In the test: Google PhotoScan for scanning photos on paper

Google PhotoScan icon

Today I was briefly forced to do a little test of the iPhone app Google PhotoScan. A friend here in town suddenly wanted old photos (on paper) on his PC. Because he doesn't have a scanner, he asked me to take a photo of the photos and then email them to him so that he can have them on his computer.

"There was something with Google and Photos ...", I thought to myself and then realized that I had already installed the app "Google PhotoScan" or in German "Photo scanner" on my iPhone XS. However, I had never used it before. Now the time had come to check out the app. For my test, I gradually placed the photos on a white shelf on the balcony - without any extra lighting. Only the cloudy sky provided the light. So much for the test conditions.

First of all: I had concerns at first that I would have to have all of the photos uploaded to Google. But this is not the case. The photos that are digitized with the "photo scanner" end up locally in the iPhone's photo library and can be further edited or shared from there.

In a few simple steps you can digitize your paper prints with Google PhotoScan.

In a few simple steps you can digitize your paper prints with Google PhotoScan. The app is even available for free.

Turn 5 into 1: This is how the scan works

Basically, you could take photos of the photos with the iPhone's camera app, but this has several disadvantages:

  • You always have something in the background (table or something similar) that you don't want to see in the photos.
  • The actual photos are not properly aligned in the captured images.
  • You have to crop and rotate the photos so that you only have the photographed image on the finished photo.
  • The camera lens causes distortion and curved edges in the photos that are photographed.
  • The worst, however, are the reflections that you always have somewhere in the picture due to the glossy surface of the photos.

The Google app has a little trick against these reflections in store, because it asks you to take exactly five different photos of the paper print. She adds up these recordings and can thus remove reflections - even from glass frames - from the photo. The result is pretty impressive.

With the PhotoScan app from Google, photos can be digitized very quickly - without any reflections in the image.

With the PhotoScan app from Google, photos can be digitized very quickly - without any reflections in the image.

Automatic rotating and trimming

The removal of the unwanted background is also built into the automatic processing process of the Google PhotoScan app. The actual photo is rotated, rectified and cropped "on the fly". At the end it is automatically saved in the photo library of the iPhone - provided that the app has been given permission to do so.

If you look at the following video from Google (it gets exciting from minutes 1:02!), You can see straight away how easy the scanning process is with the app:

Fast processing of many photos possible

Anyone who has a large box with lots of old photos will be happy about the app's practical user interface. It gives precise instructions (via AR overlays in the camera image) from where to take the different photos. The aggregation and cutting is done in seconds and the finished image is automatically added to the photo collection. So you can take a large number of photos in a relatively short time and work your way through old photo albums or boxes.

My conclusion: there is probably nothing better!

I haven't really had any experience with other photo scanning apps, but I find it difficult to imagine that anything can be improved in terms of the results and the user interface. What ends up in the camera roll when digitizing photos on paper are good photos of the scanned images, with only marginal post-processing of colors, sharpness, exposure or tonal value correction. I also think that's very good, because the automatic image enhancers always have problems with one or the other photo. Before the good old recordings are "damaged" by this, I prefer to have a neutral print without any major changes.

[appbox app store id1165525994]

So if you ever plan to digitize a large number of photos or simply have to "scan" four photos of your friends, then the free app "Google PhotoScan" is your friend.


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  1. Walter Ludwig says:

    ... the app is named differently in the app store than in the article mentioned, namely "Photo scanner from Google Photos" !!!

    • sir appleot says:

      Thanks for the hint, Walter! I probably caught the English app name. I'll add it to the top of the article so you know what to look for. : D

  2. Manfred says:

    There is something better: the "Photomyne" app costs a little - but ... it is much faster. Scanning complete photo album pages with glued photos is completely uncomplicated. The quality is excellent!

    • sir appleot says:

      Hello Manfred! Thanks for the hint. I just watched a video on Photomyne. Unfortunately, they have no solution against reflections at the start. The photo scanner from Google Photos delivers the better results because it can calculate reflections from the 5 photos per image. However, one advantage of Photomyne seems to be that you can use one picture to photograph a sheet of several photos from a photo album and then he cuts out the individual pictures.
      But the biggest point that speaks against Photomyne for me is the subscription model behind it. I prefer to use the Google solution, which is completely free and probably also provides better image quality.

  3. M. says:

    Thanks for the tip!

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