Microsoft Pix uses AI to help your iPhone take the best pictures

July 27, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Interaction, Participation, Technology

Microsoft Pix is looking to become your new go-to camera app on iPhone. The new iOS offering from Microsoft’s mobile team employs some artificial intelligence smarts to help make sure you take the best pictures, by eliminating human error through batch captures and by enhancing image color, exposure and other variables that can make the difference between drab and dramatic for your snapshots. Pix optimizes for people specifically when it detects that there are any in-frame, which makes sense since for most people, if you’re pointing your smartphone camera at someone it’s because you want them to be the focal point of the shot. The auto-enhance features also give you a before-and-after view so you can decide whether to throw away the original or retain the version that Pix has optimized. In addition to tweaking color and sharpness settings, Pix is also capturing bursts, or groups of photos shot in rapid succession. From those bursts, it selects the best captures, provides you with a couple of options to choose from and then deletes the rest to free up memory on your iPhone. You also can’t go back to past captures and see your image before/after options once you take another picture in Pix.
 You can download Pix now free from the App Store.

Twitter for Android gets a “Night mode”

July 26, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology

Well it took a while, but Twitter for Android users can finally enjoy the their tweets when the sun dips past the horizon, throwing the world into darkness. Yes, Twitter has added a “Night Mode” to its official Twitter for Android app. Long have we suffered with a Twitter usable window tied to the arc of the sun across the sky – and iOS users suffer still, for no “Night Mode” yet exists on the iOS version of the official app. Who knows how many tweets have been lost to the night, but at least now we have a way to move toward a more nocturnal future. Of course, in reality you could always use Twitter on Android or otherwise both at night and during the day, but the bright, white-dominated UI is not ideal for use in low light and sun-less settings. The new “Night Mode” actually just makes text light across a primarily dark background, which is a very welcome feature addition if you care at all about a more pleasant and comfortable reading experience at any time of day. SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Google’s new Arts & Culture app brings the world’s art, virtual tours and more to your smartphone

July 20, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Conversation, Culture, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology

Experiencing the world’s art just got a little easier, thanks to Google’s newly launched Arts & Culture application which puts works of art from over a thousand museums across 70 countries into the palm of your hand. But the app goes beyond offering only static images and text – instead, it now offers tools to search art works by any keyword, browse by color, as well as see an artists’ works evolve over time. It even supports 360-degree virtual tours, which you can view in Google Cardboard, and an “Shazam for art”-like feature that will identify the painting in your camera’s viewfinder. Similar to how Google Photos works, you can search for anything – like “shoes” or “all things gold,” notes Google in its announcement of the new release. Plus, there are things that the technology enables that’s not even possible in the real world – like being able to view, at a glance, all of an artist’s work on a scrollable timeline. After all, many artists’ collections are split up across multiple museums around the world, which makes it difficult to perform a comprehensive comparison of lifetime’s work. Another really clever feature is called “Art Recognizer,” which works at select galleries including London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery, Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Walesand the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. With this, you can point your phone at a painting, and the app will pull up all the information about the artwork – it’s sort of like Shazam, but for art. The app is available now for iOS and Android. SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Pokémon Go to launch in Japan TOMORROW

July 19, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Interaction, Participation, Technology


Pokémon Go fever has doubled the value of Nintendo’s business, pushing it past Sony in the process. Can you imagine what will happen when the game finally goes live in Japan, the birthplace of the Pokémon phenomenon? Well, you don’t have long to wait since Pokémon Go is scheduled to launch in Japan tomorrow (Wednesday), sources have confirmed to TechCrunch. Niantic, the company behind the title, did not reply to Techcrunch's request for comment. Pokémon Go is currently available in over 30 countries, including the U.S., Canada and much of Europe, but Japan has so far been left off the list. That’s upset and frustrated a lot of true Pokémon addicts, but Niantic — which has watched the game become more popular than Twitter, Tinder and a host of other top apps — has tried to rationalize the situation. Niantic CEO John Hanke recently told Forbes that the delay is because the companies behind the app — which include the Pokémon company and Nintendo — want to ensure that its servers are suitably robust to withstand the demand that the Japan launch is sure to generate. “We expect it to be released by the end of July,” Hanke said. Well, surprise! Tomorrow has been earmarked as launch day so we won’t have to wait quite that long to watch Pokémania hit Japan. Additionally, new features such as "sponsor locations" - where a company can create their own gym for real world revenue and traffic - will be starting up, the first sponsorship being with McDonald's. There's a lot coming down the line as Japan is the first Asian country to be opened to the app. The creators have seen the game stabilize in Europe and America, now time for taking on its biggest challenge yet. Bring on the Pokémon! SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

How to get your photos featured on Apple’s Shot on iPhone billboards

July 16, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Conversation, Culture, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology, Video


  • Shoot on the most recent iPhone Apple makes. It doesn’t matter if you take an awesome shot with an iPhone 5 — they’ll only want to promote the most recent model iPhone.
  • Tag your photos diligently on Instagram and make sure the rest of your Instagram feed is high quality, as well. Tagging with #shotoniphone and #shotoniphone6s is a good idea, but resist the temptation to spam your images with tons of hashtags.
  • Keep the original files. Apple will verify that the photo was really taken by you and that it was definitely taken on the phone you claim you used; in this case, an iPhone 6s.
  • Make it easy to find your contact details. The agency will have thousands of people to choose from; if you make it hard to email you, they’re not going to bother.
  • Keep an eye on your email — you never know when you’ll get the tap on your shoulder!
  • Take awesome photos. Okay, so maybe this should be tip number 1…

Happy shooting! 

Nintendo is launching a mini version of its iconic NES console with 30 classic games

July 14, 2016   |   filed under Community, Culture, Interaction, Participation, Technology, Video

Remember back in the day when you had a Nintendo Entertainment System hooked up to a tube television, the connection over RF shaky, the excitement palpable? Nintendo’s hoping you do, and wants you to recapture the feeling for $59.99. On November 11, it will release the recursively named “Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition,” a tiny little dedicated device packed with 30 of the greatest 8-bit hits. Pop in an authentically NES-style controller (additional ones sold separately for 10 bucks), plug into your flatscreen with HDMI, and you’re back in your childhood. Pure nostalgic bliss. But Nintendo is late to this party. Although plug-and-play retro gaming devices like Atari Flashback have been around since 2003, Nintendo waited until this year to jump into the nostalgia pool. So far, though, all indicators suggest it’s doing it the right way. It’s partnered up with the major Japanese game publishers from the 1980s to bring out a box filled not just with Nintendo’s own hits like Mario, Zelda, and Punch-Out!!, but third-party classics like Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man 2, Tecmo Bowl, and even the original Final Fantasy. It’s everything you loved about the original games, but better: for example, you’ll be able to save your game progress on games that didn’t allow it the first time around (hello, Castlevania)! Read more at the SOURCE: WIRED

Twitter to Stream the Republican and Democratic Conventions

July 13, 2016   |   filed under Community, Conversation, Culture, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology


Twitter has been perhaps the most talked about platform this election cycle. (Thanks, Donald Trump.) Now, in hopes of capturing even more of the political conversation, the company is announcing that it will livestream the Republican National Convention when it kicks off next week in Cleveland, followed by the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia the week after that. The streams will be available on both the mobile and web apps through Twitter’s new Live product. The company recently tested Live during Wimbledon, streaming matches through a broadcasting partnership with the tennis tournament organizers. Later this year, the company will also team up with the NFL to stream Thursday night football. The convention coverage, which will be shot by CBS and its online affiliate CBSN, is part of that push into event-based livestreaming, a fitting move for a company whose core strength has always been real-time events. Throughout this election cycle, Twitter has vied with other social media sites for a share of the public attention. But it has excelled in moments when people want to huddle together to talk about one thing and one thing only. On debate nights, Twitter is the modern day spin room, and when a crisis hits, it’s typically the first place candidates go to respond. Facebook may have more users, but Twitter tends to have the densest, most instantaneous conversations around a single topic. “Twitter is the fastest way to find out what’s happening in politics and to have a discussion about it,” Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer, said in a statement. The goal of the livestream, he said, is to give “people around the world the best way to experience democracy in action.” SOURCE: WIRED

Microsoft’s Project Malmo is teaching AI to build stuff in Minecraft

July 12, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Interaction, Technology

There’s plenty of precedent for the use of Minecraft in an educational setting. Hell, Microsoft issued an Education Edition of the popular PC game earlier this year targeted at use in a classroom setting. Turns out the game could also prove a useful tool for helping artificial intelligence be more, well, intelligent. Back in March, Microsoft Research showcased the work it was doing with Project Malmo, a platform designed to leverage Minecraft as a means of helping improve AI problem solving, using machines to accomplish tasks and create items in the blocky game. Now the company is bringing Malmo to the GitHub-using masses, courtesy of an open-source license in a private preview. Katja Hoffman of MS’s Cambridge, UK lab highlighted the key of teaching AI fundamental connections that go build simple pattern recognition. “We’ve trained the artificial intelligence to identify patterns in the dictation, but the underlying technology doesn’t have any understanding of what those words mean,” she said in a blog post announcing the preview. “They’re just statistical patterns, and there’s no connection to any experience.” The system also allows for overclocking, allowing programmers to play out scenarios faster than the standard Minecraft pace. SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Twitter reportedly in talks with the NBA, MLS and Turner for more sports streaming

July 8, 2016   |   filed under Apps, Community, Interaction, Participation, Social Media, Technology, Video

Twitter isn’t satisfied with streaming 10 Thursday Night Football games this upcoming NFL season. According to Recode, the social media network is also reportedly in talks with the NBA, Major League Soccer and cable television giant Turner about acquiring digital rights to stream more live sports. Twitter didn’t immediately respond to our request for confirmation of the report. Whether those allegedly sought-after rights pave the way for Twitter to stream actual NBA and MLS games or exclusive interviews and analysis remains to be seen. But by the report alone it’s clear that the social network wants to establish itself as a legit sports presence, in which people can watch content while they tweet about it. Earlier this week, Twitter got a head start with its sports content by live-streaming Wimbledon in what the company told Techcrunch was a test. “Twitter is increasingly a place where people can find live streaming video, and that includes exciting sporting events like Wimbledon,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an email about live-streaming the tennis action as a test. “This live stream is an extremely early and incomplete test experience, and we’ll be making lots of improvements before we launch it in its final form.” Like it has already locked up with the NFL, securing a bundle of NBA and MLS games — or even just fringe content — would be a pretty sweet score for Twitter. SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Parachut is the perfect photography gear club for indecisive photographers

July 7, 2016   |   filed under Community, Participation, Technology


It is frequently said that photography is a more expensive hobby than a recreational drug habit. Whether that’s true or not  of TechCrunch wouldn’t know (he's only ever suffered one of those two afflictions), but Parachut, launching in beta today, is here to alleviate the burden a little bit with a subscription library service for photography and video fans. As long as you keep paying your subscription fee, you’re free to return and check out as much fancy gear as you like. Photography is especially expensive for photographers with who suffer from a bit of CADD – creative attention deficit disorder. In other words, photographers who are staring through a telescope one day, then through a microscope the next and want to take their cameras 40 feet under the waves the day after that. If you’re willing to let your gear select your projects for you, rather than the other way around, Parachut is worth considering. From there, the company put together the mother of all shopping lists and the list of what’s in their warehouse is verging on pornographic as a result. Of course, services like and Adorama’s rental service already give photographers access to a broad range of equipment, but for users who are willing to let their photographic endeavors be a bit more random, Parachut may turn out to be a viable option. “We are not a rental company,” Niu is eager to point out. “We are a ‘creative’s portal to adventure through gear exploration’ company.” SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH