by James A. Martin

Polaroid Swing app brings ‘Live Photos’ to old iPhones

Jul 15, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsiOSiPhone

Polaroid's hay day may be long gone, but the brand is not forgotten. The latest Polaroid product is a new iOS camera app that adds short bursts of video to images, similar to Apple's Live Photos feature for iPhones.

Polaroid cameras used to be cool. Seriously.

Some 20 million years ago, I owned two of them, which I’d pass around at large parties and ask guests to snap candids. Those beloved instant-print cameras still exist, but the rest of the party moved on to smartphone photos and selfies. Polaroid as a company only exists to license its well-known brand … which brings us to the new, free iOS camera app, Polaroid Swing.

polaroid swing Polaroid

I really wanted to love this app, and perhaps a lot of other people will. Social media marketers might appreciate it, because the resulting images are cool and easy to share on Facebook and Twitter. And the app has some cred, because Twitter cofounder Biz Stone is a major investor. After I finished my tests, however, I decided not to keep Polaroid Swing on my iPhone.

Polaroid Swing is not unique

The concept behind Polaroid Swing — snapping photos that come “alive” with one second of video — isn’t new.

Apple’s Live Photos feature does essentially the same thing, though it captures three seconds of video. And Live Photos look far crisper than Polaroid Swing images, at least in my experiments. Polaroid pictures were never hailed for their crispness, and hazy photos are part of the brand experience. But still. 

Unfortunately, only new iPhones support Live Photos. Currently, only the iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus can capture Live Photos, though other devices can display Live Photos taken on newer Apple phones.

Other smartphone apps let you create Live-Photo-style images, including Camera for Live Photos (free; iOS only), Camera MX (freemium; Android) and Lumia Cinemagraph (free; for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 10 Mobile), which was released before Apple’s Live Photos. (Google’s Motion Stills [free; iOS only] adds image stabilization and GIF looping to your Live Photos, and it’s worth a look.)

polaroid swing Polaroid

To Swing or not to Swing?

Why is the app called Swing? If you physically move, or “swing,” your iPhone left or right, your images move. You can view Swing images on desktops, as well, and the action occurs when you move the cursor across an image. Swing also offers three image filters. The app is as easy to use as its titular namesake camera. And it’s simple to share images to popular social sites and to the nascent Polaroid Swing platform.

There’s reason to like Polaroid’s app — just not enough. If you’re nostalgic for the Polaroid experience, however, or if you own an older iPhone, Polaroid Swing deserves a download.