How to get the most out of the Huawei P20 Pro’s fantastic camera

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Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Huawei P20 Pro boasts one of the best cameras ever put in a smartphone, and learning how to exploit it best is a real joy. But if you’re a newcomer to Huawei phones, or to flagship camera phones in general, it can be a little daunting to start out. We don’t want you to feel this way, as once you start, learning how to get the most from it is a pleasure.

To help you, we’ve got tips on how to use the Huawei P20 Pro’s most exciting camera features, taking the intimidation out of using it for the first time, and getting you on the path to creativity and enjoyment quickly. If you’re looking for more general advice, then check out our Huawei P20 Pro tips and tricks.

Night mode

There are two key rules to remember about night mode on the P20 Pro. The first is: Don’t be afraid to use it. The second: Don’t only use it at night. Let’s address each rule in turn. Night mode takes photos with a 6-second shutter speed, which under normal circumstances would require the use of a tripod, or risk incredibly blurry pictures. The P20 Pro uses artificial intelligence and some excellent stabilization techniques to eliminate blur — yes, eliminate — when shooting hand held.

You’ll need to readjust your thinking at first, because it goes against everything you may have learned from cameras in the past. But it really works. The results are often startling, and scenes shrouded in darkness in real life appear to have been floodlit when photographed with the P20 Pro.

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Night mode on the Huawei P20 Pro Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The second rule is even more unusual. Use night mode to take photos during the day, especially outdoors on sunny days. The shutter time is automatically reduced, so photos aren’t blown out, and instead look almost hyper real, as if you’ve already applied a particularly good HDR filter. No, they’re not always “realistic,” but they almost always look damn cool. Share them on your social networks for an instant flurry of Likes.

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Night mode used in the daylight on the Huawei P20 Pro. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

To find night mode on the P20 Pro, open the camera app and slide the mode selector above the shutter release to the right. When you’ve lined up your shot, tap the shutter release to take the photo and the phone automatically sets the timer. You just have to hold the phone in one place while it takes the shot. Don’t worry about remaining entirely rigid, but definitely don’t wobble about too much — it won’t work while in a moving vehicle, for example.

It’s also possible to manually adjust the ISO and shutter speed yourself, using the two icons on the bottom left and right of the viewfinder in portrait orientation, but we’d leave this alone until you’re comfortable with the feature and its ability.

Zoom mode

Using zoom on a smartphone used to be a cardinal sin, as it considerably downgraded the quality of your photo, but not so on many modern phones. The Huawei P20 Pro’s zoom mode goes way beyond the 2x zoom on the iPhone X and Galaxy S9, managing up to 5x zoom without quality loss. It does this by using a combination of optical zoom from its multiple lenses, and artificial intelligence to enhance and stabilize the image.

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Shot handheld at 5x zoom on the Huawei P20 Pro. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Getting it to work is simple. Open the camera app and you’ll see a circular icon with 1x in it. Tap this to jump to 3x zoom, and again for 5x zoom. Another tap takes you back to 1x. If you pinch the screen you can adjust the zoom value anywhere between these two points, if they don’t provide just the right amount to frame your photo.

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Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You will notice that with 5x zoom, even the smallest movements are enough to shake the camera. Huawei’s clever AI deals with this very well, though, and blurry photos taken on 5x zoom are extremely rare.

Slow-motion video

This feature can be found by opening the camera app, swiping the mode selector to the More option, then tapping Slow-mo. Oddly, it’s not part of the video mode, so don’t look for it there. Slow-motion video modes aren’t new, but the P20 Pro stands apart by having a 960 fps setting, giving much more detailed, slower video than many competing phones. This is at 720p resolution, however, meaning they may not look as crisp as you hoped. You can increase the resolution, but the frame rate will suffer. To get 1080p, the frame rate will be 120 fps, so the action won’t be so slowed down. Change it by tapping the 32x icon on the right of the screen. You get the 4x mode, and the 8x mode, which shoots at 240 fps and 720p.

Successfully shooting eye-catching slow motion video is about patience, timing, and luck. Not everything makes a good slow-mo video, but anything with fast, random movement is a good bet. The thing to remember most is to experiment outside. The slowed down shutter doesn’t enjoy artificial lighting, which introduces a strobe-like effect to slow-mo videos taken indoors.

It takes practice to shoot them well, and it takes luck to be in the right place at the right time. When you get it right, the results can be spectacular.

Monochrome

The Huawei P20 Pro has three camera lenses, one of which shoots only in monochrome, just like previous Huawei phones with cameras co-engineered by Leica. The photos it takes look better, sharper, and more detailed than those achieved by applying a filter, as you would on any other camera phone to get a black-and-white look.

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Monochrome mode on the Huawei P20 Pro. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Open the camera app, and use the mode selector to find More, then tap monochrome. Why Huawei has hidden the feature away like this is unknown, as it’s not only a unique part of the phone’s camera, but it’s also creatively exciting. Here are a few tips to use it best.

There are four modes: Normal, Aperture, Portrait, and Pro. The Aperture adds a blurred background effect to your photos, while Portrait is suited to taking pictures of people. The Pro mode lets experienced photographers play around with the settings. If you want to zoom in on a subject, it’s not possible in Normal mode, but switch to Aperture or Portrait and you get a zoom up to 3x added.

If you want to hide the menu showing the different modes, which makes framing photos much easier as they obscure part of the viewfinder, tap the circular icon split into two on the bottom right of the screen in portrait mode. If you’re keen to see what monochrome mode can do, we have got a separate guide on taking spectacular monochrome photos.

Artificial intelligence

Huawei introduced the Neural Processing Unit (NPU) in the Mate 10 Pro, which brings artificial intelligence processing onto the device, instead of solely in the cloud, speeding tasks that use A.I. up considerably. One such task is image and scene recognition, used extensively in the P20 Pro’s camera.

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Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

On the Mate 10 Pro, you had no choice but to accept the adjustments made by the A.I., but that has changed on the P20 Pro. Huawei has added the option to dismiss each alteration individually, or turn off the Master A.I. entirely.

Point the camera at something that falls under the 19 categories of scenes recognized by the P20 Pro — anything from a blue sky to a cat — and a message will appear at the bottom of the viewfinder, alerting you the A.I. is about to change the camera parameters to suit the scene. After a few moments, the icon will change to say “Blue Sky” or the mode it has chosen, with an “X” alongside it. Tap the X to dismiss the A.I.’s advice, and shoot on auto.

huawei p20 pro camera tips master aiIn portrait orientation, this is along the bottom of the viewfinder. However, in landscape the initial alert appears along the bottom of the screen, but the notification needed to dismiss the switch appears alongside the shutter release. It’s a software idiosyncrasy that’s likely to be fixed in the future.

If you’d rather the A.I. never interfered, tap the Settings cog in the top right of the screen in portrait orientation, then scroll down to find Master A.I. The switch should be on by default, but tap it to turn it off. The A.I. won’t change any of the settings again, and there’s no way to prompt it aside from turning the Master A.I. back on.

That’s almost it for our Huawei P20 Pro camera tips, but the biggest piece of advice we can give is to get out and experiment with the P20 Pro’s rewarding and fun-to-use camera.

Editors’ Recommendations

Here’s absolutely everything we know about the LG V35 ThinQ

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s not been long since LG released the LG V30S ThinQ, but it seems that we can already expect another update to LG’s V-range within the next month or so. The LG V35 ThinQ is coming, and though it’s currently unclear what exactly LG is planning for this phone, we’re excited to see another LG phone so soon. What can you expect from this new LG phone? Here’s everything we know about the LG V35 ThinQ.

Design

If you’re one of the many people who finds the idea of a notch on an Android phone off-putting, then it should be welcome news that the LG V35 ThinQ is omitting this feature. According to a report, unlike the G7 ThinQ, the V35 ThinQ will most likely not be offering an iPhone X-style notch at the top of the screen. Instead, you’ll be looking at a FullVision, 18:9 aspect ratio on a 6-inch OLED display, offering an 80-percent screen-to-body ratio and a 2,880 x 1,440 resolution.

It also sounds as if the general style is being made to ape last year’s edge-to-edge LG phones, which is no bad thing. Sources are particularly insistent that LG is pursuing a one-handed operation ethos, and may claim that the phone is ergonomically designed to offer lightweight, single-handed operation. That’s similar to the line it pursued with the LG G6, and it may be where LG envisions the V35 ThinQ to sit in this year’s product range. That said, a 6-inch screen is going to be difficult to use one-handed, regardless of the edge-to-edge design. These rumors could be overstating LG’s vision, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Finally, LG is expected to offer two color choices at launch — black and gray. While that may seem a little boring, a “premium glossy finish” may give the phone a little more style than the colors initially suggest.

Camera

It should be of no surprise that LG is expected to include two cameras on the back of the LG V35 ThinQ. It’s been the trend of the past few years, and we now expect our higher-end phones to have at least two camera lenses on the back (shout-out to the Huawei P20’s three lenses). The V35 ThinQ is expected to have two 16-megapixel lenses with f/1.6 apertures. They will be slightly different though — the first is reputed to have 10-bit HDR compatibility for better color capture, while the second will have a similar wide-angle lens as the LG V30 — except with a slightly reduced wide-angle of 107-degrees.

Most of the sources are agreeing on these cameras, so these specs seem pretty set in stone for the moment. It looks to be a pretty solid camera suite on paper, and we’ve been impressed with LG’s camera offerings before, so we’re reasonably confident that LG will hit all the right buttons this time around.

Artificial intelligence

The “ThinQ” in the V35’s name also signifies we can expect the artificial intelligence from the V30S ThinQ to return, and that means some additional camera smarts. The A.I. Cam, which debuted on the V30S ThinQ, is capable of recognizing objects within the camera’s scope, and altering the shot settings to give the best possible result — including “Bright Mode,” which increases the brightness of an image, but reduces the megapixel count. This sort of A.I. assistance is similar to Huawei’s latest camera tech, and we’re hoping that LG has managed to speed the process up a little — it was a little slow on the V30S ThinQ.

However, your phone will apparently also be able to hear you from farther away. If rumors are correct about the voice recognition tech inside the V35 ThinQ, then the voice assistant should be able to hear you from a distance of up to seventeen feet away.

Release date and pricing

The latest rumors point to the LG V35 ThinQ being revealed in May — or about the same time as the updated LG G7 ThinQ. It seems odd that LG would see fit to announce these two phones so close to each other — updates to the V-range usually happen at the opposite end of the year to the G-range, and with the LG V40 ThinQ also due to arrive later this year, the V35 ThinQ would seem to be in an odd place. Our money is on the V35 being an updated and slightly cheaper version of the V30, but only time will tell if we’re correct in this assumption.

Facebook starts its facial recognition push to Europeans

Facebook users in Europe are reporting that the company has started giving them the option to turn on its controversial facial recognition technology.

Jimmy Nsubuga, a journalist at Metro, is among several European Facebook users who have reporting getting notifications asking if they want to turn on face recognition technology.

Facebook has previously said an opt-in option would be pushed out to all European users, and also globally, as part of changes to its T&Cs and consent flow.

In Europe the company is hoping to convince users to voluntarily allow it to deploy the privacy-hostile tech — which was turned off in the bloc after regulatory pressure, back in 2012, when Facebook began using facial recognition to offer features such as automatically tagging users in photo uploads.

But under impending changes to its T&Cs — ostensibly to comply with the EU’s incoming GDPR data protection standard — the company has crafted a manipulative consent flow that tries to sell people on giving it their data; including filling in its own facial recognition blanks by convincing Europeans to agree to it grabbing and using their biometric data after all.

Users who choose not to switch on facial recognition still have to click through a ‘continue’ screen before they get to the off switch. On this screen Facebook attempts to convince them to turn it on — using manipulative examples of how the tech can “protect” them.

As another Facebook user who has also already received the notifications — journalist, Jennifer Baker — points out, what it’s doing here is incredibly disingenuous — because it’s using fear to try to manipulate people’s choices.

Under the EU’s incoming data protection framework Facebook cannot automatically opt users into facial recognition — it has to convince people to switch the tech on themselves. So it is emphasizing that users can choose whether or not to enable the technology.

But data protection experts we spoke to earlier this week do not believe Facebook’s approach to consent will be legal under GDPR.

Essentially, this is big data-powered manipulation of human decision-making — until the ‘right’ answer (for Facebook’s business) is ‘selected’ by the user. In other words, not freely given, informed consent at all.

Legal challenges are certain at this point.

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed to TechCrunch that any European users who are being asked about the tech now, ahead of the May 25 GDPR deadline, are part of its rollout of platform changes intended to comply with the incoming standard.

“The flow is not a test, it is part of a rollout we are doing across the EU,” she said. “We are asking people for opt-in consent for three things — third party data for ads, facial recognition and the permission to process their sensitive data.”

She also confirmed that Facebook did run a test of “a very similar version of this flow to a small percentage of users in the EU back in March”, adding: “The flow + wording was broadly the same. At all times it was opt-in.”

The problem is, given Facebook controls the entire consent flow, and can rely on big data insights gleaned from its own platform (of 2BN+ users), this is not even remotely a fair fight. Manipulated acceptance is not consent.

But legal challenges take time. And in the meanwhile Facebook users are being socially engineered, with selective examples and friction, into agreeing with things that align with the company’s data-harvesting business interests — handing over sensitive personal data without understanding the full implications of doing so.

It’s not clear exactly how many Facebook users were part of the earlier flow test. It’s likely the company used the aforementioned variations in wording to determine — via an A/B testing process — which consent screens were most successful at convincing people to accept the highly privacy-hostile technology.

Last month — when Facebook said it would be rolling out “a limited test of some of the additional choices we’ll ask people to make as part of GDPR” — it also said it would start “by asking only a small percentage of people so that we can be sure everything is working properly”.

Interestingly it did not put a number on how many people were involved in that test. And Facebook’s spokeswoman did not provide an answer when we asked.

The company was likely hoping the test would not attract too much attention — given how much GDPR news is flowing through its PR channels, and how much attention the topic is generally sucking up.

But depending on how successful those tests prove to be at convincing Europeans to let it have and use their facial biometric data, millions of additional Facebook users could soon be providing the company with fresh streams of sensitive data — and having their fundamental rights trampled on, yet again, thanks to a very manipulative consent flow.

This article was updated with a series of corrections after Facebook confirmed the notifications are in fact the rollout of its new consent flow, not part of the earlier tests. It has also told us categorically that no users were auto-enrolled in facial recognition tech in Europe — even in the test. So we’ve updated this article accordingly. 

AT&T CEO says a new $15-per-month, sports-free streaming service is launching in a few weeks

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson revealed on Thursday the carrier’s plans to launch another live TV service called “AT&T Watch,” which would offer a cheap, $15-per-month bundle of channels for customers, and be provided to AT&T Wireless subscribers for free. At this price point, the service would be one of the lowest on the market – less than Sling TV’s entry-level, $20-per-month package, and just a bit less than Philo’s low-cost, sports-free offering, priced at $16 per month.

Stephenson, who’s in court defending the proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner against antitrust claims, announced the service on the witness stand. He held up the soon-to-arrive AT&T Watch as a rebuttal of sorts to the Justice Department’s point about the company’s continually climbing prices for its DirecTV satellite service, according to a report from Variety.

The Justice Department is concerned that, if the merger goes through, AT&T will then raise prices on Time Warner’s Turner networks, like TNT, TBS and CNN in a way that would hurt other pay TV providers.

Few other details were offered regarding AT&T Watch, beyond its price point – which is due to the fact that it will also be sports-free offering, like Philo.

But AT&T’s advantage over competitors is the distribution provided by its AT&T Wireless business. Although its existing streaming service DirecTV Now is one of the newest on the market, it has already reached number two in terms of subscribers, falling behind Sling TV.

Beyond its lack of sports, the channel lineup for AT&T Watch was not discussed, nor was an exact launch date.

Stephenson said the company hoped to launch it in the next few weeks.

This robot can build your Ikea furniture

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who hate building Ikea furniture and madmen. Now, thanks to Ikeabot, the madmen can be replaced.

Ikeabot is a project built at Control Robotics Intelligence (CRI) group at NTU in Singapore. The team began by teaching robots to insert pins and manipulate Ikea parts and then, slowly, began to figure out how to pit the robots against the furniture. The results, if you’ve ever fought with someone trying to put together a Billy, are heartening.

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From Spectrum:

The assembly process from CRI is not quite that autonomous; “although all the steps were automatically planned and controlled, their sequence was hard-coded through a considerable engineering effort.” The researchers mention that they can “envision such a sequence being automatically determined from the assembly manual, through natural-language interaction with a human supervisor or, ultimately, from an image of the chair,” although we feel like they should have a chat with Ross Knepper, whose IkeaBot seemed to do just fine without any of that stuff.

In other words the robots are semi-autonomous but never get frustrated and can use basic heuristics to figure out next steps. The robots can now essentially assemble chairs in about 20 minutes, a feat that I doubt many of us can emulate. You can watch the finished dance here, in all its robotic glory.

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The best part? Even robots get frustrated and fling parts around:

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I, for one, welcome our Ikea chair manufacturing robotic overlords.

Federal Programs to Spur Private Sector IT Engagement

By John K. Higgins
Apr 20, 2018 5:00 AM PT

The U.S. government has launched two new programs designed to modernize and upgrade IT performance at federal agencies. Each program will involve significant participation of private sector providers as both advisors and contractors for IT equipment and services.

The first program involves the creation of a federal Information Technology Modernization Fund to facilitate investments in efficient and advanced IT operations. Congress finally approved an actual budget for the modernization fund in last month’s Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, otherwise known as the “Omnibus” budget act.

As a result, agencies will be able to tap into a US$100 million revolving fund to make initial investments in IT modernization.

Program Alleviates IT Spending Gap

The ITMF was authorized in the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT Act), which became law late last year after several versions of the funding plan had been proposed in Congress and by the Trump administration.

Since federal agencies spend more than 80 percent of their budgets simply to maintain existing — aka “legacy” — IT systems, there is not a lot left over for investments in modernization. The ITMF will allow agencies to access funds for IT upgrades and then return savings from such investments to the fund to provide a revolving resource for additional IT investments government-wide.

Not surprisingly, the technology sector expressed strong support for the program. Funding the MGT Act through the ITMF “is a critical step in protecting our nation’s IT systems from cyberattacks and ensuring the government is using state-of-the-art technologies to better serve our people,” said TechNet CEO Linda Moore. TechNet, an association of IT companies, has published open letters to congressional leaders in support of the program, most recently last month.

White House Seeks Commercial Technology

The program should enhance opportunities for private sector involvement in federal IT operations.

Projects undertaken through the ITMF should “ultimately be executed according to a strong project management approach that aligns to industry best practices and incorporates, to the greatest extent practicable, commercial technology solutions,” wrote Office of Management and Budget Director Mark Mulvaney in a memorandum sent to federal agencies earlier this year.

Agencies will apply for ITMF funding by submitting proposals to a seven-member board of federal IT managers, chaired by Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent. However, financial support for the fund provided by the Omnibus budget act will be available only through fiscal 2018, ending on Sept. 30. The support level of $100 million was far less than the two-year funding allocation of $500 million envisioned by the Trump administration.

The initial 2018 funding level is a “good first step to get this IT modernization effort off the ground,” said Alex Burgos, TechNet’s vice president of federal policy and government relations.

“Going forward, this needs to be a sustained, multiyear commitment to fully fund and implement the law to achieve its ultimate goal of modernizing the federal government’s IT systems with more secure technologies,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “As we look ahead to the next appropriations bill due by Sept. 30, TechNet is urging Congress to provide the full funding necessary to ensure we are doing everything we can to modernize our federal government’s IT systems.”

The MGT Act also empowers agencies to set up their own internal working capital funds for investment in IT modernization.

Centers of Excellence Focus on IT Upgrades

The second program involves the creation of IT Modernization Centers of Excellence, or CoEs, which collectively will provide federal agencies with consulting and IT engineering services to make radical improvements in the way agencies design services and interact with their customers, according to the federal General Services Administration, which will manage the program.

GSA launched the program last month by selecting four providers of IT-related capabilities to implement the first phase in five specific IT categories. All of the initially selected providers will assist the U.S. Department of Agriculture in modernizing the department’s IT operations. USDA is serving as the pilot agency for implementing the program.

Each of the companies receiving a contract award in the first round of provider selection will concentrate on providing assistance to USDA in each of the five IT categories. Among the selected companies and area of concentration: SIE Consulting Group, for cloud adoption; McKinsey & Company, for IT infrastructure optimization; and Kaiser Associates, for contact center operations. One company, ICF, was selected to provide assistance in two areas: customer service and service delivery analytics.

The initial contract awards “mark a major milestone in implementing the administration’s far-reaching federal IT modernization effort,” said Joanne Collins Smee, GSA’s acting director of technology transformation.

GSA appointed a person outside the agency to implement the program.

Robert DeLuca, formerly chief information officer at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation will implement day-to-day operations of the CoE initiative, GSA said.

GSA did not reveal the specific value of the contracts. However, ICF said that its two contracts have a combined multimillion dollar value with terms of up to three years.

For each CoE, the company initially will work with the USDA to assess the current landscape and develop a road map for implementation and management of centralized functions, ICF said. Once those goals are achieved, ICF will recommend scalable best practices for adoption government-wide.

“These awards represent the accumulation of what ICF can bring to federal IT,” said Senior Vice President Kris Tremaine.

“We’re not just deep subject matter experts. We have a contextual understanding of each agency’s mission, how the work is completed, and how the data can inform and transform the customer journey,” she said.

The goals of the CoE program include the following:

  • Establish and grow identity and authentication services that integrate with agency operations;
  • Provide a portfolio of cloud services across multiple provider offerings, and implement flexible solutions for the delivery of cloud capabilities;
  • Use consolidated contact center services to make it easier and more cost effective for the public to access federal services;
  • Improve access to data so that government leaders better manage agency missions and improve public transparency.

GSA emphasized the importance of reaching out to providers. Desired industry support includes a wide range of activities such as project management guidance, acting as a catalyst for completing activities, creating a centralized approach to track progress, and Agile project management support.

“Federal agencies serve many audiences through complex missions. The type and kind of technology that deliver compelling citizen experiences is equally complex,” ICF’s Tremaine told the E-Commerce Times. “Putting these together isn’t easy. The CoEs signal that GSA is going to take aggressive and informed steps to address these challenges in a data- and user-driven manner.”

The CoE initiative was launched to support the agenda of the White House American Technology Office created by President Donald Trump last year.


John K. Higgins has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2009. His main areas of focus are U.S. government technology issues such as IT contracting, cybersecurity, privacy, cloud technology, big data and e-commerce regulation. As a freelance journalist and career business writer, he has written for numerous publications, including
The Corps Report and Business Week.
Email John.

You AR what you eat — augmented reality menus are coming to Snapchat

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The smells wafting from the kitchen, a crinkled and torn paper menu, and the fleeting glimpses of orders the waiter is deftly balancing on his way to another table may no longer be the only ways to preview what you eat at a restaurant. Start-up Kabaq is aiming to bring the next big technology-influenced change for restaurants and foodies since Instagram sparked a surge in food photography: an augmented reality menu.

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Burger chain Bareburger will be among the first restaurants to allow customers to see their meal right in front of them — before ever placing an order.

Using custom Snapchat World Lenses, customers can scan a Snapcode to place a virtual dish on the table, resizing and mixing it with other filters and, of course, snapping a photo to send to a friend.

Created from images of a real burger, the augmented reality lenses allow diners to preview their dish from any angle. As Bareburger prepares to introduce an AR menu, the burger chain is giving out 5,000 Snapcodes that offer a sneak of the progress on that menu.

Anyone can scan the Snapcode to play with the Lens, but the foodie with the physical ticket can turn it in for the real version of that filter, for free. 

The restaurant chain is randomly giving out those codes with takeout orders through April 22 at locations in the U.S. and Dubai.

Kabaq is a food-focused AR company that launched in 2016. Co-Founders Alper Guler and Caner Soyer previously worked in the augmented reality space creating tools for interior design and furniture. The idea for Kabaq came after trying to explain the dishes at a Turkish restaurant to a friend, a difficult task without the help of visuals.

“We believe Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are changing the food we are eating at the restaurant,” Guler said. “Food is more visual than ever because most people, before they start eating, shoot a photo for their Instagram account. This started creating more traffic to restaurants. With AR, restaurants can create even more visuals to drive more traffic to the restaurant itself.”

While Bareburger is bringing its lenses to Snapchat, Kabaq builds AR lenses that can be used in a number of different ways. Along with Snapchat, the food models can be integrated into other social apps, like the Facebook Camera, or used inside the Kabaq app, itself. Restaurants could also build the AR food items into their own apps, putting the AR menu alongside other app functions like placing an order and finding locations. 

Restaurant chains have the option of integrating the AR menu into an app designed for the chain, but Guler says the integration with existing platforms like Snapchat and Facebook Camera speeds up the process. Instead of having to download an app to view the menu, diners can scan a Snapcode using an app that many already have.

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The menu is created from real dishes from the restaurant using photogrammetry — a process of taking several pictures of something from different angles in order to create a 3D model. Kabaq then converts the images into a model and optimizes the food item for the AR program.

When it comes to food, Guler explained, the slightest color differences between the AR version of a dish and the real thing will make it feel very off. The company spends a lot of time making the models are accurate, while also ensuring the AR filters run smoothly on a phone.

Restaurants can also integrate prices and nutrition information into the menu items using info boxes that are paired with the 3D model

Restaurants can also integrate prices and nutrition information into the menu items using info boxes that are paired with the 3D model. Like other Snapchat lenses, the menu lenses can be resized, so while they’ll give diners an idea of what to order, the filters won’t offer an idea on portion sizes without additional information, like accompanying info boxes.

Besides seeing the dish before ordering (and that “cool” factor), the technology could also create menus that are more eco-friendly than paper. Bareburger is focused on ethically sourced ingredients, and hope the AR menu can eventually replace paper as part of the company’s eco-friendly initiative.

Editors’ Recommendations

Motorola’s Moto E5 Plus, E5 Play are solid budget phones that won’t get Android P

The Moto G series may steal all the credit when it comes to Motorola’s budget lineup, but there’s a handset that arguably offers even better value for the money than the new Moto G6 — the also-new Moto E5. Motorola has finally take the wraps off of the new E-series, including both the Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 Play.

The new phones should offer decent specs and performance at an exceptionally low price. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 Play.

Design

The Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 Play feature slightly different designs. While the E5 Plus looks similar to the new Moto G6, with its 18:9 aspect ratio, the E5 Play features a slightly older-looking design — which one might expect from such an inexpensive phone.

Both phones feature the recently adopted and now standard Motorola camera bump on the back, and they both also offer a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor embedded in the Motorola logo. The display on the Moto E5 Plus comes in at 6 inches with a resolution of 1,440 x 720, while the E5 Play’s display comes in at 5.2 inches with a 720p resolution.

Another thing that users of the Moto E5 Play might like is the fact that it has a removable back and battery. It’s the only new Moto phone that can do that, which means you can carry extra batteries to use if you need them.

While different, they’re definitely not bad-looking phones. They both come in a range of different colors, too, which is a nice touch.

Specs

Under the hood, the phones are decidedly budget-focused — but that doesn’t mean that they’re no good. The Moto E5 Plus features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor, coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage — though if you want to expand upon that storage, you can do so via the MicroSD card slot. It also has an absolutely massive 5,000mAh battery, which is pretty huge. The device also offers a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with an aperture of f/2.0, along with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

The Moto E5 Play features either a Snapdragon 425 or 427 processor, coupled with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Like the E5 Plus, the E5 Play features a MicroSD card slot, so you can expand on that storage by up to 128GB if you choose. Unlike the E5 Plus, the E5 Play’s battery isn’t huge — but it’s not tiny either. The 2,800mAh battery should get you through a day of use pretty easily. The E5 Play also offers a slightly lower-resolution camera. The rear-facing camera comes in at 8 megapixels, while the front-facing camera is 5 megapixels.

Software

The software is set to be one of the major frustration points for this phone. Why? It won’t be updated. While the device does ship with Android 8.0 Oreo, Motorola says that it will not be updating the E5 Plus or Play with any new versions of Android, so if you’re looking forward to Android P, then this may not be the phone for you.

Price and availability

Unfortunately, we don’t yet know exactly how much the Moto E5 will cost in the U.S. — Motorola says that it will “vary depending on carrier.” We also don’t know exactly when they’ll be available, though Motorola says they’ll be available in sometime before spring ends. We’ll update this article when we hear more.

Editors’ Recommendations

Twitter doesn’t care that someone is building a bot army in Southeast Asia

Facebook’s lack of attention to how third parties are using its service to reach users ended with CEO Mark Zuckerberg taking questions from congressional committees. With that in mind, you’d think that others in the social media space might be more attentive than usual to potentially malicious actors on their platforms.

Twitter, however, is turning the other way and insisting all is normal in Southeast Asia, despite the emergence of thousands of bot-like accounts that have followed prominent users in the region en masse over the past month.

Scores of reporters and Twitter users with large followers — yours truly included — have noticed swarms of accounts with generic names, no profile photo, no bio and no tweets that have followed them over the past month.

These accounts might be evidence of a new “bot farm” — the creation of large numbers of accounts for sale or usage on-demand, which Twitter has cracked down on — or the groundwork for more nefarious activities, it’s too early to tell.

In what appears to be the first regional Twitter bot campaign, a flood of suspicious new followers has been reported by users across Southeast Asia and beyond, including Thailand, Myanmar Cambodia, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Sri Lanka among other places.

While it is true that the new accounts have done nothing yet, the fact that a large number of newly created accounts have popped up out of nowhere with the aim of following the region’s most influential voices should be enough to concern Twitter. Especially since this is Southeast Asia, a region where Facebook is beset with controversies — from its role inciting ethnic hatred in Myanmar, to allegedly assisting censors in Vietnam, witnessing users jailed for violating lese majeste in Thailand and aiding the election of controversial Philippines leader Duterte.

Then there are governments themselves. Vietnam has pledged to build a cyber army to combat “wrongful views,” while other regimes in Southeast Asia have clamped down on social media users.

Despite that, Twitter isn’t commenting.

The U.S. company issued a no comment to TechCrunch when we asked for further information about this rush of new accounts, and what action Twitter will take.

A source close to the company suggested that the sudden accumulation of new followers is “a pretty standard sign-up, or onboarding, issue” that is down to new accounts selecting to follow the suggested accounts that Twitter proposes during the new account creation process.

Twitter is more than 10 years old, and since this is the first example of this happening in Southeast Asia that explanation already seems inadequate at face value. More generally, the dismissive approach seems particularly naive. Twitter should be looking into the issue more closely, even if for now the apparent bot army isn’t being put to use yet.

Facebook is considered to be the internet by many in Southeast Asia, and the social network is considerably more popular than Twitter in the region, but there remains a cause for concern here.

“If we’ve learned anything from the Facebook scandal, it’s that what can at first seem innocuous can be leveraged to quite insidious and invasive effect down the line,” Francis Wade, who recently published a book on violence in Myanmar, told the Financial Times this week. “That makes Twitter’s casual dismissal of concerns around this all the more unsettling.”

Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 Play hands-on review

Last year’s Moto E4 Plus stunned us with its fantastic battery life, and the new Moto E5 Plus is on track to do the same. It retains the 5,000mAh battery to keep you chugging along for more than two days, and while the new phone is largely a specification bump, Motorola has fixed one of our biggest qualms — the Moto E5 Plus doesn’t look like a cheap phone anymore.

There’s also the Moto E5 Play, which is even more affordable. We’ll take a quick look at what they have to offer, and you can also read our Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play hands-on review to learn more about the rest of Motorola’s budget 2018 lineup.

Design and display

Like the new Moto G6 and G6 Play, the Moto E5 Plus borrows heavily from the Moto X4, which debuted in late 2017. The edges on the back curve inwards, allowing for a comfortable grasp around the phone, and a circular camera fixture sits at top-center. Below it is the iconic Motorola dimple, which doubles as a fingerprint sensor.

The Moto E5 Plus is the heaviest of Motorola’s budget lineup, at approximately 7 ounces (200 grams). While Motorola made it look more high-end, it still feels cheap due to the use of polymer glass on the back (it’s not as durable or scratch-resistant as the Gorilla Glass 3 on the Moto G6). The Moto E5 Play, on the other hand, is the lightest. It has a plastic (Motorola calls it micro texture resin) removable back, which means there’s a removable battery as well.

The E5 Play, like the E5 Plus, has a camera fixture in the top-center, with an indented fingerprint sensor below. It curves at the edges of the back, and that makes it comfortable to hold. The fact that it has a smaller 5.2-inch screen helps as well; the E5 Plus has a 6-inch screen, but we didn’t think it felt unwieldy. The E5 Play’s plastic back will attract scratches easily, as we already noticed a few scuff marks.

On the front, Motorola made some effort to shave down the bezels surrounding the screen — jumping on the “bezel-less” trend in smartphones. There are still some sizable bezels, but we’re happy it’s a little slimmed down. Only the Moto G5 Plus utilizes an 18:9 aspect ratio, which means you’ll be able to see a little more content in vertical-scrolling apps than with previous Moto E devices.

There’s a Motorola icon on the back of the phone, but the company’s name is also printed on the front of both Moto E phones. We wish Motorola could be a little more subtle, as it just makes the front look busy. A volume rocker sits on the right edge, with a power button below it; at the top is the headphone jack, and there’s a MicroUSB charging port on the bottom.

For super-affordable phones, the Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 Play look great.

The 6-inch IPS LCD screen on the Moto E5 Plus has a 1,440 x 720 pixel resolution. The screen may not be as sharp as higher-end phones, but it manages to look good. It doesn’t get bright enough to see outside in daylight, but we’ll have to do more testing to confirm. The 5.2-inch E5 Play has a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, and the screen doesn’t look fuzzy at all thanks to its smaller screen size.

Moto E5 Plus Compared To

For super affordable phones, the Moto E5 Plus and Moto E5 Play look great. Again, they still feel cheap, but they’re ergonomic. The polymer glass on the E5 Plus does seem like a recipe for a shattered front and back, so make sure you grab a case. There’s also no IP-rated water-resistance, but both phones are splash-resistant.

Performance and software

The Moto E5 Plus is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 435 processor, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The Moto E5 Play uses either the Snapdragon 425 or the Snapdragon 427 — it’s dependent on the carrier you’re buying it from — as well as 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Both have MicroSD card slots for more space.

We didn’t run into any problems moving throughout the phone’s Android 8.0 Oreo operating system, but we only used it very briefly during the phones’ launch event. Opening apps is a little slower than flagships, and we’ll have to do more testing to see how this phone performs with more intensive tasks. This is not a phone for power users, as it won’t be able to satisfy all your needs.

moto e5 plus hands on review 2
Moto E5 Plus Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We’re happy to see near stock Android again on these phones; Motorola phones don’t have a lot of pre-installed apps or services. But there is reason for disappointment. A Motorola spokesperson told Digital Trends both these phones will not receive any Android version upgrades. That means when the new version of Android comes out around August, the Moto E5 Plus and Play will not receive it. The reason? Motorola said its customers sometimes aren’t fans of software upgrades, but it’s largely because both these devices are carrier phones, and Motorola doesn’t expect the carrier to issue an update. It’s appalling that a phone manufacturer can release a phone and say it won’t upgrade the software for it at all.

When the new version of Android comes out around August, the Moto E5 Plus and Play will not receive it.

On the bright side, Motorola said it will issue security updates every 30 to 60 days, for two years.

Both these phones should last you a good deal of time, especially the Moto E5 Plus. It has a 5,000mAh battery, which means the Plus will likely last more than two days. It supports Motorola’s TurboPower fast-charging technology as well. The E5 Plus only has a 2,800mAh battery, but considering the low-power specs on the phone, that capacity should definitely make the phone last quite some time as well.

There’s no NFC here, so you won’t be able to use Google Pay to make contactless payments.

Camera

In our brief tests, the camera on both these phones are certainly capable, particularly in good lighting. The E5 Plus has a 12-megapixel rear camera with a f/2.0 aperture, along with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with a f/2.2 aperture. The E5 Play has an 8-megapixel rear camera with a f/2.0 aperture, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Both phones have flashes on the front for selfies.

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Moto E5 Plus Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We noticed a little shutter lag when tapping on the shutter icon, which produced some blur in photos. If you hold still, you can take some solid photos with good color and detail. But don’t expect much in poorer lighting conditions.

Price and availability

We’re not sure how much both phones will cost, but last year’s Moto E4 Plus and Moto E4 were priced at $180 and $130, respectively. It’s likely the new versions will stay around this price range, but it’s entirely dependent on the carrier. These are carrier-only phones, so you won’t be able to buy them unlocked. Motorola said we can expect to see them launch in the U.S. this spring.

For those estimated low prices, the Moto E5 Play and Moto E5 Plus are excellent value. We hope Motorola strongly rethinks its software upgrade plan to give these two devices Android P when it rolls out.