According to David Marcus, Facebook’s VP of Messaging Products, a “small number” of the 470 Russia-linked accounts that attempted to influence last year’s US elections also used Messenger. He said so in an interview at Wall Street Journal’s D.Live conference, and though he wouldn’t reveal the exact number (because it’s an “active investigation”), he said that he and others at Facebook are working with authorities to figure out what happened.
“The way that the platform was used is still being investigated,” he said. But he did clarify that while users can interact with each other on Messenger, Facebook Pages can’t just start messaging users — you have to initiate the conversation first. “We’re trying to figure out how it was leveraged […] We’re working with Congress to learn from it and build systems to prevent it.”
A recent investigation uncovered that approximately 10 million people saw Russian-bought political ads during last year’s US elections. Over 3,000 advertisements has since been handed over to Congress, and most of them focused on “divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum.”
Marcus said that Facebook has since hired thousands of people to review ads and activities in elections around the world to make sure the Russian meddling doesn’t happen again. “Now that we know [about this], we need to think about ways the platform is used in ways it wasn’t designed for,” he said.
He also defended Facebook, saying that the company’s positive effects on the world has been overshadowed by negative press. He cited examples like people finding others who have the same disease that they do on the platform, or that users have raised over 70 million dollars for victims of Hurricane Harvey. “The impact that Facebook has on the world is overshadowed by all this narrative,” said Marcus.
“Clearly when you design a platform that reaches 2 billion people every month, sometimes bad things happen,” he said. “We shouldn’t tolerate those things and they shouldn’t happen.”
Sonos One Reviews: Premium Sound Partners Well With Alexa, Although Voice Commands Limited at Launch
Earlier in October, Sonos announced its new smart speaker device, called the Sonos One, which will launch On October 24 with support for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The Sonos One allows users to control the speaker entirely through voice, providing smart speaker capabilities into a music-focused device, similar to Apple’s marketing for the upcoming HomePod.
Ahead of the October 24 launch, reviews for the Sonos One have been posted online, with many sites giving the new speaker a favorable review thanks to Sonos’ expected high-quality playback, which becomes particularly useful with Alexa controls. Still, those voice commands are limited at launch with only a few music services supporting Alexa, making the Sonos One slightly harder to recommend for users not already in the Amazon ecosystem.
Engadget said that the Sonos One provides “significantly better” music quality than the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo “without breaking the bank” at $199. The site elaborated that the Sonos One uses the same audio hardware as the company’s Play:1 speaker, so users can expect “clear, dynamic and loud sound” when playing music, although the “low end is not as strong as what you’ll get from larger (and more expensive) speakers.”
Photo by Nathan Ingraham via Engadget
Engadget wrapped up by noting that while the speaker stumbled occassionally with voice controls and lacks support for Spotify voice commands and Google Assistant at launch, it’s still “the best-sounding smart speaker you can buy.”
The Play:1 has been Sonos’ best-selling speaker, and with good reason. It offers significantly better music quality than your average Bluetooth or smart speaker, at a reasonable price. It’s also a great first step into a multi-speaker setup for your home. The Sonos One does all of that and adds voice controls without raising the price. Those voice controls may have a few bugs to work out, but aside from one frustrating afternoon, it worked well for me.
The Sonos One is a great way for most people to significantly upgrade their audio setup while also getting the convenience of voice controls. I wish that both Spotify voice commands and the Google Assistant were supported at launch, but this speaker will keep getting more features through upcoming software updates. Given that, I have no problem recommending it now. It’ll work right out of the box as an Alexa-enabled device, it’ll support more music services over time and it’s a great way to dip your feet into the Sonos ecosystem. Just don’t be surprised if you end up wanting to buy a few more.
The Verge broke down the supported music services on the Sonos One, commenting that voice commands at launch (through Alexa) are only supported with Pandora, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM. Spotify users will gain access “soon,” but any Apple Music or Tidal subscribers will have to start playback through the Sonos app, and after that they can use Alexa to control the songs.
Photo by Chris Welch via The Verge
There are some early frustrations and missing features that prevent the Sonos One from being a perfect marriage between Sonos sound and Alexa’s voice smarts. You can’t yet play music from Spotify with Alexa, but I’ve been told that’s coming “soon.” Other services, such as Apple Music and Tidal, are absent with no ETA, and it’s quite possible that they’ll never support voice playback. They all work perfectly fine through the Sonos app, and once music is playing from any service, Alexa can always pause, skip tracks, adjust volume, or tell you what song or artist is playing. But the bottom line is that, at least for now, Alexa is unable to play anything from your Spotify library. Instead, you’ve got Pandora, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM to work with out of the box.
In 2018, Sonos One will also update with support for AirPlay 2, and then iOS users will be able to more easily control music playback with the speaker. While many interesting features are promised for future updates, The Verge still gave the speaker a score of 8 out of 10 and said, “Even with the Spotify situation factored in, I’ve found the Sonos One to be good enough in most other places to earn a solid recommendation if you’re looking to spend a couple hundred bucks on an in-home speaker.”
Like a few reviews, Wired mentioned a convoluted setup process that requires you to switch between the Alexa and Sonos apps multiple times, further pointing out that any device trying to seamlessly connect two ecosystems is “sure to stumble occasionally.” Still, the site was a fan of the new speaker, stating that the “key point” of any Sonos product remains: “the One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker,” and voice controls — while limited — are still a bonus.
This new $199 speaker takes the current Alexa-Sonos relationship and removes the complexity. You could think of it as an Echo with much improved sound. It does all of the Alexa things, but it’s foremost a Sonos speaker, so it does all the Sonos things too—it works as part of a multi-room system, it streams from scores of services, and it obeys the company’s controller apps. The One has some faults. Amazon world and Sonos world are two nuanced and complex domains, and any device that attempts to bridge the two is sure to stumble occasionally. But the key point remains: The One is a great-sounding Sonos speaker, and that’s reason enough to consider one. It also so happens that you can command it with your voice.
Many reviews compared the Sonos One to Google’s and Apple’s upcoming products, which compete in the same high-quality music playback area but have noticeable differences in price. While the Sonos One will cost $199 when it launches next week, Apple’s HomePod will run for $349, and the Google Home Max will be priced even higher at $399, with both latter products debuting in December. For more of the latest HomePod news and information, be sure to check out our HomePod Roundup.
More Sonos One reviews can be found at the following sites: The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, VentureBeat, Digital Trends, 9to5Mac, SlashGear, TechHive, and Mashable.
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A new entry in Apple’s Machine Learning Journal provides a closer look at how hardware, software, and internet services work together to power the hands-free “Hey Siri” feature on the latest iPhone and iPad Pro models.
Specifically, a very small speech recognizer built into the embedded motion coprocessor runs all the time and listens for “Hey Siri.” When just those two words are detected, Siri parses any subsequent speech as a command or query.
The detector uses a Deep Neural Network to convert the acoustic pattern of a user’s voice into a probability distribution. It then uses a temporal integration process to compute a confidence score that the phrase uttered was “Hey Siri.”
If the score is high enough, Siri wakes up and proceeds to complete the command or answer the query automatically.
If the score exceeds Apple’s lower threshold but not the upper threshold, however, the device enters a more sensitive state for a few seconds, so that Siri is much more likely to be invoked if the user repeats the phrase—even without more effort.
“This second-chance mechanism improves the usability of the system significantly, without increasing the false alarm rate too much because it is only in this extra-sensitive state for a short time,” said Apple.
To reduce false triggers from strangers, Apple invites users to complete a short enrollment session in which they say five phrases that each begin with “Hey Siri.” The examples are saved on the device.
We compare the distances to the reference patterns created during enrollment with another threshold to decide whether the sound that triggered the detector is likely to be “Hey Siri” spoken by the enrolled user.
This process not only reduces the probability that “Hey Siri” spoken by another person will trigger the iPhone, but also reduces the rate at which other, similar-sounding phrases trigger Siri.
Apple also says it created “Hey Siri” recordings both close and far in various environments, such as in the kitchen, car, bedroom, and restaurant, based on native speakers of many languages around the world.
For many more technical details about how “Hey Siri” works, be sure to read Apple’s full article on its Machine Learning Journal.
Tags: Siri, machine learning
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Verizon today announced it is lowering its deductible for cracked screen repairs for customers signed up for its Total Mobile Protection plan. Starting on Thursday, October 19, the fee will be reduced from $49 to $29. Total Mobile Protection itself costs $11 per month for smartphones and $9 per month for tablets.
Enrolling in Total Mobile Protection is typically only allowed within 30 days of activating a new account or upgrading to a new device, but Verizon is offering an open enrollment period between tomorrow and Friday, November 17 for any existing customer with a functional device less than two years old.
Verizon said customers who need repairs have the option of bringing their device to one of its 296 carry-in locations across the United States, while technicians are also available to meet customers at home, office, school, or during travel in 152 cities. Verizon allows up to three claims per year per enrolled device.
Total Mobile Protection also includes expert technical support called Tech Coach and other perks like the potential for same- or next-day device replacements.
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Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced more than a year ago in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.
With Safari 11 now available in macOS High Sierra, Apple is providing two versions of Safari Technology Preview, one for macOS Sierra users and one for those using macOS High Sierra.
The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.
Apple’s aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.
Tag: Safari Technology Preview
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Customers who purchased a Kindle e-book between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 may be receiving a credit from Amazon this morning as the retailer continues distributing funds from an antitrust lawsuit levied against Apple back in 2013 by the United States Justice Department.
Emails were sent out to eligible customers in the United States this morning, and Amazon has also set up a website that will list available credits for those who are eligible for a refund.
Apple, along with five other publishers including HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, and Penguin, was found guilty of conspiring to inflate the prices of e-books to weaken Amazon’s dominant position in the market. While the five publishers settled, Apple held out and appealed several times, but was ultimately ordered to pay a total of $450 million.
Apple maintained its innocence throughout the initial trial and appeals, and has argued that its deals with publishers introduced competition to a market that was largely controlled by Amazon. The United States Justice Department did not see it that way, though, as Apple’s efforts ultimately raised prices for consumers.
Several rounds of refunds have already been distributed as a result of the lawsuit. In 2014, customers received refunds funded by publishers, and in 2016, refunds totaling $400 million, or the bulk of the money paid by Apple, were sent out. This new round of refunds has also been funded by Apple’s settlement and comes from $20 million that was earmarked to pay states that were involved in the lawsuit.
Credits sent out today will last for six months and will need to be spent by April 20, 2018.
Tags: lawsuit, Amazon, antitrust, e-books
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After the novelty was introduced to flagship smartphones earlier this year, screens with 18:9 aspect ratios are already trickling down to mid-range smartphones. Clearly, this is the season of longer displays!
With Indian handset maker Micromax‘s newest offering, the Canvas Infinity, the company has brought this feature to an affordable smartphone. But apart from that striking display, is the Canvas Infinity still a competent budget smartphone? Let’s find out in our comprehensive Micromax Canvas Infinity review.
The Canvas Infinity is a budget smartphone, yet there is a hint of style in its chassis. It sports a premium design and good looks, combined with great build quality. Though it’s not a metal unibody design, the Micromax uses top-quality plastic that doesn’t feel cheap at all.
The phone feels great in-hand, especially because of its compact form factor. Even with a 5.7-inch display, the slim bezels and increased height make for a very comfortable phone. It’s smaller than several smartphones in the market with 5.5-inch displays, and gives users a big screen experience without the need to lug around an unwieldy smartphone.
Micromax has done a good job in aesthetics as well as in build quality.
Overall, Micromax has done a good job in aesthetics as well as in build quality. Unlike other smartphones with large displays, the Canvas Infinity is actually comfortable to use with one hand.
The highlight of the Canvas Infinity is of course its display. Micromax offers an edge-to-edge display with 18:9 aspect ratio in a budget smartphone, and manages to be early on the trend. Not bad at all!
Display showdown: AMOLED vs LCD vs Retina vs Infinity Display
It can be argued that the display on your smartphone is its most important feature, as it is the principle way in which you interact with your device. A poor display means a poor user …
The 5.7-inch display sports a 1,440 x 720 resolution and the HD+ IPS LCD has a relatively low pixel density of around 282 ppi. While the colors are bright and vibrant, there is a definite lack of sharpness. The extra screen real estate makes for an immersive video or gaming experience, but the lack of details are a tad disappointing.
Micromax has done well to offer a large and tall display in a compact form factor. It’s not perfect, but a lot of users won’t mind.
Powered by the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor, the Canvas Infinity is not built to be a powerhouse. With 3 GB of RAM on board, it does not stutter in everyday usage, even with multiple apps and background processes.
When you stretch it though, there are occasional lags or frame drops. For a budget smartphone, I did not mind the performance – even playing graphics-intensive games worked okay. It’s not a device built for multitasking or power users of any kind. Some apps that need a little more processing power, like Facebook, would take a couple of seconds extra to load or refresh. But this is to be expected.
The good news is that even when stretched, it doesn’t get hot. During extended gaming sessions or while charging, it gets a little warm, but it never gets uncomfortable.
Powered by the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor, the Canvas Infinity is not built to be a powerhouse.
The 720p display and the modest processor means that the Canvas Infinity manages to squeeze a day’s worth of battery life from the 2,900 mAh battery it packs. It’s not exemplary, but should be good enough for most people. There’s 32 GB of internal storage, with a microSD slot for extending the storage by up to 128 GB.
The Canvas Infinity packs in modest internals, but does a good job in extracting decent performance out of them. Most casual users will enjoy the seamless experience, but power users and specs sheet watchers will want more.
The Micromax Canvas Infinity sports a removable back panel allowing you to replace the battery, an uncommon feature in 2017. The device also features separate slots for two SIM cards as well as a microSD card, so you don’t have to make a choice between the second SIM and expandable storage.
There’s a fingerprint sensor at the back that is fairly accurate and quick to unlock the phone. It is one of the best performing fingerprint sensors I’ve seen on a budget smartphone.
While the 18:9 display is the company’s sole pitch for the device, its camera is the surprise standout of the Canvas Infinity.
The 13 MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture trumps most smartphones in its price segment. Outdoors in daylight, it manages to take some great shots with quite good color saturation and an okay amount of detail.
The camera is the surprise standout of the Micromax Canvas Infinity.
In low light conditions, the photos are a hit-and-miss. While the color reproduction is good enough, the photos turn out a bit grainy.
Incidentally, the 16 MP front camera fares better, even in lighting conditions that are less than ideal. The color reproduction is accurate and it captures decent amount of details for your selfies to get enough likes (and validation) on social media.
The camera app on the Canvas Infinity is pretty good too. It features a portrait mode for both cameras that blurs out the background for the subject (you) to stand out. In most cases, it’s unnatural and artificial though, but I see a lot of people enjoying that – if my Facebook timeline is any indication. There’s also a feature called Super Pixel which takes multiple shots simultaneously and combines them to give a higher resolution photo. Some of these came out pretty good, but, again, they looked artificial.
Micromax has done well to offer decent imaging capabilities and an especially generous selfie camera. Not every shot will be great, so expect a few blurry or grainy photos, but at the price the Canvas Infinity comes at, you knew that already.
The Canvas Infinity runs on Android 7.1.2 Nougat, which would have been good if Micromax hadn’t chosen to hide the Nougat goodness under the company’s own ‘My Launcher’.
The custom skin is responsible for most of the performance issues you may encounter with the device. It is buggy, and pre-installed apps ask for critical permissions randomly. Then there’s the Apps Center that throws up ads as notifications. My Launcher aims to mimic the iOS UI, as is apparent with the icons and the Settings app. I’m not really sure how this UI was approved at the drawing board but it’s a mess.
Android Nougat review: what’s new in Android 7.1.2?
With Android O just around the corner, Android Nougat is slowly drawing to a close as the latest and greatest version of Android. But as Nougat steadily creeps towards double digits in terms of Android …
Also, there’s a plethora of bloatware, including the random addition of the Indian Prime Minister’s personal app. There are a few neat additions like Smart Actions and Smart Gestures, as well as a one-handed mode which is quite handy.
The Canvas Infinity is a big letdown in terms of software, and one should really opt for a third-party launcher. The good thing is that it packs the latest iteration of Android Nougat, and the company has announced that the smartphone will get the Android 8.0 Oreo update soon.
|Operating System||Android 7.1.2 Nougat
Upgradable to Android 8.0 Oreo
|Display||5.7-inch HD+ (1440 x 720) IPS
18:9 aspect ratio
450 nits brightness
|Processor||1.4GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 425
Adreno 308 GPU
Expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
|Rear Camera||13 MP with LED flash
1.12um pixel size
|Front Camera||16 MP with LED flash
|Dimensions||152 x 9 x 73 mm|
Pricing and final thoughts
The Micromax Canvas Infinity is one of the best-looking smartphones in its price segment, and the novelty of a display with an 18:9 aspect ratio is a great addition. The camera is a surprise standout too.
The Canvas Infinity is a capable budget smartphone, with more than one thing going for it.
If you’re not looking for raw power, it will serve you well. Its only downside, and a major one at that, is its frustrating software experience.
At ₹9,999 ($154) in India, the Micromax Canvas Infinity is a good option and puts up a decent challenge against the competition. It has a lot going for it, but it’s not perfect.
Why it matters to you
Loot boxes may not be the final word on in-game microtransactions. Publishers are working on new methods to sell you in-game items.
Activision received a new patent for a system that encourages gamers to buy in-game items, by leveraging its matchmaking system. The matchmaking system would pair inexperienced players with more experienced players to subtly influence their purchasing decisions.
Filed in 2015, but awarded this month, the patent protects a “system and method for driving microtransactions in multiplayer video games.” It discusses methods for encouraging players to pay for in-game items to increase their chances of success. Such methods could involve matching players in a manner that suggests they need to pay to catch up to their opposition or that highlights the differences in equipment to showcase what kind of loadout a player ‘should’ have in order to be competitive.
The system wouldn’t just use the stick of unfair matchmaking, but also offer a carrot for those who did pay for in-game items. As Rolling Stone describes, if a player makes a suggested purchase, their next game may be matched in a different way to make the use of the in-game item appear effective, indirectly validating their purchase.
“Doing so may enhance a level of enjoyment by the player for the game-related purchase, which may encourage future purchases,” the patent reads. “For example, if the player purchased a particular weapon, the microtransaction engine may match the player in a gameplay session in which the particular weapon is highly effective, giving the player an impression that the particular weapon was a good purchase. This may encourage the player to make future purchases to achieve similar gameplay results.”
The patent also suggests that when in-game marketing and encouragement for purchases does not work, it could change tack and offer different in-game items to try and find something that the player might be interested in.
“[If the] first player did not purchase the in-game item, the player profile may be updated to reflect such non-purchase so that future targeted marketing of in-game items and other game-related purchases may be adjusted based on what has not been successful at enticing a given player to make a game-related purchase,” the patent said.
Exploitative money making tactics in game development are a hotbed of discussion in gaming at the moment. Loot chests and whether or not they constitute gambling are the latest talking point, but Activision’s proposed system is likely to draw its fair share of ire, too.
Activision has made a public statement to confirm that it has not implemented any of the described microtransaction systems into its games at this time. Bungie also confirmed that these systems are not used in Destiny 2.
Everyone likes Apple apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers put paid apps on sale for free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest iOS app deals available from the iOS App Store.
These apps normally cost money and this sale lasts for a limited time only. If you go to the App Store and it says the app costs money, that means the deal has expired and you will be charged.
iBlockify is a content blocker for Safari that filters and blocks ads, analytics, and social tracking with constant updates to other blocking options.
HappyDays reminds you of the important days to remember. It supports solar and lunar calendars, and both one-time and repeating events. Never miss a birthday or anniversary again.
This app was developed by a professional team of developers, assisted by certified trainers specializing in women’s fitness and strength training. The application is specially created for women of all body shapes.
Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Do you want to relax your body and soul with peaceful background sounds? With this app, you may have better luck sleeping tonight.
Blue Light Therapy
Blue Light Therapy App uses natural processes within your brain to help with waking up and falling asleep. With just 4 minutes in the morning you will find yourself being able to get out of bed and start doing, rather than endlessly snoozing.
Listaway is a to-do list, task manager, and reminders app that promises to be an outstanding planner app to help you organize your life on your terms.
Why it matters to you
Photographers can now choose from the traditional but faster Lightroom Classic, or the edit-anywhere Lightroom CC.
In its biggest announcement since Creative Cloud, Adobe, on October 18, is setting a new direction for its Lightroom photo-editing software: Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic. The move effectively splits Lightroom into two different platforms, one designed for “work anywhere” workflows (Lightroom CC) and another that harnesses the power of desktop computing (Lightroom Classic CC).
The strategy seems convoluted, but here’s the gist: The Lightroom that users already know (and love) is being rebadged as Lightroom Classic CC. For the most part, it will look and feel the same as before, but Adobe is adding a new tool and upgrading the speed.
Lightroom CC is what’s new, however, it is built around the mobile-centric features Adobe has been making to Lightroom in recent years. It’s a collection of desktop, mobile, and web apps designed to work seamlessly the same across various platforms, whether it’s on MacOS, Windows, iOS, or Android. Lightroom Classic offers more tools, but Lightroom CC has a simpler interface, the option to upload full resolution photos to the cloud (including Adobe DNG RAW), and search and tagging using Adobe’s artificial intelligence, called Sensei.
“Lightroom CC answers photographers’ demand for a deeply integrated, intelligent, cloud-based photography solution,” Bryan Lamkin, executive vice president and general manager of Digital Media at Adobe, said in a statement.
Adobe said both software complement each other. Files edited in Lightroom CC at an office, for example, can be synced to Lightroom Classic for editing at home later. The company also says it will continue to develop Lightroom Classic alongside Lightroom CC, and that users can switch between the two.
As for pricing, users now have four Creative Cloud subscriptions to pick from. The price of the existing Adobe Creative Cloud photography plan remains the same: For $10 a month, you get Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, Lightroom apps for mobile and web, Photoshop CC, Adobe Spark, Adobe Portfolio, and 20GB of cloud storage. For users who need more cloud storage, a $20 per month plan ups the space to 1TB (current plan subscribers get a discounted price of $15 for the first year).
Another $10 plan omits Lightroom Classic and Photoshop, but you get all the other mentioned software and 1TB of cloud storage. If you don’t need any of the desktop applications, a new mobile-only plan (iOS and Android) is available for $5, and it includes 100GB of cloud storage; the mobile apps themselves, however, are free to download and use.
Ready to find out more about Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC? Keep reading.
Adobe Lightroom CC
Lightroom CC has been redesigned from the ground up as a new platform that works across mobile devices and computers, as well as in web browsers, although Adobe has been slowly making this move in recent versions of Lightroom — all based around the cloud. You could argue that Lightroom CC isn’t entirely new, but just a way to streamline Adobe’s various Lightroom software into a one-size-fits-all platform.
Editing tools are all the same, whether you’re working on a smartphone or laptop, and cloud-based storage allows for syncing large image libraries across several devices. The cloud-based system means photographers can start working on images on their laptop, then continue working with those same edits while waiting for the bus or sitting in a coffee shop.
With a revamped user interface and user experience, the tools have a new organization scheme. The import dialog is a simplified version of Lightroom Classic’s. For editing photos, a sidebar organizes all the sliders into a category by the type of edit. The change puts all the exposure controls together and all the color tools together, for example, instead of “anything goes” organization of Lightroom Classic.
The ability to work anywhere is what defines Lightroom CC’s mobile and cloud-based strategy, and Adobe says it capitalizes on several new AI features. Sensei, Adobe’s AI processing engine, is bringing auto-tagging to Lightroom CC, which uses computer vision to search for specific photos, rather than requiring users to enter tags.
When editing in Lightroom CC on the web, a new “Best Photos” option (in beta) automatically finds what Adobe Sensei thinks are the best shots — a feature we mentioned in our Adobe Max preview, where the new Lightroom CC was announced. A slider allows users to choose how many images they’d like to see in the results. For now, this feature is just a technology preview that’s only available in Lightroom CC on the web. Adobe says additional machine learning features will be coming to the program, as well, but did not expand on what those could be.
Tom Hogarty, Adobe’s director of photography programs, says that the change focuses on bringing intuitive, powerful software anywhere. “Every so often, we see a shift in the photo industry and we have to do a pretty big shift in direction,” he said. “Now with a smartphone camera in every pocket…photography is becoming a form of communication itself, which means if you want to stand out and be heard, you need great images.”
Lightroom CC mobile apps will have all of the same tools as the desktop version of the software, with the addition of a built-in camera mode. The camera mode expands on the native camera apps by allowing for RAW files in the DNG format as well as manual exposure controls, white balance options, and manual focus.
In the mobile apps’ built-in HDR mode, the app automatically shoots three shots and merges them together. While many phones offer built-in similar HDR functions, Adobe said that Lightroom CC is the only mobile app that shoots HDR images in the DNG file format, allowing users to fine-tune the exposure of the final shot. In a demonstration of the feature, the resulting merged image turned a washed-out photo of a window into a shot where both the details on the interior wall and the objects outside the window were well-exposed.
As a platform designed to bring feature parity to the desktop and mobile versions, Lightroom CC loses a few controls that are found in Lightroom Classic, including the tone curve and split toning. Manually merging HDR photos and panoramas also aren’t part of this release, but those are features Adobe is working to bring to the program in the future. In the meantime, users can take their workflow into Lightroom Classic to access those tools.
“We want to think of Lightroom CC as the beginning of the conversation,” Hogarty said. “We take all that feedback into account when we decide what to do next.”
Lightroom Classic CC
Adobe stresses that the Lightroom photographers know — now called Lightroom Classic — isn’t going anywhere and is still a focus for the development team. With Lightroom Classic, the popular photo organizing tool and RAW editor sees a much-requested performance improvement as well as a new tool.
Adobe said almost everything sees a speed increase with the update — launch speed, load speed, and switching from the Library to the Develop module included. Adobe said that they are continuing to work to improve the speed in Lightroom Classic, but the update offers a significant boost from the previous version.
Lightroom Classic also now has a new tool for refining masks. The “range mask” tool, with color and luminance options, allows users to refine masks created from using the radial filter, graduated filter, and brush tools without time-consuming manual selections. For example, when applying a graduated filter to bring out the blue in the sky, using the color dropper lets photographers to select that blue, which removes the effect from everything that’s not blue, like the trees and surrounding landscape. Luminance selectors work similarly, but selects a range of light tones instead of color.
While Lightroom CC focuses on cloud-based editing, Lightroom Classic maintains a focus on the strengths of a desktop workflow, Adobe said. Lightroom Classic, like the previous version, can still sync smart previews to the cloud, but unlike CC it does not back up the original RAW file. Because of that sync ability, it is possible to see images in both the Lightroom Original and Lightroom CC, but it’s not a workflow that Adobe recommends.