x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

App of the Week: Bring your images to life with Photosynth

Consolidate all your different angles into one breathtaking panorama with Photosynth, which takes photos intelligently and stitches them together.

Photosynth app.
Photosynth app.

Globetrotting tourists will be quick to tell you that getting there is half the fun. What they don't tell you is most get the other half later when they gloat about having reached there.

It's OK. They shouldn't feel too bad. The need for returning travellers to show off photos and bask in post-holiday affirmations from those who were stuck back at home is as old as time itself - or at least as old as the mid-1970s, which I was recently told is basically the same thing.

I can never forget those summer holiday, analogue-era slide shows my family forced me to endure as a child in our neighbour's living room. I can still hear the relentless click-click, click-click of the projector, hoping against hope that the bulb would burn out and its three back-ups sitting under the coffee table would all be duds.

As a rule, so-called digital age "innovations" have served only to streamline this tedium. Cameras, which used to contain finite amounts of film, now not only snap photos in perpetuity, but have screens on the back that cut about 59 minutes and 58 seconds out of one-hour photo processing. And with Web-connected smartphones, shutterbug vacationers can now skip the post-production altogether and bore relatives back home in real time.

The app

One rare salvation from all this could be Photosynth (free; iPhone), an app that empowers ardent sightseers to easily produce change-of-pace panoramic photos that could surprise their captive audiences, perhaps rousing them from their near coma-like stupors.

The details

Photosynth is one of the latest iOS offerings from Microsoft (oddly, a Windows Mobile version is not yet available). Once you tap to begin, it starts taking photos automatically whenever a small green dot centred on the screen moves outside the boundaries of photos that you have already taken). As you pivot left, right, up, down or sideways (don't worry about overlaps, and if you miss a spot, just go back), the app builds a 3D image and then automatically stitches it all together when you hit the "done" button.

The app encourages you to share the panoramic images on Facebook or through its Photosynth.net website (although that requires you to register with a Windows Live ID).

So a plea to all world travellers: the next time you're in Yellowstone National Park, don't take 37 separate photos of the Old Faithful Geyser. Instead, stitch them together into one massive, immersive panorama. Make it your slide show's grand finale.

And make sure to wake us up so we don't miss it.

For more of the best apps that make life easier and more fun, check out App of the Week. Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at cbrandao@thenational.ae