Google launches three new photography apps for testing experimental technology

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Google today is launching a trio of new photo apps – a part of new series of what it has dubbed photography “appsperiments.” (Get it? Ha ha.) The apps, some of which are available on both the iOS App Store and Google Play, give Google a way to test out more experimental features to see how users respond, the company explains in an announcement on its Google Research blog.

The apps involve a number of technologies now in development at Google, including those focused on object recognitionperson segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding technologies, Google says.

Specifically, the three apps in question are called Storyboard, Selfissimo!, and Scrubbies.

The first, Storyboard, turns videos into single-page comic layouts on your device. Turning photos into images inspired by art – including comic book art – is something that grew popular with the launch of the A.I.-powered editing app Prisma. While that company has more recently shifted focus to b2b, its consumer app still ranks in the top 150 in the Photo & Video category on the App Store. But attention for this sort of creative photography has waned a bit. Perhaps turning it on for video could bring it back to the limelight again?

Storyboard is a new take on those art-inspired photo effects apps. Instead of turning a photo into comic book art, it automatically selects interesting frames from a video then lays them out using one of six visual styles.

Storyboard is Android-only for now.

The second app, Selfissimo!, is designed for selfies, as the name implies.

In this case, the app is an automated selfie photographer that takes black and white photos of you every time you pose. Whenever you stop moving, a new photo is taken. The end result is a contact sheet of photos – like you’d have from a real photoshoot. (But hey, Google, c’mon, we need more than just B&W photos here!)

This one is available on both iOS and Android.

The third, Scrubbies, is designed for video. This app lets you change the speed and direction of video playback to create looping videos. Instead of looping apps like Instagram’s Boomerang, Scrubbies has you go hands-on. You actually swipe on the video itself to “remix” it. Google describes this process as “scratching it like a D.J.” One finger plays the video, while two fingers captures the playback for you to save and share.

Scrubbies is iOS-only.

This is not the first time Google has launched experimental photography apps.

Google researchers developed Motion Stills to make iOS’s Live Videos less shaky, then brought a variation of that app to Android to offer a new recording experience for shooting sharable clips. This same Live Photo editing technology was also baked into the main Google Photos app, after some initial testing.

That means it’s possible that – if all goes well with the new app experiments – the features they offer could eventually make their way to Google Photos, as well.

Google also hinted that these three apps may be the first of many tests to – the company tells us they’re the “first installment” in a series of “appsperiments.”