Heads up, Google Wallet fans: better support for loyalty cards is coming to a Play Store update near you. According to a Google+ update from the Wallet team earlier today, the app will soon be able to auto-populate information when scanning in loyalty cards, presumably including the name and merchant. The update should be coming later this week, at least for the first batch of users. There are also some user interface changes, including a modified slide-out menu.
For those brick-and-mortar stores that also support Google Wallet's deals and offers, the Wallet app will also alert you when you're physically near the store in question.
Motorola has been making a name for itself by uploading many of its pre-installed apps (both the exciting and the utterly mundane) into the Play Store where it can serve out updates more quickly, but the Google-owned company isn't the only one to make use of this approach. Today Sony has uploaded the Xperia ZI's Timeshift Burst functionality into the Play Store.
Update: According to comments, the app is also compatible with a handful of other Sony devices, including the Xperia Z, ZL, ZQ, and the Tablet Z.
This app allows the Xperia Z1 (and the Z1S) to capture 61 frames within seconds.
Update: SamMobile has posted a write-up with more pictures. Yup, the Neo looks like a 9/10th scale Galaxy Note 3. You can see the rest here.
If you're looking for a big Samsung smartphone, but one that's not quite as big (or as expensive) as the Galaxy Note 3, you may soon be in luck. SamMobile posted a photo of what they're calling the "Galaxy Note 3 Neo" to their Twitter account, showing what looks like a carbon copy of the standard Note 3 in a slightly smaller size. Aside from the model number, SM-N750 or SM-N755, no other information was posted.
It's been a pretty big year for Instagram. So far, it has released several big new features including video and people tagging. To end 2013 on a high note, Instagram announced today that it is launching Instagram Direct - a new private sharing feature. Highlights include:
The ability to share photos privately with up to 15 people.
See who has seen, liked, and commented on your privately-shared photo in real time.
Receive push notifications when one of your friends shares a photo with you.
If someone you don't follow shares a photo with you, it goes to a special "requests" area.
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.
Pixel edge contrast, for those wondering, is basically the difference in tone between (as you may expect) the edges of two pixels.
Back at IFA, I got my hands on Sony's QX10 lens camera, one of two such devices the electronics manufacturer announced in Berlin. I wasn't sure what I thought about it then, having only played with it for about a day, but I've spent some quality time with the device since, and I'm ready to lay down my full impression.
For those not quite up to speed, the QX10 (and its higher-end counterpart, the QX100) is a camera in a lens. The generally lens-shaped body houses a sensor, microphones, and telescopic zooming lens assembly.
This odd device can clip onto your smartphone with a special adapter included in the box, accommodating most form factors adeptly with its spring action.
Snapchat allows users to send and receive media that disappears after a recipient has opened it, laughed, and - if it's really good - taken a screenshot. It's a nice way to communicate and share content without having to deal with storing and organizing everything that you upload, but sometimes you may want to share a photo with all of your friends at once. Snapchat is rolling out a new feature that lets you share such content for up to 24 hours in a timeline that everyone can see. This timeline is your Story, and Snapchat has released a series of trailers to help you familiarize yourself with it.
Picking out an appropriate Halloween costume becomes gradually more difficult the older you get. It might actually be easier to just be yourself. No, I don't mean to avoid making an effort entirely. Just take a look at PopMask, a company that will make a mask out of any face you take a picture of with your smartphone or any other camera. They will then mail the comical creation to you for just $20, shipping included.
Each mask is designed to fit comfortably and comes with a jaw that moves as you do, but the latter part is optional.
The Muku Shuttr is a simple piece of hardware that reached its Kickstarter funding goal in under a week, ending its campaign with almost ten times its original goal. It appeared an audience was ready and waiting for a mobile camera remote shutter.
I'm generally fascinated by the variety of mobile photography accessories pouring out of Kickstarter lately (I eagerly backed the Lumu light meter and am awaiting my unit now), and naturally wanted to give Shuttr a try. I've had a little time to experience the device now, and have found that, essentially, it's exactly what it looks like – a simple, keychain-sized remote shutter release powered by Bluetooth.
There's a reason the world has transitioned to HDTVs. It's not that there was anything wrong with the concept of the television, it's just that the old giant boxes that occupied so much space in our homes were entirely the wrong shape for the task at hand. A giant cube with an antenna is a design that begs to be portable in a way televisions never have been. That's why the form-factor needed to move into a new market, and that's what makes the Smart Cube such a good idea. Not only will this box make your camera smarter, it draws its inspiration from the true innovators that came before it.