App

This clever app may just blow your mind

Famed sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Well, we think he would have liked Spectrum. The surprising accuracy with which it adds color to old photographs will leave you wondering if the whole thing is some kind of voodoo, and how many black cats were sacrificed to power this dark magic.

Of course, it’s actually powered by neural networks that use advanced machine learning to process and understand the content of images – but let’s face it, to the average person those buzzwords are almost meaningless. Better to believe in fairy tales.

How does it know which colors to use?!

If you’ve got some old photo albums lying around, Spectrum is great fun and could kickstart a real nostalgia trip. You simply feed in a black and white photo and get back something in full color. Somehow, the app knows what color things should be and does a good job of making it so. It’s not perfect, and some efforts fall shy of the mark, but we were really impressed by the app’s smarts. Twinned with Google Photoscan (also free) you could digitize and colorize all those dusty snaps from the attic.

So what’s the downside, here? Well, Spectrum isn’t cheap – the app will set you back a whopping $19.99/£19.99. But the developers put it on flash sale pretty regularly, and it’s already gone free three times in the last week. Unfortunately, each time only seems to last a number of hours before the price is hiked up again.

We’ve reached out to the developers for more details and will be sure to let you guys know if it drops in price again. In the meantime, though, even at twenty bucks this is a little slice of magic and definitely worth the price of admission if you have a lot of old photos.

Download Spectrum