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tech
by: Craig Wilson   ·    28 April 2017

App Review: Polaroid Swing

Memories move, so should your pictures. At least, that’s what Polaroid Swing wants you to think. And it might be right.

Fans of Harry Potter will recall that the images in the local newspaper, The Daily Prophet, move on the page. A new app wants to let muggles like you and me create and share our own moving images, and it’s hitched its waggon to one of the most recognisable names in photography – and the progenitor of instant gratification – Polaroid. The app in question? Polaroid Swing.

Currently the app is only available for iPhone, but according to the company’s website, the Android version is 'coming soon'. Polaroid Swing’s taken the concept of moving pictures that’s gained popularity thanks to things like Apple’s Live Photos, Instagram’s Boomerang and the humble GIF, and built an intuitive and minimalist app around it.

The app is divided into three tabs, arranged along the bottom of the display. The one of the left shows your feed, the middle is where you go to capture your own Swings, and the right-hand one lets you access your profile. Capturing your own content is a good place to start.


Capture the mo(ve)ment

In the capture mode, you’re presented with a viewfinder and a selection of on-screen buttons for switching between the front-facing and rear cameras, a self-timer (3s or 10s), toggling flash on or off, and a large capture button. Swiping up or down on the viewfinder will apply one of the four built-in filters (these can also be applied after capture).

Hit the capture button and Swing records a second of action. When reviewing a Swing – or looking at other peoples’ content in your feed – swiping a finger back and forth on the screen will make the image move. So too tilting your iPhone left and right, thanks to the built-in accelerometer and some smart integration by the Swing team. If you’re viewing pictures on a laptop or desktop, the movement comes from swiping the pointer over the image.

We’re new here

Because Polaroid Swing is a work in progress – updates get rolled out every few weeks – it’s very basic compared to the likes of Instagram, but that’s part of its charm. Until recently, hashtags only worked if they were in the main caption of a post, and it was impossible to tag other users in comments.

Swing has since introduced both features, so expect more to follow. In the meantime, Swing feels like what Instagram must’ve been in the early days: magical, intimate and with a small group of dedicated users who inspire and encourage each other to create ever better content.

Ultimately, that’s where the magic lies. Good content leaps out at you on Polaroid Swing because it seems so realistic. Whether its spray from waves crashing over rocks, a Ferris wheel at a funfair, or an enthusiastic pooch with its head out a car window, a good Swing encourages your brain to fill in the missing sense data from a scene, particularly the missing sounds.

Swings are more three-dimensional than conventional images and decidedly more hypnotic. Of course, Swings are really just one-second videos made of high-resolution stills that you can move through a frame at a time. Swings aren’t magic at all, but they sure feel like it. And like the best tech, that’s all we can ask for.

Get Polaroid Swing

Download it for iOS (Android coming soon)