Category Archives: Mobile

Google Trusted Contacts now available on iOS, Android

Seems smart; installing now for me & Margot:

Loved ones can request your location––even if your phone is offline or you can’t get to it. You can also proactively share your location in everyday or emergency situations.

In preparation for a situation where you might need help but can’t answer your phone—imagine you get lost while hiking and lose service—you can choose how long to wait before your location is automatically shared with a trusted contact who asks for your location.

Available now on iOS & Android alike. [Via]

The charm of Smart Reply comes to Gmail

I find this so oddly delightful—and kind of the polar opposite of my car’s door handles.

See, the latter are supposed to be magical, automatically popping out when I approach the car. In practice, though, they’re unreliable enough (e.g. when my key is buried in my pocket, which of course is inevitably when my hands are full) that the they feel like a net negative. Something that used to work just fine, and that is now supposed to be an improvement, leaves me stressed & a bit bummed out.

Smart Replies are on the opposite end of the spectrum: They never used to exist, and even when they aren’t relevant, I’m reminded of the old bit about a dog walking on its hind legs: It’s not done well, but you’re charmed to see it done at all.

Anyway, you can check it out today in Gmail on Android and iOS:

Smart Reply utilizes machine learning to give you better responses the more you use it. So if you’re more of a “thanks!” than a “thanks.” person, we’ll suggest the response that’s, well, more you! If you want to learn about the smarts behind Smart Reply, check out the Google Research Blog.

And yes, you should now have email exchanges with colleagues composed entirely of Smart Replies. “Thanks, I will!” 🙂


Instagram finally adds collections

I’ve been expecting this one for years:

Tap and hold the bookmark icon underneath any post to save it directly to a collection. You can create and name a new collection when you save a post, or you can add it to one you’ve already created. 

Instagram continues to redefine creativity—away from strictly posting a few best shots, and towards:

  1. tossed-off ephemera (stories) and
  2. curation (a la Pinterest—drag the shiny-shiny back to decorate your cave).

This is going to be a license to print money: Let Kylie Jenner (or mouth-breathing celebretroid of one’s choice) create collections of merchandise that hang off the main profile & enable instant purchasing. Hopefully it’ll also benefit individual photographers, by offering a crazy-simple way to buy prints. Stay tuned.



Chronoscape: A fun AR experiment from Google Japan

How about an augmented-reality spyglass that lets you see your current surroundings from the perspective of another season? That’s Chronoscape:

Auto-translated project description:

When you approach Chronoscape with a dedicated Android smartphone application and approach a place where you can see “another time”, Chronoscape notifies you.Look into Chronoscape and rotate the operating part, you can see different scenery of different time at that place. In addition, favorite landscapes can be saved in a smartphone with a single touch, and you can look back and share it later.



New Google Photos courses land on

Photographer and educator Seán Duggan covers Google Photos in this week’s Mobile Photography Weekly, and he dives deep in Google Photos: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques:

Photographer and educator Seán Duggan shares a collection of power tips that can help you get the most out of Google Photos. Learn how to manage photo storage, use the stellar search capabilities of Google Photos, edit your photos, and make animations, slide shows, and movies from your images. Plus, learn how to share photos securely with friends and family.

Check it out—and thanks, Seán!


Big Snapseed news: Save & share presets, apply selective Structure, and more

So, this happened. 🙂 In Snapseed 2.16 on iOS & Android, you can:

  • Edit faster by using reusable “looks”: save the edits on any photo as a look, and apply saved looks to other images.
  • Share looks with friends and other users by generating a QR code for each.
  • Apply Structure to individual areas of your photo via the Selective tool.

And on Android you can:

  • Automatically correct the perspective of your photos using the the enhanced Perspective tool.
  • Find inspiring tutorial content via the Insights stream. [already available on iOS]


The QR-based sharing is a fun twist. The team writes,

You now can easily share these looks with your friends and followers. Snapseed will generate a QR code that embeds your look. Scan this QR code [below] in Snapseed to apply the look to the current photo. You can easily share it through social media, on your web site, or by email and instant messaging! 


Photography: Meet the ludicrous 960fps Sony Xperia XZ

Cue Keanu-style whoa:

PetaPixel notes,

The technological magic behind this sensor—as Sony points out multiple times in the videos above—is the RAM built right into the sensor stack. This allows for 5x faster readout and a max slow mo capture speed of 960fps at up to 720p resolution. That is not a typo, and it makes 240fps looks like a sad joke.


Remember—if, like me, you’re about to turn to dust—when the mere existence of a “PHONE video” seemed entirely insane? Cue this Nokia ad from ~2002:

[YouTube 1 & 2]