Архив метки: AI

What we know about Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 865 and 765 chips

Qualcomm’s holding its big annual get-together this week in Hawaii, portioning off Snapdragon news, piece by piece. Yesterday’s event was the big unveiling of the Snapdragon 865 and 765, the chips that will power most of next year’s premium and mid-tier handsets, respectively.
Today, the components came into sharper focus. Expect more from both tomorrow, as well, as the company continues to milk them for the multi-day event, but we’re starting to get a pretty solid picture of what these chips will be able to do.
Let’s start top-down with the 865. Expect the premium chip to start showing up in announcements around CES and MWC, if past years’ road maps are any indication. As anticipated, 5G is one of the key focuses. After all, 2020 is generally believed to be when 5G-driven purchases will start helping to right long-flagging smartphone sales.

Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon 865 and 765 platforms

No integrated 5G has been announced for the chip. Instead, it will work in tandem with Qualcomm’s 5G modem, the X55. Keep in mind, there are still going to be plenty of non-5G alternative flagships released in the next calendar year. For starters, the devices are bound to be prohibitively expensive. Also, in many markets, 5G coverage will be spotty, at best. Unfortunately, however, it seems that manufacturers will have to buy them as a pair.
Notably, there’s support for a wide range of 5G frequencies. That’s necessary, because carrier approach to 5G has been pretty piecemeal. It varies a good deal from carrier to carrier — and in the case of some, like T-Mobile, a good deal within the carrier.
AI’s the other big marquee bit. Again, no surprise. It’s been an increasingly important aspect of smartphone evolution for several years now. That’s powered by a fifth-gen AI chip that doubles the performance of its predecessor.
There’s also on-board support for wake word listening for use with the likes of Alexa and Assistant, at low power. Imaging improvements include support for 200 megapixel photos and 8K, along with much-improved speeds. On the display/gaming front, there’s now support for 144Hz refresh rates.
The arrival of the 765, meanwhile, highlights Qualcomm’s ambitions to speed up 5G adoption across a wider range of devices. The new chip, which features an option with integrated 5G, could certainly help on that front, keeping cost and power usage down.
Expect devices to start arriving in early 2020.

What we know about Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 865 and 765 chips

Google Photos adds a time-traveling version of Stories, plus more sharing and printing options

Google Photos is getting its own version of Stories. But instead of focusing on what you’re doing now, as Stories on other platforms like Instagram and Snapchat offer, Google Photos is adopting the format to help you take a trip down memory lane. The feature is one of several updates coming to the photo-sharing service that focuses on helping you reconnect with your old photos that often get forgotten after upload.
Its unique take on Stories is, perhaps, the most interesting update, as it’s the first time we’ve seen the format used as a way to rewind time.
In Google Photos, the feature is more appropriately called “Memories,” and is designed to help users relive their life in a more meaningful way.

The company said it came up with the idea by watching user behavior on its app.
“We see users browse their photos and scroll all the way down to look at pictures from five years ago,” explained Google Photos lead, Shimrit Ben-Yair. “We see them searching for moments and having a good experience with that. But we thought, how can we make that even easier?”
The Memories feature, she continued, is meant to accomplish that by helping users “better reminisce digitally.”
Most users will already know how to use Google Photos Memories, given the broad adoption of Stories across various platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Messenger, YouTube and even surprising places like Netflix. As with some other implementations, the feature places small, rounded icons at the top of the Google Photos gallery, which you can tap to launch and advance through.
Except, in this case, each Story circle is taking you back in time — for example, a year ago, two years ago, three and so on.

 
However, the feature isn’t just a variation on “Rediscover this Day,” because it’s not as tightly tied to a particular date. It’s more like a showcase of what you were doing around the same time as in years prior — like around the same week. It lets you look back without having to swipe through the badly shot photos and duplicates.
To help users from reliving more sensitive memories — like deaths they’re still grieving or breakups they’d rather forget, for example — you’ll also be able to block certain people or places from showing up in the Memories feature, to better personalize your highlight reel.
Another key difference is that Google Photos’ Memories are not put on public display.
“Even though it is the Stories format — which we lean into because we feel it creates a more immersive experience for reliving your life — this is only your library. It’s your private content,” noted Google Photos Engineering lead James Gallagher, when demoing the feature, pre-launch, to TechCrunch.
In a few months’ time, however, Google Photos plans to let you share these old photos — or any others you come across in your library — in a more direct and more personal way. Through an enhancement to the sharing feature, you’ll be able to send a photo directly to friends or family, where it’s then adding to an ongoing and private conversation that will eventually become a stream of all your chats and shares.

And Google Photos is expanding its options for getting photos off your phone and into the real world.
It’s partnering with Walmart and CVS for 4×6 photo prints that can be picked up in about an hour at more than 11,000 U.S. locations. These prints will cost the same as if you ordered through the retailers directly ($0.25 from Walmart and $0.33 from CVS). You’ll also be able to turn photos into wall art of various sizes, in the U.S. This follows Flickr’s recent expansion into the area of prints and wall art, which rolled out last month.

In Google Photos’ case, you’ll be able to select canvas prints in three different sizes, 8×8 ($19.99), 11×14 ($29.99) and 16×20 ($44.99), which can be customized with either black, white or photo wrap borders. The canvases also come with a wire hanger on the back to make mounting easier.
This feature will generate revenue, though Google outsources the actual work to a network of printing partners across the U.S. It joins an existing feature that lets users turn photos into photo books in just a few steps.

One final feature, though not necessarily related to reminiscing, is an improvement to search that will now help you find photos or screenshots with text — like a recipe.
This feature, prints and the Memories feature are rolling out now. Direct sharing is coming in a few months.
The additions are part of many enhancements to Google Photos since its spin-out from Google+ just over four years ago. The company has rapidly improved its photo-hosting and sharing service with AI functionality to clean up users’ vast photo libraries and automatically create photo edits and mini-movies, among other things. And it continues to improve with features like support for Lens’ visual search and an expanded array of AI-powered photo fixes, for example.
Thanks to these features and its integration with the Android operating system, Google Photos now has more than a billion monthly users.

Google Photos adds a time-traveling version of Stories, plus more sharing and printing options

At last, a camera app that automatically removes all people from your photos

As a misanthrope living in a vibrant city, I’m never short of things to complain about. And in particular the problem of people crowding into my photos, whatever I happen to shoot, is a persistent one. That won’t be an issue any more with Bye Bye Camera, an app that simply removes any humans from photos you take. Finally!
It’s an art project, though a practical one (art can be practical!), by Do Something Good. The collective, in particular the artist damjanski, has worked on a variety of playful takes on the digital era, such as a CAPTCHA that excludes humans, and setting up a dialogue between two Google conversational agents.
The new app, damjanski told Artnome, is “an app for the post-human era… The app takes out the vanity of any selfie and also the person.” Fortunately, it leaves dogs intact.
Of course it’s all done in a self-conscious, arty way — are humans necessary? What defines one? What will the world be like without us? You can ponder those questions or not; fortunately, the app doesn’t require it of you.
Bye Bye Camera works using some of the AI tools that are already out there for the taking in the world of research. It uses YOLO (You Only Look Once), a very efficient object classifier that can quickly denote the outline of a person, and then a separate tool that performs what Adobe has called “context-aware fill.” Between the two of them a person is reliably — if a bit crudely — deleted from any picture you take and credibly filled in by background.
It’s a fun project (though the results are a mixed bag) and it speaks not only to the issues it supposedly raises about the nature of humanity, but also the accessibility of tools under the broad category of “AI” and what they can and should be used for.
You can download Bye Bye Camera for $3 on the iOS App Store.

At last, a camera app that automatically removes all people from your photos

Instagram’s IGTV copies TikTok’s AI, Snapchat’s design

Instagram conquered Stories, but it’s losing the battle for the next video formats. TikTok is blowing up with an algorithmically suggested vertical one-at-a-time feed featuring videos of users remixing each other’s clips. Snapchat Discover’s 2 x infinity grid has grown into a canvas for multi-media magazines, themed video collections and premium mobile TV shows.
Instagram’s IGTV…feels like a flop in comparison. Launched a year ago, it’s full of crudely cropped and imported viral trash from around the web. The long-form video hub that lives inside both a homescreen button in Instagram as well as a standalone app has failed to host lengthier must-see original vertical content. Sensor Tower estimates that the IGTV app has just 4.2 million installs worldwide, with just 7,700 new ones per day — implying less than half a percent of Instagram’s billion-plus users have downloaded it. IGTV doesn’t rank on the overall charts and hangs low at No. 191 on the US – Photo & Video app charts, according to App Annie.

Now Instagram has quietly overhauled the design of IGTV’s space inside its main app to crib what’s working from its two top competitors. The new design showed up in last week’s announcements for Instagram Explore’s new Shopping and IGTV discovery experiences. At the time, Instagram’s product lead on Explore Will Ruben told us that with the redesign, “the idea is this is more immersive and helps you to see the breadth of videos in IGTV rather than the horizontal scrolling interface that used to exist,” but the company declined to answer follow-up questions about it.
IGTV has ditched its category-based navigation system’s tabs like “For You”, “Following”, “Popular”, and “Continue Watching” for just one central feed of algorithmically suggested videos — much like TikTok. This affords a more lean-back, ‘just show me something fun’ experience that relies on Instagram’s AI to analyze your behavior and recommend content instead of putting the burden of choice on the viewer.
IGTV has also ditched its awkward horizontal scrolling design that always kept a clip playing in the top half of the screen. Now you’ll scroll vertically through a 2 x infinity grid of recommended clips in what looks just like a Snapchat Discover feed. Once you get past a first video that auto-plays up top, you’ll find a full-screen grid of things to watch. You’ll only see the horizontal scroller in the standalone IGTV app, or if you tap into an IGTV video, and then tap the Browse button for finding a next clip while the last one plays up top.
Instagram seems to be trying to straddle the designs of its two competitors. The problem is that TikTok’s one-at-a-time feed works great for punchy, short videos that get right to the point. If you’re bored after five seconds you swipe to the next. IGTV’s focus on long-form means its videos might start too slowly to grab your attention if they were auto-played full-screen in the feed rather than being chosen by a viewer. But Snapchat makes the most of the two previews per row design IGTV has adopted because professional publishers take the time to make compelling cover thumbnail images promoting their content. IGTV’s focus on independent creators means fewer have labored to make great cover images, so viewers have to rely on a screenshot and caption.

Instagram is prototyping a number of other features to boost engagement across its app, as discovered by reverse-engineering specialist and frequent TechCrunch tipster Jane Manchun Wong. Those include options to blast a direct message to all your Close Friends at once but in individual message threads, see a divider between notifications and likes you have or haven’t seen, or post a Chat sticker to Stories that lets friends join a group message thread about that content. And to better compete with TikTok, it may let you add lyrics stickers to Stories that appear word-by-word in sync with Instagram’s licensed music soundtrack feature, and share Music Stories to Facebook. What we haven’t seen is any cropping tool for IGTV that would help users reformat landscape videos. The vertical-only restriction keeps lots of great content stuck outside IGTV, or letterboxed with black, color-matched backgrounds, or meme-style captions with the video as just a tiny slice in the middle.

When I spoke with Instagram co-founder and ex-CEO Kevin Systrom last year a few months after IGTV’s launch, he told me, “It’s a new format. It’s different. We have to wait for people to adopt it and that takes time . . . Everything that is great starts small.”
But to grow large, IGTV needs to demonstrate how long-form portrait mode video can give us a deeper look at the nuances of the influencers and topics we care about. The company has rightfully prioritized other drives like safety and well-being with features that hide bullies and deter overuse. But my advice from August still stands despite all the ground Instagram has lost in the meantime. “Concentrate on teaching creators how to find what works on the format and incentivizing them with cash and traffic. Develop some must-see IGTV and stoke a viral blockbuster. Prove the gravity of extended, personality-driven vertical video.” Until the content is right, it won’t matter how IGTV surfaces it.

Instagram’s IGTV copies TikTok’s AI, Snapchat’s design

CoParenter helps divorced parents settle disputes using AI and human mediation

A former judge and family law educator has teamed up with tech entrepreneurs to launch an app they hope will help divorced parents better manage their co-parenting disputes, communications, shared calendar and other decisions within a single platform. The app, called coParenter, aims to be more comprehensive than its competitors, while also leveraging a combination of AI technology and on-demand human interaction to help co-parents navigate high-conflict situations.
The idea for coParenter emerged from co-founder Hon. Sherrill A. Ellsworth’s personal experience and entrepreneur Jonathan Verk, who had been through a divorce himself.
Ellsworth had been a presiding judge of the Superior Court in Riverside County, California for 20 years and a family law educator for 10. During this time, she saw firsthand how families were destroyed by today’s legal system.
“I witnessed countless families torn apart as they slogged through the family law system. I saw how families would battle over the simplest of disagreements like where their child will go to school, what doctor they should see and what their diet should be — all matters that belong at home, not in a courtroom,” she says.

Ellsworth also notes that 80 percent of the disagreements presented in the courtroom didn’t even require legal intervention — but most of the cases she presided over involved parents asking the judge to make the co-parenting decision.
As she came to the end of her career, she began to realize the legal system just wasn’t built for these sorts of situations.
She then met Jonathan Verk, previously EVP Strategic Partnerships at Shazam and now coParenter CEO. Verk had just divorced and had an idea about how technology could help make the co-parenting process easier. He already had on board his longtime friend and serial entrepreneur Eric Weiss, now COO, to help build the system. But he needed someone with legal expertise.
That’s how coParenter was born.
The app, also built by CTO Niels Hansen, today exists alongside a whole host of other tools built for different aspects of the co-parenting process.
That includes those apps designed to document communication, like OurFamilyWizard, Talking Parents, AppClose and Divvito Messenger; those for sharing calendars, like Custody Connection, Custody X Exchange and Alimentor; and even those that offer a combination of features like WeParent, 2houses, SmartCoparent and Fayr, among others.

But the team at coParenter argues that their app covers all aspects of co-parenting, including communication, documentation, calendar and schedule sharing, location-based tools for pickup and drop-off logging, expense tracking and reimbursements, schedule change requests, tools for making decisions on day-to-day parenting choices like haircuts, diet, allowance, use of media, etc. and more.
Notably, coParenter also offers a “solo mode” — meaning you can use the app even if the other co-parent refuses to do the same. This is a key feature that many rival apps lack.

However, the biggest differentiator is how coParenter puts a mediator of sorts in your pocket.
The app begins by using AI, machine learning and sentiment analysis technology to keep conversations civil. The tech will jump in to flag curse words, inflammatory phrases and offensive names to keep a heated conversation from escalating — much like a human mediator would do when trying to calm two warring parties.
When conversations take a bad turn, the app will pop up a warning message that asks the parent if they’re sure they want to use that term, allowing them time to pause and think. (If only social media platforms had built features like this!)
 

When parents need more assistance, they can opt to use the app instead of turning to lawyers.
The company offers on-demand access to professionals as both monthly ($12.99/mo – 20 credits, or enough for two mediations) or yearly ($119.99/year – 240 credits) subscriptions. Both parents can subscribe for $199.99/year, each receiving 240 credits.
“Comparatively, an average hour with a lawyer costs between $250 and upwards of $500, just to file a single motion,” Ellsworth says.
These professionals are not mediators, but are licensed in their respective fields — typically family law attorneys, therapists, social workers or other retired bench officers with strong conflict resolution backgrounds. Ellsworth oversees the professionals to ensure they have the proper guidance.

All communication between the parent and the professional is considered confidential and not subject to admission as evidence, as the goal is to stay out of the courts. However, all the history and documentation elsewhere in the app can be used in court, if the parents do end up there.
The app has been in beta for nearly a year, and officially launched this January. To date, coParenter claims it has already helped to resolve more than 4,000 disputes and more than 2,000 co-parents have used it for scheduling. Indeed, 81 percent of the disputing parents resolved all their issues in the app, without needing a professional mediator or legal professional, the company says.
CoParenter is available on both iOS and Android.

CoParenter helps divorced parents settle disputes using AI and human mediation