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29
May

Google Photos celebrates first birthday and 24 billion selfies


Happy birthday, Google Photos. In the year since its launch, the service has created 1.6 billion animations, collages and movies from your snapshots, according to a post on the Google blog. More than that, there’ve been some 2 trillion labels, with 24 billion of them categorizing selfies. All told, the search giant says that thanks to the cloud backup option, the app’s 200 million users have collectively cleared 13.7 petabytes of storage from their phones. If you’ll remember, opting for high quality photo uploads offers unlimited storage, but choosing original quality counts against your overall Google storage. That may change in the future if you own a Nexus device, though.

A teardown of the latest update for the app by Android Police reveals that Nexus folks could soon have another benefit other than speedy firmware updates: unlimited original-quality photo and video storage. More than that, it looks like the app could see internal adjustment tools for exposure and contrast.

Way down the road, we might see Google Assistant going a further than it currently does and delete duplicate photos or blurry shots, according to a Buzzfeed News interview with Photos lead Anil Sabharwal. Why? Because a lot of the people using the app live in developing countries and their phones don’t have a lot of storage. This would allow them to free up even more space. With the developing market in mind, Sabharwal goes on to say that improvements are coming to proximity sharing via Bluetooth (which doesn’t eat into mobile data) as well, which should boost the current 25 million photo transfers that take place per week.

Even if you’ve been using the app since day one, there’s a chance that you might not know a few of its ins and outs (like searching for photos via emoji). The source link below has more tips and tricks to take for a spin after you’ve spent the long weekend capturing summer memories.

Via: Google Photos (G+)

Source: Google blog, Buzzfeed News, Android Police

29
May

Meet the wearable tablet you might use at your next job


There’s no way I would wear the Rufus Cuff wrist computer. After a few minutes with this 3.2-inch Android tablet strapped to my body, my wrist started to get all sweaty. It felt bulky, weird and to be honest, not very cool. But if the massive pre-orders are any indication, there is clearly a market out there. In particular, says the company’s CEO, Gabe Grifoni, in a few years something like the Cuff will replace the iPhone in your pocket and even be part of your next work uniform.

I’ll admit, I was initially dubious that a device that makes me feel like a less-cooler version of Leela from Futurama will be the first step of an inevitable wearable-computer revolution. But then Grifoni began telling me about potential industrial uses for the Cuff and it all started to make sense.

Employers believe that small Bluetooth-enabled Android tablets on their employees’ arms are a pretty good idea, according to feedback from the companies that have reached out to Rufus. With an app and a connected scanner, tasks like inventory, housekeeping at hotels and ticket-taking can be streamlined by freeing up the hands of the employees who would otherwise have to hold a tablet. The relatively low $300 price tag also means that smaller companies without the deep pockets of corporations could also get in on the action.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Grifoni started getting unexpected calls from businesses and their employees. “We were starting to get all these emails from warehouse workers and hotels.” he told Engadget. He says he’s talked to UPS and other companies about their employees using the Cuff in the workplace.

While the campaign generated $800,000 in pre-orders, Grifoni realized that enterprise is where all the growth is right now. But don’t worry, early adopters, the company will still sell the Cuff to consumers. Just beware that you’re not going to be rocking the latest generation of technology. Specifically, the pre-production unit I tried out had a 400×240 3.2-inch screen, which will look absolutely ancient next to your modern-day smartphone. Also, the 640×480 front-facing camera is guaranteed to make all your selfies look awful.

The actual bracelet portion of the device looks fine, though, and at least kept the Cuff mostly parallel with my arm. That said, while I would probably get used to having a computer on my wrist all day, it’s not something I’d look forward to. Did I mention it made my arm sweaty?

Grifoni predicts that wearable computers (not smartwatches) will be the norm in five to 10 years. We’ll get tired of pulling our phones out of our pockets and instead opt to have them visible at all times.

Maybe he’s right. It’s possible the future of mobile computing could be attached to our bodies. But even if he’s wrong, if he can get the Cuff into businesses and warehouses, it doesn’t really matter if the world’s population embraces tablets on their bodies in their free time because at work, some of us will get them with our nametags.

29
May

Senate anti-encryption bill is effectively dead, for now


If you were worried that a possible Senate bill requiring encryption backdoors would get enough support to become law, you can relax… for a while, at least. Reuters’ government tipsters claim that the proposal, drafted by Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, has lost most of its support. It won’t be introduced this year, the insiders say, and would have no real chance even if it did go up for a vote. The White House’s reluctance to back the bill (in public, anyway) is the main factor, but even the CIA and NSA were “ambivalent” knowing that it could hurt their own encryption.

There were certainly signs that the would-be bill might die before it was really born. Burr and Feinstein didn’t have a firm timetable, and it’s difficult to propose legislation like this during an election year when support from tech companies could decide the outcome. There was also stiff opposition from the pro-privacy camp: Senator Ron Wyden threatened a filibuster.

However, the bill’s early (if possibly temporary) end shows just how divisive encryption is in Washington. For every Burr or Feinstein contending that backdoors are necessary to thwart terrorists who’d otherwise plot in secret, there’s another official worried that these holes would give hackers and foreign spies guaranteed access to your devices. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never see an anti-encryption measure make it to a vote, but it may take a fundamental shift in the political landscape for that to happen.

Source: Reuters

29
May

NASA successfully puffs up its inflatable space habitat


Second time’s the charm. Following a less-than-successful initial test run, NASA and Bigelow Aerospace have successfully inflated the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module attached to the International Space Station. It took several hours (the team didn’t want any movement that could destabilize the station), but the experimental pod now extends nearly 5.6 feet out and 10.6 feet across. That’s not the full size (it’ll ultimately be 7 feet long), but it’s hopefully smooth sailing from here on out.

You’ll have to wait a while before anyone steps inside this cocoon-like pod, mind you. The next objective is to pressurize the habitat, and it’ll be roughly a week before the ISS crew gets to try it out. Still, this is a big step toward more livable spacecraft that use inflatable habitats to offer some much-needed breathing room.

CAPCOM @Astro_Jessica declares #BEAM expansion complete. @Astro_Jeff begins pressurization. https://t.co/65JcyjrF0A https://t.co/GHCTZM8zGd

— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) May 28, 2016

Source: Intl. Space Station (Twitter), Bigelow Aerospace (Twitter)

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