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Some Google searches are now answered by selfie videos from celebrities

Available first on mobile with Mark Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, Seth MacFarlane, and others.

Google’s always testing out new features here and there for making its many services as great as can be, and the latest one has to do with its bread and butter, Google Search. In a blog post that was published on December 7, Product Manager Rami Banna announced that some searches on Google will now showcase selfie videos from your favorite celebrities.

d6268_google-search-shortcuts Some Google searches are now answered by selfie videos from celebrities

This is something that’s launching first on mobile, and when asking something such as “Can Will Ferrell really play the drums?”, you’ll see a video that you can play in which Will Ferrell answers that question directly through a selfie video. This is something that seems to have come completely out of left field, but after messing around with it for a couple minutes, it’s actually kind of fun.

You can pause a video once it starts by tapping on your screen, and swiping through the cards near the bottom or letting the video finish playing will take you to the next question.

d6268_google-search-shortcuts Some Google searches are now answered by selfie videos from celebrities

Celebrities that you’ll find video responses from include Priyanka Chopra, Will Ferrell, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gina Rodriguez, Kenan Thompson, Allison Williams, Nick Jonas, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Seth MacFarlane, Jonathan Yeo and Dominique Ansel.

The video responses don’t show up when asking questions via Google Assistant, but they work fine when searching through the main Google app.

Oreo update rolling out to Android Wear, already available on Watch Sport

Interplanetary-Internet Test Sends Antarctic Selfie to Space Station

A selfie sent from Antarctica to the International Space Station demonstrated an extra-robust communication network that promises to make an interplanetary internet more reliable. NASA announced the achievement on Monday (Nov. 27).

In space, wireless communication networks are critical. They function as a virtual tether, keeping astronauts and spacecraft in contact with Earth and each other. A network failure could leave something, or someone, dangerously cut off from the resources needed to survive. So far, space missions either directly communicate with Earth or go through only a single relay, like an orbiting satellite, making them especially vulnerable to this problem. 

Introducing redundant pathways, in which a signal can get from one point to another in multiple ways, increases the resilience of a system, but this can be difficult to accomplish when a network is still small. What’s more, the spacecraft that make up the network don’t always have a clear view of each other, so a complete, or end-to-end, connection isn’t always available, according to NASA. A traditional network requires an end-to-end path to transmit data. [Dial-Up Space Communications System Gets ‘High-Speed’ Upgrade]

 Interplanetary-Internet Test Sends Antarctic Selfie to Space Station
Credit: NASA

Alternatively, each node in the network can temporarily store the data that goes through it and wait for the best moment to pass that data along. This kind of system, called disruption-tolerant networking (DTN), allows for small interruptions in connectivity without the loss of information, NASA said. The last node simply sends the remaining bundles of data once the connection has returned. Not only does this ensure that data isn’t lost, but it also decreases the time needed to send and receive messages, as NASA illustrates in the video above.

Here’s how the picture got from Antarctica to low-Earth orbit. On Nov. 20, NASA engineers took a selfie at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station in Antarctica. DTN software on a mobile phone sent the data from McMurdo ground station to NASA’s White Sands Complex in New Mexico via the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system, a constellation of communication satellites. From there, the data traveled through a series of DTN nodes, devices on the network, to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, which is the access point to the DTN network aboard the space station, according to NASA.

 Interplanetary-Internet Test Sends Antarctic Selfie to Space Station
Credit: NASA

Once the data was beamed up to the space station, it was routed to the Telescience Resource Kit (TReK) demonstration payload. The final DTN node then extracted the photo for the astronauts to see.

Unlike familiar computer-to-computer IP connections, disruption-tolerant networking accommodates temporary disruptions as well as long delays, NASA said in the Nov. 27 statement. These conditions happen in space, but they also occur in remote locations on Earth, like Antarctica, NASA said.

“The Antarctic is an excellent analog for space operations,” Patrick Smith, technology-development manager with the U.S. Antarctic Program, said in the statement. “Researchers are conducting important scientific investigations, operating in extreme conditions, with minimal infrastructure, so it’s not surprising that we are using NASA space technology to advance science in the Antarctic.”

The technology could also have applications in disaster zones, where connectivity is often limited, the statement said.

Email Harrison Tasoff at htasoff@space.com or follow him @harrisontasoff. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

This Antarctic Selfie Is Helping Build the Interplanetary Internet

The selfie above is remarkable for a number of reasons. In the first place, it features three NASA engineers at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station, the largest research base in Antarctica. There’s also the picture inside the picture featuring Vint Cerf, best known as the “father of the internet” for his role in creating the protocols that determine how information is sent on the web.

However the most remarkable thing about this photo is what’s not pictured: the interplanetary internet it is helping to create.

After taking this photo on November 20, the NASA engineers sent it from McMurdo to the International Space Station. Although many of us trade selfies on a daily basis, sending a snapshot between two of the most remote human habitats in existence requires more than just opening up your photo app of choice. In this case, these NASA researchers were reliant on an experimental way of routing data called Delay (or Disruption) Tolerant Networking, and it’s the future of the internet in interplanetary space.

The terrestrial internet you’re using to read this article relies on a number of different protocols to route data between the servers hosting the websites you visit and your phone or computer. The two most fundamental protocols in this respect are the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), which control how data is packaged and routed through the internet, respectively.

TCP is basically responsible for dividing data into packets of certain sizes and ensuring that they are correctly labeled so that they will arrive at their intended destination, and then the IP actually routes this packet through the internet. In the analog world, TCP would be a person sorting documents into addressed envelopes, and IP would be the mail service delivering these packages to their intended destinations.

The TCP/IP suite works great for most internet applications, but the terrestrial internet has a major weakness: it requires constant connectivity. This is because the TCP layer basically engages in a series of confirmations when sending or receiving data on the internet. If the TCP layer doesn’t receive a confirmation that the data package it sent has been received at the correct address, it will timeout and try again. If the connection between these two points, say your local laptop and a web server, is not connected, you can’t visit that site.

NASA realized access the internet on the Mars will be crucial for both research and personal reasons when the first boots start kicking up Martian dust, but surfing the net in space comes with a host of difficulties not found on Earth.

With all the fiber optic cable crisscrossing the Earth’s surface, the constant connectivity needed for the internet isn’t a big deal. But things get more difficult in space, where large voids sit between objects in constant motion. You can’t exactly use 30 million miles of fiber optic cable to connect satellites in orbit around Mars and Earth. You also can’t depend on a constant wireless link between two satellites in orbit, which may be on opposite sides of their planetary bodies and unable to maintain a connection.

Enter the Bundle Protocol (BP), the core technology at the heart of Delay Tolerant Networking. Its development began in 1998 when NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory invited Vint Cerf to help the agency create a new type of internet that could function in the difficult space environment. Cerf had already created the protocols that defined the way we internetwork on Earth, and with the Bundle Protocol he helped define the way we’ll network in space as well.

Read More: The Stars Down to Earth

Simply put, the Bundle Protocol is a way of storing and forwarding information between network nodes that are not always connected. It packages data in self-contained bundles that are routed from node to node when connectivity is possible. If connectivity is impossible, that data bundle is stored at the node until another node becomes available and the data can continue to its destination.

In this sense, Antarctica represents a good space analog. The continent lacks a dedicated cable connection to the global internet, which means the only way of getting online is using satellite internet. In the case of the selfie sent to the ISS last week, the NASA engineers first used the Bundle Protocol to package the data (in this case the selfie taken on a normal smart phone) and send it to a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, which routes data from the agency’s satellites to ground stations on Earth.

The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite relayed the data bundle to the White Sands Complex in New Mexico, where it was forwarded to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama through a series of terrestrial DTN nodes. Marshall then sent the bundles back up to a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, which forwarded the bundles to a DTN node on the ISS once a connection was available. On the ISS, the receipt of the selfie looks like this:

This wasn’t the first time DTN was used to send information to the space station, but it was the first time it was possible using a normal cell phone. In 2012, astronauts on the ISS were able to use DTN to successfully commandeer a rover made of Legos on Earth. In 2015, astronauts at the European Space Agency repeated the experiment using a 2,000 pound rover at one of their labs.

Although this may seem like an absurd amount of work just to send a selfie, the experiment shows how DTN can also find applications on Earth by connecting remote research stations like McMurdo to satellites and other ground stations. More importantly, however, it is another demonstration that DTN can be trusted as the core of an interplanetary internet.

Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?

How much stronger does Portrait Mode make your selfie game, and which phone does it better?

Portrait Selfies are my favorite thing happening in smartphones right now. I can feel your eyes rolling as you read this, but hear me out for a moment. On a technical level, we’re seeing a massive push to improve the quality of the front-facing camera while applying depth maps and color correction so a photo can be instantly transformed into something new. It’s fascinating and fun, and in the early days of this feature existing on smartphones there are two massively different ways of creating this effect being used.

Apple’s True Depth camera features multiple sensors to create a depth map in real time on the iPhone X. Google’s solution relies entirely on machine learning and an impressive single camera to accomplish the same effect on the Pixel 2. Here’s a look at how these two methods compare!

e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?

Left: Google Pixel 2 Right: Apple iPhone X

The first thing you need to understand when comparing these cameras is where Apple and Google are placing priority when it comes to the photos being produced. We know on a technical level these two phones have the best photo capabilities in the world right now, with the only read difference for most people being what parts of the photo and what features are taking priority.

In these shots, two things become quickly apparent. The background in the iPhone X shot is blown out in an attempt to make sure my face is well lit and properly colored. The background in the Pixel 2 shot is better balanced with the rest of the photo thanks to Google’s HDR+, but as a result, my face is noticeably darker and takes on a slightly reddish tint you don’t see in the other shot.

There are also substantial differences in that blurring effect used to create Portrait Selfies. Google’s software applies a more aggressive blur, and it makes imperfections in the depth map stand out quite a bit. It almost looks like a cut-out sticker of me has been applied to this photo. Apple’s blue is a little more natural looking right until you get to my hair and parts of me start to look a little out of focus. Neither shot really “nails” the picture due to their respective faults, but the flaws are subtle enough that you have a pair of fun photos.

Here’s another example, only this time it’s an outdoor shot zoomed in 100%.

e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?

This pair of shots offers a lot of the same conclusions. Apple better lights my face, in particular, my eyes, while Google better lights the background and makes the whole photo feel richer. Apple’s blurring extends too deep into my hair and makes part of me look out of focus, while Google’s blur is so severe it actually edited out some of my hair that was sticking out of place. Without the Portrait Mode it’s clear the iPhone X took the better photo, but with that photo mode enabled it’s easier to appreciate the effect of Google’s software.

Apple and Google seem to be approaching this photo technique from opposing directions, and it seems likely what we’ll see in the not-too-distant future is some kind of meeting in the middle.

There are some natural limitations to both of these photo modes, especially in these early days. The iPhone X will flash warnings in Portrait Mode if the background is too bright or if objects in the background are too far away to grab a proper depth map. Google’s algorithm has a nasty habit of editing out corners of prescription glasses or objects in the foreground that aren’t attached to a person. There’s a bit of trial and error in getting both to work correctly, which in theory gets less frequent over time as Apple and Google continue to improve this tech.

The biggest thing Apple has over Google in this Portrait Mode right now has to be Portrait Lighting. Being able to see the possible edits to the photo in real time as you go to take the picture is a big deal, and the ability to continue editing Portrait Lighting after the photo has been taken is incredible. It’s a very hit-or-miss feature right now, especially when you start looking at Stage Lighting, but nothing but the iPhone has this right now.

When editing the photos, Google has something Apple currently doesn’t and probably should. When you take a Portrait Mode photo with a Pixel 2, you get a pair of photos. One photo is edited with the blurred areas, and the other is just a plain selfie with the front camera. This gives you the ability to edit both photos and see which you prefer. Apple keeps everything as a single photo, which in my opinion is a little less convenient to see edits between the two modes. On the other hand, it’s one fewer photo in your Camera Roll, so this is probably just personal preference.

e8236_pixel-portrait-selfie Pixel 2 vs. iPhone X: Which does the best portrait selfie?

There’s a lot to be said about the “right” way to take a photo, and even more to be said about the virtues of color accuracy and feature effectiveness. Apple and Google seem to be approaching this photo technique from opposing directions, and it seems likely what we’ll see in the not-too-distant future is some kind of meeting in the middle. Right now, it’s not immediately clear that Apple’s hardware-based approach is measurably better than Google’s software-based approach to Portrait Selfies. All of the things that make the iPhone X camera take a great selfie already exist on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. At the same time, it’s not clear how much better Google can make its photo editing software with a single camera and a lighting preference for the whole photo instead of the face.

One thing is absolutely clear — we’re nowhere near the end of Apple and Google giving us more and better selfie features.

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Selfie-taking suspect leads police to stolen gun, iPhone

A 14-year-old was found with a stolen gun after an iPhone was reported stolen from a pizza delivery driver.

The woman said an iPhone and makeup items were stolen from her car as she was delivering pizza around 2:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Fort Myers.

Because both of her work and personal phones are synced up, police were able to see selfies the thief had taken of himself, along with a gun, on the stolen phone.

That phone was traced to the hotel where officers found the suspect running away. He tossed the gun, but police were able to find it.

Not long after, the suspect – 14-year-old Anthony Stokes – was found. He then led police to the phone. He was arrested for burglary, grand theft, possession of a firearm by a minor, and loitering and prowling.

Police later found the gun in the selfies was reported stolen by the Cape Coral Police Department.

Stokes was taken to the Lee County Juvenile Assessment Center.


© Copyright 2017 WBBH/WZVN (Waterman Broadcasting). All rights reserved.

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The iPhone X Will Change Your Selfie Game Forever

Apple’s iPhone X debuted in stores today. I’ve gotten to play around with it for a few hours, and can confirm that it’s all-around a pretty great phone. But the most important thing you need to know about it right now is that it’s going to change your selfie game forever.

I’m serious. Taking selfies on the iPhone X is a religious experience. Gone are the shaky-handed, perma-blurry thumb pics; in their place are selfies so well-lit and clear that your friends will think you hired a photographer.

The iPhone X selfies are exquisite for a number of reasons — the front camera now boasts a seven-megapixel camera, auto-image stabilization, and an ƒ/2.2 aperture (in layman’s terms: The front camera is freaking great for its size) — but by far, the most important is the phone’s Portrait Mode.

9ccd6_iphone-selfies-lede.nocrop.w710.h2147483647 The iPhone X Will Change Your Selfie Game Forever
They’re like your old selfies … but better.

Photo: Paris Martineau

Ah, Portrait Mode. This incredible feature — which makes basically every photo you take look fantastic by using AI to determine which parts of your shot need to be focused, and which can be a little blurry in order to give you that ever-elusive This-Was-Totally-Shot-on-a-Much-Nicer-Camera vibe — can also technically be found on both the iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 8 Plus. But on those phones, it’s only on the rear-facing (other people) camera. What sets the X apart is that it has Portrait Mode on both the back camera and the front-facing (me, me, me) camera. Which means glorious, glorious selfies.

9ccd6_iphone-selfies-lede.nocrop.w710.h2147483647 The iPhone X Will Change Your Selfie Game Forever
It’s lit.

Photo: Paris Martineau

What Portrait Mode selfies really bring to the table is Portrait Lighting. Though Portrait Lighting was technically first introduced on the iPhone 8 Plus, it really comes into its own when used to snap a close-up picture of your own face. Portrait Lighting provides you with four different preset auto-filters that make changes to the lighting and color of your shot, which often totally removes the need for most basic edits.

9ccd6_iphone-selfies-lede.nocrop.w710.h2147483647 The iPhone X Will Change Your Selfie Game Forever
It’s (improperly) lit.

Photo: Paris Martineau

If you want to get the best results, I’d recommend using Portrait Lighting only when taking selfies with a simple background. As you can see in the examples above, while the baseline photo quality is good, the busy background (and general craziness of my hair) causes the AI to mess up and misapply the Portrait Mode blur and other added Lighting effects, which isn’t exactly cute.

9ccd6_iphone-selfies-lede.nocrop.w710.h2147483647 The iPhone X Will Change Your Selfie Game Forever
Bokeh all day, every day.

Photo: Paris Martineau

That being said, Portrait Mode by itself really excels when used with interesting backgrounds if you give it time to properly align the blur levels. The above photos were taken with minimal positioning, and they look pretty undeniably great for a quick street selfie. What can I say? A little bokeh makes honestly everything better.

iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you

Selfies aren’t my thing. I’d rather shoot interesting places and people — and they’re usually not me. But the lowly selfie might soon enjoy a renaissance thanks to the iPhone X.

When I found out I’d have a chance to test the camera tech in Apple’s iPhone X, which will be released on Friday, Nov. 3, I knew I wanted to see what the new selfie camera could do. It’s a 7-megapixel front-facing camera that supports Portrait mode, where the subject in the foreground is in focus and the background is blurred.  Add the various Portrait Lighting effects and the front facing camera is reborn.

Apple says its goal with the TrueDepth camera system is to “bring dramatic studio lighting effects to iPhone and allow customers to capture stunning portraits with a shallow depth-of-field effect in five different lighting styles.” But like I said, I’m not big on selfies — so I decided to see what the iPhone X could do by flipping the phone around and taking portraits of people I came across on Monday with that front-facing camera. I tested the various lighting effects — Natural Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono, Studio Light and Contour Light.

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you

iPhone X camera pushes the art of selfies

Senior Photographer James Martin tries out the iPhone X’s front-facing camera.

by James Martin

After 10 hours on the streets of San Francisco, mostly in and around Fisherman’s Wharf, I was impressed by how Portrait Mode transformed the everyday selfie into a respectable and elegant photo. I also realize that might not be as easy as it sounds. CNET senior editor Scott Stein, who notes that the lighting effects are still in beta on the iPhone X’s front-facing and rear-facing cameras, had trouble taking selfies. “My face ended up looking oddly cut-out and poorly lit,” he says in his hands-on review of the $1,000 iPhone X.

Here’s what I was able to capture using all five effects of the iPhone X’s front-facing camera. 

Studio Light effect

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

Along the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf, the front-facing camera with the Studio Light effect elevates the common selfie. Warm enveloping highlights make the subject’s face pop against the background, giving the photo the crispness of a travel magazine portrait. A little more punch and contrast gives her a brighter and cheerier look. 

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

With blown out highlights and a blurred background, this Studio Light effect makes the subject stand out against the blurred foreground of the crab he’s holding. The Studio Light effect gives a nice golden glow to the subject — it’s a subtle but effective lighting technique that makes for a compelling portrait.

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you

Natural Light effect

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

This Natural Light selfie, taken at the marina at Fisherman’s Wharf, has the dramatic blurred background bokeh effect that looks straight out of an adventure travel ad. This is a great example of taking a very busy background, with the cluttered masts and lines from the boats, and simplifying it while highlighting the subject — me. Were it not for my hand and camera in the reflection of my sunglasses, you might think this was a portrait shot with a DSLR camera.

The biggest problem I had while shooting was that outdoors, in direct sunlight, the front-facing camera was unable to operate in Portrait Mode. A warning popped up, telling me the subject was too bright. By adjusting the angle of the camera or the angle of my head, I was often able to get the photo I wanted — but not always.

Stage Light effect

Stage Light has been used to full effect in the image below. Taken at dusk at a neighborhood puppet show in Oakland, this costumed usher has been separated from the original busy background of the attending crowd. That allows us to focus on the bright red suit and the subject’s face. By separating him from a cluttered background, and offsetting the color against the black, this photo goes far beyond a standard selfie.

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

Natural Light effect

It was late Monday night when I ordered this Honey Graham ice cream from Humphry Slocombe in Oakland. But even with the poor fluorescent light in the creamery kitchen, I was able to capture this beautiful Natural Light portrait. The image is bright and focused on the smiling subject, allowing the background to drop away.

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

Contour Light effect

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

At Madame Tussauds wax museum in San Francisco, I used the Contour Light effect to take this photo of the model of comedian Robin Williams. The selfie camera adds a slight drama to the wax model. When coupled with the blurred background, I think it gives a dreamy texture to the photo. 

Natural Light effect

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

There’s a bit more noise in the dark parts of the image here, but any color noise is notably absent, which is unusual for a front-facing camera. Even though the subject is standing in poor indoor fluorescent lighting and he’s backlit with sunlight, when Portrait Mode blurs out the background, you get a portrait worth keeping.

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

Put two people in a frame and the front-facing camera recognizes both subjects and separates them from the background — as long as they’re the same distance from the camera. Good contrast, with bright blacks and even highlights, make this image pop.

Stage Light Mono effect

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you


James Martin/CNET

The Stage Light Mono effect takes the busy background of a candy store and drops it away, leaving us with a portrait against a black backdrop. This photo looks like it was taken in a studio. It’s hard to imagine just how distracting and cluttered the background was, which is why I’m sure the Stage Light filter will be popular with those who want simple and dramatic images.

4a69a_iphonex-photos-cnet iPhone X selfie camera makes it all about you

Xiaomi to launch new selfie-centric series in India on November 2

59153_xiaomi-redmi-4-8-840x629 Xiaomi to launch new selfie-centric series in India on November 2

Xiaomi has announced that it will launch a brand new product series in India next month. The news arrives in a teaser invite we received earlier today via email, with the new lineup set to be unveiled on November 2.

We’ve included the invite below, and it offers at least one hint about what we’re going to see at the product reveal: that looks like Xiaomi’s MIUI 9 software logo placed front and center on the invite, which may indicate that the new products will launch with the latest version of the UI (its stable release is expected in November).

59153_xiaomi-redmi-4-8-840x629 Xiaomi to launch new selfie-centric series in India on November 2

Meanwhile, Redmi India has posted a tweet revealing a bit more about the upcoming series, suggesting that it’s going to place particular focus on selfies.

India is one of Xiaomi’s main markets outside of China and the company has launched several handsets only recently in the region, the Mi A1 Android One phone and the bezel-less Mi Mix 2 among them. The company doesn’t have any other recent Chinese phones waiting to be rolled out in India, so it does seem like whatever is coming is going to be an all-new series rather than just new to that region.

Are you excited about the prospects of a new Xiaomi series in India? Let us know in the comments.

How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

It seems a lot of folks are wondering why they’re not seeing portrait mode on the Google Pixel 2 front-facing camera. After posting a couple photos of the Pixel 2 on social media yesterday, I got asked a lot if the selfie portrait feature was working for me. It wasn’t. But it is now. Let me explain (don’t tell Gary I used his line).

How to enable selfie portrait mode on the Pixel 2

The issue is simple: the version of the Google Camera app shipping on the Pixel 2 is not the version with selfie portrait mode enabled.

For whatever reason not everyone is getting the new version out of the box, nor being prompted to update by Google.

Normally you’d just hit the Play Store and update the app in question, but as you likely recall, the Google Camera app no longer lives in the (public-facing) Play Store, so you can’t search for it.

Instead, you’ll need to hit the direct link for the Google Camera app and then update it from version 5.0 to version 5.1. You can use the button below from your Pixel 2 phone to update the app.

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

Once installed, you’ll see a notification dot of sorts on the hamburger menu icon in the camera app. Tap that and you’ll see another on Portrait. This means front-facing portrait mode is now available.

Previously if you tapped Portrait mode while using the front-facing camera, it’d automatically switch you back to the main camera. But not after updating to v5.1.

When you launch the selfie camera you’ll still see the same icons at the top – for some reason there’s no on-screen Portrait mode toggle. So just open the hamburger menu and tap Portrait and the viewfinder will crop in a little – but it’ll continue using the front-facing camera. Notice the on-screen icons for Motion Photos and the timer have now disappeared.

Take your selfie as per normal and it’ll be done in Portrait mode.

Tap the photo preview in the bottom right of the camera app to open the gallery (if you’re fast you’ll even see the portrait bokeh effect added to your shot).

You’ll now see two image icons at the bottom of your photo. The one on the left is the original and the one on the right has the portrait mode effect applied. You’ll also see a label at the top of your image that says either ‘Photo’ or ‘Portrait’.

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

Different icons

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

Normal image

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

Portrait photo

558bf_Google-Pixel-2-blue-angle-840x473 How to enable Pixel 2 selfie portrait mode

Helpful

Not all Portrait Modes are created equal

One important thing to note is that the front-facing camera on the Pixel 2 doesn’t handle Portrait mode in the same way as the main camera. The main camera has PDAF and dual pixels, using both sides of each pixel to gather depth and stereo-image information.

Get the Pixel 2 Launcher on your phone

The front facing camera has no PDAF so instead relies on Google’s neural network to produce a ‘segmentation mask’ to separate subject from background. It’s not as good as the main camera’s dual pixel and PDAF setup, but the results are still pretty impressive.

Because there’s no depth information either, the background is blurred evenly as opposed to the more life-like depth of field effect achieved by the main camera.

The whole process is pretty fascinating, and is worth reading up on, which you can do over at the Google Research Blog. Happy snapping.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat

ASUS has just announced yet another ZenFone 4 smartphone, the ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite. For those of you who do not remember, the company actually debuted four ZenFone 4 smartphones back in August, including the ZenFone 4 Selfie, well, the ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite is inferior to the ZenFone 4 Selfie, as its name says, and this smartphone was just announced in the Philippines. Needless to say, this is a budget smartphone, read on.

The ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite is made out of metal, this phone sports a single camera on the back, and it has a front-facing fingerprint scanner. ASUS claims that this fingerprint scanner will unlock the phone in 0.3 seconds, and that fingerprint scanner also serves as the phone’s home key. The ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite does not exactly sport thin bezels, and black bars are also present around its display, though that was to be expected from such an affordable device. The ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite features a 5.5-inch 720p (1280 x 720) display, which comes with a 2.5D curved glass on top of it. The device is fueled by the Snapdragon 425 64-bit SoC, and it also includes 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM. The device comes in two storage variants, the more affordable variant of the device packs in 16GB of native storage, while the more expensive one comes with 32GB of internal storage. It is worth noting that both variants offer microSD card expansion, and you’re also going to get 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for 1 year if you purchase this phone.

The ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite includes a 3,000mAh non-removable battery, and it sports a 13-megapixel shooter on both its front and back sides ( the main camera sports f/2.0 aperture). Android 7.0 Nougat comes pre-installed on the device, and on top of it, you’re getting ASUS’ ZenUI 4.0 skin. This phone comes with two SIM card slots (2x nano SIM slots), while the phone also offers 4G LTE connectivity. The phone comes in Deepsea Black, Sunlight Gold, Rose Pink and Mint Green color variants, though ASUS still did not reveal the phone’s pricing, but it is expected to cost around $150 (both variants), the company will hopefully release price points for these two phones soon.

Buy the ASUS ZenFone 3

54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat
54100_ASUS-ZenFone-4-Selfie-Lite-1-400x400 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Is Official With Android Nougat

Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Lite with Android Nougat, 13MP front and rear camera launched

Asus recently launched the Zenfone 4 series phones. Out of the range of phones that Asus announced under its Zenfone 4 series, two were selfie focused – which are Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie and ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro. The Taiwanese-based smartphone manufacturer brings another selfie centric phone under its Zenfone 4 series – which is the — ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite.  For now, this new phone — ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite is launched in the Philippines and is yet to hit the Indian shores.

The new smartphone falls under the budget phone category. Asus hasn’t announced the official price of the phone, however, rumours claim that the phone is expected to cost between $156 to $176, which translates around Rs 10,200 and Rs 11,500. The ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite comes in five colour variants, which are — deepsea black, mint green, rose pink, and sunlight gold.

The phone also comes along with 100GB of free space via Google Drive for almost two years. On the specification front, the ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite comes with a 5.5-inch IPS display which comes coupled with a 2.5D curved glass on top. It is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor which further comes with Adreno 308 GPU. The phone is backed by a 3,000mAh battery.

The Zenfone 4 Selfie Lite also comes with 2 gigs of RAM. The phone is launched in two storage variants — 16GB and 32GB. The storage can also be expandable up to 2TB via a microSD card. Going by the software setting, the new Zenfone 4 series phone runs on Asus ZenUI 4.0 based on Android 7.0 Nougat. The phone also features a fingerprint sensor – which is embedded into the home button.

In the camera department, Asus Zenfone 4 Lite comes with 13-megapixel camera on the rear. It is further coupled with LED flash and phase detection autofocus (PDAF) as well. The back cam also comes with a range of features like — Beauty Mode, Portrait Mode, Super Resolution and also GIF Animation.

While on the front, the smartphone comes along with – yet again – a 13-megapixel sensor, which comes coupled with an f/2.0 aperture and a softlight LED flash which is expected to allow users capture better selfies. The front cam also includes Asus’ SelfieMaster technology. This allows users to add real-time beautification effects on captured photos and videos. Apart from these features, Zenfone 4 Selfie Lite also comes with a portrait mode, which will allow users to capture pictures with blurry background.




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