Imint’s Vidhance software stabilizes shaky smartphone video in real time

Why it matters to you

With a Vidhance-equipped smartphone, you never have to worry about shaky video again.

Unsteady hands are the bane of every smartphone videographer’s existence. Optical image stabilization helps a bit, but unless your phone is secured to a gimbal or mount, capturing steady footage from your smartphone’s sensor is a Sisyphean task. To help address this problem, Imint AB, a Swedish video technology company that writes and sells image-stabilization and analysis software for military drones, has developed algorithms that can smooth out shaky footage from virtually any phone.

More: Smove gives smartphone videos a steady hand, auto-follow, and backup battery

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, Imint will demo the latest release of Premium Video Stabilization, which stabilizes phone footage in real time and is part of the Vidhance software suite. One of the firm’s side-by-side tests found that it scored 2.7 times better than the iPhone 7’s built-in stabilization features and 43 percent better than the Google Pixel’s electronic image stabilization (EIS). In “more challenging scenerios,” it outperformed the iPhone 7 Plus by a factor of four.

[embedded content]

Even better, Vidhance’s real-time enhancements don’t impact the quality of the footage. In an interview with TechCrunch, Imit CEO Andreas Livendahl said that the stabilization algorithms can process images in a “single frame,” and that the bulk of processing happens silently in the background.

That’s a boon for stabilization. Most competing solutions, like Instagram’s Hyperlapse, don’t work in real time, or require that you crop out parts of the video. But with Vidhance, you get a sense of how the final result will look without having to wait for post-processing.

Imit’s software suite offers more than just enhanced stabilization. A new auto-zoom algorithm, the fruit of the company’s work on drone defense systems and surveillance software, can automatically track and zoom in on “the most interesting parts” of the video. Another automatically curates highlights from longer videos and stitches them together, like the Assistant feature in Google Photos.

[embedded content]

More: This stabilizer gives smartphone cameras auto follow, physical controls

Imit’s stabilization software is already found in Huawei devices like the Huawei Mate 9, and the firm is teaming up with French smartphone maker Wiko and Spain-based BQ on future smartphones. And earlier this year, Init announced a venture with Samsung that’ll see Vidhance implemented in future “non-smartphone” devices.

“Getting our software into real phone products is an important milestone; it confirms that we have directed our skills and resources in the right direction,” Vidhance director Johan Svensson said. “We are devoted to making consumers’ precious moments truly cinematic, but we will not lose our engineering focus in achieving this vision. We will continue to add features to our video stabilization package to secure our long-term leadership.”

Watch BlackBerry unveils a brand new phone live right here

[embedded content]

TCL, the company that now makes BlackBerry phones, is holding a press conference at MWC in Barcelona. The conference starts at 7 PM CET (6 PM GMT, 1 PM EST, 10 AM PST).

We already got a sneak peek at the device during CES back in January. And it’s everything BlackBerry fans love — yes, I’m mostly talking about the physical keyboard.

You can check it out live via Blackberry’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of all the news coming out of MWC.

Everything we know so far about Uber’s sexual harassment scandal

Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti’s story of sexual harassment and HR complicity at the company has drawn a lot of attention from the outside world as many relate to her frustrations and the broader systemic culture of sexism that manifests itself across the tech industry. In the days since Rigetti published her account, decisions have been made both inside and outside of Uber that will determine the impact her story will have. Catch up on all of the news and analysis surrounding the story here — we will update this gallery with new developments as they emerge.

This app is like Tinder, but for deleting your embarrassing, awful old tweets

There’s finally an easy, fun way to delete your old tweets.

For $0.99, a new iOS app called Keep or Delete by German developer Tobias Block allows you to delete your old tweets in a Tinder-like UI. It’s simple: The app loads your tweets, and you then swipe right to keep, or left to delete. It’s like dating your own bad thoughts that you somehow once decided would be a halfway decent idea to make public.

Image: tobias block

The app’s got several handy features. There’s a deletion delay, where you can set a buffer period before the tweets are actually deleted—in case you change your mind and want to keep them. You can also archive your tweets before you delete them, and change the order in which you see your tweets.

Block was inspired to create the app when his friend got in trouble while applying for a job. “In his Twitter history there happened to be an old but rather embarrassing tweet, regarding the company… long story short, he didn’t get the job.” 

Because it’s worth wondering, when asked about a Facebook version, Block explained that it’s a nonstarter: Facebook doesn’t have an API to delete content/posts/media. You can’t disappear anything on Facebook through third-party apps.

While Twitter’s UI doesn’t lend itself to surfacing old posts the way other apps like Facebook do, they could show up using Twitter’s search feature or even in a Google search for you name. It’s easier than ever for colleagues, potential employers, and even the government to look at what you’ve been saying and who you’ve been talking to online. 

It might not be a perfect solution for someone with tens of thousands of tweets, but as an imperfect solution, it’s definitely a great start—for example, it’s something you can do at a bar, you know, instead of drafting awful tweets you’ll soon regret

Beats X review: The perfect earbuds for young cyborgs with cash to burn

There’s something remarkable about the new Beats X earphones. It’s not so much their sound quality — which is pretty good — nor is it the rubbery build, their wirelessness or the ease with which they rest in your ears.

No, it’s the combination of all these things with two very specific, additional ingredients: a W1 chip and an iPhone. Well, make that three: the chip, the phone and an obsessive enough brain to care about how it all intermingles.

I’m not a gadget dork — I’d really rather not talk about processor speed or anything that ends in an acronym — but I care immensely about how my devices mesh with and shape my life. Some people just use their phones: I worry about whether badge notifications on my home screen tick up my anxiety, I marvel still at its ability to control Spotify on my PlayStation, and I am convinced those of us humans who are addicted to internet-connected devices may one day be considered the first, primitive cyborgs.

The Beats X headphones, like Apple’s recent AirPods, inch us further along into that mechanical future. It’s not that they’re particularly futuristic or amazing in obvious ways, but the experience of using them is unlike most others. 

There's the standard Beats branding.

There’s the standard Beats branding.

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

The earbuds charge quickly via a Lightning port.

The earbuds charge quickly via a Lightning port.

Apple and Beats understand that good design minimizes friction, and these new earbuds, which don’t plug into your phone but connect to it in seconds, smooth out the bumps you’ve encountered with other Bluetooth equipment.

Say what you will about Apple — I’m on the record as believing it to be greedy, occasionally to the point of evil, and in some ways idea-starved — but when they nail an idea, they nail it. Let’s start with the W1 chip: Apple unveiled the technology along with its AirPods last September, and it’s built into Beats X. (Don’t forget Apple famously paid $3 billion to acquire Beats in 2014; the company gets special treatment.)

The cord looks silly as heck

The chip aids the Bluetooth pairing process, removing the need to enter your Settings app to connect your iPhone to your earphones. Press the power button on Beats X, hold them near your phone and they’re paired. I know better than to call this carefully engineered bit of earbud innards “magic,” but it is something like magic — fast and glitch-free. The connection is steady, with a longer range than other Bluetooth headphones I’ve tried, and using Siri via the attached microphone may give you the first Her moment of your life.

Hit the Beats X power button near your phone for an invitation to connect

Hit the Beats X power button near your phone for an invitation to connect

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

The process takes seconds and couldn't be easier

The process takes seconds and couldn’t be easier

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

The W1 chip only works with an iPhone (or iPad) running iOS 10. On other devices, you’ll have to pair the Beats X via regular ol’ Bluetooth, which is easy but not a friction-free process. It requires settings, button-holding, menus, all that bad stuff. 

I’d rather not bother. And I know how that makes me sound: My papou emigrated from Greece with nothing, entering the U.S. via Mexico after days spent scraping barnacles from ships in a Tampico harbor, and now I’m exhausted at the thought of fiddling with too many wireless settings on my cellphone. Still, technology like this is exciting for the promise it holds—may every gadget be so easy, dazzling and useful for everyone some day.

Note, however, that today is not that day.

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

These guys are pricey

Beats X will set you back $149.95, and they’re at their best with an iPhone 7, which starts at $649. That’s a lot of money. 

While I don’t have a single complaint about the audio quality, you can get better-sounding headphones for less, or, you know, eat pretty well for a week instead. My Beats X were not provided by the company, and I subsidized them almost entirely by selling old Magic: The Gathering cards on eBay (as one does).

Are they worth it? That’s impossible to answer: Your $150 is different than my $150. But I don’t know that I’ve ever liked another set of headphones more.

Simple things, done well

As far as I can tell, there’s nothing unique about the rubber nubbins that slide into your ears and deliver your Radiohead. But the Beats X are very lightweight, and the cord connecting the two earbuds balances well on your collar—you will not feel encumbered by these, and I’ve comfortably worn them for hours in the office, on the train and through a workout at the gym.

About that cord, though: It looks silly as heck. You will have to live with resembling a goofy librarian stereotype from decades past when you wear these things.

See? Goofball.

See? Goofball.

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

The cord itself is useful, though.

The cord itself is useful, though.

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

It’s a bit of a shame, because “cool factor” would’ve edged the Beats X closer to perfect. That cord has a few things going for it, though. Like I said, it’s well-balanced, so the earbuds don’t feel heavy. There’s a microphone for phone calls or Siri commands, volume controls, a play/pause button and a Lightning port for charging. The cord essentially means that, unlike Apple’s AirPods, everything you need for the Beats X to work is built right into the earphones—there’s no case to plug in for charging, say.

And there’s another benefit. You can quickly pull the earphones out of your listening-holes and let them drop onto your chest if your attention is needed elsewhere. Because of the cord slung around your back, you don’t need to worry about Beats X falling out or getting lost. Each earbud is magnetic, so they’ll latch onto one another for extra security when you’re not using them.

Snap.

Snap.

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

As for the listening experience itself, I have no complaints. It’s possible that I care about audio quality more than the average person — I’m not happy when headphones obscure the little blips, whimpers and creeping plucks of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android,” and I need cans that won’t fuzz out the crunchy noise of “Mother Puncher” by Mastodon — but I’m not an obsessive. I don’t use a portable headphone amp, and I generally stream music via Spotify at 160 kilobits per second (kbps). 

The Beats X deliver clear sound with very little to complain about, though I occasionally felt it delivered slightly screechy audio: The percussion in “Cowboys” by Portishead had a bit of a stabby quality to it with these earphones, as did “Kiss it Better” by Rihanna. 

Still, the earphones isolate sound very well and let you hear each layer of the music clearly. Hard to ask for more in a wireless earbud out of the box.

The worst part

It’s a good thing you’ll want to wear Beats X a lot, because the carrying “case” they come with is a joke.

Really, it’s a pouch, a flimsy thing with a wide opening that barely contains the earphones. I’ve yet to figure out the perfect way to fold the Beats X into that garbage, and part of me worries that trying to jam them in would do more harm than good.

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

There’s really not a lot to say about this: It’s embarrassing that Beats shipped a $150 pair of earphones with nothing but a half-split condom for protection. At least they feel safe draped over your neck.

A glimpse into our future?

Beats X sound good and work well. The W1 chip makes communication between the earphones and your iPhone effortless, and they’re light enough that you may nearly forget you’re wearing them. Their construction means you’ll be happy even if you’re constantly taking them on and off.

It could be argued they represent a step forward for personal audio that may even eclipse the AirPods, which won’t fit every ear and require an external case to grapple with. These make the act of listening to anything via your iPhone, or communicating with Siri, buttery smooth in the way iMessage seals any irritating cracks in texting.

And so it’s yet another piece of personal technology that might make us all a bit more like cyborgs. If our future is covered in gadgets, though, at least it’ll sound good. 

Beats X

The Good

Good sound quality Effortless pairing with Apple products thanks to W1 chip Comfortable in all situations, including workouts

The Bad

Fairly pricey Audio isn’t 100% perfect Gross carrying pouch

The Bottom Line

Thanks to their more universal design and smooth sound, the Beats X earphones are arguably better than Apple’s AirPods, but they don’t come cheap.

Charge and sync with one of our favorite Lightning cables for iPhone

When you bought your iPhone or iPad, you probably got a standard Lightning cable in the box with it. But if you want to be able to charge your device at work or in different rooms without having to carry that cable around with you, you’ll want to invest in a spare cable or two. You may also prefer something a little longer, so you can use your iPhone comfortably while it’s plugged in, or something a little stronger that can survive tugs, bumps, or the unwelcome attention of a pet and child. Let’s take a look at the best Lightning cables around.

MoreCheck out 25 of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers for your shiny new phone

Anker PowerLine Cable

Anker PowerLine Cable Gall

  • MFi-Certified: Yes
  • Length: 6 feet
  • Warranty: 18 months
  • Price: $13

This is a really great Lightning cable at an affordable price. It’s fast when it comes to charging and data transfer, it’s certified by Apple, and it’s really durable. The cable is reinforced with Kevlar and Anker has strengthened the stress points at the ends to ensure it lasts. It also comes with a handy Velcro tie and you can pick it up in black, white, blue, red, or grey. The end of the Lightning connector is slightly wider than the basic Apple cable, however, so it might not fit every case. Otherwise, this is probably the best cable at this price point.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

1byone Cable

1byone Cable Gall

  • MFi-Certified: Yes
  • Length: 3.28 feet
  • Warranty: 12 months
  • Price: $7

This cable from 1byone is well worth considering, especially since it’s half the price of Apple’s proprietary Lightning cable and features nearly the same design. It’s fast at charging and syncing data, and it’s easy to carry around. It’s not going to be especially durable given it’s essentially a clone of Apple’s cable, but it will fit all the same cases, including Otterbox cases. Needless to say the latter can be a real problem with other cables.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

ZYD Cable

ZYD Cable Thumb

  • MFi-Certified: Yes
  • Length: 6 feet
  • Warranty: 12 months
  • Price: $12

You actually get two tangle-free, braided cables for this price, which is a great value. They’re a bit heavier and tougher than most cables, yet they can still quickly charge and sync data. The black and white stripes are eye-catching, too, though they might not be to everyone. Their resistance to tangling is welcome as well, as are the aluminum-alloy connectors. Just keep in mind that the Lightning connector is bigger than those on a standard cable, so it probably won’t fit every case.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Ventev ChargeSync Cable

Ventev ChargeSync Cable Gall

  • MFi-Certified: Yes
  • Length: 6 inches
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Price: $18

Maybe you have a USB charging hub on your desk, or you want to plug into your laptop and you hate the cable clutter. Whatever the reason, there are times when you might prefer a really short cable to keep things tidy. Thankfully, this cable charges and syncs data at full speed and measures a mere 6 inches long. It’s also flat, so there’s no danger of tangling. It’s a little pricey and the Lightning connector may be a little big for some case cut-outs, but it works well and it’s pretty durable.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Fuse Chicken Titan Cable

Fuse Chicken Titan Cable

  • MFi-Certified: Yes
  • Length: 3.25 feet
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Price: $35

Billed as the toughest Lightning cable on the planet, the Fuse Chicken Titan is wrapped in two layers of flexible steel. This thing will survive pet attacks without fraying and the manufacturers even took a chainsaw to it just to prove its strength. That said, it’s a lot heavier and stiffer than a regular cable, which means it can be rather difficult to coil up. The Lightning connector can also be a weak point and the neck is wider than a traditional Apple cable, so it won’t fit all cases. But if you want something that your pets can’t chew through — this is it.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

What to expect at MWC 2017: The LG G6, Huawei P10, a new BlackBerry, and more

CES may be one of the world’s largest gadget shows, but Mobile World Congress is the venue Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony, and others make some of the year’s biggest mobile announcements. The show runs in Barcelona, Spain from February 24 to March 2 at the Fira Gran Via convention center, and it’s where some of the world’s big-name tech brands try to out-do each other with flagship smartphone, smartwatch, and gadget launches.

Related: 200 Awesome iPhone Apps | The best Android apps for almost any occasion

This year, we expect to see a mix of incredible innovations from the big brands and an intriguing tech from relatively unknown companies. We’ll be reporting live from the show floor, so follow @DigitalTrends and @DTMobile for the latest news. You can also follow our on-the-ground reporters Andy Boxall, Malarie GokeyJulian Chokkattu, Kyle Wiggers, and Simon Hill on Twitter.

In the meantime, here’s everything we expect to see at the biggest mobile extravaganza of the year.

Samsung

Samsung has historically unveiled new flagship smartphones at MWC — take last year’s Galaxy S7, for example. But this time around, things will be a little quieter for the Korean electronics giant. DJ Koh, Samsung’s mobile chief executive, told Reuters that the long-rumored Galaxy S8 won’t make an appearance at its February 26 event. Instead, the company’s principal focus is expected to be the Galaxy Tab S3.

The Galaxy Tab S3, which is said to feature a 9.7-inch screen with a 2,048 x 1,536 resolution and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, will reportedly borrow a number of features from Samsung’s Note line of phablets. It’ll come with a clip-on variant of Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which will enable features like the ability to write on the display when it’s off. The stylus will ship alongside accessories like a magnetic-stand keyboard.

Samsung may also take the opportunity to unveil the Galaxy Tab Pro S2, a Window-powered tablet with a 12-inch Quad HD (resolution), Intel Kaby Lake processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, and 5,070mAh battery. But as of now, the launch details are a bit foggy.

There might be a new Gear VR headset. It’s said to feature a new front cover and ship with a dedicated controller for navigating apps and games, much like Google’s Daydream platform.

Read more:
Galaxy Tab S3 | Galaxy Tab S2 | Gear VR 2

Etsy Studio makes materials easier to find, Shop Manager makes them easier to sell

Why it matters to you

Etsy’s recent business moves will make it easier to design and sell crafts through its growing digital marketplace.

Etsy has made a name for itself as the internet’s answer to Michaels. But the e-commerce giant wants to be more than just a one-stop shop for craft supplies and jewelry. That’s why at a press event at Etsy’s Brooklyn, New York headquarters on Tuesday morning, the company announced Etsy Studio, a new website for the craft-inclined.

It’s hardly a half-hearted effort. Etsy Studio will consolidate the roughly 8 million craft supply kits available on Etsy’s website in a single portal and launch a seller dashboard called Shop Manager. Etsy says the new products aim to eliminate longtime impediments to the creative process.

More: Etsy launches build-your-own-website tool geared toward sellers

“One of the things that we kept hearing while interviewing different customers was, ‘there’s this gap. I see beautiful things that I want to be able to make, and I can’t find the things to make them,” Tim Holley, Etsy’s director of product management, told CNET.

To that end, Etsy Studio will launch with tutorials to make personalized gifts. New filters, meanwhile, will help professionals find artists and materials they need.

The filters are extremely specific. A category like “knitting” can easily have dozens of subcategories, Holley told TechCrunch. And the results pages include photos of the product, details about how it was made, its color and size, and more.

More: Look out, Etsy — Amazon’s gearing up to launch a rival site

Shop Manager, the commercial element of Etsy’s relaunch, adds a new hub for sellers to run their businesses. “[It’s] one of the biggest, most significant improvements to the seller experience that we’ve ever launched,” Chief Operating Officer Findley Kozlowksi told TechCrunch, “because it means there’s ‘no more clicking from menu to menu’ to get all the data [you] need.’”

Shop Manager provides easy access to information about orders, active listings, shop stats, recent conversations with shoppers, and details about shop finances. And it sports new tools for inventory management that allow sellers to add quantity and price to each variation of a listing they offer.

Over the next few weeks, Etsy will invite select sellers to join Studio ahead of an April launch.

More: Amazon takes on Etsy with “handmade” storefront for artisan goods

Etsy’s going after a lucrative market. The annual U.S. crafts supply industry is valued at about $44 billion, Etsy noted — a huge potential growth area. But CEO Chad Dickerson sees the launch of Etsy Studio and Shop Manager as a boost to what he called “the Etsy” economy: The 1.7 million sellers who use the craft site’s resources on a daily basis. He believes it’ll play an “important role” in a future where creative entrepreneurs “[can] make a living and a life built around human connection and creativity.”

See more at Etsy Studio

Periscope Producer now lets anyone try their hand at live-streaming like a pro

Why it matters to you

Anyone can now broadcast professional live-streams on Twitter using a variety of hardware devices courtesy of Periscope Producer.

Twitter’s Periscope expanded its live-streaming capabilities in a big way with the introduction of its “Producer” program in October. The venture allowed popular creators to host live Twitter broadcasts from a plethora of new devices, including HD and 360 video cameras, VR headsets, webcams, and desktop streaming software. At the time, the company promised it would be rolled out to all users in the future. Well, that day has arrived.

On February 23, Periscope announced that its update of its iOS and Android apps makes Producer available to the masses. Once you download the latest version of Persicope, you’ll see the “advanced sources” option in settings. A full guide on how to use third-party devices to live-stream on Twitter is available on the Periscope website.

The Periscope app will show a preview of your stream when you start broadcasting, allowing you to publish when it is completed. Additionally, creators will have the ability to incorporate graphics and footage from external sources, bringing the final product closer to what you’d expect to see on YouTube.

Related: Twitter safe search will now automatically hide “sensitive” content on Android

periscope_producerThe ability to create professional-looking live video should appeal to frequent users of the service, especially seeing as you can publish your streams to Twitter, opening them up to a bigger audience. It also gives the social platform an advantage over its rival Facebook, which has restricted its live-streaming application programming interface to its media partners.

In regards to Periscope, it proves that predictions of its “death” may have been shortsighted. Yes, the service is firmly integrated into Twitter’s apps, but you still need to go to through it to be able to expand beyond mobile live-streams.

Casual Twitter users also stand to benefit from the influx of professional content. With Twitter increasingly looking to artificial intelligence to help surface more relevant topics to match its users’ interests, that content could now also include a diverse amount of live video going forward.

Updated 02/24/2017 by Saqib Shah: Added info on general rollout of Periscope Producer

LG somehow stuffed an even larger battery inside of the X Power 2

Why it matters to you

The LG X Power 2 might not be for Android purists, but those looking for a phone with remarkable battery life might want to take a hard look.

With Mobile World Congress right around the corner, LG is primarily focused on its upcoming G6 after the G5 was regarded as a financial disappointment for the company. That does not mean LG has nothing else up its sleeve, however, as the company announced the X Power 2 ahead of the mobile-centric conference.

As alluded to in its name, the X Power 2’s raison d’être is its enormous 4,500mAh battery, a nice bump from the original’s 4,100mAh power pack. LG claims the X Power 2 can survive 15 hours of continuous video playback, 14 hours of GPS navigation, and 18 hours of web browsing. The company even boasts that the phone was designed to last an entire weekend without the need to recharge. When it comes time for that, the X Power 2 will go from 0 to 50 percent in an hour, while a full recharge will take around two hours.

More: LG’s K series budget phones run Android 7.0 Nougat

On the outside, the X Power 2 features a 5-megapixel camera above its 5.5-inch, 1,280 x 720 resolution display, while a 13MP shooter sits around back. The display might seem like the same dull panel found on the original, but LG looks to have integrated the digitizer with the screen for improved colors and viewing angles. The company also improved the display’s outdoor visibility and baked a blue light filter into the software.

Speaking of which, the X Power 2 runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, something the original X Power still cannot say. An unnamed 1.5GHz octa-core processor and either 1.5GB or 2GB RAM run the show, with the 16GB of native storage augmented through the MicroSD card slot that takes up to 2TB cards.

When Digital Trends’ Ted Kritsonis took a look at the original X Power, there was not much to really enjoy apart from its battery life and low price. Hopefully, the same will not be said of the X Power 2 when it becomes available in Latin America in March, with the U.S., Asia, Europe, and other regions to follow. Before its launch, however, the X Power 2 will be shown off during MWC 2017 in Barcelona next week.