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Circuit Breaker

The Polaroid Swing app lets you move your phone to move your photos

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Although it's Polaroid in name only

Polaroid Swing

A new photo-sharing app that's licensed the ailing Polaroid brand purely for name-recognition doesn't sound like a promising prospect. But Polaroid Swing — backed by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone — is a surprisingly fun and easy to use. Whether or not it'll be able to attract many users in a crowded marketplace, though, is doubtful.

you can scrub through the image by tilting your phone

Like Apple's Live Photos and Google's Motion Stills, Polaroid Swing wants to offer users more than just a snapshot. Each "image" captured by the app is a one-second soundless video that users can scrub through — either by dragging their finger across the screen or tilting their phone from side to side. The app captures video at a rate of 60 frames per second, with the company's own "frame-blending algorithms" smoothing out the transitions. The resulting images feel fluid and engaging, at least if you take the time to set up the right shot. Try scrolling your mouse over the picture below to see how it works:

Scrolling through these images with your finger or mouse is okay, but viewing Polaroid Swing's pictures works best on your mobile. Rolling your smartphone from side to side to see the image move reminded me of one of those "holographic" fridge magnets that flicker between different pictures depending on what angle you look at. I guess if you've got the Polaroid brand, then evoking whatever sort of nostalgia you can is acceptable.

the app is basic, but simple to use

Users can add filters to their images, and share them via Twitter, Facebook, or links sent by email that direct you to the app's website. The app itself is relatively basic (you can't even comment on pictures yet), but pleasingly minimalist in design, and straightforward to use.

The challenge is whether Polaroid Swing will be able to compete in such a crowded market. It's certainly not the first app to try adding a little movement to picture sharing, and as with any new mechanic like this, the danger is that Polaroid Swing's images won't be able to spread beyond the app itself. Nevertheless, the company has credible talent behind it, including Cole Rise (the person who designed Instagram's early filters) and Stone himself (who's taken on the role of chairman for the company). Polaroid Swing is available now on iOS, with an Android version reportedly "coming soon."