Sony phone snaps fast 13MP shots

With “Sleep to Snap,” Sony’s latest phone can switch from a black screen to taking photos in just over a second.

The Xperia T has a 4.55-inch screen and 13-megapixel camera. It captures 1080p HD video.

The phone has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and provides Near Field Communications functionality. Pricing was not announced.

 

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Instagram v3 focuses on photo maps

The 14 developers at Instagram haven’t been idle while awaiting acquisition by Facebook: they’ve “been working hard on a major update” and Instagram 3 is available now with a new focus on geotags and Photo Maps, billed as “a new way to browse photos on Instagram.”

“With every major release, we pick a theme,” the company says, “and for this one we’ve focused on the browsing experience. We’ve introduced a new and unique way to browse your photos and others’ photos on a map, which means you’re no longer constrained to browsing through page after page of photos.”

As the company notes, when you take a photo while connected via Wi-Fi or 3G, your phone logs the coordinates where the photo was taken. Utilizing that information, “you now have the ability to add that photo to a Photo Map. It’s an easy way to add context to photos, document travels, and see pictures other Instagrammers have taken nearby.”

By default, adding location, or adding to your Photo Map, is turned off for all photos you upload, Instagram states. “This means that no photos will appear on your Photo Map without your explicit permission.”

We say making the new functionality optional is a good move, as many photographers don’t want to broadcast their location.

However, geotagging can add a lot to photography, and location can be a better way to select images than chronology — places, not dates and times. We agree with the company’s conclusion that “Maps take you beyond recently posted photos and let you rediscover previously Instagrammed memories. It’s a beautiful new way for you & others to view your Instagram photos!”

Instagram reports more than 80 million users.

More information is here.

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Picture-using Pinterest adds apps for Android, iPad and iPhone

Social and mobile imaging are two of the biggest trends in photography today — but one of largest social imaging sites lacked a mobile component… until now.

Pinterest says it is now “making it easier to take your inspirations with you by providing new apps for Android, iPad and iPhone. Whether you’re traveling to another city, checking out gadgets in a store, or cooking dinner in your kitchen, you can now take Pinterest with you. Our apps allow you to pin, discover, and access your account from wherever you choose.

The iPad app in particular “offers users new ways to engage with pins, whether swiping the screen to resume browsing after viewing a board, or using the embedded browser to see what others are pinning from their favorite sites.”

The company concludes that the launch “is in response to requests that we make pinning from devices as fast and simple as from computers, and we hope these apps were worth the wait.”

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Adobe updates Revel

Revel 1.5 adds new album and captions capabilities to keep photo libraries organized on the Mac, iPad and iPhone, Adobe says.

The Revel photography app “marries powerful and intuitive organizing and editing tools with a cloud technology uniquely designed for photos,” the company says. “With Revel users have one place for all their photos, which they can access using their iPad, iPhone, and Mac.”

New features in Adobe Revel 1.5 include album creation on one device that is now automatically updated and accessible everywhere; sharing private albums with friends and family; captions;  and an updated UI which “makes the app more intuitive and easier to navigate,” Adobe says.

Subscription pricing for Revel is $6 per month.

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iStopMotion uses iPhone camera

“When we were kids, we made stop motion movies in the backyard with my father’s Super-8 camera,” says Boinx Software’s CEO. “We waited anxiously for weeks for the film to come back from processing, till we could see the results. Today, we want to build the best stop motion animation app out there to make it as easy as possible for stop motion enthusiasts like ourselves to create films they love.”

The iStopMotion 3 application for the Macintosh now creates HD movies using an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch as the a camera, using the free iStopMotion Remote Camera app.

The price is also substantially lower: iStopMotion 2 Pro was $500; iStopMotion 3 is $50, and consolidates previous versions “into one powerful package offering the full-featured product at a rock bottom price,” the company says. “It’s important to us that all stop motion filmmakers, young and old, have access to the best tools for creation out there.” [And for one more week, it’s only $30.]

Boinx Software is located in Puchheim, near Munich, Germany.

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Google’s Android Goggles see sales

An update to the phone-camera-using Goggles for Android makes its easier to use the app to shop and “discover products that are right for you,” Google says.

The app’s product recognition is improved, with increased coverage of products and barcodes, the company says, “with a focus on international products and barcodes. Give it a whirl while you’re traveling.”

Users can also now browse similar products. “Have you ever struggled to replace a favorite dress?” Google asks. “Goggles can help you find products that are similar to something you’ve owned or seen before.”

When you turn on Goggles within the Android Camera app, the company adds, “as you go about your life taking photos, Google will provide you with relevant information on the things you’ve photographed. It’s a great way to learn more about what you see around you, especially when traveling.”

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StickyAlbums updates social imaging app

A platform for platform enabling pro photographers to create branded photo album apps that are stored on a client’s iOS or Android device or personal computer is now offering improved social imaging tools.

StickyAlbums allows shooters to create a unique slide show app for their client. “As images are increasingly shared via smartphones, tablets, utilizing social networks, photographers need solutions that allow them to safely monetize their pictures while delivering the shareability that clients demand,” the company says. “StickyAlbums serves both purposes by optimizing image display for mobile devices and tying the infinitely sharable images to the photographer’s brand and website to generate more referrals.”

StickyAlbums helps deter image theft as a safer way to share digital files, the St. Paul, Minnesota company says.

The new upgrade introduces new social media sharing features that allow clients to share the branded albums on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. The feature streamlines the sharing of clients’ images across social networks, the company says, on which professional photographers are able to generate valuable word-of-mouth marketing for their studios.

StickyAlbums is a subscription-based service, with a free basic demo level to allow new users to test-drive the service.

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PhotoAffections frees prints

PhotoAffections has developed a iOS app with which users can order photo prints directly from their iPhone — and get up to 85 free 4×6 prints per month, up to 1,000 per year.

Shipping costs start at $1.99 and are never more than $9.99, “no matter how many prints are ordered.” Additional 4×6 prints are $0.09; 5×5 prints are $0.49; 5×7 prints are $0.69; and 8×10 prints are $2.79 — “extremely competitive prices,” the company says.

FreePrints accesses photos stored on the iPhone as well as Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Picasa Web Albums. Users can select, crop and order photos from any of the albums.

With facilities in California and Texas, PhotoAffections is an online provider of printed custom photo cards, including birth and wedding announcements, and photo invitations.

 

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Etchings app alters images into etched illustrations

Halifax, Canada-based MindSea Development says its Etchings app for iOS transforms photos “into unique works of art that emulate the etching and engraving techniques used by print makers.”

The $1 Etchings creates images in a variety of styles, ranging from classic monochrome and color treatments to postage stamp, paper money and vintage book themes, the company says. ““There are a lot of sketch and halftone apps, but Etchings is the first to add these unique classic effects.” The illustrations can be fine-tuned by varying the thickness and spacing of the etched lines, “allowing users to find the right look for their photo.”

More information is here.

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Snap a house, see a price

Developer Sawbuck Realty says its HomeSnap “is the smart way to buy or sell a home.” The smart phone app works simply: aim the camera at a house, and find out all about it.

The HomeSnap technology “was built to do one thing,” the company adds: “instantly tell you all about any home you snap. What is it worth? When did it last sell? For how much? Beds? Baths? Lot size? Which school would my child attend?”

HomeSnap now works on more than 90 million homes, Sawbuck says. “In much of the country, HomeSnap seamlessly integrates real-time data from the Multiple Listing Service. If a home is for sale, you see the current list price, interior pictures and complete listing details; even schedule a showing then and there. For a home that just sold, HomeSnap shows the final sale price and complete listing history.”

This week TechCrunch reports the developer closed $3.5 million, on top of $4 million in previous funding. The company also offers a real estate website.

It’s now free on the iPhone, and an Android will come out in early 2013.

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Almost all phones to have cameras next year

Roughly 85 percent of all mobile phones shipped in 2013 will have embedded digital cameras, reports Global Information: 1.63 billion units.

That’s up a bit from this year: more than 83 percent of the 1.78 Billion mobile phones shipped in 2012 will have cameras — 1.48 billion units.

“The impact of this growth on vendors down the supply chain cannot be understated,” the market researcher says.

More information is here.

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20 percent of phones to have facial recognition

By the end of 2012, almost 20 percent of annual smartphone shipments will include facial recognition capabilities, predicts ABI Research. And in five years’ time, shipments of smartphones and tablets with the technology will increase to 665 million annually.

The firm notes that today only the most recent Android models provide the technology, most notably the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

“Facial recognition has been on the technology radar for some time,” ABI adds. “It was developed in the 1960s by three scientists: Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf, and Charles Bisson. Historically, the major challenge for the technology in mobile devices has been incorporating an accurate enough sensor (camera) and a powerful enough processor to undertake the complex algorithms while limiting power consumption. Thanks to major technology advancements, this has changed. Facial recognition technology has improved drastically over the last 10 years and accuracy is almost always above 90 percent.”

Problems do remain: lighting conditions and facial expressions can sometimes cause problems with the recognition. “However, the improvements in camera resolution and processing power utilized by mobile devices has helped greatly,” ABI concludes.

ABI’s “Facial Recognition for Mobile Devices” report further details the market for facial recognition in smartphones, tablets, and portable game players. More information is here.

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Generations X, Y adopt smartphones; tablets dominate on long viewing

Consumers are more likely to use smartphones than tablets for most mobile activities, according to a new study from European market research firm GfK.

Tablets win when it comes to viewing full TV episodes and other activities where longer time frames and larger screen sizes are decisive factors, the firm adds.

The study, How People Use Media: Smartphones and Tablets, found folks are more likely to use smartphones for 11 out of 15 common uses, including searching the Internet, listening to music, and filming video. Users preferred tablets for game playing, watching TV programs, and reading books or magazines.

“The amount of time people spend using smartphones is creating a sense of comfort that seems to trump concerns about screen size,” GfK says. “As smartphones become larger and more viewing oriented, they may erode the tablet’s advantages for even long viewing sessions. The fact that Generations X and Y have an almost native ease with smartphones will only accentuate this trend.”

Comfort with using the smartphone as a media device varied greatly among key age groups. Among smartphone viewers in Generation X (ages 33 to 46), 44 percent reported that they watch both clips and full episodes of TV shows on smartphones, compared to 24 percent for Generation Y (ages 13 to 32) and 17 percent for Baby Boomers (ages 47 to 54).

In addition, 22 percent of Generation Y smartphone viewers report that their smartphone viewing is replacing time with regular TV, compared to 14 percent for Generation X and Baby Boomers.

The new report also shows that, across eight program genres, 65–86 percent of smartphone viewers said that the small-screen experience is either “as good as regular TV” or “good enough.” Generation Y was most likely to report this agnostic view of screen size.

The report is based on interviews with 1,001 smartphone and/or tablet owners ages 13 to 54.

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Snapfish prints Facebook’s Timeline

HP’s online photo service Snapfish says its SocialPics application “curates the best moments from a person’s Facebook Timeline and displays them in a personalized book.”

SocialPics identifies popular photos, comments and status updates and creates a 20-page, 8-inch x 8-inch custom photo book. The company says its new tool “captures moments from a person’s social life on Facebook and displays these milestones in a printed keepsake they can share for years to come.”

The application filters meaningful content from the user’s profile based on comments, “Likes” and other interactions, Snapfish adds, and automatically arranges the content in chronological order.

Customers can customize the content by choosing a specific timeframe for their book, adding a fun title and selecting a soft cover book for $20, or a hard cover for $29.

More information is here.

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SmugMug doubles pro pricing

Online photo service SmugMug has doubled the price it will charge for unlimited photo uploads for photographers who sell prints and downloads from the site, from $150 to $300 for new customers; existing accounts will rise to $250.

“For the first time in 7 years, we’re raising the price of some SmugMug Pro subscriptions,” the company says, “something we tried hard not to do.”

Smugmug says its Pro customers who sell at a markup use far more storage and features than pros who don’t, “so we split our pro account into two types: Portfolio is $150/year or ($20/month) and provides access to labs for both you and your visitors, plus pro features like watermarking; Business lets you set prices and earn profit.  It will be $300/year (or $35/month) for new customers, but existing subscribers who set prices will be asked to renew at $250/year (or $30/month) beginning October 15, 2012.

The price change is of course unpopular, with several hundred complaints and threats to change service providers posted on the company’s blog in just a few days. “We resisted this for years,” co-founder Chris MacAskill responds, “thinking surely storage costs will drop faster than uploads will increase, but alas…”

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Facebook: “A More Beautiful View of Photos”

The most popular worldwide website for social imaging announced improvements “that make viewing photos more enjoyable.”

Facebook says its users can now click a photos at the top of a timeline to see larger pictures that fill up the page, and with a new menu, find shots they are tagged in, pictures they have shared, and albums they’ve created.

Users can also select which shots get more prominent placement and size “to make important photos stand out.”

The overall new look is being compared by many to the photo layout on Google +.

The new photo tools are rolling out this week.

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Street View goes to the Space Center

To celebrate the Kennedy Space Center’s 50th birthday, Google took its Street View cameras into the famous Florida facility and captured multiple panoramic pictures with which you can purview the rockets, shuttles, and more.

“Countless enthusiasts grew up longing to see a space shuttle up close and walk in the paths of astronauts,” Google says. “Today, a collaboration between NASA and Street View is enabling people around the world to take a trip to the doorway to outer space, and see Kennedy as it transitions into a multipurpose launch complex for the next 50 years of space innovation.”

The space center is now Google’s largest special collection of Street View imagery to date, the company says, “totaling 6,000 panoramic views of the facilities, and expanding our mission to document the world’s most amazing places.”

Among the images to explore online are the space shuttle launch pad, Vehicle Assembly Building, and Launch Firing Room #4. “Gaze down from the top of the enormous launch pad, peer up at the towering ceiling of the Vehicle Assembly Building (taller than the Statue of Liberty) and get up close to one of the space shuttle’s main engines, which is powerful enough to generate 400,000 pounds of thrust,” Google adds. “From these vantage points, anyone can live out his or her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.”

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All your photos and videos in one Bucket

Photobucket unveiled an all-new user experience it says “alleviates once and for all the major pain points behind backing up, organizing and accessing all your photos and videos.”

The company is also developing “Photobucket Stories,” a feature which will “transform the act of photo sharing into the art of storytelling,” the company adds. “Never before has there been a more complete, collaborative and contextual means for storytelling.”

Photobucket cited a survey it conducted with InfoTrends showing two-thirds of respondents were not highly organized when it came to their digital photos, and 83 percent expected to seek a solution to their disorganization. “The all new Photobucket addresses these pain points and more,” the company says. “The frequency with which we capture and share photos and videos continues to multiply exponentially, and so does the fragmentation of these images and our stories.” The new experience is designed to make ‘it easy to bring together all your photos and videos together so you can do whatever you want with them, whenever and wherever is convenient.”

The Denver-based company says it the largest dedicated photo and video sharing site, with 100 million users, and that it serves 3.5 billion images per day.

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YouTube, Facebook lead in online video viewing

Market research comScore reports Google’s sites, primarily YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in July with 157 million unique viewers, followed by Facebook.com with 53 million, Yahoo! Sites with 48.7 million, Vevo with 44.8 million, and Microsoft’s sites with 42.7 million.

The latest Video Metrix service also shows more than 184 million U.S. Internet users watched 36.9 billion online content videos in July. 85.5 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video. The duration of the average online content video was 6.7 minutes, comScore says.

Americans also viewed 9.6 billion video ads in July, with each of the top 4 video ad properties delivering more than 1 billion video ads. Google ranked first, followed by Hulu, Adap.tv,, SpotXchange, and TubeMogul.

The duration of the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes. Video ads accounted for 20.7 percent of all videos viewed and 1.6 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

 

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Free Photo/Video iPad Apps Market white paper

Autodesk’s recent announcement it will acquire Socialcam for $60 million is another sign that the market for photo and video apps is volatile and evolving rapidly.

Also, the announcements of Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’s Surface tablets lead many to conclude that the tablet device market will see many changes in the months to come as the three major players battle for market share. Photo and video apps could become one of the major product areas that they leverage to differentiate their tablets.

Given this, we thought it helpful to zoom in on what type of photo and video apps are most successful on the most popular tablet today, Apple’s iPad, and what type of characteristics set the more successful apps apart from others.

We asked market researcher and 6Sight associate Hans Hartman to create a special version of his recently conducted Photo/Video App Market Analysis, one which focuses on the findings specific to the iPad photo and video app market.

Please click here and select the “Register for Free iPad Photo/Video App Market White Paper” link to download the report.

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Athentech offers Android version of Perfectly Clear

Athentech says the intelligent image correction in its Perfectly Clear app for the Android OS “transforms less-than-stellar images into stunning memories to keep and share.”

Perfectly Clear applies 10 patented corrections “in a few seconds, allowing consumers to share perfect photos from their Android device with confidence.”

The company says its taken its iPhone app “and made it even better” with features such as Perfectly Smooth which “renders flawless skin for a beautiful look,” and Eye Enhance/Enlarge, which “brings out the sparkle and details in the eyes.”

Also, the re-engineered app engine takes advantage of the multiple-cores processors available on some Android devices, and can run 1.6 times faster than the iPad or iPhone.

Perfectly Clear is installed in more than 6 million iPhones worldwide, the company adds.

Perfectly Clear for Android is $1 for August, after which it’s $2.

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Instacanvas funded $1.7 million for Instagram prints

Instacanvas calls itself “a marketplace allowing users to buy and sell Instagram photos as beautiful physical art pieces,” and adds that it’s “one of the fastest growing startups in Southern California.”

Well, that growth is likely going to accelerate with an additional $1.7 million its gained in angel funding, as reported by TechCrunch.

The company says it has “grand visions for empowering photographers and artists across the world, and changing the way people everywhere discover and purchase beautiful design objects.”

The funding will partially go towards launching new products such as desktop art pieces crafted from 1-inch thick acrylic photo glass, TechCrunch reports, which are available this week at prices starting at $39.

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HipGeo creates location-based story streams from photos

HipGeo says it “enhances social network and private sharing experiences by grouping together disparate mobile photos, videos and text into a cohesive story.”

The HipGeo app and website takes photos, video and text shared on social networks, and uses location information to transform the elements “into rich virtual storytelling journals. We believe that the most memorable experiences—those we want to capture, share and inspire others with—are typically closely meshed to a physical place,” the company says.

Also, with its online community, “you can communicate with other community members to share experiences and advice. HipGeo automatically combines videos shot by multiple users at the same location or event and inserts them into “place journals,” allowing everyone to see each other’s footage from multiple perspectives, times and dates. For example, if four friends go to a concert, they can easily see each other’s photos, videos and comments, as well as the public videos anyone else shoots at the same concert.”

HipGeo says its “geo-aware socially linked narratives” are based on a proprietary mobile recording and broadcast platform: its server technology collects clouds of geographic points and organizes them into a user narrative without any user intervention, by automatically detecting user movements and stops. It then tags photos, video and text with the appropriate locations and routes.

The HipGeo app is free.

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Ptch mobilizes multimedia storytelling

iOS app Ptch is billed as a new multimedia publishing platform: “the fast, creative way to share your pictures and videos,” the developer says.

The program lets iPhone and iPad users easily combine photos, videos and music into one-minute “ptches.” You can personalize your ptch by adding titles, captions and social comments, they add, with free styles and music (100 songs are licensed so far). It will access photos and videos on the phone of course, as well as those online at Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter.

The company is staffed with former personal from the animated film company Dreamworks, who promise professional production value from a simple-to-use app.

More information is here and here.

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Online photos service Everpix raises $1 million

Online service Everpix promises to organize your photos in the cloud — and someone with deep pockets likes that promise as the startup just landed a $1 million seed round.

TechCrunch reports the funding was led by Index Ventures, with participation from 500 Startups, Kii Capital, and other angel investors.

The San Francisco-based service plans to launch later this summer, with online, desktop, and mobile components. It will not only aggregate images stored on multiple services, the developers say, but also eliminate unwanted duplicates and organize images into themed albums.

More information is here.

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