Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Bolstered by last summer’s breakout popularity of “Pokémon Go,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has shifted focus from VR to AR, which combines the real and digital worlds. At the annual F8 conference, he stated that Facebook will make its AR tools available to developers to create everything from custom masks to filters. Partners already include Nike, Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. The shift to AR puts Facebook in competition with its rival Snap’s Snapchat and Microsoft HoloLens. Continue reading Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Apple is debuting a standalone video app called Apple Clips that allows users to shoot, edit and share video clips for mobile phones. Apple Clips, for iOS 10.3 or higher, features real-time captioning and facial recognition as well as giant emoji, cartoon filters and lively title screens — and the end results can be distributed to iMessage contacts. Automatic captioning, dubbed Live Titles, allows the user to choose a font and style; after hitting record, the app transcribes speech to text. But less ideal features mar the app, say critics. Continue reading Apple Clips Launches: Cool Features, But Not Always Intuitive

Startup Lightform Readies Release of Inexpensive AR Scanner

Augmented reality startup Lightform has come out of the stealth mode it’s been in for three years, announcing a $2.6 million funding round from former Oculus head scientist Steven LaValle, Lux Capital, Seven Seas and NSF. What Lightform has been working on is a device that can scan the environment and create a high-resolution mesh, which it then combines with very precisely targeted digital projections of light. That makes it capable of creating augmented reality in any environment, without the need for a headset. Continue reading Startup Lightform Readies Release of Inexpensive AR Scanner

Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Facebook has again integrated one of Snapchat’s most notable features, introducing Stories, which allows users to create photo/video montages that vanish within 24 hours. Two other camera-oriented features allow users to make the camera accessible with one rightward swipe and add filters and masks; and introduce a direct-messaging tool. All three features will be unveiled this week. Facebook has experienced a slump in posting, and is studying Snapchat as a way to zero-in on its millennial appeal. Continue reading Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Facebook Messenger Lets Users Post Snapchat-Like Stories

Messenger has joined Instagram and WhatsApp in emulating Snapchat’s popular Stories concept. Messenger Day is a new feature within the Facebook Messenger app that encourages users to share a daily photo story. Users can post photos and 15-second videos taken with the Messenger camera or images and GIFs saved on their smartphone. The Messenger Day story is visible to all Facebook friends, but it disappears after 24 hours. Facebook’s unique special filters for the images are designed to spark conversations and encourage meet-ups. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Lets Users Post Snapchat-Like Stories

Instagram Adds Photo Carousels to Encourage More Posting

Photo-sharing social media platform Instagram is trying to lower the standard for an Instagram-worthy picture by allowing users to post multiple photos at once. The new photo carousels allow users to share up to 10 photos and videos in a single post. Carousels look similar to single-photo posts in Instagram feeds, but users can swipe left and right to see the other pictures. The new feature could also benefit advertisers who want more space to share their products. Instagram has been trying to encourage more posting on their platform in the past year.  Continue reading Instagram Adds Photo Carousels to Encourage More Posting

Copyright Holders Demand DMCA Update, Addition of Filtering

According to the Recording Industry Association of America and 14 other groups, the 19-year-old Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) needs to be updated. They’re telling the U.S. Copyright Office that new piracy controls are required. Currently, ISPs that “expeditiously” remove copyrighted content when alerted by rights holders get legal immunity or so-called safe harbor. But the RIAA and others say this process is not sufficient, as the pirated copy reappears instantly, requiring yet another takedown notice. Continue reading Copyright Holders Demand DMCA Update, Addition of Filtering

FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

FaceApp relies on neural networks to paste a smile on a person’s photo or change his gender or age. The iOS app doesn’t always work reliably; if the person’s face is large, has a beard or isn’t looking straight at the camera, for example, the results can be unconvincing. Switching genders can produce convincing results, but can only be accessed in “collage” mode, for a very small image. But FaceApp, similar to the Prisma app that uses artificial intelligence to make selfies look like famous paintings, proves that AI is making it easier to manipulate photographs. Continue reading FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

Facebook has decided it wants longer videos, and will reward videographers who create them. That’s quite a turnabout for the company that counts three seconds as a “view,” and the many publishers reporting that few viewers watch their videos to completion. Facebook still plans to count three seconds as a view, but is changing its News Feed algorithm to favor longer videos, especially those that keep viewers watching. With the new algorithm, the longer a video holds its audience, the more Facebook will promote it. The social network is also adding a feature similar to Snapchat Stories. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

Snapchat’s Strategy Behind Rebuffing Influencers, Celebrities

Many social networks have thrived on creating relationships with celebrities and influencers, but Snapchat prefers to treat them like ordinary users — so much so that its terms of service prohibit users from getting paid to post. The aim is to provide users a more authentic, less product-promoting experience. It’s also Snapchat’s strategy for differentiating its platform, thus better attracting advertisers that prefer the credibility of an “authentic experience” to influencer endorsements of products. Continue reading Snapchat’s Strategy Behind Rebuffing Influencers, Celebrities

Ad-Free Facebook is Still Possible, According to Adblock Plus

Yesterday we reported that Facebook is now able to block all ad blockers on its desktop website, sparking a discussion about the ethics of ad blocking. Popular ad-blocking software, Adblock Plus, has since posted instructions online for users to adjust their ad-blocking software by updating their filter lists so they can block Facebook ads again. Meanwhile, Facebook was quick to respond, expressing disappointment that Adblock’s workaround also removes posts from friends and Pages, in addition to ads. Facebook is reportedly rolling out a code update that will counter Adblock’s workaround. Continue reading Ad-Free Facebook is Still Possible, According to Adblock Plus

Snapchat to Debut Memories to Save, Tweak, Re-Share Snaps

Next month, Snapchat will introduce Memories, a new feature designed to let users save favorite photos and videos, re-edit them by adding filters and text and then re-share the latest versions. Included is a search function that lets the user search Memories by date, location or keywords. Prior to Memories, a Snapchat user could save a photo or video by downloading it to her smartphone, but couldn’t view it in the app or share it. Memories still does not allow a Snapchat user to save a photo/video sent by someone else. Continue reading Snapchat to Debut Memories to Save, Tweak, Re-Share Snaps

Facebook Develops Prototype Camera to Encourage Sharing

Facebook, concerned about the slowdown in users sharing videos, photos and updates, is developing a standalone camera app. Facebook’s “friend-sharing” team has created a prototype that, similar to Snapchat, opens to a camera that also allows users to live stream video. But people familiar with the project say it may never come to fruition. Facebook has built other sharing apps: Slingshot let users trade photos and videos that disappeared in 24 hours; Camera was a photo-editing/sharing app. Neither caught on and were dropped. Continue reading Facebook Develops Prototype Camera to Encourage Sharing

Instagram Answers Competitors with Short Boomerang Videos

Instagram has launched a new app called Boomerang that allows users to record 1-second video clips and share them on social media. The app records a burst of five photos and then stitches them together into a video loop, similar to an animated GIF, and plays the loop backwards and forwards to create the Boomerang effect. The app, available on Android and iOS, does not require an Instagram account. This is the third standalone app from Instagram; Layout is used to create collages to upload to Instagram, while Hyperlapse lets users create time-lapse videos. Continue reading Instagram Answers Competitors with Short Boomerang Videos

Disney Creates a Search Engine That Filters Pirated Results

Disney has secured a patent for a new search engine that will not highlight sites featuring pirated content in the search results. The search engine filters the results based on “authenticity,” so that illicit content will be more difficult to find. Disney and other companies have been unsatisfied with Google’s efforts to hide pirated sites. Disney’s new search technology also goes a step further by making the authentic trademark holder’s page rank higher than product reviews or Wikipedia entries. Continue reading Disney Creates a Search Engine That Filters Pirated Results

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