Skip to content

Archive for

22
Mar

Galaxy S9 camera tips and tricks


samsung-galaxy-s9-plus-camera-viewfinder

The tools are there — now let us show you how to get the most out of them.

The new sensor and lens combination in the Galaxy S9 is extremely capable, and the Galaxy S9+ takes it a step further with a dedicated telephoto lens as well. But in photography, the tools only get you so far — at some point, the only way to advance further is to better utilize those tools with new knowledge (and lots of practice).

That’s where we come in: we want to help you take better photos with your Galaxy S9 or S9+, starting with the simplest of tweaks and going up to using more advanced features. Whether you use one or all of these tips and tricks, you’ll be taking better photos than you were before.

Clean your camera lens

Samsung has thankfully moved its fingerprint sensor from the insane side-mounted position it had before, but the oblong-shaped sensor is still lacking considerable separation from the camera lens(es) directly above it. That means you’re still likely to smudge your camera lens over time when you use that fingerprint sensor, on top of the general grease and grit it’ll pick up from the rest of your daily use.

The easiest thing you can do to improve every photo you take with any phone is to just clean the camera lens. You don’t have to bring a microfiber cloth around with you, either — just give the lens a little wipe with the edge of your shirt or pants pocket. Anything will be better than leaving it look like you just smeared a piece of pizza across it.

Customize your shooting modes

screenshot_20180319-144038_camera.jpg?it

Samsung’s new camera interface introduced with Oreo has a clever swiping mechanism to switch between different shooting modes like Auto, Pro, Super slow-mo and more. One of the best parts about it is your ability to customize the order and placement of these modes, keeping the ones you use the most close to Auto and leaving the rest further away or completely disabled. Go into your camera settings and find “Edit camera modes” to get started. (Note: you can configure modes for the rear and front cameras independently.)

Once in the settings, you have check boxes on the left side to completely disable individual modes. Perhaps you don’t want to see Food or AR Emoji modes because you never use them — easily done! The only one you can’t remove is Auto.

On the right side, you can use these arrows to drag the shooting modes around and choose their order. Note that Auto will always be the default that your camera opens to, so the modes on either side of it will be just a swipe away in either direction. I keep Pro to the left and Super Slow-mo to the right, flanked further by less-used modes like Panorama, Live focus and Hyperlapse.

Turn on viewfinder grid lines

screenshot_20180319-143922_camera.jpg?it

Any time someone wants a quick tip to help improve their smartphone photography, I tell them to turn on viewfinder grid lines. They will help you align horizons to get the perfect perspective on a shot (and not just on sunset photos!), but also help you properly proportion a scene so it inherently looks great. By having a simple grid on your viewfinder you can get your subject set right where you want it, and have it well-positioned to have the rest of the shot complement it.

To turn on viewfinder grid lines on the Galaxy S9, go into the camera settings and scroll down to find Grid lines. Most people will benefit from the “3 x 3” option, but Samsung also has a somewhat-odd “Square” option that simply frames in the center of the viewfinder as a square for moderate scene composition help.

Tap to focus when shooting at f/1.5

The camera’s physically adjustable aperture is an engineering marvel, and it lets the Galaxy S9 take great low-light shots at f/1.5 by letting more light hit the sensor. And the camera actually uses f/1.5 far more often than you’d think, as Samsung sets the threshold for switching to the f/1.5 aperture at any ambient light condition less than bright outdoor sunlight.

f/1.5 has many benefits, but the shallow depth of field can be a downside.

The one downside of shooting at this wide of an aperture is that the depth of field is extremely shallow, meaning the amount of the photo that’s in focus front-to-back is very small. Sometimes if you’re taking a macro-style shot, or even a portrait, the camera can focus on something you don’t want it to, and because the depth of field is so shallow it can actually make your subject soft or de-focused. So when you take a photo and you think it looks soft or blurry, don’t just check your camera lens for smudges — you can fix it in your next shot.

The way to fix this for certain is to just tap on the portion of the scene you want the camera to focus on before capturing. This is extremely important in macro shots where a differing focal point can make a huge difference in the look of the photo. Provided you’re not too close to focus, the camera will always focus on the point you tap until you move the phone and re-frame entirely.

Zoom using the shutter button

One of Samsung’s smartest camera interface elements is one you don’t know is there until you stumble across it: you can slide the shutter button back and forth to zoom the camera in and out. This function is not-so-transparently noted by the two dots on either side of the shutter button.

When holding the camera in landscape, just slide the shutter button up (zoom in) or down (zoom out) until you get to where you want to be, anywhere between 1X and 10X zoom. In portrait, sliding to the right (zoom in) or left (zoom out) accomplishes the same thing. On the Galaxy S9+, it will automatically switch to the secondary camera (light permitting) for anything beyond 2X.

You’ll never want to zoom in the camera any other way once you get used to this. It’s particularly useful when using the camera in one hand, so you don’t have to fumble around to hit the screen or use a volume key to zoom.

Tips for shooting in 960 fps slow-mo

The Galaxy S9 introduces super-high-frame rate slow-motion video, and while Samsung makes it pretty easy to switch to this mode and capture, there are a few things you should keep in mind when using 960 fps.

  • Light is the most important factor: By taking video at nearly 1000 fps, you dramatically reduce the amount of ambient light getting into that camera sensor, which considering its size is already hard-pressed to get enough light. For the best 960 fps video, you need to ideally shoot outside or in an extremely well-lit room. Don’t be surprised if you see grainy, soft 960 fps video when shooting in anything but absolutely great lighting.
  • “Auto” mode is usually best: The camera will let you switch to a “Manual” capture mode where you choose where to slow down the video capture, but because the window for capture is only 0.2-seconds, it’s incredibly tough to do right. Using the “Auto” mode to let it capture on its own when motion is detected in the designated portion of the screen is typically best for those dramatic shots of fast-moving objects.
  • Choose multi-take or single-take: In the camera settings, you can switch between being able to take one burst of super slow-motion or multiple in the same clip. The single-take is the easiest to manage and edit, but multi-take is useful if you don’t want to stop and start a new recording for each slow-motion clip you plan on capturing.
  • Edit the clip after capture: Even in Auto capture mode, your super slow-motion may not come off perfectly the way you want. But that’s okay, because you can edit it! Just open up your video clip in Samsung’s own Gallery app, and you can actually trim and manage the slow motion parts as well as the bookend pieces of normal-speed video. You can also turn off the sometimes mismatched auto-generated music overlay on the clips.
  • Don’t be afraid to drop to 240 fps: 960 fps seems fantastic, but it has limitations like needing lots of light and only outputting 720p resolution. If you don’t need that dramatic of a slow-motion effect, you can move to the regular slow-mo mode and capture at 240 fps, which is still very slow and will let you record for much longer at a higher resolution.

Press and hold the record button to preview video

photo-vs-video-viewfinder.jpg?itok=9ODym

This one’s another hidden feature you won’t know about unless someone tells you. Other than slow-motion, there’s no dedicated “video” mode in the Galaxy S9 camera — you just get a video record button in the main interface, right next to the regular photo shutter button. The problem is that photos are taken in a 4:3 aspect ratio, but video is recorded at 16:9, so when you tap that record button the interface switches over and so does your perspective on the scene.

To save yourself from having to edit out the first few seconds of every video you take because you’re re-framing your shot, press and hold the video record button when you want to start shooting video. As you hold the button, the interface will switch to a “video” mode and show you what you’ll actually be recording — and when you release the button the recording will actually start.

It’s a small thing, but one that will save you frustration (and editing time) with every single video that you record on your phone.

Take these tips and get out there taking better photos with your Galaxy S9!

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums

Verizon
AT&T
T-Mobile
Sprint

22
Mar

Huawei may be developing a ‘blockchain smartphone’


Huawei Technologies is reportedly considering developing a mobile phone using Sirin Labs’ operating system. The phone would be cable of running blockchain applications alongside Android. According to Bloomberg, the talks are occurring privately. There is no agreement in place. If these plans come to fruition, then Huawei Technologies, which is the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, would be the first major handset maker to support blockchain.

Blockchain is basically a ledger that records every transaction that happens within a cryptocurrency. These ledgers are decentralized and incorruptible, which are two of the benefits of blockchain. While this system has been heavily adopted and promoted by those invested in cryptocurrency, it has yet to appeal to a larger audience. Interest from a handset maker like Huawei could help with that.

Back in 2017, we learned that Sirin Labs was developing a blockchain-based smartphone with a $1,000 price tag. The phone was developed to run on an OS that was specifically designed for blockchain applications, like secure exchange access and crypto wallets. Presumably, Huawei has been intrigued by the interest consumers have shown in this phone — a Sirin Labs spokesperson told Bloomberg the company has preorders for over 25,000 units.

It will be interesting to see if these talks come to fruition. If they do, you can bet that other smartphone makers will be watching to see how much success this project has, and will consider if they should follow in Huawei’s footsteps.

Source: Bloomberg

22
Mar

Google Assistant now has the power to send and request money


Google is making it easy to pay Bob and Kate for last weekend’s barbecue by connecting its voice assistant to its mobile payment platform. You can now ask Assistant to pay your contacts — or to ask for payment from that one friend who keeps avoiding your calls — by saying “Hey Google, request $10 from Kevin for pizza three weeks ago” or “Hey Google, send Conny $15 for the movies tonight.” The feature is now live for Assistant on Android and iOS (probably through Google Pay Send’s peer-to-peer payment capabilities) devices, but only if you’re in the US.

As you can see in the GIF, you won’t accidentally send or request money, since you’ll need to verify each transaction. If you haven’t set up Google Pay yet, asking Assistant to send or request for payment will start the setup process — if it’s the recipient who doesn’t have a Pay account, they’ll receive a notification saying they’ll have to set one up to cash out. The feature will make its way to Assistant-powered smart speakers in the coming months and most likely to other regions in the future.

22
Mar

China’s hospitals turn to AI to make up for doctor shortage


We already use AI in medicine to examine medical scans and spot signs of diabetes, among other applications. In China, though, artificial intelligence can do more than just assist medical professionals: it can help alleviate the country’s doctor shortage. A hospital in Beijing, for instance, will start running all its lung scans through an algorithm that can expedite the screening process starting next month. The software was developed by a Beijing-based startup called PereDoc, and it can quickly spot nodules and other early signs of lung diseases.

According to MIT’s Technology Review, China has been beefing up its health care facilities with AI tools as part of its nationwide AI push, especially since there are only 1.5 doctors for every 1,000 people in the country, compared with 2.5 for every thousand in the US. A recent IDC report even said that China’s market for AI health care services could be as big as $930 million by 2022. That China has a bigger need for AI tools and has looser restrictions will likely help make that a reality. In fact, local researchers are already developing various AI tools for medicine, including one that can design dentures and another that can analyze ultrasound data to detect blood clots caused by lymphoma treatment.

As for Peredoc, it developed and continues to refine its software with help from 180 hospitals that serve as its research collaborators. The Beijing hospital that will start feeding its lung scans to Peredoc’s software next month treats about 10,000 outpatients every single day. With that many patients, the doctors don’t have time to examine every scan thoroughly — the algorithm will not only ensure that they don’t miss a thing, but also lighten their load. Peredoc has already installed its software in 20 hospitals in China, but if most hospitals have a similar situation to the one in Beijing, then it will probably make its way to more in the future.

Source: MIT Technology Review

22
Mar

‘PUBG’ Event Mode offers limited-time custom games


PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has announced the debut of Event Mode, which will introduce temporary changes to typical gameplay. The developers described Event Mode “as a periodically changing preset Custom Game where we will be trying new things and experimenting with different game parameters.” It’ll offer Battle Royale experiences you can’t get in public matches and feature new content, most of which will only be playable for a limited time.

The first version of Event Mode will be fairly simple and the developers say that’s because they need to test out the new system. Once it’s live, it will allow up to eight players on a team and the rifle drop rate will double. “We know it’s not a huge change from the public matches but as mentioned above, this is just to get things rolling,” the developers said in the announcement. “The future of the Event Mode holds exciting things!” This iteration is currently being tested and should head to the live server sometime soon. The team also gave a hint as to what the next PUBG Event Mode will feature — a flare gun.

Image: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Via: Rock Paper Shotgun

Source: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

22
Mar

DJI is building 1,000 custom drones for a construction company


You might think of drones as consumer products, but DJI has unveiled a deal that shows where their future sales potential lies. Its commercial division is selling 1,000 custom Matrice 100 drones equipped with Skycatch imaging technology to Japanese construction equipment giant Komatsu. The sale represents the “largest commercial drone order in history,” said DJI.

It didn’t reveal the total value of the contract, but off-the-shelf Matrice 100s, which are highly customizable, cost $3,200 or so, and the “Guidance” GPS module is another $1,000. That doesn’t include the $1,800 per month price of Skycatch’s “High Precision Package” used to create surveying maps and point clouds for builders and others.

The potential of commercial drones for business and government is nearly unlimited. On top of the agricultural and industrial sectors where they’re already used, they could be deployed for search and rescue, surveying in, say, national parks, and numerous other activities.

DJI is the king of small consumer and commercial drones, with $2.7 billion in sales for 2017. While 80 percent of that was for consumer products, the company is rapidly expanding its enterprise sales. The Komatsu model gives a good idea of how it can do that; by building “white label” drones that it can customize to a company’s specifications.

DJI, like other Chinese companies, has been targeted by the US government, most recently the customs bureau (ICE) for supposedly using its drones to spy on sensitive installations. DJI has strongly denied the allegations.

Source: DJI

22
Mar

‘Children of Morta’ and the power of modern pixel art


Children of Morta made me incredibly happy, scared, sad and fiercely determined, all within the span of 10 minutes and using only pixel art — plus a few modern bells and whistles. It comes from Dead Mage and publisher 11 bit Studios, and it’s an isometric hack-and-slash game starring the Bergsons, a family of fierce fighters on a mission to save their home mountain from an evil corruption. Each family member has a special skill, and for my playthrough at GDC, I chose to battle as the youngest daughter, a fire mage.

Children of Morta’s visual impact stems from Dead Mage’s clever use of modernized pixel art. This means the game isn’t completely flat; instead, it’s layered with lighting effects and shadows that lend the landscapes richness and depth, while maintaining a retro vibe overall. Think Hyper Light Drifter or Enter the Gungeon.

In keeping with the old-school arcade feel, Children of Morta borrows a classic mechanic from shmups of old: point-to-shoot. Ranged characters, like the fire mage, hurl endless rounds of ammo into swarms of enemies as they appear in procedurally generated dungeons. There are skeletons with swords, goblins with bows and arrows, vicious bats and all manner of creepy crawlies out for blood.

The Bergson family scales the mountain searching for the source of its corruption, and each time a character dies, they appear back in the family’s home. Then, players are able to choose a new fighter, offering a variety of styles throughout the game.

Each character has unique powers, including their ultimate abilities: For instance, when the daughter enters rage mode, she Kamehamehas her way out of the situation, shooting a steady stream of flames from her body. She’s able to move around in this form, unlike her basic point-to-shoot attack, which requires her to stand still. She also has a tornado move and she’s able to leave a decoy of herself on the battlefield, drawing enemy fire away from her.

Children of Morta is a narrative-driven adventure and it offers surprisingly emotional story beats for a game packed with pixels. In one instance, just before I died, I encountered a small white puppy trying to protect the massacred body of its mother from a horde of enemies — and I immediately felt a deep connection with the tiny dog. I wanted to hold it and take it home, and that’s exactly what the game allows players to do. Survive that encounter and players take the pup home, where he remains as a beloved pet in the rest of the game.

Children of Morta is due out on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC this summer, with a Switch version incoming as well.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2018!

22
Mar

‘Monty Python’ is silly-walking onto Netflix


A big chunk of Monty Python’s catalog is coming to Netflix UK in April and the US later in the year. The slate includes the iconic films Monty Python & the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Life of Brian, along with TV series Monty Python’s Flying Circus and several live specials. They’ll all hit the service at once, so UK viewers can start binging starting on April 15th (don’t forget a thin mint afterwards). US users will have to wait, and “not all titles will be available at the same time in all territories,” Python’s website says.

It’s the first time much of the catalog has come to Netflix, though Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life is missing from the list. Members include Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman (deceased). A complete list of the available Netflix titles is shown below.

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Monty Python’s Life of Briain
  • Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  • Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus season 1
  • Monty Python’s Personal Best: season 1
  • Monty Python Conquers America
  • Monty Python’s Almost the Truth
  • The Meaning of Monty Python
  • Monty Python’s Best Bits (mostly): season 1
  • Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go
  • Monty Python: The Meaning of Live

Source: Monty Python

22
Mar

Twitch brings polls, leaderboards and other Extensions to mobile


Since launching six months ago, Twitch Extensions have seen more than 1.5 billion interactions on desktop. From today, they’re available on mobile, so viewers can enjoy leader boards, polls, match histories and more, wherever you watch your streams. Not every Extension is mobile-ready just yet — it’s up to developers to decide whether to make theirs mobile-compatible, but you can bet most of them will. However, some Extensions that are already good to go include all-in-one Streamlabs Loyalty, Music, Polls and Games, plus Schedule and World of Warcraft Armory. Make sure your Twitch app is at version 6.0 or higher to take advantage of the update.

Of course, expanding the reach of Extensions creates new opportunities for developers, so Twitch is also rolling out its developer rig, designed to help developers build and test their Extensions. Developer rig is a web app that lets developers test an extension locally against production APIs across a variety of views and roles (the broadcaster live view, for example). Developers will also be able to pull down the new “Hello World” sample code (which includes a basic backend scaffold) to iterate on the extension, as well as add additional views and custom resolutions.

Twitch says this release is “just the beginning”, and that it plans to improve and add to the rig in the coming weeks and months. It seems to be taking a deeply collaborative approach to the feature, as it’s encouraging feedback on improvements and code samples. The company has also asked developers to keep an eye on its RFCs (Request For Comments), so they can get involved with the shaping of the rig’s second wave of functionality.

Source: Twitch – developer rig, Twitch – mobile extensions

22
Mar

The best Roku features you might not be aware of


Roku’s media streamers have long received strong reviews from Engadget, thanks to their compact designs and high feature-to-price ratio. You probably know you can rearrange your home screen or listen privately with headphones plugged into the remote, but chances are, you aren’t taking advantage of some of the platform’s most useful features.

Search all of your streaming channels at once (even with your voice)

There’s no one streaming service that’ll get you every movie and show on earth. But you don’t have to search each individual service to find the one you’re looking for. You’ve probably noticed the Search option in the Roku’s main menu (or the magnifying glass button on the remote), and it does exactly what you hope: If you search for a movie or show, your Roku will list all the streaming services where it’s available, including ones you don’t have installed. It’ll even tell you how much it costs to watch. You can also search for actors or genres if you aren’t sure which movie you want.

Pecking out letters using the on-screen keyboard is terrible though. For easier searching, you have a few options: You can grab Roku Remote app for iOS and Android, which will let you search using the keyboard on your phone, or — even easier — you can search with your voice. Just press the microphone button on your remote or (since some cheaper Roku models don’t have a microphone on the remote) press the microphone button in the mobile app. Say what you want in natural language (e.g., “show me action movies with Bruce Willis” or “show documentaries on Netflix”) and it’ll bring up a list of movies to suit your mood.

Hear that line again with Instant Replay

Ever miss a crucial line of dialogue in a movie and have to ask your neighbor, “Wait, what did he say?” Roku has a feature called Instant Replay that can solve this old-as-time woe. Head to Settings > Accessibility > Captions Mode and select On Replay. Now when watching a movie or show, you can press the Instant Replay button on the remote: It’ll replay the last 10 seconds along with subtitles for that portion so you can translate the actor’s mumbling. Unfortunately, the temporary subtitles don’t work on a few channels, including Netflix (at least on newer Roku models). But it will still replay the last 10 seconds for you.

Get notified about new episodes with Your Feed

You probably watch a number of shows on different streaming services, and it’s annoying to check each specific app for new episodes. The My Feed section of Roku’s main menu doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually one of Roku’s cooler features: You can customize this feed to follow all of your favorite shows and see whenever a new episode is available (kind of like the streaming equivalent of a DVR). To add a movie or show, find it using Roku’s search feature and click Follow on Roku at the bottom of the season list. You can even follow actors, see when the price drops on a movie or follow movies that aren’t out yet so you’re notified when they become available for streaming.

Add hidden channels

Roku has more channels than you can shake a stick at, including lesser-known ones like Pluto TV (a compilation of web videos formatted like live cable TV), Movies Anywhere (which lets you store most of your purchased digital movies in one place) and The Roku Channel (a surprisingly decent collection of free movies from Roku). What you may not realize, though, is that Roku’s channel store doesn’t list every single channel available to you.

rokuchannels-wide-2.jpg

Roku

Roku also allows for hidden private channels, which are not shown in the store. These could be channels in beta, or they could be unofficial channels that let you access podcasts, games or other streams. For example, Nowhere TV offers a ton of podcasts and free videos from around the web, TwitchTV brings Twitch back to Roku (after it was removed from the official store last year), and the Redbox Beta channel gets you the latest features before they’re released to the main Redbox channel. The best way to find private channels is to browse an unofficial database like RokuGuide.com. If you see a channel you want, select it, then click Add Channel and RokuGuide will redirect you to Roku’s website and install the channel.

Cast from other devices to your TV

If you find navigating Roku’s interface too cumbersome, you can cast certain videos from your phone instead, like Google’s Chromecast.

Both the Netflix and YouTube Roku apps support an open protocol called DIAL that lets you cast videos from your phone or tablet. Just open the Netflix or YouTube app on your phone and tap the Cast button that appears; your Roku device should appear in a list of available devices, and you can throw videos from your phone to your TV. Sadly, this is not supported by other apps, which tend to use Chromecast’s proprietary protocol instead.

If the Roku channel in question doesn’t support DIAL — or if you want to cast media that doesn’t have an associated Roku channel to begin with — you can also mirror your Windows PC or Android device’s screen. This should be enabled by default, but you can double-check by going to Settings > System > Screen Mirroring on your Roku and making sure it is set to Prompt. (Note: This feature is not available on the Roku Express.)

To mirror the screen of a computer running Windows 8.1 or above, head to Settings > Devices > Add Bluetooth or Other Device. Select Wireless Display or Dock. To mirror your Android phone (running Android 4.4.2 or higher), head to Settings > Display > Cast Screen. Tap the menu button in the upper right-hand corner and check Enable Wireless Display. From there, you can go back to Settings and choose Cast Screen. It’s also called different things on different Android phones, so if you can’t find it, check out this Roku support article for more information.

Note that Miracast, the protocol used by Screen Mirroring, is only supported on certain laptops and phones, so it may not work for you. If you’re lucky, though, you should be able to throw just about anything to your TV using this feature. Video quality may not be quite as good as playing it directly from a Roku channel, but it’s better than nothing.

%d bloggers like this: