Tag Archives: nexus

KISS frontman Gene Simmons on new Live Case designs and why he loves his Pixel

If you’re a KISS fan, you’ve probably spent some crazy, crazy nights rocking out in face paint. But what about when you want to bring a little KISS with you to work or Grandma’s house? You might want to leave the face paint at home, so we’ve got you (and your phone) covered. KISS joined forces with us to create 12 limited edition Live Case designs for Pixel and Nexus phones available on the Google Store. And we had the chance to ask Gene Simmons, the Demon himself, about the collaboration:

IMG_20170528_133338 (1).jpg

Bette Ann: We heard you’re on #teampixel. What do you love most about your Pixel?

Gene Simmons: I love the sleek, edgy look of the Pixel. It’s technologically advanced, but still intuitive and easy to use. And I love the camera! The photos I’ve taken of my family on my Pixel are so clear, I’ll never forget those moments. This picture of my daughter and me is one of my favorites—we’re hanging out as I get ready for a show.

What made you want to create these Live Cases?

 I was pumped that Google and KISS could work together … what a power couple. I love that Live Cases are another way for fans to express themselves. Our fans have evolved a lot over the last 44 years, and merch has always been really important to them. I think of Live Cases as the new concert T-shirt.

Do you have a favorite Live Case?

The one with the close-up of my face and make-up—of course!

How do you use Google products while you’re on tour?

I’m always starving after I wrap up a show, so I use my Google Assistant to find late night food. And I tell my Google Home to play music all day long—it never gets sick of me!

How has technology changed your work as a musician/performer (in studio and on the road)?

Technology has changed everything for us, especially in the recording studio and with record sales. We used to record reel-to-reel, a-trak, and CDs. Now we record digitally and everything is streamed and bought on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. It's a whole new world and Google helps us navigate it.

Check out Gene and his fellow band members with their Live Cases, along with photos of a few other designs you can choose from: 

KISS frontman Gene Simmons on new Live Case designs and why he loves his Pixel

If you’re a KISS fan, you’ve probably spent some crazy, crazy nights rocking out in face paint. But what about when you want to bring a little KISS with you to work or Grandma’s house? You might want to leave the face paint at home, so we’ve got you (and your phone) covered. KISS joined forces with us to create 12 limited edition Live Case designs for Pixel and Nexus phones available on the Google Store. And we had the chance to ask Gene Simmons, the Demon himself, about the collaboration:

IMG_20170528_133338 (1).jpg

Bette Ann: We heard you’re on #teampixel. What do you love most about your Pixel?

Gene Simmons: I love the sleek, edgy look of the Pixel. It’s technologically advanced, but still intuitive and easy to use. And I love the camera! The photos I’ve taken of my family on my Pixel are so clear, I’ll never forget those moments. This picture of my daughter and me is one of my favorites—we’re hanging out as I get ready for a show.

What made you want to create these Live Cases?

 I was pumped that Google and KISS could work together … what a power couple. I love that Live Cases are another way for fans to express themselves. Our fans have evolved a lot over the last 44 years, and merch has always been really important to them. I think of Live Cases as the new concert T-shirt.

Do you have a favorite Live Case?

The one with the close-up of my face and make-up—of course!

How do you use Google products while you’re on tour?

I’m always starving after I wrap up a show, so I use my Google Assistant to find late night food. And I tell my Google Home to play music all day long—it never gets sick of me!

How has technology changed your work as a musician/performer (in studio and on the road)?

Technology has changed everything for us, especially in the recording studio and with record sales. We used to record reel-to-reel, a-trak, and CDs. Now we record digitally and everything is streamed and bought on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. It's a whole new world and Google helps us navigate it.

Check out Gene and his fellow band members with their Live Cases, along with photos of a few other designs you can choose from: 

Experimental Nighttime Photography with Nexus and Pixel



On a full moon night last year I carried a professional DSLR camera, a heavy lens and a tripod up to a hilltop in the Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco to take a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and the lights of the city behind it.
A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands, taken with a DSLR camera (Canon 1DX, Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 ZE). Click here for the full resolution image.
I thought the photo of the moonlit landscape came out well so I showed it to my (then) teammates in Gcam, a Google Research team that focuses on computational photography - developing algorithms that assist in taking pictures, usually with smartphones and similar small cameras. Seeing my nighttime photo, one of the Gcam team members challenged me to re-take it, but with a phone camera instead of a DSLR. Even though cameras on cellphones have come a long way, I wasn’t sure whether it would be possible to come close to the DSLR shot.

Probably the most successful Gcam project to date is the image processing pipeline that enables the HDR+ mode in the camera app on Nexus and Pixel phones. HDR+ allows you to take photos at low-light levels by rapidly shooting a burst of up to ten short exposures and averaging them them into a single image, reducing blur due to camera shake while collecting enough total light to yield surprisingly good pictures. Of course there are limits to what HDR+ can do. Once it gets dark enough the camera just cannot gather enough light and challenging shots like nighttime landscapes are still beyond reach.

The Challenges
To learn what was possible with a cellphone camera in extremely low-light conditions, I looked to the experimental SeeInTheDark app, written by Marc Levoy and presented at the ICCV 2015 Extreme Imaging Workshop, which can produce pictures with even less light than HDR+. It does this by accumulating more exposures, and merging them under the assumption that the scene is static and any differences between successive exposures must be due to camera motion or sensor noise. The app reduces noise further by dropping image resolution to about 1 MPixel. With SeeInTheDark it is just possible to take pictures, albeit fairly grainy ones, by the light of the full moon.

However, in order to keep motion blur due to camera shake and moving objects in the scene at acceptable levels, both HDR+ and SeeInTheDark must keep the exposure times for individual frames below roughly one tenth of a second. Since the user can’t hold the camera perfectly still for extended periods, it doesn’t make sense to attempt to merge a large number of frames into a single picture. Therefore, HDR+ merges at most ten frames, while SeeInTheDark progressively discounts older frames as new ones are captured. This limits how much light the camera can gather and thus affects the quality of the final pictures at very low light levels.

Of course, if we want to take high-quality pictures of low-light scenes (such as a landscape illuminated only by the moon), increasing the exposure time to more than one second and mounting the phone on a tripod or placing it on some other solid support makes the task a lot easier. Google’s Nexus 6P and Pixel phones support exposure times of 4 and 2 seconds respectively. As long as the scene is static, we should be able to record and merge dozens of frames to produce a single final image, even if shooting those frames takes several minutes.

Even with the use of a tripod, a sharp picture requires the camera’s lens to be focused on the subject, and this can be tricky in scenes with very low light levels. The two autofocus mechanisms employed by cellphone cameras — contrast detection and phase detection — fail when it’s dark enough that the camera's image sensor returns mostly noise. Fortunately, the interesting parts of outdoor scenes tend to be far enough away that simply setting the focus distance to infinity produces sharp images.

Experiments & Results
Taking all this into account, I wrote a simple Android camera app with manual control over exposure time, ISO and focus distance. When the shutter button is pressed the app waits a few seconds and then records up to 64 frames with the selected settings. The app saves the raw frames captured from the sensor as DNG files, which can later be downloaded onto a PC for processing.

To test my app, I visited the Point Reyes lighthouse on the California coast some thirty miles northwest of San Francisco on a full moon night. I pointed a Nexus 6P phone at the building and shot a burst of 32 four-second frames at ISO 1600. After covering the camera lens with opaque adhesive tape I shot an additional 32 black frames. Back at the office I loaded the raw files into Photoshop. The individual frames were very grainy, as one would expect given the tiny sensor in a cellphone camera, but computing the mean of all 32 frames cleaned up most of the grain, and subtracting the mean of the 32 black frames removed faint grid-like patterns caused by local variations in the sensor's black level. The resulting image, shown below, looks surprisingly good.
Point Reyes lighthouse at night, photographed with Google Nexus 6P (full resolution image here).
The lantern in the lighthouse is overexposed, but the rest of the scene is sharp, not too grainy, and has pleasing, natural looking colors. For comparison, a hand-held HDR+ shot of the same scene looks like this:
Point Reyes Lighthouse at night, hand-held HDR+ shot (full resolution image here). The inset rectangle has been brightened in Photoshop to roughly match the previous picture.
Satisfied with these results, I wanted to see if I could capture a nighttime landscape as well as the stars in the clear sky above it, all in one picture. When I took the photo of the lighthouse a thin layer of clouds conspired with the bright moonlight to make the stars nearly invisible, but on a clear night a two or four second exposure can easily capture the brighter stars. The stars are not stationary, though; they appear to rotate around the celestial poles, completing a full turn every 24 hours. The motion is slow enough to be invisible in exposures of only a few seconds, but over the minutes it takes to record a few dozen frames the stars move enough to turn into streaks when the frames are merged. Here is an example:
The North Star above Mount Burdell, single 2-second exposure. (full resolution image here).
Mean of 32 2-second exposures (full resolution image here).
Seeing streaks instead of pinpoint stars in the sky can be avoided by shifting and rotating the original frames such that the stars align. Merging the aligned frames produces an image with a clean-looking sky, and many faint stars that were hidden by noise in the individual frames become visible. Of course, the ground is now motion-blurred as if the camera had followed the rotation of the sky.
Mean of 32 2-second exposures, stars aligned (full resolution image here).
We now have two images; one where the ground is sharp, and one where the sky is sharp, and we can combine them into a single picture that is sharp everywhere. In Photoshop the easiest way to do that is with a hand-painted layer mask. After adjusting brightness and colors to taste, slight cropping, and removing an ugly "No Trespassing" sign we get a presentable picture:
The North Star above Mount Burdell, shot with Google Pixel, final image (full resolution image here).
Using Even Less Light
The pictures I've shown so far were shot on nights with a full moon, when it was bright enough that one could easily walk outside without a lantern or a flashlight. I wanted to find out if it was possible to take cellphone photos in even less light. Using a Pixel phone, I tried a scene illuminated by a three-quarter moon low in the sky, and another one with no moon at all. Anticipating more noise in the individual exposures, I shot 64-frame bursts. The processed final images still look fine:
Wrecked fishing boat in Inverness and the Big Dipper, 64 2-second exposures, shot with Google Pixel (full resolution image here).
Stars above Pierce Point Ranch, 64 2-second exposures, shot with Google Pixel (full resolution image here).
In the second image the distant lights of the cities around the San Francisco Bay caused the sky near the horizon to glow, but without moonlight the night was still dark enough to make the Milky Way visible. The picture looks noticeably grainier than my earlier moonlight shots, but it's not too bad.

Pushing the Limits
How far can we go? Can we take a cellphone photo with only starlight - no moon, no artificial light sources nearby, and no background glow from a distant city?

To test this I drove to a point on the California coast a little north of the mouth of the Russian River, where nights can get really dark, and pointed my Pixel phone at the summer sky above the ocean. Combining 64 two-second exposures taken at ISO 12800, and 64 corresponding black black frames did produce a recognizable image of the Milky Way. The constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius are clearly visible, and squinting hard enough one can just barely make out the horizon and one or two rocks in the ocean, but overall, this is not a picture you'd want to print out and frame. Still, this may be the lowest-light cellphone photo ever taken.
Only starlight, shot with Google Pixel (full resolution image here).
Here we are approaching the limits of what the Pixel camera can do. The camera cannot handle exposure times longer than two seconds. If this restriction was removed we could expose individual frames for eight to ten seconds, and the stars still would not show noticeable motion blur. With longer exposures we could lower the ISO setting, which would significantly reduce noise in the individual frames, and we would get a correspondingly cleaner and more detailed final picture.

Getting back to the original challenge - using a cellphone to reproduce a night-time DSLR shot of the Golden Gate - I did that. Here is what I got:
Golden Gate Bridge at night, shot with Google Nexus 6P (full resolution image here).
The Moon above San Francisco, shot with Google Nexus 6P (full resolution image here).
At 9 to 10 MPixels the resolution of these pictures is not as high as what a DSLR camera might produce, but otherwise image quality is surprisingly good: the photos are sharp all the way into the corners, there is not much visible noise, the captured dynamic range is sufficient to avoid saturating all but the brightest highlights, and the colors are pleasing.

Trying to find out if phone cameras might be suitable for outdoor nighttime photography was a fun experiment, and clearly the result is yes, they are. However, arriving at the final images required a lot of careful post-processing on a desktop computer, and the procedure is too cumbersome for all but the most dedicated cellphone photographers. However, with the right software a phone should be able to process the images internally, and if steps such as painting layer masks by hand can be eliminated, it might be possible to do point-and-shoot photography in very low light conditions. Almost - the cellphone would still have to rest on the ground or be mounted on a tripod.

Here’s a Google Photos album with more examples of photos that were created with the technique described above.

Upgrading SMS for Rogers customers on Android

Many of us rely on SMS every day — to make plans, confirm an appointment, or stay in touch with friends. But even as smartphones have become more powerful and the apps we use on them more vibrant, SMS hasn't changed a lot. It's still just plain text. We believe this standard messaging experience should be better, so through a mobile industry initiative called RCS (Rich Communications Services), we’ve committed to working with carriers and manufacturers to upgrade SMS to a more enhanced messaging experience for people everywhere.

Last month, we announced our first carrier supporting this richer messaging experience. Now we’re bringing RCS to even more people by working with Rogers Communications to launch RCS messaging to their Android customers in Canada.

Rogers customers will have access to enhanced features — including group chat, high-res photo sharing and read receipts — as part of their standard messaging experience on Android. You can access the upgraded messaging experience by downloading the Messenger app for Android devices from the Google Play Store, and the service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud. We’re beginning to roll out the enhanced messaging experience today, and it will be available to all Rogers customers soon.

Rogers RCS gif

Next year, Rogers intends to preload Messenger as the standard messaging app for new Android devices. We’re excited to provide a better messaging experience to Canadians, and look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months.

Upgrading SMS for Rogers customers on Android

Many of us rely on SMS every day — to make plans, confirm an appointment, or stay in touch with friends. But even as smartphones have become more powerful and the apps we use on them more vibrant, SMS hasn't changed a lot. It's still just plain text. We believe this standard messaging experience should be better, so through a mobile industry initiative called RCS (Rich Communications Services), we’ve committed to working with carriers and manufacturers to upgrade SMS to a more enhanced messaging experience for people everywhere.

Last month, we announced our first carrier supporting this richer messaging experience. Now we’re bringing RCS to even more people by working with Rogers Communications to launch RCS messaging to their Android customers in Canada.

Rogers customers will have access to enhanced features — including group chat, high-res photo sharing and read receipts — as part of their standard messaging experience on Android. You can access the upgraded messaging experience by downloading the Messenger app for Android devices from the Google Play Store, and the service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud. We’re beginning to roll out the enhanced messaging experience today, and it will be available to all Rogers customers soon.

Rogers RCS gif

Next year, Rogers intends to preload Messenger as the standard messaging app for new Android devices. We’re excited to provide a better messaging experience to Canadians, and look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months.

Upgrading SMS for Rogers customers on Android

Many of us rely on SMS every day — to make plans, confirm an appointment, or stay in touch with friends. But even as smartphones have become more powerful and the apps we use on them more vibrant, SMS hasn't changed a lot. It's still just plain text. We believe this standard messaging experience should be better, so through a mobile industry initiative called RCS (Rich Communications Services), we’ve committed to working with carriers and manufacturers to upgrade SMS to a more enhanced messaging experience for people everywhere.

Last month, we announced our first carrier supporting this richer messaging experience. Now we’re bringing RCS to even more people by working with Rogers Communications to launch RCS messaging to their Android customers in Canada.

Rogers customers will have access to enhanced features — including group chat, high-res photo sharing and read receipts — as part of their standard messaging experience on Android. You can access the upgraded messaging experience by downloading the Messenger app for Android devices from the Google Play Store, and the service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud. We’re beginning to roll out the enhanced messaging experience today, and it will be available to all Rogers customers soon.

Rogers RCS gif

Next year, Rogers intends to preload Messenger as the standard messaging app for new Android devices. We’re excited to provide a better messaging experience to Canadians, and look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months.

Source: Android


From the Runway to the Pixel: The Jeremy Scott Live Case

Today, we’re excited to announce that celebrated American fashion designer Jeremy Scott has teamed up with Google to create a line of limited edition Jeremy Scott Live Cases for our new Pixel phones.

Phones and cases have become an extension of our personal style. Scott, the creative mind behind fashion labels like Moschino and his own collection, has brought his distinctive vision to this new line, turning your Pixel into the ultimate accessory. And we didn't stop there. Why not add a bit more style to the other ways you express yourself?

Jeremy Scott Live Case by Google — Game Over

Introducing the Jeremy Scott Live Case

It’s no secret that we Heart - Android 7.1.png emojis. Scott does too, but always felt like a few were missing. So together, we worked to create and bring his emojis to Pixel through a new customized Live Case and its companion live wallpapers.
Jeremy-Scott-4-phone-line-up.gif

Designs to make your own

Scott created nine different canvases for Live Case that feature his cast of emoji characters. Fans can make the case their own by zooming and rotating the designs, creating the perfect layout for their phone case.
pasted image 0.png

The GIFs that keep on giving

Each Jeremy Scott Live Case comes with a companion wallpaper that updates daily with new characters. And with a shake of your Pixel, the characters come to life.

Lastly, to liven up your conversations in Allo, Messenger, or Hangouts, the Jeremy Scott Live Case comes with its own GIF keyboard that features the full line-up of 24 characters. Best friend scores free tickets to tonight’s concert? Nothing says “that’s amazing” like a GIF of a rabbit pulling itself out of a top hat.

Nexus_2017_N6P_JEREMY_SCOTT_ALLO.png

See the emojis #IRL

To celebrate the collaboration, we created real-life versions of Scott’s emojis that are currently popping up around the country. If you see one, snap a photo and use the hashtag #JeremyScottxGoogle. You never know where they might show up next.

JS_FingersCrossed.gif

Exclusively on the Google Store

To make your Jeremy Scott Live Case now, head to the Google Store. Available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Germany, for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X phones.

Source: Android


From the Runway to the Pixel: The Jeremy Scott Live Case

Today, we’re excited to announce that celebrated American fashion designer Jeremy Scott has teamed up with Google to create a line of limited edition Jeremy Scott Live Cases for our new Pixel phones.

Phones and cases have become an extension of our personal style. Scott, the creative mind behind fashion labels like Moschino and his own collection, has brought his distinctive vision to this new line, turning your Pixel into the ultimate accessory. And we didn't stop there. Why not add a bit more style to the other ways you express yourself?

Jeremy Scott Live Case by Google — Game Over

Introducing the Jeremy Scott Live Case

It’s no secret that we Heart - Android 7.1.png emojis. Scott does too, but always felt like a few were missing. So together, we worked to create and bring his emojis to Pixel through a new customized Live Case and its companion live wallpapers.
Jeremy-Scott-4-phone-line-up.gif

Designs to make your own

Scott created nine different canvases for Live Case that feature his cast of emoji characters. Fans can make the case their own by zooming and rotating the designs, creating the perfect layout for their phone case.
pasted image 0.png

The GIFs that keep on giving

Each Jeremy Scott Live Case comes with a companion wallpaper that updates daily with new characters. And with a shake of your Pixel, the characters come to life.

Lastly, to liven up your conversations in Allo, Messenger, or Hangouts, the Jeremy Scott Live Case comes with its own GIF keyboard that features the full line-up of 24 characters. Best friend scores free tickets to tonight’s concert? Nothing says “that’s amazing” like a GIF of a rabbit pulling itself out of a top hat.

Nexus_2017_N6P_JEREMY_SCOTT_ALLO.png

See the emojis #IRL

To celebrate the collaboration, we created real-life versions of Scott’s emojis that are currently popping up around the country. If you see one, snap a photo and use the hashtag #JeremyScottxGoogle. You never know where they might show up next.

JS_FingersCrossed.gif

Exclusively on the Google Store

To make your Jeremy Scott Live Case now, head to the Google Store. Available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Germany, for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X phones.

Source: Android


Partnering with global carriers to upgrade SMS

SMS is one of the most ubiquitous forms of communication today, used by billions of people worldwide. Over the course of this year, we’ve worked with the mobile industry on an initiative to upgrade SMS for users, to provide a better, more enhanced messaging experience through RCS (Rich Communications Services). And now more than 58 carriers and manufacturers, collectively covering a subscriber base of 4.7 billion people globally, have committed to supporting a single, standard implementation of RCS.

Today, we’re excited to announce the next step in this initiative with our first carrier launch supporting the new universal RCS profile. Together with Sprint, we’re launching RCS messaging to their customers using Android devices, starting today. This will bring enhanced features including group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more to the standard messaging experience on Android. Sprint subscribers will have their standard SMS experience upgraded through the Messenger app for Android devices, developed by Google. The service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google.

RCS-Launch_Android.gif

Next year, all new Android devices from Sprint will come with Messenger for Android preloaded as the default SMS and RCS messaging experience. Subscribers currently using select LG and Nexus phones from Sprint will have the messaging experience upgraded automatically through an app update, and subscribers using other Android devices can download Messenger from the Play store.

We’re excited to see this first launch of RCS come to life, providing a better carrier messaging experience for millions of people in the U.S. We look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months.

Partnering with global carriers to upgrade SMS

SMS is one of the most ubiquitous forms of communication today, used by billions of people worldwide. Over the course of this year, we’ve worked with the mobile industry on an initiative to upgrade SMS for users, to provide a better, more enhanced messaging experience through RCS (Rich Communications Services). And now more than 58 carriers and manufacturers, collectively covering a subscriber base of 4.7 billion people globally, have committed to supporting a single, standard implementation of RCS.

Today, we’re excited to announce the next step in this initiative with our first carrier launch supporting the new universal RCS profile. Together with Sprint, we’re launching RCS messaging to their customers using Android devices, starting today. This will bring enhanced features including group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more to the standard messaging experience on Android. Sprint subscribers will have their standard SMS experience upgraded through the Messenger app for Android devices, developed by Google. The service will be powered by the Jibe RCS cloud from Google.

RCS-Launch_Android.gif

Next year, all new Android devices from Sprint will come with Messenger for Android preloaded as the default SMS and RCS messaging experience. Subscribers currently using select LG and Nexus phones from Sprint will have the messaging experience upgraded automatically through an app update, and subscribers using other Android devices can download Messenger from the Play store.

We’re excited to see this first launch of RCS come to life, providing a better carrier messaging experience for millions of people in the U.S. We look forward to launching RCS with more partners in the coming months.

Source: Android