Don’t shake it, but Polarize app offers authentic Polaroid look

Aug 22, 2009
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If you’re old enough to own an iPhone, you’re probably old enough to have played with a Polaroid camera as a kid. And, if you loved taking Polaroid pics as much as I did, you’ll love the vintage look of the images produced by the Polarize iPhone app.

Polarize instantly took me back to my childhood when I would sneak my dad’s Polaroid camera out of the closet. Even if my only available subject was the family station wagon or our dog, I loved watching the film develop. I’d shake the photo as fast and as hard as I could because even the instant gratification wasn’t instant enough for a kid on a mission.

Polarize, by Christopher Comair, is the new version of an older app, ProjectPolaroid. Polarize is surprisingly similar to using an actual Polaroid camera, but there are a few sad notes.

The app develops the photo quicker than you can snap your fingers, so you can’t watch it develop slowly like you can with the real thing (or with other Polaroid-simulating apps). And you can’t “shake it like a Polaroid picture,” yet I was still amused each time I “polarized” a new photo.

To use the app, you load a photo from your photo album (iPhone and iPod Touch) or take a new photo (iPhone only). You choose the photo and it instantly turns into a Polaroid-like image, complete with the white border and space for writing on the bottom. Tap the screen to bring up a list of options. You can save it as is, discard and try again or tag the photo, which allows you to write along the bottom of the white border.

The major downside to the tag option is that it’s limited to 14 characters. Also, you can’t change the all-caps font. If you can get past these two bummers, the app is worth it’s authentic Polaroid look with its high-contrast and muted vintage colors.

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I’ve been using Polarize with a variety of subjects: people, cityscapes, objects and food. I was pleased with the results most of the time.

However, the contrast was occasionally too dark when transforming human subjects. This problem can be corrected by brightening the image in another app (such as 101+ Photo Effects, available for 99 cents). It’s a pain to fix if you’re on the go, but worth trying if you’ve got a little extra time on your hands.

Bonus: There’s a Flickr group for Polarize users to share their creations and give feedback to the developers. You can access the group’s page directly through the Polarize app by clicking on Community on the opening screen.

Polarize is not affiliated with the Polaroid company.

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