Posts tagged with "photos"

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.



What Google Photos Could Do Next

Mat Honan, writing for BuzzFeed, interviewed Anil Sabharwal, vice president of Photos at Google, on the future of the service. It sounds like they're thinking of more ways to let artificial intelligence make photo management and sharing smarter:

Google refers to these auto-generated moments as “creations.” According to Sabharwal, the company has made 1.6 billion of them in the past year and has big plans to do more. “I think there’s a really great opportunity to mix the machine learning and creations together,” he said. “One [creation] we love is the concept of ‘rediscover this day’ — where we present to our users meaningful moments on a particular date in previous years. Rather than ‘here’s what happened a year ago,’ it’s here’s a set of photos from the last time you were with these people, or the last time you were at this restaurant.”

Sabharwal also said Photos might become smarter about the albums and movies it creates by giving them a stronger perspective and point of view. It might, for example, automatically select a wedding shot in which you and your partner are looking at each other for the hero shot in an anniversary album.

The success of Google Photos doesn't surprise me. Unlike other Google products, it's focused, updated often, and it distills the best of Google (machine learning at scale, speed, online backup) down to a clear, user-friendly product. I think it's the best consumer service they've launched in years.

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Pixelmator 3.5 Adds Selection Tools and a Photos Extension

Pixelmator 3.5 was released today with three new tools - Quick Selection, Magnetic Selection, and a retouch extension for Apple’s Photos app. Pixelmator has been my go-to image editor for a long time. I use if for everything from screenshot editing for MacStories and creating assets for my own website, to retouching family photos. As many readers may know, we started a Telegram channel a couple months ago called The MacStories Lounge. One of Telegram’s strengths is its media integration. I figured, what better way to test the new Pixelmator selection tools than to create a Telegram sticker – of Federico.

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VSCO to Lead iOS Photography Sessions at Apple’s New Union Square Store

As we highlighted yesterday, among the components of Apple’s new Union Square store are Creative Sessions that will be held in what Apple has dubbed ‘The Forum.’ Today, VSCO announced a partnership with Apple highlighting iOS photography:

From May 26th until July 7th, Apple Union Square will host four Creative Sessions, each led by an established photographer from the VSCO community. Each photographer will share their story, inspiration, and creative process, and will lead a hands-on lesson based on their unique style and techniques.

VSCO is the maker of a popular iOS photo editor of the same name.

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Linky 5.3 Adds ‘Markup’ Feature for Image Annotations

Linky's new Markup mode.

Linky's new Markup mode.

I've been using Linky for a few years now to share images, links, and app deals to Twitter. The app has a powerful share sheet with support for multiple Twitter accounts, and its developer introduced clever additions such as textshots and suggested images when sharing from the web. It's a solid app that comes in handy every day.

Today, Linky has reached version 5.3, which brings compatibility with Twitter's accessible image captions (useful for textshots) and a new Markup option to edit and annotate images before sharing them.

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