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Google app experiments push the limits of phone photography

AI and video loops play a big role.
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Google doesn't want to limit its photographic prowess to its own phones -- it just released an initial batch of "appsperiments" that use the company's knack for computer vision and other technologies to test the boundaries of phone photography. Storyboard for Android is arguably the highlight. The app uses object recognition and style algorithms to automatically grab interesting frames from a video and drop them into comic-style layouts with appropriate filters. You could summarize an event just by recording one video, rather than remembering to take gobs of photos.

The other experiments could be convenient, too. Selfissimo! for Android and iOS automatically snaps photos whenever you stop moving, letting you take a ton of selfies without having to press the shutter every time you strike a pose. The iOS-only Scrubbies app, meanwhile, creates video loops whose speed and direction you can 'remix' like a DJ at the turntables.

Are these apps particularly useful by themselves? Not really -- in many ways, they're the novelty features that you see phone makers trot out at launch events and never mention again. As experiments, though, they could be very helpful. Google is asking users for feedback and ideas, so you could see more practical adaptations of these apps down the line. As it is, they say a lot about Google's thinking. It wants to put AI to work in virtually every facet of photography, not just obvious areas like image quality and portrait effects.

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