Friday, February 27, 2015

Phogy and Seene 3D apps Jumps on to Android

3D parallax photography apps Phogy and Seene are now available on Android. Previously, these apps were only iOS centric and didn't manage to secure the sort of traction it needs to be commercially viable to investors but they could have bitten off more than they can chew as Android has more functionality for parallax 3D built into Android KitKat.

Natively, Android has the capability to capture 3D image maps in Google's Camera App for Android KitKat. Phogy and Seene have their own unique image processing technology and both go around the demands of parallax 3D photos very differently. Each leverages on different technologies which they have developed but in the end it is user traction that decides the winners and not the technology itself.

Seene to be Seen

One of the problems of Seene is that it makes use of WebGL in browsers to render the images, making sharing via social media a pain. A user has to click a link which takes it to the mobile browser app such as Chrome or Opera for the image to render. On desktop browsers, this isn't a problem however not all mobile browsers will support WebGL natively.

For Seene's Android app, it has opened up support for Google VR so if you have Google Cardboard handy, those images shot on Seene will be a real treat.

Seene does not export its files to GIF or video, thus making the experience limited to its own unique platform.

Another problem with Seene for Android that is makes use of OpenGL to capture images thus not all Android 4.X devices will be supported. So far, Seene has been busy developing its own brand of technology and this is why they are leading the charge in the iOS frontier.

Phogy is a Stand Alone App

Phogy's attempt at 3D parallax is relatively straightforward. No hosting, no link sharing. Nada. All you need to do is pay for the full app at USD3 bucks and you're good to go. The app will generate a host of images for you to share at your desire. MP4 video files to GIF animations are all there. The problem is that once converted, the effect isn't as good as you'd get to view them in device.

Files can then be save onto your mobile as a 3D wallpaper on the PRO unlocked version of the app.

As seen in the above official example, the animated GIF generated by the app looks more like a video than a 3D parallax image. Part of the problem is the depth perception versus the subject in focus. If the animation moved slower, maybe there would be some value in the 3D animation file but at is, the effect just doesn't quite cut it for me.


Depthy Alternative

Below is a GIF generated from using Google's native Camera app that runs on KitKat. The depth image data is used to generate the image you see and the effect is far better than what Phogy has to offer.

Android's own camera app has all the muscle it needs to generate a depth map for each image but processing it so far can only be done online at and no place else. If this processing can be moved to your mobile device, it could be something else. What's more, Depthy doesn't have limitations, you can generate a large GIF for your mobile wallpaper needs at over 5MB per image if you so desire.

For now, parallax 3D is still a proprietary format for iOS devices. Google on the other hand is moving towards computational photography algorithms to allow Android cameras to do more, unless Apple pays more attention to this area of photography, the iPhone will be stuck in time with the same fuzzy effect filters found on Instagram.


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