Create Interactive Moving Pictures with Polaroid's Swing App

It's not a Vine. It's not a GIF. It's not a video.

This may have been one of the worst weeks in recorded history to release a mobile app that's not called Pokemon Go, but Polaroid recently announced its new mobile initiative, an app called Swing that encourages users to make and share 1-second moving pictures.

At first glance, the app has a strong resemblance to other familiar tech like Live Photos in iOS and even Boomerang from Instagram. Snap is a bit different in that it tries to unify the experience, limiting the moving photos to a single 1-second duration. Users also have to interact with the images to see them move. On the iPhone, you can literally swing the phone back and forth to see the image move, or activate it by swiping a finger back and forth across the screen.

This may have been one of the worst weeks in recorded history to release a mobile app that's not called Pokemon Go, but Polaroid recently announced its new mobile initiative, an app called Swing that encourages users to make and share 1-second moving pictures.

At first glance, the app has a strong resemblance to other familiar tech like Live Photos in iOS and even Boomerang from Instagram. Snap is a bit different in that it tries to unify the experience, limiting the moving photos to a single 1-second duration. Users also have to interact with the images to see them move. On the iPhone, you can literally swing the phone back and forth to see the image move, or activate it by swiping a finger back and forth across the screen.

The experience very much reminds me of the old lenticular baseball cards that would change the picture as you rotated the card thanks to multi-faceted surfaces on the card’s face. They also used to do it with movie posters, though it’s not something I have seen a lot of lately.

The presentation of the images in the app and even on the Polaroid site is actually very nice, with a clean design and tasteful visual elements. Scrolling through the images is entertaining, but having to interact with each one to really get the full value out of it subverts the inherent value that Instagram offers in the ability to scroll—sometimes mindlessly—through an endless stream of photos and short videos.

The experience very much reminds me of the old lenticular baseball cards that would change the picture as you rotated the card thanks to multi-faceted surfaces on the card’s face. They also used to do it with movie posters, though it’s not something I have seen a lot of lately.

The presentation of the images in the app and even on the Polaroid site is actually very nice, with a clean design and tasteful visual elements. Scrolling through the images is entertaining, but having to interact with each one to really get the full value out of it subverts the inherent value that Instagram offers in the ability to scroll—sometimes mindlessly—through an endless stream of photos and short videos.

One of the big drawbacks right now is that the presentation happens within the app or on the Swing site, so sharing moving pictures to Facebook does so in the form of a link post. Expecting people to click through and actually interact with your images at a different link is a depressingly big barrier at this point in internet history. In fact, you probably noticed that there aren't any Swings embedded on this page and you have to click away to see them. That's a problem that has seriously hindered other image formats in the past, like the ill-fated Lytro camera.

Bonus fun fact: Polaroid once manufactured a fun little camera called the Swinger, from which this app presumably gets its name. Here’s a wonderfully era-appropriate commercial for it.

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