It's easy not to think about just how much thought and computing goes into everything that Google does, but one of YouTube's latest changes reminds us of precisely that.
Every video on the site has a thumbnail that's supposed to offer you a glimpse into what you're about to watch. A bad image will discourage you from clicking. Good ones lead to more views and greater revenue. So naturally both content creators and Google would prefer to have better thumbnails.
Using deep neural networks, the YouTube team has launched an improved "thumbnailer." Every frame in a video gets evaluated by a quality model and is assigned a quality score. Read More
Looking for some cheap games? Then Electronic Arts and its mobile subsidiary Chillingo would like to offer you a selection for just a dime a piece (assuming you live in the US, Canada, Mexico, and a few other places). None of the games are particularly new with the exception of Power Ping Pong (which is pretty great) and the horror adventure game In Fear I Trust (which was just published), but most of them cost $4-5 at their regular prices. Read More
A new version of Google's cloud storage app is making its way to the Play Store. According to a post on the company's blog, the latest Drive release lets people request access to content links that they've received via email, an instant message, or some other method. Read More
Heroes fans had something to smile about when NBC announced that it would air a 13 episode mini-series following up the original four seasons. Not only that, creator Tim Kring returned as executive producer. But the fan service doesn't stop there. Phosphor Game Studio has released an immersive mobile game that hooks in to what's happening on TV.
The game, Hereos Reborn: Enigma, stars Dahlia, a young woman whose special powers are needed to solve various puzzles in first-person. Think Portal. You will use telekinesis and time shifting to make it through over 30 levels, all designed using Unreal Engine 4. Read More
LastPass is one of the more well-known password managers out there. Now it's one that's joining LogMeIn. Both companies announced the acquisition earlier today. The buyer paid $110 million upfront with up to another $15 million payable in contingent installments dependent on retention and other markers over the next two years.
LogMeIn, despite having a name that already sounds like a password manager in its own right, is primarily known for its remote access software. From a corporate perspective, this sounds like a good match, but some LastPass users have already filled the announcement post with negative comments expressing their disappointment. Several have complained of LogMeIn's bad customer service and price hikes. Read More
VUDU might be one of the lesser popular video streaming services, but it's still used and loved by many loyal customers. Its Android app, however, wasn't that good. It was functional, we'll give it that, but it was slow, not quite responsive, and stuck in the Holo era of Android app design. That was version 1.5. Today, the app jumped to 4.1. Whoaaaaaaaaa.
So what we've got here is a complete revamp of the app, from the interface side and the backend side. VUDU is now faster, more responsive, and more efficient. It supports HD and HDX videos, has better search suggestions, a portrait mode on smartphones, and improved Chromecast casting. Read More
Opera Max isn't a browser. It's an Android utility that works in the background to apply the same data compression you've come to expect from Opera's regular and Mini browsers, except it does it on all of (or most of) your apps without you having to worry about a thing.
A couple of months ago, it added support for video compression from YouTube and Netflix, and now it's tackling another culprit of data consumption: audio. The three apps that Opera Max' compression algorithms will take care of are Pandora, SoundCloud, and Slacker. You won't have to do a thing for this to work. Read More
The Google app was treated to an update late yesterday, bringing the version number up to 5.4. This bump seems to be mostly dedicated to bug fixes, but a couple of changes deserve to be mentioned. A previously screwy animation has been restored to its original beauty, and we now have a more convenient way to set Home and Work locations. Evidence also turned up that suggests the Google app will play host to its own mini-app for Android Wear.
Fixed Card Swipe Animation
Left: previous version. Right: latest version.
Last month's v5.3 update introduced a very unsightly bug into the Google Now stream. Read More
People who take online privacy seriously eventually get to the point where they want to experiment with a VPN. Usually this costs money, which puts some people off particularly because the process involves handing over an email address and credit card information. This means that even if you're better protected from prying eyes than you would be if you were VPN-less, the company that supplies the service may still be able to connect the dots.
That's what makes Betternet interesting. Unlike most other options, this service is entirely free to use. That has implications both for your privacy (though you still have to watch out for DNS leaks) and your wallet. Read More
Windows has no idea what to do with that mountain of APK files you've probably downloaded from APK Mirror, which can make managing said mountain of files annoying. Apkshellext2 is a Windows shell extension that might make your life much easier, as it has mine. Just a few clicks and Windows Explorer will get much smarter. Read More