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Google Unveils Guetzli, Open Source JPEG Encoder, to Speed Browsing
March 18, 2017
Google on Thursday announced Guetzli, a new contribution to its evolving set of tools for the open source community. Guetzli is an encoder that allows JPEG files to be compressed as much as 35 percent, resulting in much faster Web page loading. "Guetzli," which means "cookie" in Swiss German, allows users to create smaller JPEG images.
Snap Sells Itself as Camera Company as IPO Nears
February 27, 2017
As it approaches its IPO, Snap, maker of the popular Snapchat messaging app, is positioning itself as a camera company. "We feel like we're really at the beginning of what cameras can do," said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. "Before, cameras were the best way to perfectly save or record something that you saw. They sort of helped augment memory -- but now, you know, cameras augment the way that we talk."
Rich Content Makes WhatsApp Look a Lot More Like Snapchat
February 22, 2017
Facebook has rolled out a WhatsApp update that could threaten Snapchat's share of the mobile app messaging market. The update allows WhatsApp users to share photos and videos through the app's status area. Moreover, like WhatsApp text messages, content shared through status updates is protected by end-to-end encryption -- a key distinction between WhatsApp and its competitors.
Snap Seizes the Moment
February 6, 2017
Snap last week filed for a $3 billion IPO. The company's private market valuation is $17.8 billion, but investors reportedly have valued it at between $20 billion and $25 billion. "Twenty-five billion dollars is just nuts, but that's the market we're in," remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "This could provide an opportunity for the big gambler investors," he suggested.
Google Gives Google+ Some Nips and Tucks
January 18, 2017
Google has announced three new updates to Google+ in an effort to revive interest in the faltering product. The added features will be rolled out next week, when the old Google+ layout will vanish. Lower quality comments will be hidden, although Google didn't explain how or by whom comments will be judged. Google has tweaked the Google+ UI to display more posts and less white space.
Instagram Stories to Feature Video Ads
January 11, 2017
Instagram on Wednesday announced that businesses will be able to place immersive, full-screen video ads in its Stories feature, which has attracted 150 million daily users since its launch five months ago. Further, Instagram Business Tools will include insights on stories, which will allow business users to view the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual story.
GoPro's Drone Initiative Crashes With Karma Recall
November 18, 2016
GoPro's ambitious plans to be a player in the fledgling drone market crashed last week when it had to announce a product recall due to Karma UAV units falling from the sky. The company needed to resolve a performance issue related to loss of power during operation, it said. It indicated it would resume shipment of Karma at some point, but didn't suggest when.
Google's Pixel Wins a Place in the Sun
November 8, 2016
Google's Pixel smartphone, which made its debut last month, has gathered some high praise from reviewers. "The Google Pixel is now the best Android smartphone you can buy," wrote Joanna Stern. "The other leading contender was disqualified due to spontaneous combustion," she added, referring to Samsung's doomed Galaxy Note7, which was recalled for safety reasons.
MIT's Nightmare Machine Churns Out AI-Generated Horror
October 31, 2016
In honor of Halloween, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab launched the Nightmare Machine website, which allows visitors to vote on AI-generated horror images created via an open source deep neural network algorithm developed last year. Scientists from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization collaborated on the project.
Snap Lines Up Bankers for Spring IPO
October 13, 2016
Snap this week hired Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group to manage its IPO, according to multiple reports. JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Allen & Co., Barclays and Credit Suisse Group reportedly also will play a role. The IPO, expected as early as this spring, could result in a valuation of $25 billion or more. That would make Snap one of the highest-profile IPOs in years.
GoPro Karma Lets New Hero5s Fly High
September 22, 2016
Pro earlier this week refreshed its product line, announcing two new action cameras, a cloud service and a drone. Its new Hero5 Black camera can capture 4K video at 30 frames a second and still photos at 12 megapixels, with RAW and WDR support. It has a 2-inch touch display, and stereo sound recording with advanced wind noise reduction. It can be voice-controlled in seven languages. The shooter will be available Oct. 2.
Nikon Gets In On the Action
September 21, 2016
Nikon has announced its new KeyMission line of shooters, marking its entry into the 360-degree and action camera business. The KeyMission 360 can corral 360-degree video in 4K UHD at 24p, as well as in the more traditional HD 1080p. It also shoots 30-megapixel stills. The unit has two f/2.0 lenses, each with a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor. The dual units eliminate blind spots.
Facebook's Sandberg Expresses Regret Over Deletion of Historic Vietnam War Photo
September 12, 2016
COO Sheryl Sandberg has acknowledged that Facebook was wrong to delete posts showing an iconic image of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam war. The admission came in a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Facebook last week repeatedly deleted the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, "The Terror of War," on grounds that it violated its nudity restrictions.
Apple Puts Its User-Friendly Stamp on Fancy iPhone 7 Cameras
September 9, 2016
Apple raised the ante for cameras in flagship phones with the announcement of its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Others already have taken the dual-camera approach to smartphone photography -- notably HTC, LG and Huawei. "While it's not the first dual camera mounted in a smartphone, it's on par with the others in terms of basic functionality," said Brian Blau, a research director for Gartner.
Apple Hopes iPhone 7 Extras Will Make Up for Missing Headphone Jack
September 8, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday officially unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone Plus, confirming a rumor that has evoked widespread dread: The traditional headphone jacks are gone. The new iPhones are sleeker than their predecessors, though, as well as water resistant. Their biggest plus might be the advanced lenses in what Apple claims is the most sophisticated smartphone camera in the world.
Samsung Hones Galaxy Note7 to a Fine Point
August 4, 2016
Samsung on Tuesday unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note7. It has an iris-scanning feature that combines with Samsung Knox for security, as well as a fingerprint scanner. The Galaxy Note7 has a water resistant body, a 5.7-inch QHD Super Amoled screen with a front-to-back symmetrical dual-edged curve, HDR video-streaming capabilities for immersive entertainment.
Instagram's Stories Inspired by Snapchat
August 3, 2016
Everyone has a story to tell, and Instagram on Tuesday announced Stories, a new way for users to tell theirs. Stories allows Instagram users to string together images and videos for a dynamic slide show presentation that can be shared with friends or the entire Instagram community. Rather than sharing content individually with others on the platform, a user can choose to share it through a story.
Snapchat's Curious About-Face
July 23, 2016
Fleeting memories will be a thing of the past with a new Snapchat feature currently rolling out. "Memories," introduced earlier this month, allows users of the app to save photos and photo stories to their phones, as well as share them with friends. Finding snaps or stories can be done with a simple text search. Protecting snaps and stories on a phone is easy, too.
Teal Pushes Drone Speed Limits
July 21, 2016
Teal Drones on Wednesday introduced what it billed as the world's fastest production drone. Aside from its drone's capabilities, the company is drawing attention because George Matus Jr., its founder and CEO, is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate. The drone can fly at 70 mph in all weather conditions and has reached a top speed of 85 mph. It can withstand 40 mph winds.
Apple Patents Tech to Foil Concert Pirates
July 16, 2016
A patent for an infrared system that could be used to shut off iPhone cameras and microphones at live performances is one of dozens recently awarded to Apple. The system could assist the music and movie industries by automatically disabling camera functions at movies or concerts. It could have other applications as well -- for example, turning an iOS device into a museum or city tour guide.
Polaroid Swing Gives New Meaning to Moving Pictures
July 13, 2016
Polaroid Swing, a new iOS app for creating animated photos, on Tuesday debuted at the App Store. The app has ties both to instant photography pioneer Polaroid and Twitter founder Biz Stone. Polaroid Swing lets a "phonetog" capture 1-second videos posing as images that become animated when a phone is tilted, or when they're swiped or tapped. The app presents three options.
Twitter Tries to Get Stickier
June 28, 2016
Twitter fans who want to dress up pix they post to the service can do it with #Stickers, a new feature announced Monday. "Soon, you can browse our rotating sets of stickers to join in on real-time conversations, and select from the library of hundreds of accessories, emoji, and props to make your photos more fun," said Sasank Reddy, a senior product manager at Twitter.
Instagram Blows Past Competition to 500M Mark
June 22, 2016
Instagram on Tuesday said it had passed a milestone, with its community having grown to more than 500 million members -- more than 300 million of them using the site on a daily basis. The Instagram community has become more global, with more than 80 percent of Instagrammers living outside the United States. Instagram's user base has more than doubled in two years.
Motorola Shows Off New Moto G Collection
May 18, 2016
Motorola on Tuesday unveiled three new smartphones: the fourth-generation Moto G, the Moto G Plus and the Moto G Play. The Moto G and Moto G Plus can be customized using Moto Maker, while the Moto G Play can not. All three run Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. The Moto G and Moto G Plus became available Tuesday in Brazil and India. They will be rolled out elsewhere over time.
iPhone 7 Rumors Blunt Anticipation
May 11, 2016
It appears there won't be a lot of design changes in the next iPhone, according to a schematic photo published online Monday. It shows what's purported to be Apple's upcoming iPhone 7 to be the same size as the 6s. "They've done a lot with the design already. They're keeping multiple design languages to keep their customer base happy," said analyst Kevin Krewell.
Gadget Ogling: A 360-Degree Cam, a Leveled-Up Kindle, and a Space-Saving Home Gym
April 21, 2016
Facebook has unveiled its latest push into hardware -- an open source 360-degree camera. Bearing 17 cameras and Web-based software to render footage in 360-degrees, Facebook Surround 360 is more of a design than a commercial product. It would cost around $30,000 to build one as is, Facebook said. The idea is to allow creators to iterate on the design to create their own cameras.
HTC 10 Wins Heaps of Praise With a Sprinkling of 'Buts'
April 15, 2016
HTC this week unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC 10. The phone's camera is outfitted with new, larger sensors and 12 million new-generation UltraPixels. Both the front and rear cameras sport the world's first optically stabilized, larger-aperture f/1.8 lenses on, the company said. The rear camera also has a faster laser autofocus.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Facebook Entices VR Content Creators With Open Source Surround Cam
April 13, 2016
Facebook on Tuesday unveiled a high-quality 360-degree 3D camera suitable for creating virtual reality content. The Facebook Surround 360 system, which made its debut at the F8 developers conference, includes a production-ready camera -- which costs about $30,000 to build and looks like a flying saucer from a science fiction movie -- and software for controlling the camera and for stitching and rendering what the camera captures.
Samsung Raises Curtain on Galaxy S7 Models
February 23, 2016
Samsung on Sunday introduced two new models of its flagship Galaxy smartphone line at the annual gala for the mobile world, the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Both phones have similar features, but one, the Galaxy S7 Edge, has a 5.5-inch display, the same size as the iPhone 6s Plus. The units have curved screens that support quad HD resolution, as well as a slight curve on the back.
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