Snap’s Lens Studio Lets Anyone Design Custom Snapchat Lenses

Snapchat Lenses come in all shapes and sizes. Dancing hot dogs, rainbows, and rabbit ears are just a sampling of the augmented reality (AR) camera filters you’ll find in the application’s growing gallery, and starting Thursday, anyone will be able to contribute new ones.

Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, took the wraps off Lens Studio, a design program for Windows and Mac that lets users fine-tune, render, and publish the Lenses of their dreams. Studio — which resembles the internal tool that Snap uses to build Snapchat Lenses, according to The Verge — is chock full of templates and guides for three-dimensional and two-dimensional lens designs, and has a application programming interface (API) that lets budding Lens designers add animations and touch interations.

Right now, users are limited to creating World Lenses, or AR layered on Snapchat’s rear camera feed. But in the future, they might be able to make face filters and other effects.

Finished custom Lenses can be exported via Snapcode, Snapchat’s QR code format, or URL. (The former will remain available for a year, but the latter expires after 24 hours.) There’s no approval process, and the added Lenses can be shared with friends via Snapchat’s camera screen. Lens designers will see usage metrics for their creations in Lens Studio.

Snap’s betting big on Lenses, and it has the data to back it up. The company says that 70 million users a day interact with Snapchat’s 3,000 Lenses, and that they spend an average of three minutes apiece with them.

“This has been an amazing year for AR as a technology,” Eitan Pilipski, head of Snap’s camera platform team, told The Verge. “We’re really excited to take this tool, and make it as simple as possible for any creator out there to have a presence on Snapchat.”

Snapchat (Free+, Google Play) →

Via: The Verge
Source: Snap

OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition Launched in India for Rs. 38,999

At an event in Mumbai on Thursday, OnePlus launched the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Limited Edition. The company officially revealed the phone in India on December 2, but chose not to release details about its pricing or say whether or not it would be exclusive to the Indian subcontinent. Thankfully, the event filled in the missing details.

The OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition is a special variant of the OnePlus 5T that comes in a new color: Sandstone White. At the event, OnePlus talked about how the Sandstone finish had been a fan favorite in devices such as the OnePlus One and the OnePlus 2, and the process of bringing it back for the Star Wars Edition.

The Sandstone White finish improves on the original OnePlus One and OnePlus 2’s Sandstone. On the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition, it’s been applied on top of the phone’s aluminium unibody, making the phone one of the few metal models that doesn’t slip through your fingers. There’s a lot of grip.

During a group interview with members of the media after the event, OnePlus Product Managers Szymon Kopec and Xi Deng said that the Sandstone White finish was hard to produce, but that they were proud of what they had achieved. They also touched on topics such as camera quality, which they called “increasingly important,” and highlighted the ways Oxygen OS 4.7.4 has improved the OnePlus 5T’s camera app  and photo quality. They reiterated, too, that OnePlus has no plans to enter the budget or mid-range smartphone market.

We published a hands-on of the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition earlier on Thursday, and found it worthy of discerning Star Wars fans and OnePlus fans alike — plus customers who want a unique smartphone design. The Star Wars Edition stands out with a black front, white sides and white rear, a prominent red alert slider, a ceramic fingerprint sensor, and a Star Wars logo on the back.

In terms of software, the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition is powered by OxygenOS 4.7 on top of Android 7.1 Nougat, just like the standard OnePlus 5T. (OnePlus says that an Android Oreo update will roll out in early in early 2018.) By default, the phone will ship with OnePlus’s “Star Wars” theme, which is similar to the Dark theme on other OnePlus devices — with the exception, of course, of the red accent color and ten exclusive Star Wars wallpapers.

The device comes in a special box that’s much bigger than standard OnePlus 5T packaging, and includes a Star Wars Kylo Ren case. The case is made of TPU plastic, and has decent build quality.

The OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition will launch in India on December 15, the same day as the release of The Last Jedi. It will also make its way to Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. In India, the Limited Edition device carries a price tag of Rs. 38,999 for the 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant, which makes it Rs. 1000 more expensive than the standard OnePlus 5T 8GB RAM variant. OnePlus opted not to release a 6GB RAM/64GB storage model.

Also in India, the OnePlus 5T Star Wars Edition will be sold in limited quantities on Amazon India and the OnePlus Store. OnePlus did not reveal the exact number of units they plan to produce.

In terms of launch promotions, OnePlus is offering a Rs. 1500 instant discount for Axis Bank debit and credit card users. The Star Wars Edition is also eligible for zero cost three-months EMI. Idea is offering additional mobile data for 18 months. The phone also comes with a one-year complimentary membership for Zomato Gold, and has a Rs. 500 credit for Kindle e-books when users sign-in to the Kindle app.

Source: OnePlus

Google Flights and Google Trips Gain Price Tracking, Deal Alerts

Just ahead of the holiday season, Google’s rolling out updates to Google Flights and Google Trips that’ll make nabbing last-minute deals on airline tickets, hotel rooms, and local goings-on easier.

Starting Thursday, Google Flights, Google’s Search-powered airfare search tool, will start to analyze historical pricing data in order to predict when fares might rise or fall. Using some of the same machine learning techniques employed by Kayak, Hipmunk, Hopper, and other price-predicting travel planners, Flights will notify you when airline prices reach certain predefined thresholds. You’ll see a tip at the top of your Google Flights results if prices to a destination “won’t drop further”, for example, or “are less than normal”.

The artificial intelligence-powered predictions are heading to Google’s hotel-searching tools, too. When you’re searching for a room, you’ll get messages about events that might be impacting hotel reservations. And starting next year, you’ll be able to opt into Hotel Price Tracking alerts about trends.

And last but not least, Google Trips — the trip-planning application for iOS and Android that Google launched a little over a year ago — will soon start to show information about local events. In the coming days in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, the new Discounts tab will highlight deals on concerts, theater performances, and festivals nearby.

“Worrying about getting the best price for your vacation can be stressful,” Google Vice President Richard Holden wrote in a blog post. “A recent study we did indicated that travelers are most concerned about finding the best price for their vacations – more than with any other discretionary purchase. [These new features] can help you get out of town, even when you’re on a budget.”

The new Google Flights and hotel search tools are rolling out worldwide to desktop and mobile users. Folks who’ve installed the Google Trips application should start to see the Discounts tab in the coming weeks.

Google Trips - Travel Planner (Free, Google Play) →

Source: Google

Spotify is Testing a Redesign with Fewer Tabs and Bigger Album Art

Spotify, the popular music streaming service with over 50 million paid subscribers and over 140 million monthly active users, is testing a new user interface on Android that reduces the application’s number of tabs and switches up various other elements.

The new Spotify’s tab bar is something you’ll likely notice right away. The total number of navigation tabs has been reduced from five to three — before, there were tabs in the bottom tab bar for Home, Browsing, Searching, the Radio, and your Library, and now there’s only Playlist, the Home, and Search. Another big change shows up when you’re listening to a song: The album cover takes up the entire screen instead of just a small square in the middle, and the action buttons display at the bottom.

The Spotify application’s Search page used to just list your recent searches, but now suggests genres and categories you might like. And on the Playlists and Your Likes pages, the album artwork is bigger and more detailed.

It’s a pretty dramatic departure from Spotify’s current paradigm, but not everyone appears to have gotten it at once — chances are good it’s rolling out to a few users as part of a test. Considering it’s made it to this stage, though, we wouldn’t be surprised if the changes made it to every user in the near future.

Source: +LumiqCreative Via: Android Police

Essential Phone to Get Tap-to-Wake, EIS, and Project Treble Support

Every two weeks, Essential Products — the startup responsible for the Essential Phone — has staff answer questions from the Reddit community. These AMAs are held in the /r/Essential subreddit, and while some have a theme (such as a recent question-and-answer session about Oreo AMA), others are no-holds-barred. On Wednesday, three Essential Products reps — Rebecca (VP of Software), Sean (Quality Engineer), and Marcus (Software Program Manager) — responded to questions and let details slip about upcoming double tap to wake features, improved electronic image stabilization, (EIS), and Project Treble treble support.

The most popular question had to do with a performance bug — specifically, stuttering when scrolling through a list of items. Marcus said that the Essential team’s been working on it, but that it’s been challenging as a result of the Essential Phone screen’s 60hz sample rate and touch panel. That said, it’s looking to improve latency without affecting performance.

Another question had to do with EIS, or algorithmic software that compensates for shaky video. The Essential Phone shipped without it, but according to Marcus, it’s on the feature roadmap. There’s no ETA, though.

On the subject of Project Treble, Google’s modular model of Android that promises to make updates quicker and easier, the Essential reps in Wednesday’s AMA said that its aiming to pass the Google Compatibility Test Suite — a necessary part of the Project Treble certification process — and attain full compliance. The team’s implementing Project Treble support in the Essential Phone’s Android 8.1 release and is “getting pretty close,” according to Essential.

Last but not least was a request for a double tap-to-wake feature. Marcus said that the team’s actively working on it, but that it’d been put on the backburner for now. Still, he promised to keep everyone posted.

Source: /r/Essential