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.
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.
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.
Facebook's Messenger app for Android and iOS is about to receive an extensive reworking, and will drop SMS support in the process. According to a Facebook product manager, the SMS feature "just didn't take off" in the way the company had originally expected, and as such, the feature is being given the axe.
The Messenger app, though, is about to look a whole lot different. Here a couple shots of the Android version, which I must say is impressively clean.
Vic Gundotra just announced what we've all hoped for (and kind of already anticipated): SMS is coming to Hangouts. Yes.
Aside from that, you'll also be able to share your location with a simple tap. Oh, and GIFs. Prepare for all sorts of animated crap in Hangouts. It's happening. Unfortunately, we're not exactly sure when it will be happening – there's no word right now as to when the updated APK will hit Google Play.
Today's the day that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag launches for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, so you know what that means - it's time to hit up the Play Store to download the companion app. Ubisoft's offering turns your Android tablet into a virtual quartermaster. It provides quick access to the world map, tracks your progress, keeps tabs on communications, and more.
With the companion app, gamers will have less reason to ever pause the action, as many of the secondary tasks have been delegated to the touch screen.