Snapchat Users Can Now Create World Lenses with AR Tool

Snapchat launched its Lens Studio AR developer tool for desktop that enables users to build augmented reality experiences for the platform. Anyone can now create World Lenses for adding interactive 3D objects to photos and video content. “But brands, news publishers and developers will have to promote their own Lenses by marketing their QR Snapcodes that users scan to unlock an AR effect for 24 hours,” reports TechCrunch. “That’s because Snapchat won’t display these Community Lenses in its camera unless businesses pay a partnered creative agency to build them a special effect and then buy Sponsored Lens ads from Snap.” Continue reading Snapchat Users Can Now Create World Lenses with AR Tool

Facebook Promotes AR Features with Platform Wide Release

After testing out AR face masks with selected outside developers, Facebook is now rolling out its Camera Effects Platform to any outside developer to build AR features for its in-app camera. HBO used it to build masks for “Game of Thrones” fans to become the Night King, and Lucasfilm used it so “Star Wars” fans could become Kylo Ren. With the wide introduction, we’re likely to see all kinds of AR face masks and effects. Facebook AR Studio, its AR platform, debuts this week and will be live to all in a couple of days. Continue reading Facebook Promotes AR Features with Platform Wide Release

Snapchat Intros Wide-Reach Promoted Stories for Advertisers

On Black Friday, Snapchat introduced Promoted Stories, a new advertising format that allows marketers to get their messages to more users. The company’s existing Story feature is a stitched-together collection of photos and videos that disappears 24 hours after it is shared. Any Snapchat user (including a business or brand) can create a Story, but it will only be visible to that user’s followers. Promoted Stories, however, which will appear on the Stories page in the Snapchat app, will be pushed out around the country. Continue reading Snapchat Intros Wide-Reach Promoted Stories for Advertisers

Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Amazon’s new AR addition to its iOS app, called “AR View,” allows customers the ability to visualize products in their own home. Thousands of products are viewable across a range of categories for both the office and home. By utilizing Apple’s ARKit, the experience unfolds in real-time, allowing the customer to rotate both the object and change its perspective. By introducing the new feature, Amazon joins other retailers such as Target and IKEA that have all recently introduced augmented shopping experiences to their mobile platforms. Continue reading Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Twitter Rolls Out New API to Increase its Revenue From Data

Twitter’s advertising business is in a slump, and the company is focusing on new ways to sell data to make up for the shortfall. Businesses can pay for “enterprise APIs,” which gives them access to more information about tweets including a searchable archive. Last year, this segment of its revenue comprised 15 percent of the company’s total business, equal to $87 million. For that reason, Twitter unveiled a new version of its “search tweets API,” which is the dataset for those who want a searchable database of user posts. Continue reading Twitter Rolls Out New API to Increase its Revenue From Data

Taylor Swift’s Album Debuts on CD, Not Streaming Services

Taylor Swift is releasing her sixth album, “Reputation,” on CD, rather than any streaming service, say sources, who suggest that the streaming “blackout” could last one or two weeks. Swift and her label Big Machine Records have declined to be more specific, but an initial streaming blackout would be in line with Swift’s last album, “1989,” which when it was released in 2014 took seven months to reach streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music and others. Now, “1989” streaming sales dominate over downloads and CDs. Continue reading Taylor Swift’s Album Debuts on CD, Not Streaming Services

Rylo 360-Degree Camera Touts Computational Photography

Former Instagram employees Chris Cunningham and Alex Karpenko have been working on Rylo, a new $500 software-based camera for the last two years. Rylo is a dual-lens 360-degree camera that solves three problems specific to video capture: the video needs to be stable, level and looking at the right thing. Rylo’s two lenses each capture a 195-degree field of view, which the camera stitches together into a single sphere. The imagery in that single sphere can be post-produced in one of three ways. Continue reading Rylo 360-Degree Camera Touts Computational Photography

Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 12 Percent Stake in Snap

Less than one day after Snap Inc. posted disappointing quarterly results and its stock subsequently plunged, the company revealed that Chinese Internet titan Tencent Holdings recently purchased a 12 percent stake in Snap. Chinese tech companies such as Tencent, Alibaba Group and Baidu have been investing in U.S. firms. According to Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi, Snap’s main problems include declining user growth and competition from the more established Instagram. Disappointing ad revenue is reportedly also disappointing investors. Continue reading Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 12 Percent Stake in Snap

Twitter Doubles the Longstanding Character Limit for Tweets

After more than a decade of limiting tweets to 140 characters, Twitter announced yesterday that the limit has been doubled in most countries. The new 280-character limit has been testing since September in hopes that it would increase engagement. “In addition to more tweeting, people who had more room to tweet received more engagement (likes, retweets, @mentions), got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter,” the company explained in a blog post. Twitter considered expanding character limits in the past, but retreated due to negative response from its community. Continue reading Twitter Doubles the Longstanding Character Limit for Tweets

Google’s Geoff Hinton Tests Capsule Networks as AI Solution

In 2012, University of Toronto professor Geoffrey Hinton and two grad students showed off artificial neural networks, a technology that empowered machines to understand images. Google hired Hinton and his grad students six months later; Hinton now splits his time between Google and the university. Although neural networks now underlie speech transcription and many other tasks, Hinton isn’t enthused over the technology he helped launch. Instead, he’s now bullish on an “old” idea that could help reshape artificial intelligence. Continue reading Google’s Geoff Hinton Tests Capsule Networks as AI Solution

Adobe Experiments With Easy Object Removal Tool for Video

Adobe’s research team is working on a visual effects tool, codenamed Cloak, for easy and economical removal of rigs, power lines and other unwanted parts of an image. The tool is similar to Photoshop’s content-aware fill feature that lets the user select and delete unwanted elements in the image, with “intelligent” software filling in the missing background behind them. Doing the same thing with video, however, is more challenging, which is why Cloak is still in an experimental stage, with no release date slated. Continue reading Adobe Experiments With Easy Object Removal Tool for Video

Intel Turns to Facebook, Other Tech Companies for AI Chip

Intel, Facebook and other tech companies are working together on a chip aimed to power artificial intelligence that will also be direct competition for Nvidia’s chips. The new Intel chip will be built to accelerate deep learning, which, among other tasks, will allow computers to recognize objects in photos and specific words in speech. The chip, dubbed the Nervana Neural Network Processor and based on Intel’s acquisition of startup Nervana Systems, is slated to be released in limited quantities in 2018. Continue reading Intel Turns to Facebook, Other Tech Companies for AI Chip

Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

As part of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to get one billion people into virtual reality, the company has also targeted social interaction as a potential powerhouse, with avatars communicating in a shared virtual world. This vision is already a reality on the company’s software platform Facebook Spaces, headed by Rachel Franklin, who previously worked on “The Sims.” She recently described her team’s philosophy and how that motivates design choices. She also described Facebook’s most successful VR elements. Continue reading Facebook Reveals the Philosophy of New Social VR Platform

Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Snapchat debuted “context cards” this week, a new feature that helps its users easily make a restaurant reservation or book an Uber ride without having to exit the app. The new feature is designed to keep users engaged with the app and its contextual location-based search. By swiping up from geotagged images while viewing certain stories, users will get related data such as contact info, directions and reviews. Early partners include Bookatable, Foursquare, Michelin, OpenTable and TripAdvisor. Ultimately, more time on Snapchat could mean more advertising revenue for the popular messaging app. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

TunesMap to Offer Liner Notes and More for Streaming Music

TunesMap believes every song has a story. After 10 years of development, the company will debut a product intended to fill an empty space in the digital music industry: liner notes. Online streaming music has grown to be a huge success, but it still lacks all the materials that once graced the album, including lyrics, songwriting credits, thank-you lists, essays, artwork and other information. TunesMap, founded by music supervisor G. Marq Roswell, will debut an Apple TV app for Sonos speakers in November that will uncover “the greater cultural context around any song” and offer a feed of links to relevant material, photographs and videos. Continue reading TunesMap to Offer Liner Notes and More for Streaming Music

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