Snapseed was a surprisingly big part of today's Google+ event, and largely for a single reason: a new feature called HDR Scape. Google claims Snapseed is the first mobile app to use the pixel-edge contrast method to produce HDR photos, which certainly sounds fancy. How does it stack up in reality, though? Most smartphones today ship with an HDR mode on-board, generally creating an image by taking multiple photos at different exposure levels and then combining them into a composite image.
One of the many photography-oriented announcements made during today's Google+ event was Snapseed's new HDR Scape filter, one which promised to produce awesome photos with a dynamic range that's deliciously high.
Unlike stock camera HDR modes, Vic Gundotra was sure to point out on stage today that Snapseed's HDR Scape filter doesn't approximate tonal mapping effects by measuring pixel brightness, but instead detects pixel edge contrast, which according to Gundotra should produce more realistic effects, close to what you might achieve with a set of bracketed exposures from a "real" camera.
In case you hadn't heard, there's a new version of Google Glass coming, and all current Glass Explorers are invited for a free upgrade. In addition to presumably boosted specs and support for prescription lenses, the new model will have an audio-out port for an included and optional mono earbud. Google posted the following photos of the hardware in action on the Glass Google+ page.
Don't worry, Glass fans: the bone conduction audio from the original model of Glass will still be included, according to a response from the account administrator.
Earlier today, Google started rolling out a major update to Google+ for Android. Together with our readers, we've examined every corner of the app and found a whole bunch of things that are new to this version 4.2 but haven't been mentioned in the official announcement. You should definitely read through the list if you haven't yet.
However, one new feature that I found fascinating managed to fly completely below the radar because it's located not within the app itself but rather in the widget menu.
October is the perfect storm for American sports fans: Baseball fans have the World Series, basketball fans have the opening games of the season, and football fans are just getting a good look at the playoff scenario. Against this triple threat, hockey fans (especially those in the United States) tend to get the short end of the stick, so to speak. ESPN is bucking that trend: today they posted the very first build of the network's official Fantasy Hockey app to the Play Store.
Earlier today at a livestreamed event in San Francisco, Google's SVP of Engineering Vic Gundotra announced a slew of new features slated for Google+ and Hangouts.
While we're still waiting for the Hangouts update that will enable SMS support, animated GIFs, and location sharing to hit the Play Store, which should happen in a few days, the Google+ update 4.2 is already live.
G+ Photos is now Photos
After playing around with this version for a bit, I'm glad to report that the annoying and superfluous G+ Photos shortcut is now gone.
Last month Amazon announced MatchBook, a new service that gives customers the option to get discounted Kindle versions of physical books they've already bought. It launched today with support for over 70,000 titles, seven times what the company promised would be available from the get go. Discounted books range from free to $2.99.
Eligible books date back to 1995, the year when Amazon first launched its online bookstore. Just remember that only purchases tied to your current account will apply, so while many of us didn't have email address way back when, those that did probably haven't held on to them.
As we're all still trying to come to grips with Motorola's newly revealed modular phone platform known as Project Ara, the folks at Phonebloks aren't missing a beat. They've uploaded a new video that explains a bit more about how they teamed up with Motorola. Also, there's a quick peek at Project Ara.
When Phonebloks started talking to companies about how to make the concept real, the Phonebloks guys found Moto was particularly interested.
We have a second screen problem. The TV may have the largest display in the house, but it fails to consistently hold our attention even during engaging content, let alone commercial breaks. Cable and satellite companies have tried to respond to this phenomenon by releasing companion apps that place their content on both screens at once. Unfortunately, these apps typically aren't that good. The DIRECTV Android app was completely revamped not too long ago, but already a new update is available that changes things around a bit.