New Google Mobile Photo Apps Tap Experimental Technology

The company's new mobile photography applications are based on Google's experimental Motion Stills technology.

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Google on Monday released the first installment of a new series of planned mobile photo apps based on experimental technology under development in its labs.

One of the three newly released apps is designed purely for Android devices; one is for Android and iOS devices while the third is designed solely for iOS.

The Android app dubbed Storyboard is designed to transform any video clip into a single-page comic layout. Users simply record a video clip and then have the app automatically select the best frames and lay them out in a comic book like storyboard format on the device.

The iOS and Android app is called Selfissimo. It is designed to help users take selfies in an automated fashion. To start a photo shoot, a user taps the screen and then follows on screen instructions for various poses. Tapping the screen again ends the session and users can then choose images they want from the resulting contact sheet, according to Google.

The third app, for iOS devices, is dubbed Scrubbies. It lets users play with the speed and direction of video clips so they can create video loops, mix it with other videos and carry out various other manipulations on it.

The apps—and subsequent ones to follow—are designed to make better use of emerging hardware and computer vision capabilities that are becoming available in modern smartphone cameras, Google researcher Alex Kauffmann said in a blog Dec. 11.

"Each of the world's approximately two billion smartphone owners is carrying a camera capable of capturing photos and video of a tonal richness and quality unimaginable even five years ago.  The features that are being built into them will enable "radically new creative mobile photo and video applications," over the next few years Kauffmann said.

The three newly released "appsperiments" as Google is calling them, were inspired at least partly by a Google app called Motion Stills for converting short video clips into time lapse shots and cinemagraphs like animated GIFs.

Google originally released Motion Stills in 2016 as an app for stabilizing Live Photos on iOS devices and for viewing and sharing images as short video clips and GIFs that keep looping endlessly. 

The company released an Android version of the app in July with several new features. Among them was one that transforms any photo into a short video clip and another one called Fast Forward that lets users speed up and condense a long recording into a short clip.

Google's new apps use some of the same approaches employed in Motion Stills as well as some new technologies in development at Google, Kauffmann said. Among them are object recognition tools, a technique called person segmentation for separating objects in the background and foreground of a photo or video, numerous computer vision algorithms and several image encoding and decoding tools.

Google will use the feedback and ideas it receives from users of the new apps to release similar ones in future, Kauffmann said.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.