Google and Pinterest Leading the Evolution to Visual Search

Google and Pinterest, rivals in visual search, are upping their game. After the May debut of Google Lens, which uses machine learning for real-time visual searches, Pinterest unveiled its Lens, which lets the user take a photo of an object with their phone and bring up related objects in search. Now both companies have upgraded visual search: Pinterest is making it a central feature and Google has added new “badges,” which categorize the image being viewed and adds text to describe potential actions. Continue reading Google and Pinterest Leading the Evolution to Visual Search

Facebook Messenger Day Now Attracts 70 Million Daily Users

Messenger Day, Facebook’s version of Snapchat Stories that launched six months ago, may not be experiencing the same growth as similar offerings from Instagram or WhatApp, but it now touts 70 million daily users. Messenger Day enables users to share photos and video slideshows. While its latest daily usage is significant, it only took Instagram Stories two months to reach 100 million users, and two weeks less for WhatsApp Status to attract 175 million (both have since surpassed the 250 million daily user mark). Continue reading Facebook Messenger Day Now Attracts 70 Million Daily Users

Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Western Digital announced its acquisition of cloud services startup Upthere, which offers storage solutions for photos, videos, documents and music. “The Upthere app is platform agnostic and available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as macOS and Windows PCs,” notes the press release. “The addition of Upthere’s technology and team to Western Digital’s Client Solutions business unit will enhance the company’s consumer products portfolio with new cloud-based offerings.” Upthere CEO Chris Bourdon and his team will continue under Western Digital. Barbara Nelson, formerly of cloud security business IronKey, will lead Western Digital’s Cloud Services business. Continue reading Western Digital Acquires Upthere to Expand Cloud Services

Instagram Looks to Expand its Global Audience With Stories

As part of its larger strategy to attract international users who may face inconsistent or costly mobile Internet service, Facebook-owned Instagram has been ramping up the web version of its photo- and video-sharing application. The latest upgrade brings Stories, “one of Instagram’s most popular features, copied from Snapchat, which lets people post videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours,” reports Bloomberg. “The number of people accessing Instagram through the web, instead of an app, is growing, the company said. More than 80 percent of its users are outside the U.S.” Continue reading Instagram Looks to Expand its Global Audience With Stories

Amazon Creates AI-Based Tools for Spotting Fashion Trends

Amazon is developing systems based on artificial intelligence algorithms that are aimed at spotting fashion trends and, eventually, shaping them. The effort could boost Amazon’s sales in clothing, perhaps even gaining a dominant position in fashion. The e-commerce giant isn’t alone in making recommendations based on products appearing in social media, and highlighting the resulting trends; Instagram and Pinterest also pinpoint trends and react quickly to them, as does startup subscription service Stitch Fix. Continue reading Amazon Creates AI-Based Tools for Spotting Fashion Trends

Facebook and Google Take the Lead in Popular Mobile Apps

According to comScore’s annual U.S. Mobile Apps Report, consumers spend 57 percent of their digital media time on smartphones and tablets using apps. The figure is roughly the same as the previous year, suggesting that the shift to mobile has reached a point of leveling out. The report also notes that Facebook and Google own eight of the top 10 apps. Among the most popular mobile apps today are Facebook (top app for all age groups except 18- to 24-year-olds), YouTube (No. 2 overall and No. 1 with 18- to 24-year-olds), Facebook Messenger, Google Search, Google Maps, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Play, Gmail and Pandora. Continue reading Facebook and Google Take the Lead in Popular Mobile Apps

Intel Claims Big Performance Leap for Next Gen Core Chips

Intel reports that the eighth generation of its Core line of chips, to be debuted in new laptops in September, will offer as much as a 40 percent increase in performance over its previous generation. Although the PC market has been declining, Intel — whose chips are already in 80 percent of PCs globally — is still posting upticks. In Q2, Intel saw a 12 percent increase in chip sales. Intel’s only remaining competitor in this sector is Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which is also bringing its new Zen chips to market this year. Continue reading Intel Claims Big Performance Leap for Next Gen Core Chips

Millennials Regularly Use Variety of Apps for Digital Services

According to a new study from measurement firm Nielsen, the lack of brand loyalty among 18- to 34-year-olds is reflected in their consumption of digital services such as communication apps and streaming music. Perhaps not surprisingly, Nielsen found that the demographic consumes a great deal of digital media but tends to use multiple services across categories, rather than focus on one service for a specific segment. For example, while only 39 percent of consumers over 35 use two or more apps to stream music, almost 60 percent of millennials will commonly do so on a regular basis. Continue reading Millennials Regularly Use Variety of Apps for Digital Services

Nokia Phone Features Zeiss Optics, 360 Video, Spatial Audio

The once-popular Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia, now under the aegis of HMD Global, is introducing a new mobile device. With its Android-based Nokia 8, the company hopes to compete with the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8. HMD Global, led by former Nokia employees and funded by private equity, bought Nokia’s phone tech from Microsoft, which purchased it in 2013. The flagship phone, encased in polished aluminum, is 7.9-mm thick and features a high-resolution 5.3-inch screen, 4K video recording, Carl Zeiss optics and spatial audio emanating from its 360-degree camera. Continue reading Nokia Phone Features Zeiss Optics, 360 Video, Spatial Audio

Google Purchases AIMatter to Boost Computer Vision Efforts

Google just acquired AIMatter, a Belarus startup that will boost the tech giant’s efforts in computer vision, the artificial intelligence sector that helps computers process images as well as, or even better, than humans. AIMatter has already built a neural-network-powered AI platform and SDK that quickly processes images on mobile devices, as well as Fabby, a photo/video editing app that has been used as a proof-of-concept. AIMatter has employees in Minsk, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Zurich, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Purchases AIMatter to Boost Computer Vision Efforts

Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

Following last month’s updates making search and Lens functions more easily accessible via the home feed of Pinterest’s app, the popular photo-sharing and discovery platform has now added the ability to zoom inside Pins for a closer look at images and GIFs. The new feature (presently available for iOS and coming soon to Android) is one of the app’s most user-requested features. It is also joined by an updated visual search for finding specific objects. Interestingly, the same image search is available starting this week without a Pinterest account, via the Chrome browser extension. Continue reading Pinterest Updates its Visual Search, Adds New Zoom Feature

W Magazine Tests New Features Enabled by AR Technology

Fashion-centric publication W Magazine, in partnership with visual effects house The Mill, features augmented reality in its September 2017 Collector’s Issue. With Katy Perry on the cover, the issue appears to be an ordinary magazine, but if a user views it through a smartphone or tablet lens, he will see various augmented reality images. The viewer must first install W Magazine’s new companion app, Beyond the Page, available for iOS and Android, that activates the AR imagery in the issue. Continue reading W Magazine Tests New Features Enabled by AR Technology

Facebook Takes New Tack by Approving Social App in China

Facebook has made several efforts over the years to encourage China to lift the 2009 block against its social platform and many of its apps. In May, the company approved a photo-sharing app called Colorful Balloons that doesn’t have the Facebook name attached but is similar in look, function and feel to Facebook’s Moments app. According to an unnamed source, a local Chinese company debuted the app without any hint of a Facebook affiliation. China imposes strict censorship on the Internet, including on news websites and apps. Continue reading Facebook Takes New Tack by Approving Social App in China

Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Developers digging through the firmware of Apple’s upcoming smart speaker, HomePod, found evidence that the company’s iPhone camera may soon use machine learning to recognize objects and scenes and adjust settings to create the best photo, all in real-time. That’s the information made public in a HomePod firmware leak. Unclear is whether that feature will be introduced with the iPhone 8 this fall, although developer Guilherme Rambo has discovered details that suggest it will debut as “SmartCam” capability. Continue reading Leaks Point to SmartCam Debut in Upcoming Apple iPhones

Researchers Focus on Computational Photography Solutions

Google and MIT scientists have collaborated to explore how computational photography, which uses machine learning and specialized algorithms, can be used to retouch photos in real time. The team trained neural networks via 5,000 images created by Adobe and MIT; five different photographers retouched each image, teaching the software the various ways a photo could be improved. Elsewhere, Nvidia and UC Santa Barbara created a computational zoom for photographers that lets them change a photo’s perspective in post production. Continue reading Researchers Focus on Computational Photography Solutions

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