Tag Archives: Pixel

Pixel 3a helped me see my vacation through a new Lens

When I was a kid, my mom would tell me on every birthday she wanted me to have a big goal in life: Travel to as many countries as my years on Earth. And though I'm far from that ambitious target, my mom did instill a major travel bug in me. 

Briana Feigon in Oaxaca

Settling in at the Casa Oaxaca hotel. 


But no matter where I travel, I struggle with the same issues many people face: pricey phone bills, subpar photos, a language barrier and, well, getting extremely lost.

So when I traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico last month, I sought out ways to combat these typical tourist problems. And thanks to my Pixel 3a, I was able to make real progress for the next time I visit more countries on my bucket list. Here’s how I did it. 

Navigating on Maps without pricey data fees

Even when I’m traveling, I like to be able to use my phone the same way I would at home. (Meaning, a lot.) For this trip, I decided to set my phone up with Google Fi so I could have unlimited international usage and great coverage. At the end of my trip, my phone bill netted out to be a fraction of my typical charge when I travel internationally.

Thanks to my cheaper data plan, I was also able to navigate with help from Maps. I’d never admit it myself, but some people might say I’m bad at directions. (Okay, a lot of people might say that.) In any case, I really leaned into using Live View in Google Maps, a tool that literally has a big blue arrow staring at me on my screen, pointing me exactly in the direction I should go. Even when in rural areas, outside of cell service, I was grateful to be able to use Google Maps in offline mode—like when I visited the Monte Alban ruins.

Taking in the beauty of Monte Alban with friends.

Taking in the beauty of Monte Alban with friends.

Lens translate

When ordering a juice from a mercado stand, I was able to use Translate in Lens to decipher many of the blends, opting for a juice that promised benefits for my skin. 

A new way to break down the language barrier 

I’m ashamed to say my Spanish isn’t great, so I put the Pixel 3a to the test. Could it magically help me speak a new language? 

Within the camera app, there’s a nifty feature in Google Lens that allows you to hover over text in another language for real-time translations. This came in handy in bustling markets, local restaurants and juice stands that only had menus in Spanish. Even if you don’t have a Pixel phone, you can download the Google Lens app on other Android or iOS devices to try it out yourself.  

The Google Assistant also came in handy when I needed language help. It was easy to ask the Assistant questions like, “Hey Google, how do you say ‘where is the bathroom’ in Spanish?” and get help converting costs from pesos to dollars.

Taking my vacation photos to the next level

In a city as beautiful as Oaxaca, I knew I’d be leaning heavily on the camera quality of the Pixel 3a. I snapped photos throughout a cooking demo making tortillas from scratch, and used features like portrait mode and Night Sight to make the most out of my vacation pics. Here are just a few highlights: 

My Pixel 3a was the ultimate tour guide

I know, I know, it’s just a phone, but I have to say I feel indebted to my Pixel 3a for showing me such a special time in Oaxaca. I think I’ll take it to my next dream travel destination: Japan. 

Source: Google LatLong


Our hardware sustainability commitments

Most of us can’t get through the day without a phone, tablet, computer or smart speaker. My team at Google understands this well—we’ve been making consumer hardware (like Pixel phones and Google Home Minis) for just over three years now. But building these devices and getting them into the hands of our customers takes a lot of resources, and disposing of our old electronics can create significant waste. 


My job is to integrate sustainability into our products, operations and communities—making it not just an aspect of how we do business, but the centerpiece of it. It’s an ongoing endeavor that involves designing in sustainability from the start and embedding it into the entire product development process and across our operations, all while creating the products our customers want. This is how we will achieve our ambition to leave people, the planet, and our communities better than we found them. 


To help us get a step closer to reaching our goals, we’re sharing a set of hardware and services sustainability commitments

  • By 2020, 100 percent of all shipments going to or from customers will be carbon neutral 
  • Starting in 2022, 100 percent of Made by Google products will include recycled materials with a drive to maximize recycled content wherever possible.
  • And we will make technology that puts people first and expands access to the benefits of technology. 

These commitments will build on the foundation and progress we’ve already made. In 2018, we began publishing our product environmental reports, which help everyone understand exactly what our products are made of, how they’re built and how they get shipped to you. And from 2017 to 2018, our carbon emissions for product shipments decreased by 40 percent. we’ve also launched our Power Project, which will bring one million energy- and money-saving Nest thermostats to families in need by 2023, and built much of our Nest product portfolio with post-consumer recycled plastic.  


We’re always working to do more, faster. But today we’re laying the foundation for what we believe will be a way of doing business that commits to building better products better. 

With a tap on your phone, get help in an emergency

A quick, informative conversation with an operator during an emergency call is critical, but in some cases, people are unable to verbally communicate, whether they’re injured, in a dangerous situation or have a speech impairment.


Soon, you'll be able to share information about the assistance you require, along with your location, to the emergency operator without speaking. This feature will be available in the Phone app on Pixel and select Android devices.
Calling emergency without

Tapping on the “Medical,” “Fire” or “Police” buttons during an emergency call will convey the type of emergency to the operator through an automated voice service. That service works on device, which means the information stays between you and emergency services, and the service functions whether or not you have a data connection. After you activate the service, you can always speak directly to the operator as well.

Your location, which comes from your phone’s GPS, is often already shared with the operator when you make a 911 call. This new feature provides similar location information through the automated voice service, along with the caller’s plus code, which is another reliable way to help emergency services accurately locate them. Like the rest of the content shared with the operator using this feature, your  location stays between them and emergency services. 

This feature will become available in the U.S. over the coming months, starting with Pixel phones. We’ve been collecting feedback from public safety organizations, including the National Emergency Number Association, to make this feature as helpful as possible, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with the emergency services community to make people safer.

Source: Android


(Don’t) hold the phone: new features coming to Pixel 4

As we shared last month, Pixel 4 is in the works1. Today we’re giving you an early look at the technology behind two new features coming to Pixel 4 that make your phone more helpful and represent a next step in our vision for ambient computing

Motion Sense

For the past five years, our Advanced Technology and Projects team (ATAP) has been working on Soli, a motion-sensing radar. Radar, of course, is the same technology that has been used for decades to detect planes and other large objects. We've developed a miniature version located at the top of Pixel 4 that senses small motions around the phone, combining unique software algorithms with the advanced hardware sensor, so it can recognize gestures and detect when you’re nearby. 

Pixel 4 will be the first device with Soli, powering our new Motion Sense features to allow you to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls, just by waving your hand. These capabilities are just the start, and just as Pixels get better over time, Motion Sense will evolve as well. Motion Sense will be available in select Pixel countries. 

Soli Pixel 4 Sensors

The sensors and cameras enabling Motion Sense and face unlock in Pixel 4

Face unlock

Unlocking your phone should be easy, fast, and secure. Your device should be able to recognize you—and only you—without any fuss. Face unlock may be a familiar feature for smartphones, but we’re engineering it differently. 

Other phones require you to lift the device all the way up, pose in a certain way, wait for it to unlock, and then swipe to get to the homescreen. Pixel 4 does all of that in a much more streamlined way. As you reach for Pixel 4, Soli proactively turns on the face unlock sensors, recognizing that you may want to unlock your phone. If the face unlock sensors and algorithms recognize you, the phone will open as you pick it up, all in one motion. Better yet, face unlock works in almost any orientation—even if you're holding it upside down—and you can use it for secure payments and app authentication too.

Keeping your data safe with Pixel 

Security and privacy are core principles for Pixel. Face unlock uses facial recognition technology that is processed on your device, so that image data never leaves your phone. The images used for face unlock are never saved or shared with other Google services. To protect your privacy and security, your face data is securely stored in Pixel's Titan M security chip. Similarly, Soli sensor data is also processed on your phone, and it’s never saved or shared with other Google services.

We’re busy building these features for Pixel 4 and look forward to sharing more with you and the entire #teampixel later this year. 


1.This device may not be sold or otherwise distributed until required legal authorizations have been obtained.


Teach your self(ie) how to snap the perfect pic

A selfie a day keeps the doctor away? According to a study, millennials are expected to take more than 25,000 selfies in their lifetime, which comes down to one solo snap a day.


Today is National Selfie Day, so we’ve put together a few tips and tricks from our Pixel Camera experts for taking the best solo pics.


Natural light > flash: Taking photos in the dark is hard, and it may be tempting to use your phone’s flash. But flash photography often makes a selfie look washed out, and you can lose your background, or add glare to your face.


Low-light features are your friend: Having a low-light feature like Pixel’s Night Sight can enhance brightness in a dimly-lit setting, but without the white-cast caused by a flash. Night Sight takes several shots and puts them on top of each other to get a naturally lit image, even in the dark.

Night Sight

Know your angles: Positioning your face slightly to one side can make your selfie look less like an I.D. photo, and more like a natural shot. Using photography’s “Rule of Thirds” can help you snap a great picture, by bringing the focus of your photo to the area in an image where your eye naturally falls.


Surfer Selfie


Control your portraits: The subtle blur on Portrait Mode can help you pop against the background of your selfie. With Pixel 3 and 3a, you can adjust the blur to your liking. And always remember: Portrait Mode works best when the subject can stand out against a busy background.

Portrait Mode GIF

Don’t over-edit:Just like your parents have always told you: “you’re beautiful.” While editing apps are great, make sure you still look like yourself after you snap your selfie.


Pixel 3a: the helpful (and more affordable) phone by Google

These days, you expect a lot from a smartphone. You want a premium camera that can take vivid, share-worthy photos wherever you go. You need a tool that connects you to the world with all your favorite apps and also helps out during the day. And you want a phone that has a battery that’s reliable for long stretches, while it stays secure and up to date with the latest software. You also don’t want it to break the bank. The new Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL are all of those things and more, for half the price of premium phones.

Pixel 3a is designed to fit nicely in your hand, and includes an OLED display for crisp images and bright colors. It comes in three colors—Just Black, Clearly White, Purple-ish—and two sizes, with prices in the U.S. starting at $399 for the 5.6-inch display and $479 for the 6-inch model.

High-end features: camera, Google Assistant, battery life and security

Google Pixel 3a delivers what you’d expect from a premium device. Starting with the award-winning camera, Pixel 3a lets you take stunning photos using Google’s HDR+ technology with features like Portrait Mode,  Super Res Zoom, and Night Sight to capture clear shots in low light. Google Photos is built in, so you can save all your high-quality photos and videos with free, unlimited storage. And it comes with an 18-watt charger so you get up to seven hours of battery life on a 15-minute charge and up to 30 hours on a full charge.1

Squeeze Pixel 3a for the Google Assistant to send texts, get directions and set reminders—simply using your voice. Plus, the Google Assistant’s Call Screen feature (available in English in the U.S. and Canada) gives you information about the caller before you pick up, and shields you from those annoying robocalls.

We’ll make sure your Pixel 3a is protected against new threats, by providing three years of security and operating system updates. In a recent industry report, Pixel was rated the highest for built-in security among all smartphones. It also comes with the custom-built Titan M chip to help protect your most sensitive data.

New features at a more accessible price

Pixel makes it easy to use Google apps like YouTube, Google Photos and Gmail. And you'll get access to new features first. Pixel 3a and the entire Pixel portfolio will get a preview of AR in Google Maps—the next time you're getting around town, you can see walking directions overlaid on the world itself, rather than looking at a blue dot on a map.. This helps you know precisely where you are, and exactly which way to start walking (in areas covered on Street View where there’s a good data connection and good lighting).

AR Walking Navigation on Maps.gif

Time lapse is coming to Google Pixel 3a, so you can capture an entire sunset in just a few seconds of video—great for posting on social media or messaging to your friends.

Timelapse on Pixel 3A.gif

Buy it from more places, use it on more networks

Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 are now available through more carriers, including Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, Spectrum Mobile (Charter), C Spire and Google Fi, as well as being supported on AT&T. If you’re new to Pixel, you can transfer photos, music and media quickly with the included Quick Switch Adapter. If you need a little extra help, 24/7 support from Google is just a tap away in the tips and support link in the settings menu. You can even share your screen for guided assistance.  

Look for Pixel 3a in the Google Store in countries where Pixel is sold beginning today, and through our partners beginning tomorrow. 

1 Approximate battery life based on a mix of talk, data, standby, mobile hotspot and use of other features, with always on display off. An active display or data usage will decrease battery life. Charging rates are based upon use of the included charger. Charging time performance statistics are approximate. Actual results may vary.

Easier phone calls without voice or hearing

Last year, I read a social media post from a young woman in Israel. She shared a story about a guy she was in a relationship with, who was deaf, struggling to fix the internet connection at their home. The internet service provider’s tech support had no way to communicate with him via text, email or chat, even though they knew he was deaf. She wrote about how important it was for him to feel independent and be empowered.

This got me thinking: How can we help people make and receive phone calls without having to speak or hear? This led to the creation of our research project, Live Relay.

Live Relay uses on-device speech recognition and text-to-speech conversion to allow the phone to listen and speak on the users’ behalf while they type. By offering instant responses and predictive writing suggestions, Smart Reply and Smart Compose help make typing fast enough to hold a synchronous phone call.

Live Relay is running entirely on the device, keeping calls private. Because Live Relay is interacting with the other side via a regular phone call (no data required), the other side can even be a landline.

Of course, Live Relay would be helpful to anyone who can’t speak or hear during a call, and it may be particularly helpful to deaf and hard-of-hearing users, complementing existing solutions. In the U.S., for example, there are relay and real-time text (RTT) services available for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. These offer advantages in some situations, and our goal isn’t to replace these systems. Rather, we mean to complement them with Live Relay as an additional option for the contexts where it can help most, like handling an incoming call or  when the user prefers a fully automated system for privacy consideration.

We’re even more excited for Live Relay in the long term because we believe it can help all of our users. How many times have you gotten an important call but been unable to step out and chat? With Live Relay, you would be able to take that call anywhere, anytime with the option to type instead of talk. We are also exploring the integration of real-time translation capability, so that you could potentially call anyone in the world and communicate regardless of language barriers. This is the power of designing for accessibility first.

Live Relay is still in the research phase, but we look forward to the day it can give our users more and better ways to communicate—especially those who may be underserved by the options available today.

Follow @googleaccess for continued updates, and contact the Disability Support team (g.co/disabilitysupport) with any feedback.

Source: Android


Take Your Best Selfie Automatically, with Photobooth on Pixel 3



Taking a good group selfie can be tricky—you need to hover your finger above the shutter, keep everyone’s faces in the frame, look at the camera, make good expressions, try not to shake the camera and hope no one blinks when you finally press the shutter! After building the technology behind automatic photography with Google Clips, we asked ourselves: can we bring some of the magic of this automatic picture experience to the Pixel phone?

With Photobooth, a new shutter-free mode in the Pixel 3 Camera app, it’s now easier to shoot selfies—solo, couples, or even groups—that capture you at your best. Once you enter Photobooth mode and click the shutter button, it will automatically take a photo when the camera is steady and it sees that the subjects have good expressions with their eyes open. And in the newest release of Pixel Camera, we’ve added kiss detection to Photobooth! Kiss a loved one, and the camera will automatically capture it.

Photobooth automatically captures group shots, when everyone in the photo looks their best.
Photobooth joins Top Shot and Portrait mode in a suite of exciting Pixel camera features that enable you to take the best pictures possible. However, unlike Portrait mode, which takes advantage of specialized hardware in the back-facing camera to provide its most accurate results, Photobooth is optimized for the front-facing camera. To build Photobooth, we had to solve for three challenges: how to identify good content for a wide range of user groups; how to time the shutter to capture the best moment; and how to animate a visual element that helps users understand what Photobooth sees and captures.

Models for Understanding Good Content
In developing Photobooth, a main challenge was to determine when there was good content in either a typical selfie, in which the subjects are all looking at the camera, or in a shot that includes people kissing and not necessarily facing the camera. To accomplish this, Photobooth relies on two distinct models to capture good selfies—a model for facial expressions and a model to detect when people kiss.

We worked with photographers to identify five key expressions that should trigger capture: smiles, tongue-out, kissy/duck face, puffy-cheeks, and surprise. We then trained a neural network to classify these expressions. The kiss detection model used by Photobooth is a variation of the Image Content Model (ICM) trained for Google Clips, fine tuned specifically to focus on kissing. Both of these models use MobileNets in order to run efficiently on-device while continuously processing the images at high frame rate. The outputs of the models are used to evaluate the quality of each frame for the shutter control algorithm.

Shutter Control
Once you click the shutter button in Photobooth mode, a basic quality assessment based on the content score from the models above is performed. This first stage is used as a filter that avoids moments that either contain closed eyes, talking, or motion blur, or fail to detect the facial expressions or kissing actions learned by the models. Photobooth temporally analyzes the expression confidence values to detect their presence in the photo, making it robust to variations in the output of machine learning (ML) models. Once the first stage is successfully passed, each frame is subjected to a more fine-grained analysis, which outputs an overall frame score.

The frame score considers both facial expression quality and the kiss score. As the kiss detection model operates on the entire frame, its output can be used directly as a full-frame score value for kissing. The face expressions model outputs a score for each identified expression. Since a variable number of faces may be present in each frame, Photobooth applies an attention model using the detected expressions to iteratively compute an expression quality representation and weight for each face. The weighting is important, for example, to emphasize the expressions in the foreground, rather than the background. The model then calculates a single, global score for the quality of expressions in the frame.

The final image quality score used for triggering the shutter is computed by a weighted combination of the attention based facial expression score and the kiss score. In order to detect the peak quality, the shutter control algorithm maintains a short buffer of observed frames and only saves a shot if its frame score is higher than the frames that come after it in the buffer. The length of the buffer is short enough to give users a sense of real time feedback.

Intelligence Indicator
Since Photobooth uses the front-facing camera, the user can see and interact with the display while taking a photo. Photobooth mode includes a visual indicator, a bar at the top of the screen that grows in size when photo quality scores increase, to help users understand what the ML algorithms see and capture. The length of the bar is divided into four distinct ranges: (1) no faces clearly seen, (2) faces seen but not paying attention to the camera, (3) faces paying attention but not making key expressions, and (4) faces paying attention with key expressions.

In order to make this indicator more interpretable, we forced the bar into these ranges, which prevented the bar scaling from being too rapid. This resulted in smooth variability of the bar length as the quality score changes and improved the utility. When the indicator bar reaches a length representative of a high quality score, the screen flashes to signify that a photo was captured and saved.
Using ML outputs directly as intelligence feedback results in rapid variation (left), whereas specifying explicit ranges creates a smooth signal (right).
Conclusion
We’re excited by the possibilities of automatic photography on camera phones. As computer vision continues to improve, in the future we may generally trust smart cameras to select a great moment to capture. Photobooth is an example of how we can carve out a useful corner of this space—selfies and group selfies of smiles, funny faces, and kisses—and deliver a fun and useful experience.

Acknowledgments
Photobooth was a collaboration of several teams at Google. Key contributors to the project include: Kojo Acquah, Chris Breithaupt, Chun-Te Chu, Geoff Clark, Laura Culp, Aaron Donsbach, Relja Ivanovic, Pooja Jhunjhunwala, Xuhui Jia, Ting Liu, Arjun Narayanan, Eric Penner, Arushan Raj, Divya Tyam, Raviteja Vemulapalli, Julian Walker, Jun Xie, Li Zhang, Andrey Zhmoginov, Yukun Zhu.

Source: Google AI Blog


Suit up with Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame and Pixel

Want to defeat a villain like Thanos and save the world?


Now #teampixel can, with a little help from Marvel Studios and Playground, a creative mode in the Pixel camera that gives you the power to create and play with the world around you using augmented reality. Just in time for the upcoming release of Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame,” in theaters April 26, today we’re adding to our collection of Playmoji from the Marvel Cinematic Universe with five new characters: War Machine, Thor, Black Widow, Rocket and Captain Marvel.


The heroes join Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Nebula and Okoye in Playground, so now you can make even more epic scenes come to life by adding the interactive characters to your photos and videos. Thanks to ARCore’s motion tracking, light estimation and ability to understand the real world, the Playmoji look and feel lifelike, and react to your facial expressions in real time.

You don’t need superhero strength or a suit of armor to unleash the power of Playground—you just need a Pixel and the newest Playmoji joining the Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame pack.


For some added fun, we reimagined the Marvel Cinematic Universe by exploring what would happen if Pixel 3 was launched into a world in need of a little assistance, alongside the Avengers.

Pixel 3 + Marvel Studios‘ Avengers: Endgame

So whether you’re suiting up to defeat Thanos or getting ready to supercharge your selfie, start saving the world alongside your favorite Playmoji using Playground today. Show us how you’re assembling to defeat Thanos on social with #pixelendgame.

See Brighter in the Dark with Pixel at Coachella

This weekend, Coachella festival-goers will wander the desert, heading to and from performances by some of their favorite artists. If you're one of them, head over to Brighter in the Dark—a tech and music installation we created with Childish Gambino.


The installation—a multisensory sight and sound experience that uses a mixture of light and music to give attendees a sneak peek into Childish Gambino’s creative world—uses the power of Pixel’s camera features to provide an interactive and Instagrammable moment for festival-goers.

Fans can also swing by Brighter in the Dark to get a sneak peek of Childish Gambino’s  augmented reality (AR) app that we’re previewing onsite at Coachella on Pixel 3. Not heading to Indio? Stay tuned for more info, as the AR app is coming to more devices soon!

Whether you’re bringing your Pixel with you to weekend one or weekend two, here are a few ways your camera can help you capture the beauty of the desert and the sights of Coachella.

Night Sight: Use Pixel’s low-light mode, Night Sight, to capture the best evening photos at Coachella, and experience the cool visuals at Brighter in the Dark.

Motion Auto Focus: Don’t let your dancing prevent you from taking amazing  photos! Your Pixel can be your mosh-pit companion—with Motion Auto Focus, videos and photos that you take of your favorite headliners will stay in focus, even while the performers are moving around the stage.

Group Selfie: Traveling in a pack to Coachella? Get your whole crew in the picture with Pixel 3’s wide angle selfie cam in Group Selfie mode.

Google Lens: Inspired by a fellow fan’s festival fashion? Use Lens with a long-press on the Camera’s viewfinder to search for similar items.

Don’t forget to share your Brighter in the Dark experience with #teampixel!