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Review: Polamatic brings back memories of photos past

I'm old enough to remember my dad playing with a Polaroid camera. It was a big, clunky thing that turned out fuzzy black-and-white photos, and you had to treat the photos with a smelly spray to keep them from fading. Of course they faded anyway. Years later, I bought my own little Polaroid camera, which took off-color pictures that still faded. Still, instant pictures were a miracle, and I loved to watch the image slowly appear before my eyes.

Polaroid cameras are now pretty much a thing of the past and the original company is long gone, although the brand is still being used to sell cameras and film. Now you can relive the experience on your iPhone with a new app called Polamatic. The app has a license from Polaroid, so it's an approved app from the current owners of the Polaroid brand.

The US$0.99 app lets you take a picture with your iPhone, or load something from your camera roll. When you take the picture, you get the same sound I remember from the Polaroid cameras, and then the picture slowly develops on-screen before your very eyes.

Once the picture is taken, you get to apply a series of effects to mimic the kind of old photo you want to replicate. The app comes with 36 borders, that can look new or worn. There are also 36 special effects that let you customize your picture. These are similar to the effects found in other photo editors, but they certainly can make your photos look like the Polaroid photos of old.

One nice feature is that you can add text right on the photo or on the border. You get a selection of 36 fonts, with your choice of color and size. Once the label is applied, you can rotate or move it anywhere you like. When you're done applying filters and adding text, you can share your picture via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email. You can also save it to your library in a resolution of 2,771 x 2,282 pixels.

When I first got the app, I couldn't see the need to replicate the crummy photo quality the Polaroid cameras provided. But after using it, I appreciated the nostalgia, and enjoyed sending some photos to people who would appreciate seeing them.

One thing that needs improvement is the borders and effects need to be labelled so you can remember them later. There are so many options that if I wanted to replicate the effects on a new photo, I couldn't remember which combinations I used.

I thought Polamatic was a worthwhile $0.99 investment and you might like it as well. It certainly was a trip down the proverbial memory lane, when taking a photo was both a lot more trouble and good results were elusive. The app requires iOS 7 or later, and is not a universal app. It is optimized for the iPhone 5.

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