22nd Jun 2018 by Sam Benzie

Facebook Makes Our Pictures Perfect and Instagram Creates it's Own TV Service

Facebook Fixes Our Photos

“Oh I definitely blinked in that one!” A common phrase disappointingly stated on nights out, at family events and general photo taking opportunities. Blinking in photos has been an issue that many have had to deal with, but Facebook has taken a stand and plans to fix this for us with AI. AI is pretty smart and can add a smile or paint eyes onto someone who blinked in your favourite photo, but up until now it’s been using other people’s eyes. And it’s safe to say, it doesn’t always look all that great.

However, Facebook researchers look to have solved this problem. They plan on using your eyes or mouth from previous photos that Facebook has on its record. This was proposed in a research paper titled “Eye In-Painting with Exemplar Generative Adversarial Networks: Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)”. The AI helps paint in the eyes and, along with the reference library provided, Facebook’s’ records create a much more realistic result. While this research has led to better accuracy, the results are far from perfect. The program struggled to accurately reflect angles and shadows etc. So it may be some time before those variations are fully fixed.

Instagram Launches IGTV

Over the last month Instagram has been working on a few new features, which would allow video to go up to an hour long. And now they have introduced IGTV which is short for Instagram Television. It comes as a flagship within the Instagram App, but is also available as a separate app available on both IOS and Android.

IGTV has been described as “a new app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favourite Instagram creators”. The app itself has been built for how people use their phones; the videos are both full screen and vertical and are the only videos as of yet that can go up to an hour long. The app has been made to emulate the feeling of turning on a TV, it starts as soon as you open it and you don’t have to search to find content that you already follow. Along with this, it suggests other channels that you might like to watch, based on your interests. You can also swipe up to discover more and switch between four options: “For You,” “Following,” “Popular” and “Continue Watching.” You can also “like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct” just like any other post on Instagram.

Alexa Stays at Marriott Hotels

Amazons digital assistant Alexa is getting installed in Marriott-owned hotels in the US, following a partnership between the two companies.

It will work as a way to order room service, housekeeping and providing concierge advice. The Wynn Resorts chain in Las Vegas installed the Amazon Echo in around 5,000 hotel suites in 2016. This sounds like a chance to get that ever-so-slight bit lazier when you go on holidays, and I’m all for it!

Facebook is Bringing Polling to Live and On-Demand Videos

Interactivity in video is key to creating and maintaining an audience, and this is what Facebook wants to do. With other social platforms growing everyday, Facebook needs to keep bringing out new features. So Facebook brought out Live, and now it is turning Live broadcasts into a community based feature. Talk shows historically use studio audiences to create interactivity through voting, and Facebook wants an entire audience to participate in this. As viewing numbers increase and the habits evolve, they want to turn their video content into a two way experience.

To do so, Facebook is announcing two new tools for creators to use; a new polling feature for Live and on-demand videos and another that brings gamification to Live. This will allow creators to add new interactive features to their videos such as; like polls, quiz questions, challenges and pretty much anything else you can think of. When it comes to the gamification side of the new feature, partners will be able to create questions with correct answers and viewers are eliminated from the game when they answer incorrectly.

Facebook Introduces Paid Subscriptions for Groups

Continuing on this week’s weekly dose of Facebook updates, Facebook is introducing a paid subscription feature for group admins to charge users between $4.99 and $29.99 for exclusive content. Facebook groups count over 1 billion users as many Pages moved on to Groups when organic reach started declining. Groups came with the benefit of a smaller, yet more engaged audience.

Now this may seem like a money making scheme for group admins, yet the goal is to be able to re-invest into the Facebook community according to Facebook’s group manager Alex Deve. Facebook have not provided any specific guidelines as to what admins should or can host within these groups, this is because Facebook wants to see what creators desire to create, as this is more valuable than telling them.

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