Coming a month after the launch of Duo, Google’s latest attempt at messaging is now available. The Google Assistant-infused Allo is rolling out on Android and iOS starting today with a full worldwide availability in the next few days.
Google “designed Allo to help you express yourself and keep the conversation going.” Besides stickers from independent artists, the app allows messages, including emoji, to be sent in small (Whisper) or large text (Shout). Users can simply slide up and down on the send button to determine the size. A built-in drawing tool allows you to doodle on images before sending them.
Like in Inbox, Allo can suggest context appropriate Smart Reply for both text and images. They appear just under the last received message and can include emoji. Over time, the replies improve through machine learning and mimic how you normally express yourself in conversations.
The Google Assistant — available as a preview — is the marquee feature of Allo and can be brought up directly in any thread by typing “@google.” It automatically suggest things like restaurant recommendations and bring up cards for both parties to browse. Additionally, there is an Assistant-specific thread that is essentially “Ok Google” with questions typed out and answers delivered through text.
Privacy and security-wise, there is an Incognito mode that encrypts chats end-to-end, uses discreet notifications, and has messages expire after a set time. Google notes that regular Allo chats are still encrypted.
Like Duo, Allo requires a phone number to register. The app is available on the iOS App Store and still rolling out on the Play Store.
Whether you’re hiking on the Olympic Peninsula or attending your cousin’s wedding, go beyond the flat photo or selfie. With Cardboard Camera—now available on iOS as well as Android—you can capture 3D 360-degree virtual reality photos. Just like Google Cardboard, it works with the phone you already have with you.
VR photos taken with Cardboard Camera are three-dimensional panoramas that can transport you right back to the moment. Near things look near and far things look far. You can look around to explore the image in all directions, and even hear sound recorded while you took the photo to hear the moment exactly as it happened. To capture a VR photo, hold your phone vertically, tap record, then turn around as though you’re taking a panorama.
Starting today, you can also share your VR photos with friends and family on both iPhone and Android devices. Select multiple photos to create a virtual photo album, tap the share icon, and Cardboard Camera will generate a link (like this) that can be emailed, messaged, or posted in apps and on the web. With a VR viewer like Google Cardboard, your friends can relive those moments as if they were there.
Microsoft Pix is a smart camera app that automatically helps you take better photos without extra effort. It’s built with serious intelligence behind the lens, so it’s a bit like having a professional photographer tweaking your settings between each shot. This ensures that people and scenes look their best, so you can focus on enjoying the moment instead of struggling to capture it.
Microsoft Pix is a bit like having a pro photographer in your phone—always tweaking settings, selecting your best shots, and enhancing each one. It also captures frames before you even tap on the shutter, so you won’t miss the best moment.
People are our most important photo subjects, so when a face is detected, Microsoft Pix automatically adjusts settings and after-shot enhancements. It also lets you compare the before and after, to ensure everyone looks their best.
Microsoft Pix helps you have more fun with photos. When interesting motion is sensed in your shot, it automatically creates a short, looping video called a Live Image. It also helps you stabilize and time lapse new or existing videos.
Microsoft Pix uses proprietary multi-frame de-noise technology, which helps your photos look as clear and lifelike as possible. Check out the difference in detail on people’s facial features and clothing, including noise reduction in lower light, and greater clarity in the detail of the distinct blacks of her hair and vest.
Microsoft Pix uses multiple technologies to provide true, accurate color for skin tones, food, and foliage, as well as accurate exposure and detail in both the shadow and the highlight areas of the photo. Compare the differences in the shadows on people’s faces, or the color and crispness of the greens in the salad bowl.
Apple has just published a list of App Store improvements that will begin to go into effect next Wednesday, September 7th. The changes seek to remove broken and forgotten apps from the App Store, apps that are currently breaking App Store review guidelines, and that are just no longer functional.
The notice to developers today indicates that Apple will begin reviewing and removing non-functional apps on September 7th within all categories from the App Store. Apps that automatically crash on launch will be immediately removed from the App Store, but other apps will have 30 days to submit an update to keep the app within the store. Apple makes it clear that apps that are removed won’t lose functionality for users who currently have it installed, but future customers will no longer be able to search for it.
In preparation for the coming culling, Apple suggests developers read the latest App Store Review Guidelines and confirm that all current apps follow them. Apple recommends that developers continue to address overall functionality issues within the app and to update it regularly. Most interestingly, they explicitly state that if an app is no longer being updated, developers should consider removing it from the App Store.
App Store developers today also received emails re-iterating the upcoming changes, alongside an additional indication that shorter app names will also be a focus. Generously used with apps that look to spam search keywords and overtake similar apps, Apple is now discouraging the use of lengthy names. Apps submitted to iTunes Connect will now be limited to 50 characters. As of now these spammy names usually include descriptions and terms not relevant to the applications or user. Developers looking for some help in this area can read the App Store Product Page for more information.
These changes should help curb some of the spam and abandoned applications that currently resides in the App Store. It isn’t uncommon now to download an app and see that it still hasn’t been updated to support the new iPhone 6 (or even iPhone SE) resolution, or that it just crashes within its main functionality. The new naming limitations will also hopefully hamper development farms that create keyword-related app titles looking to copy the success other top-grossing applications. Unfortunately, Apple’s update today doesn’t indicate that it will retroactively adjust apps with absurdly long titles.
Wild Weather is a terrific weather app for those looking for something a bit different than the common data overloaded weather app. The big feature of Wild Weather is its beautiful hand drawn illustrations that appear based on your location, the time of year, the weather, and the time of day. There are dozens of illustration, which are so beautiful, you’ll want to just stare at them–weather be damned! The app also does provide you with a five day forecast, a 24 hour outlook, and the ability to add multiple locations.
Stack is the other addictive game I’ve been playing this week. Stack again takes a minimalist design cue and has very simple gameplay: slabs float on screen, tap the screen to drop a slab in place. But if the next glad isn’t dropped perfectly on the previous one, whatever overlaps the edges will get cut off. See how high you can stack the slabs until there no room left.
Google Duo is Google’s new free video chat app. It’s meant to take on FaceTime, but outdoes it in some areas. One such area is the app is available for both iOS and Android, so you can video chat with your friends no matter what kind of device they use. The app also has an innovative preview mode that allows you to see the video feed of a call before you decide to answer it.
This is only Nintendo’s second game for iOS and it’s already shot to the top of the charts. Pokémon GO is an augmented reality app that lets you go searching for Pokémon in the real world. Find them, capture them, and see them evolve before your eyes. What’s really cool is Pokémon appear near their natural habitats, so if you want to find water Pokémon go to a local lake or seaside in your area.
Moves is probably the best activity tracker I’ve found for the iPhone. It works with the iphone’s built-in motion coprocessor to easily show you how many steps or miles or minutes you’ve walked, run, or cycled each day. Activities are color coded in big circles. The bigger the circle gets the more you’ve moved. Moves also records your routes and keeps track of the places you go. The app has actually been around for years, but it’s recently gotten a ton of updates after languishing for a while.
Taggle lets you do everything with your photos in just one touch. A swipe-based UI makes tagging, deleting, and locking photos a glee. And Taggle’s “multi-tagging” and voice search let you label multiple tags on the photos, so that you may find specific photos in just seconds.
With Taggle, photo categorization will be a doddle. After experiencing perfectly sorted photos and quick search, you’ll never be able to go back to the default gallery.
Taggle is available for beta for iPhone and iPad. To sign up for access, visit our website. Apple Watch and Android version is on its way.