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Posts tagged with "photos"

Google Photos Launches Advanced Sharing Features

First announced last month at Google I/O, Google Photos for iOS has now been updated to include several new sharing features, including suggested sharing and shared libraries.

The suggested sharing feature brings with it a new dedicated navigation tab labeled ‘Sharing.’ Here you’ll find a listing of all prior sharing activity, as well as suggestions of photos you haven’t shared yet but may want to. These suggestions are made for one of two reasons: either the photos in question appear similar to images you’ve shared in the past with certain people, so Google thinks you may want to share them, or the photos contain people that Google knows are in your contacts, and thus you may want to share them.

If a Google Photos user shares images with another Google Photos user, and the sharing recipient appears to have photos from the same time and place, Google will suggest adding those images to the shared album. This can be used most effectively when sharing photos around a certain event, like a wedding or vacation. One person may initiate the sharing, but Google Photos makes it easy for the other people who attended the event to improve the shared album by seamlessly adding their own captured memories to it.

The new library sharing features are accessed from the sidebar menu’s ‘Share your library’ option, not the ‘Sharing’ tab. After you’ve selected one or more people to share with, there are a couple settings you can adjust. You can choose to share your entire library, or only photos of specific people. You can also set a time period from which the library sharing should begin – for example, you can set sharing to only happen with all photos from this day on, or from six months ago on, etc.

Google Photos was already an excellent service, but today’s updates make it even better. The automatic library sharing in particular has been on my wish list for Apple Photos for a long time. At the time these features were announced, details about iOS 11 were still unknown, but now that the WWDC unveiling has come and gone without any announced improvements to sharing in Apple Photos, Google Photos is more tempting than ever.


Apple Posts Two Videos Highlighting Photos Memories

Apple posted two videos highlighting the Memories feature of its iOS Photos app. One, called ‘The Archives,’ is part of Apple’s ‘practically magic’ series of videos and features an elderly man creating a film called ‘Together.’ When the man pulls a photograph out of a cabinet with dozens of drawers, it comes alive with a short snippet of video like a Live Photo.

After gathering a cart-load of photos and film, the man begins the laborious process of splicing them together into a film. The heartwarming spot captures the time, care, and attention needed to painstakingly create a movie from analog photos and videos, making the unstated point of how easy it is to do the same thing in Photos.

The second spot is in stark contrast to the first. It demonstrates the three steps to using Photos’ Memories feature:

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Go to the Memories Tab
  3. Choose a Memory

The two spots, which both feature Memories called 'Together,' are a clever one-two punch intended to convey how simple Photos has made it to create photo and video montages that once would have taken hours of work.


The JPEG Format’s Days May Be Numbered

Kelly Thompson writes for 500px about Apple's upcoming transition from JPEG to the HEVC-based HEIF for photos across all its platforms:

JPEG is 25 years old and showing its age. Compression has become a big deal as we’ve moved to 4K and HDR video, and HEVC was developed to compress those huge video streams. Luckily HEVC also has a still image profile. The format doesn’t just beat JPEG, JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP—it handily crushes them. It claims a 2 to 1 increase in compression over JPEG at similar quality levels. In our tests, we’ve seen even better levels, depending on the subject of the image.

By using it internally on the camera, it means storing twice as many images in the same space. People with full iPhones are weeping with joy.

Think about it for a second—if we could reduce every picture delivered on the web by two times and have it look the same (or better)… game changer.

A move away from JPEG is significant, but Apple clearly has good reason for making the transition now. The recent massive increases of photos taken by the average user have led to persistently-scarce storage space. Apple has responded in the past year by increasing the base storage of new iPhones and iPads, but storage bumps are only a bandaid fix – adopting HEIF should make a long-term difference.

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Live Photos Can Now Be Embedded on the Web

Apple's developer site details a new API that makes it possible to embed Live Photos on the web:

This new JavaScript-based API makes it easy to embed Live Photos on your websites. In addition to enabling Live Photos on iOS and macOS, you can now let users display their Live Photos on the web.

Live Photos were first introduced in September 2015 alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Since then, their adoption across major social media platforms and other parts of the web has been slow.

Today's news is welcome, as it will hopefully help expand the reach of Live Photos beyond the sandbox of photo apps on iOS.

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Prisma Launches Store for User-Created Filters

Prisma, the popular photo editing and sharing app, launched a filter store today with its latest update. The store allows filters created through a new desktop tool to be shared with others publicly. At this time, only the most active Prisma users can access the desktop tool and share their filters in the store, but according to The Next Web, the app's developers hope to expand the option to more users in the future.

The filter store can be accessed whenever you're taking a photo by tapping the orange icon in the center of the screen. The store's main page presents a number of filters, currently categorized as 'New Releases,' 'Popular in Your Country,' and 'All the Old Styles.' There isn't a particularly large selection of filters currently available, but that should change with time.

My favorite part about the store is that when you tap an available filter to view it, you'll also see a feed of images that have used that filter. I find this helpful for evaluating whether a particular filter might work well with the type of photo I'm editing.

One other thing worth mentioning about the store is that on its main page there's a bookmark icon in the top-right corner. Tapping this will present a list of all the filters you currently have installed. This is a nice way to gain a quick overview of all your current filters and remove any you may not want. You can also view filters you've removed in the past from this screen.


Prisma is a free download on the App Store.


Google Introduces PhotoScan and Updates Google Photos

Earlier today, Google announced a new app called PhotoScan and updates to Google Photos. PhotoScan is a simple scanner app for capturing prints. On launch it opens to a camera view with the instruction to frame your photo within the rectangle on the screen. When you tap the shutter, instead of taking a picture of your print, PhotoScan displays a circle in the middle of the view finder with four other circles near the corners of your print. There is a little arrow that prompts you to move your phone to line up the middle circle with each of the four other circles one at a time. When you’re finished, PhotoScan processes the data it’s collected and presents you with your scanned print, which can be further adjusted in-app.

PhotoScan, which is a free download on the App Store, doesn’t require you to sign into a Google account, unless you want to save your scans to Google Photos. If you prefer, you can save your scans to Apple’s Photos.

Google made a video demoing how PhotoScan works:

I tried PhotoScan on a handful of family photos to see how it would fare. In my tests, I found that there are a couple of simple things you can do to greatly improve your scans. First, find a spot where the lighting is good, but indirect which will help avoid glare on glossy photos. Second, don’t use the flash. Here’s an example of a scan with and without the flash that I took in the same spot, from the same distance, and with the same lighting:

The scan with flash turned on (left) has a nasty white glare spot in the middle of the photo and did a poor job cropping the image.

The scan with flash turned on (left) has a nasty white glare spot in the middle of the photo and did a poor job cropping the image.

Not every photo taken with the flash on had this much glare, but most had a bright white spot in the middle of the photos. Here are three scans that came out much better that were taken under normal lighting conditions in my kitchen with the flash turned off:

Each of these photos was scanned with the flash turned off  and turned out reasonably well.

Each of these photos was scanned with the flash turned off and turned out reasonably well.

PhotoScan does have some bugs. It crashed a couple times while I was using it. The second crash happened after I scanned fourteen photos. I went to the preview page to save them and when I tapped ‘Save All,’ PhotoScan crashed. When I reopened the app, all of my scans were gone. I thought I had lost data, but it turns out they were saved to Photos before the app crashed, so what could have been a scary moment if I had scanned dozens of photos turned out fine.

Overall, PhotoScan did a good job detecting the corners of prints and properly cropping most of them. PhotoScan also did a good job capturing the colors and detail of each shot as long as the flash was disabled. None of the snapshots I scanned were in perfect focus, but the scans of each were noticeably fuzzier and the colors off a little in some. Despite the bugs and limitations though, PhotoScan is an app I’ll keep close by when I visit relatives over the holidays for when they pull out family albums of photos because it’s so convenient and easy to use.

Google also added three new features to Google Photos today. The first is an improved auto-enhance tool. Second, Google added twelve new filters, which it calls ‘Looks.’ The feature first edits the photo to enhance it and then applies a filter that complements your photo. How does Google Photos know how to adjust its filters complement your photos? Machine learning of course. The third feature is fine-grained light and color editing tools. The Verge reports that Google is also introducing three new automatically created videos to Google Photos, for newborns, formal occasions like weddings, and a ‘through the years’ a slideshow for annual events like holiday gatherings.


Google Photos Adds Four New Features

Google Photos has introduced four new features:

  • Google Photos uses faces in your most recent photos to suggest older photos with with the same person in them;
  • If you take a lot of photos of the same subject, like a child, Google Photos will create a card of the best ones from the past month;
  • Animations, which Google Photos already creates using photos, are also generated from videos now; and
  • If Google Photos detects that there are sideways photos in your collection, it will present a card with the photos that it thinks should be rotated.

This is what Google Photos does best. It finds connections and photos that would be like searching for a needle in a haystack if you did it manually with a big photo library.

Each of the new features are available on iOS, Android, and the web.

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Google Photos Introduces Movie Concepts

In addition to improvements for sharing between users, Google has announced a new feature for Google Photos dubbed 'movie concepts'. Automatically generated like the service's previous slideshows and Assistant creations, movie concepts are based on "creative concepts" – themes found in your photos that go beyond recent uploads.

As Google writes:

We’re also upping our game when it comes to automatic creations. Google Photos has always made movies for you using your recently uploaded photos. Now we’re going further, with new movies that are based on creative concepts — the kinds of movies you might make yourself, if you just had the time. And they’re not only limited to your most recent uploads.

And:

Look out for a concept to commemorate the good times from this summer, and another one for formal events like weddings. And you don’t need to do a thing — these movies get made automatically for you.

Here's an example of a concept created by Google Photos:

Casey Newton, writing for The Verge, has more details:

Tim Novikoff, who joined Google last year when it acquired his video-editing company, Fly Labs, said the feature takes advantage of Google’s advancements in deep learning and computer vision. The idea, he said, was "let’s leverage this to make movies that are emotionally powerful — that make your really smile, or even make you cry and reminisce and show your family."

More concept movies are planned. "You can imagine where this goes," Novikoff said. "Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Little League highlights, dance recitals. All the things that people do, we can make special movies around them."

The new feature comes less than a week after the launch of iOS 10, which includes Memories – a feature of Apple's Photos app that creates personalized movies based on location, dates, and people recognized in your photo library. From Google's description and Novikoff's comments, it sounds like movie concepts will be more advanced than iOS' automated creations, but we'll have to test them in practice and see if the promise holds up. I'm curious to compare Apple's Memories to Google Photos' concepts.

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Google Photos Updated

Google released version 2.0.0 of Google Photos today to integrate better with other Google products and to give customers greater control over their photos.

In June, Google released Motion Stills an app that can turn Live Photos into GIFs or movies and does an amazing job eliminating camera shake. Version 2.0.0 brings that same functionality to Google Photos. From the menu, choose ‘Save as video’ and Google Photos will save a video version of your Live Photo.

It is also easier to upload your videos to YouTube. Select a video, tap share, pick the ‘YouTube’ icon from the share sheet. Google Photos will prepare the file and send it to the YouTube app where you can edit it further before posting if you like.

Finally, Google added a couple of user-friendly features to Google Photos. The first is the ability to sort photos in albums either chronologically or by recently added. The second is the ability to change the thumbnail used in the ‘People’ view to a photo of your own choosing.

As we saw from the introduction of the iPhone 7 yesterday, photography and the apps surrounding it continue to be some of the most competitive areas in mobile computing. With Google Photos 2.0.0, Google continues to refine its approach to photo management and tie it more closely with its video products.