Tag Archives: photos

Google’s Live Albums Keeps Families In Touch



Google’s Pixel 3 event today didn’t bring too many surprises on the hardware front: most had been leaked well in advance of the presentation. What caught my eye was not a device but a new a new software feature called “Live Albums”.

Dave Loxton, Google Photo Product Manager, explains, “Many of us share the same photos with the same people over and over, whether it’s photos of your children to their grandparents, or cute pics of your pup to your best friend. Every time, we have to find the photos, select the ones we want to share and send them to the right people. And that’s if we even remember to share them at all.

Live albums start out as ordinary albums – you select the special photos of friends, family and pets. Here’s the clever bit…once tagged as a live album, freshly taken photos will be scanned by Google’s AI smarts and if they include people in the live album, they’ll be added into the album automatically.

This is fantastic for those families wanting to share photos with far-flung relatives. Instead of constantly having to remember to send photos to granny in Edinburgh, create a live album of the grandchildren and share it with her. New photos of the children will be added in as they’re taken, and granny gets to see the photos straightaway.

Google touts its Home Hub as being the ideal picture frame to display live album, though it’s only 7″, which I think is a little small for a photo frame. Priced at US$149 or UK£139, the Home Hub is competitively priced against wireless photo frames from the likes of Nixplay. I can see the Home Hub taking market share this Christmas.

The updated version of Photos with live album support will be rolling out shortly, so wait for it to appear on your smartphone.


Europe Has a New Tallest Building: The Shard Featured on Instagram



Today, July 5th, marked the official opening of the new tallest building in the European Union, although construction was actually completed back in April of this year.  Called “The Shard“, and formerly known by the name “London Bridge Tower”, the building is 309.6 meters tall with 72 habitable floors.  It also features a viewing gallery and observation deck on the 72nd story.

If you are wondering how this article fits into our normal tech news genre, well there are a couple of reasons.  First is the architecture, which likely couldn’t have been done in the pre-computer design era.  The long, thin pyramid design is beautiful to behold and a challenge to design and build.

Second, the pictures taken of the new building were picked up by web and mobile photo sharing service Instgram, who today dedicated a page to images of The Shard.  They announced this today through a post on their blog, and also added a few images, which you can see below.

Image Credit: Instagram Blog


Busy Week at Instagram



Social photo service Instagram just had a big week, although not as big as the week of the billion dollar buyout, but it’s all relative.  This week the mobile app company released a slew of updates, including ones to their Android and iOS apps, as well as to their web site.  There were bug fixes and new features for everyone, and with the power and financial backing of Facebook behind them, they will likely be moving even faster with their updates and upgrades.

Updates to the android app included:

  • Improved search functionality
  • Support for location data taken from Gallery images when geotag is selected
  • Fix for HTC Sensation 4G freezing using tilt shift
  • Improved support and bugfixes for devices using the Instagram advanced camera
  • Addresses tilt shift issues on lower resolution images

iOS users can expect similar improvements.

  • Revamped profile tab
  • Search for users and tags in the Explore tab
  • Improvements to commenting
  • User search autocompletes based on people you follow
  • Visual improvements
  • Speed optimizations
  • Optionally share likes to Facebook (enable in your Profile > Sharing Settings > Facebook)

If you want to access the service from a computer then you got the biggest update of all.  Instagram has finally allows you to follow, comment and like from your web browser.

Instagram, now a property of Facebook, is the number one photo sharing service right now and they continue update and innovate in an effort to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing tech world.   Like other social networks, it’s free to use.


Instagram for Android Updates to 1.1, Adds Tilt-Shift



Instagram launched their long-awaited Android app just a few weeks ago.  It was followed by several small updates to get it up and working properly, but today they have finally released the first feature update, dubbed version 1.1.  The latest version adds just one feature, but it’s an important one to anyone that has used Instagram – tilt-shift.

The name may be a bit cryptic, but tilt-shift is essentially an effect that adds depth-of-field to your images.  In other words, it’s that cool effect you get in high-end DSLR cameras that causes the background to be blurred, bringing the subject into better focus.  With Instagram this isn’t done at the time the image is snapped, but in post-production with a filter.

In you are interested in more in-depth information about using this feature then you can head over to the Instagram blog to read their tips for using tilt-shift.  Instagram is available for free from the Google Play Store.


Adobe Lightroom 4 Officially Released



Adobe announced today the official final version of Lightroom 4 is now available.  Lightroom is a popular photo editing tool that is used by many amateur and professional photographers alike.  Lightroom is part of Adobe’s Photoshop family, but is a cheaper and more dedicated version geared specifically towards working with digital photos.

Adobe claimed they had 300,000 users of the public beta version of Lightroom 4 and used all of that feedback to make changes before their final release.  Changes made since the Beta version include:

  • Reverse geocoding now available in the Map Module
  • Revamped and improved auto tone in Develop based on new controls
  • Increased range of local white balance controls (temperature and tint)
  • Updated Develop presets plus added new presets for video
  • Maximum Blurb book size is now 240 pages
  • Over 800 bugs found and fixed!

Lightroom 4 is available now for $149.  You can also download a free trial version if you want to check it out first.  You can buy it or download the trial from Adobe.


Bing Releases Joplin Tornado App



Bing has release an app that documents the massive damage from the May 22nd Joplin, Missouri tornado.  The new app is a part of Bing Maps, which has become a really nice competitor for Google Maps.  According the Bing team the photos come from “Surdex, one of our Global Ortho flying partners, captured these images 36 hours after the event at an amazing 7.5 cm resolution (which means each pixel represents an area about the size of a standard post-it note). Surdex is making these images freely available to government agencies as a public service (see their website for details).”

The app shows both before and after photos that document the sad damage of the massive EF-5 storm.  Users can flip back and forth between both the before and after shots to see the changes.

To access it, you can visit the Joplin Tornado app page.


Power Up Android Photos With Camera Zoom FX



Many of the new Android phones come with powerful cameras – up to 8 MP in some cases.  The built-in camera software works pretty well also.  The Droid X, mt current smartphone of choice, even came with Panorama Mode build-in.  However, there are many photography apps available in the Android Market.  The first one I tried was Camera 360, which I read about in an article right here.

Recently I have been trying out an app called Camera Zoom FX, which is available for $4.79 from the Android Market.  For more information you can also visit the maker’s website, AndroidSlide.

The app boasts a long and impressive list of features. Many of them I have not found in any other camera app.  Some, while perhaps available elsewhere, are incredibly useful.  I don’t think there’s another app that brings all of these together in one place.

40 photo fx! (pencil, fisheye, filmreel, etc.)
1-click simultaneously upload to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.
customization of all hardware buttons, e.g. volume buttons to control zoom
sound activation to take shots (clap to snap!)
online photo contest (voting using Twitter / Facebook) – best picture wins $100
circular zoom wheel (6x zoom)
upscale zoomed images
tap screen to snap shot
timer + sound effect
auto focus on / off
burst mode up to 16 shots
photo booth, e.g. 2 x 2 passport style combination shots
stable shot mode, including on-screen meter to show current level of movement
props, borders and famous ‘buddies’ in your pictures
customizable grid overlays
whitebalance
nightshot
geotag
send, share
support from Android 1.5 through to Android 2.2
silent mode
antibanding (for TV / computer monitors)
auto save option
digi composites
flash (supported handsets)
scene modes, e.g. nightshot, beach (Droid only)

Once you open the app you will get a simple right-side menu that includes FX, Buddy (insert), hardware, shooting, and flash.  Clicking on each one brings up a more detailed list of options.

For instance, FX gives you such options as Normal, Color FX, Mirror FX, Art FX, Distort FX, and Frame FX.  Hardware allows you to hoose Auto Focus options, Filters, White Balance, and Night Shots.

If you click the menu button on your Android device you will get a whole list of settings you can change.  You can choose from such options as setting Camera Zoom FX as your default camera, enable shutter sound, zoom sensitivity, upscale zoomed images, picture size, JPEG quality, stable shot sensitivity, voice activation,burst mode options, sharing, and store GPS location in picture date, plus a lot more.

For a look at some of what Camera Zoom FX can do you can browse the gallery below.

Camera Zoom FX Settings
Camera Zoom FX Modes

 

Camera Zoom FX Art FX
Picture taken with Camera Zoom FX