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Google’s newest product is a photo album

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Google unveiled a number of cool new things at its annual developers conference Google I/O. Among the many things they announced (which included Android O features, Google Home and Google Assistant updates, and even YouTube upgrades), what interested me most were the new features on Google Photos. 

Now, like any self-respecting girl in the age of social media, my photo roll is chock-filled with random photos that never see the light of day (cue 254 photos I took at that party to find the perfect one for Instagram), so curation and sharing of these mementos has always been an issue.

It seems Google had been appraised of my millennial girl problems and sought to find solutions.

A smarter library

Never hesitate to send that cute photo of your crush you took at that party you both went to, because now Google will actually prompt you to send it to him! These smart suggestions do not stop there; Google will also be prompting your crush to share said photos to other suggested people.

New functions also include smarter photo searches (even without tags) and impressive photo-editing capabilities.

A shared library

Google also announced Shared Libraries that will allow you to share albums with others! This seems to be a very convenient function, although the idea of a collaborative album isn’t new. Apple and Facebook already have these album-sharing functions, but it’s better late than never, yeah?

Photo sharing is already a thing on Apple ?

The difference here is that this shared library will be integrated into your photo roll. Google also claims that its smart photo functions will apply to these shared libraries. This also allows for an automatic sharing option that updates with your new photos in real time —  which frankly scares me more than it excites me. (I mean, do you really want to see everything on my photo roll?)

A printed library?

The biggest news (at least to us girls in the GadgetMatch office) that came from yesterday’s announcements was Google’s Photo Book which was basically, well, a non-digital photo album.

Yes, finally, you can touch and feel your photos — except again, this isn’t the newest idea.

Apple has a printing option, too.

Google’s Photo Book offer starts at $9.99 for 20 pages of 7-inch square photos while Apple’s already existing printing service offers the same number of pages for the same but in a different size (8 x 6 inches).

Although the Google I/O announcements come with a lot of improvements for Google Photos, there really wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking — unless you think unlimited photo storage is still its best feature. Because really, the best photo library is simply the one you can put most photos in.

SEE ALSO: Google Assistant is now on iPhones, but it’s worse than Siri

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Apps

Snapchat officially launches Snapchat Plus

Featuring the ability to call someone your BFF

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How much do you love Snapchat? Prior to the unbridled dominance of TikTok, Snapchat was the unparalleled video-sharing platform for those who wanted an alternative to Instagram. Though the platform isn’t as dominant anymore, it still has a dedicated following. If you’re one of those users, Snapchat has a (pricey) treat for you. The platform has officially launched Snapchat Plus, a premium subscription service baked into the main app.

To be fair to anyone considering the new service, Snapchat Plus isn’t an entirely different platform. As initial reports revealed, Snapchat Plus introduces only a handful of changes to the main app. (For now, at least).

First among the new features is the ability to label one of your friends as your “BFF” on the app. Subscribers can also view who watched their content. They will also have access to custom icons.

Now, they don’t seem like much for a paid subscription. Even worse, the service will not block users from seeing ads on the app. If anything, Snap does hint that Snapchat Plus will expand its features in the long run, potentially offering early access to future features.

Currently, Snapchat Plus will cost US$ 3.99 per month. For now, the service will launch only in some countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United States, and United Kingdom.

SEE ALSO: Snapchat is working on a premium subscription

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U.S. urges Google, Apple to ban TikTok

It’s about national security again

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Here we go again. Years since the last kerfuffle with the platform, the United States government is once again pursuing a ban against TikTok. However, instead of a geopolitical wave of infractions, the government’s latest pursuit will potentially untold damage on the video-sharing platform.

Recently, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr tweeted a letter he sent Apple and Google about the risks of TikTok. Carr is calling for an absolute ban from both the App Store and the Play Store. But unsurprisingly, the letter’s reasoning goes back to the old fears surrounding the Chinese app.

As reiterated in the letter, TikTok reportedly harvests an absurd amount of information from its millions of users. The platform’s owners, ByteDance, then ships that data off to servers in China. As stated in most anti-China fears, the Chinese government can notoriously request unlimited access of this data, marking a potential security risk on Americans. The letter cites evidence going as far back as 2019.

Carr urges Apple and Google to follow their policies regarding apps in their respective stores. If followed, TikTok might disappear from official sources, leaving third-party sources as the only places to get the app from.

Besides the regulatory, TikTok is also facing struggles in the competitive front. Meta’s Facebook and Instagram are reportedly taking renewed steps to compete more effectively with the platform.

SEE ALSO: Facebook is going to become more like TikTok

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Instagram is using facial recognition AI to verify your age

Currently testing

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For kids of the early 2000s, the biggest lies everyone told were whenever websites asked if they were 18 years old. Because of how limited technology was, a website’s age prompt was about as useful as blowing into a flat tire. Now, the internet has more tools at its disposal. Marking the next step in this evolution, Instagram is testing a tool that supposedly identifies a user’s age by scanning their face.

Though it’s not readily apparent with the number of children who have social media accounts, Instagram is one of those sites that require users to be at least 13 years old. But, like those old websites from yesteryear, the policy isn’t really useful for keeping children out.

Now, as reported by The Verge, Instagram wants to make the platform more secure. When a teenager wants to change their age to 18 years old or older, the app will prompt them to verify their age using one of three verification methods — at least in the United States.

The first method is simpler: submitting photos of official ID cards. The second method is a bit more complex: asking three of the user’s above-18 followers to verify the age change. On the other hand, the third uses an AI tool called Yoti.

With Yoti, users can submit a video of themselves for verification. Artificial intelligence will then analyze facial details, taking sex and race into consideration, to estimate the user’s age.

Naturally, it’s not a perfect system. There are ways to bypass it, including using someone else’s face. Regardless, it’s a bigger evolution than just simple yes-or-no prompts.

SEE ALSO: Instagram created its own font, and it’s wacky

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