Lo’s Youtube channel. This duo has been demystifying various Google technologies and products ranging from search to navigation for a a few years now.

In this video, they talk about how Google has set out to help us digitize our photos. How do they do it? Simple. With mirrors and a little bit of smoke. Just kidding. It’s all about computational photography, actually. In a nutshell, the app takes a picture of the print photo, breaks it up and then reconstructs it in another frame with the effects of glare removed. One of the app’s selling points is that you can now scan your print photos from albums, frames or wherever they happen to be encased at the moment.

We did a quick test run with a couple of old photos we had on hand. The results are below. The first image in each set is the output from running the image through the app. The second one is what we got from scanning it at our facility.

Photo Scanning
Photo Scanning Services
Photo Restoration
Photo Repair & Restoration

We think the images speak for themselves. Every photo scanned by us goes through a set of fixes to adjust for the effects of time. What that means is that each photo is color corrected, apart from having any scratches and dust marks digitally removed. The end result is a sharper and brighter image that has also been re-oriented and precisely cropped. A Scancafe technician spends the equivalent of four minutes on a photo to deliver these results. This is all part of our standard set of services. With pictures that are severely damaged, our photo restoration specialists can rebuild them – painstakingly and pixel by pixel.

Other reviewers have also tested the app and found that while it has potential, it still needs work. And for those who want to do more with their scanned photos than view them on their phones, resolution is likely to be an issue with the app. As of now, it doesn’t deliver the quality needed to make frame-worthy prints, photo books or other gifts from digitized images.

To be doubly sure that we were not being swayed by our biases, we asked a few users – a hundred of them, in fact – to tell us about their experience with the app. Approximately half the group (48%) used the app to scan up to 25 photos prior to taking the survey. Another 37% fed up to 100 photos through it.

While the majority of these users (83%) found the app easy to use, most of them (93%) did not plan to re-use it. When probed on their reasons, they pronounced it as either too time consuming (79%) or too tedious to use for a large batch of photos (64%). They also cited glare or haze (31%) and poor color quality (38%) of scanned images as disappointing factors.

We think the Photoscan app is great for small batches that you would like to digitize quickly. A finite bunch of photos for a graduation party collage, say. Or a digital scrapbook for a milestone birthday. But scanning a massive photo collection through the app is not recommended if you want quality or convenience, or both.