from the believe-it-when-i-see-it dept.
Google has announced an augmented reality service that overlays information on top of objects seen by a smartphone camera:
On Wednesday, the search giant announced a big push into augmented reality, which overlays digital images on what you'd normally see through a camera.
The new technology, announced at the company's I/O developer conference, is called Google Lens. It's a way to use your phone's camera to search for information. For example, point your camera at that flower and Google will tell you what kind it is. Point it at a book, and you get information on the author and see reviews. Ditto with restaurants: You'll be able to see reviews and pricing information on a little digital card that appears above the building on your phone's screen.
[...] Google Lens marks a big, ambitious attempt by a mainstream company to get into augmented reality in a way we haven't much seen yet. Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) use AR for now to make you laugh and smile with filters like rainbow vomit or Iron Man masks. That stuff is important, but Google is taking a different approach when it comes to AR: utility.
Indeed, photo filters are very important.
Google said today that it'll be shutting down Project Tango next year, on March 1st. Project Tango was an early effort from Google to bring augmented reality to phones, but it never really panned out. The system was introduced in 2014 and made it into developer kits and even a couple consumer devices as recently as last year.
But those devices required special sensors. And in the meantime, Google (and competitors, like Apple) figured out ways to bring AR features to phones with just the hardware that's already on board. Google introduced a new augmented reality system, known as ARCore, in late August. It just brought that system to the Pixel and Pixel 2 in the form of some augmented reality stickers — immediately opening AR features to more people than Tango is likely to have reached in its lifetime.
Related: Google's Project Tango Coming to 12 More Countries
Google Tango Means You'll Never Get Lost in a Store Again
Google Announces "Lens" Augmented Reality Service
Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets
HTC Cancels U.S. Release of a Google Daydream VR Headset, Reveals Own Standalone Headset
Apple is buying music recognition service Shazam. The Shazam app basically uses your microphone to listen to a snippet of whatever music is being played in your vicinity, identify the song, and store it along with a timestamp. But the company was also working on visual recognition technology similar to Google Lens:
Apple is finalizing a deal to acquire Shazam, the app that lets you identify songs, movies, and TV shows from an audio clip, according to TechCrunch. The deal is reportedly for $400 million, according to Recode, which also confirmed the news.
For Apple, the obvious benefit of acquiring Shazam is the company's music and sound recognition technologies. It will also save some money on the commissions Apple pays Shazam for sending users to its iTunes Store to buy content, which made up the majority of Shazam's revenue in 2016, and drove 10 percent of all digital download sales, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A side benefit is if Apple decides to shut down the app, it will hurt competing streaming services like Spotify and Google Play Music, where Shazam sends over 1 million clicks a day, the WSJ reported. Shazam also has a deal with Snapchat. It's unclear how the acquisition will affect any of these agreements.
Related: The Shazam Effect