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Snapchat Intros AR Game Called Ghost Phone

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Snapchat has launched “Ghost Phone” – a new AR Game on the platform. Built by Snap, Ghost Phone is an interactive experience where players must discover the secrets of an abandoned phone and solve the supernatural mystery of what happened to Lisa, the previous owner – ultimately arriving face-to-face with malicious AR spirits.

Using surface recognition, the spooky Ghost Phone Lenses bring gameplay into the user’s environment, prompting them to get up and move to collect phantom energy within the phone and bust ghosts. Ghost Phone introduces a new genre of narrative gameplay that blends Snap’s AR scan technology with games on the platform for the first time. Scan is Snap’s AR technology that helps Snapchatters discover and understand the world around them in the fastest and easiest way possible with its Camera.

It joins a suite of nearly 100 Minis offering Snapchatters a fun way to play games, create experiences with friends, and find useful tools on Snapchat. Since its launch in 2019, more than 300 million Snapchatters have used Games and Minis. Other Games and Minis include experiences built by HBO Max, Headspace, Poshmark, Voodoo, Zynga and more.

The game was built using Snap’s own technology – its web-first game engine, Playcanvas, and Lens Studio to leverage Snap’s world-scan technology to create the spooky Lenses. The game will be available in 10 languages, including Arabic.

Here’s how you can play ‘Ghost Phone’:

  • Open your Snapchat and search “found phone” in Lens Explorer, or look for a mysterious icon behind the Rocket in Chat
  • Decode the password to power on the Ghost Phone
  • Find clues within text messages and data
  • Unlock spooky Camera Modes and look around to capture different types of AR ghosts
  • Level up to uncover apps and data to reveal more clues, Camera Modes and ghosts and discover what happened to Lisa
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Safari to Get Smarter? Leaked Code Hints at AI Assistant

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Eagle-eyed developer Nicolás Álvarez has spotted clues in Apple’s backend code suggesting a major upgrade for Safari in iOS 18: a browsing assistant powered by artificial intelligence. MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris confirmed the existence of the code, but details remain scarce.

The assistant might leverage Apple’s privacy-focused iCloud Private Relay to transmit relevant data for analysis, potentially requiring an iCloud+ subscription. This aligns with the rumoured focus on generative AI in iOS 18, aiming to streamline iPhone experiences.

Several browsers already boast AI tools like Microsoft Edge’s GPT-4-powered Copilot and Arc Search’s webpage summarization. Apple’s assistant could offer similar functionality or even go beyond.

Another intriguing discovery by Álvarez was “Encrypted Visual Search” within the code. While details are sparse, it could be related to last year’s leak of a “Visual Search” feature for Apple’s unreleased Vision Pro headset. This feature allowed copying and pasting real-world text into apps. Perhaps Apple is refining the technology for a secure iPhone debut, or it might be an extension of the existing Visual Look Up feature for identifying objects in photos.

With Apple’s WWDC keynote scheduled for June 10th, we can expect official details on these potential features in just a few months. So, get ready for a potentially smarter Safari experience in iOS 18!

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Android Gets Supercharged Find My Device Network: Locate Lost Devices Even When Offline

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Android users rejoice! Google has finally launched its highly anticipated Find My Device network, offering a significant upgrade to lost device recovery. This new feature goes beyond the limitations of the previous Find My Device setting, which only worked for powered-on and connected devices.

The key lies in Bluetooth. This new network leverages Bluetooth signals to locate missing phones, smartwatches, earbuds, and even trackers, even if they’re disconnected from Wi-Fi or cellular data. It’s like a digital bloodhound, sniffing out your lost tech.

Here’s what the network offers:

  • Offline Tracking: Lost your phone with a dead battery? No problem. The Find My Device network can locate Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones even when powered off.
  • Expanded Range: The network finds any compatible Android phone or tablet, regardless of online status.
  • Bluetooth Tracker Integration: Starting in May, use the Find My Device app to locate items like keys or luggage attached to Chipolo and Pebblebee Bluetooth tracker tags. These tags are designed specifically for the network and offer additional security features, like unknown tracker alerts across Android and iOS devices.
  • “Find Nearby” Feature: (Also coming in May) Can’t find your phone under a pile of laundry? Use Bluetooth tags to pinpoint its location, even if it’s hidden nearby.
  • Nest Integration: The Find My Device app will show you the location of a missing phone or item relative to your home Nest devices, giving you a helpful reference point.
  • Sharing Device Tracking: Permit trusted individuals to track your device with you.

This launch comes after a delay announced in September 2023. Google prioritized user privacy and addressed concerns about the potential for misuse of Bluetooth trackers. Reportedly, the upcoming iOS 17.5 beta includes security measures that address these concerns, paving the way for Google’s network launch.

While only Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro benefit from powered-off tracking, the network itself works with any Android phone running Android 9 or later.

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Google’s Vids: Aiming to Be the Next Big Productivity App

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For years, the office grind has been dominated by the trinity: documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. But Google is throwing a wrench in the mix with Vids, a new app designed to make creating collaborative, shareable videos easier than ever. Forget fancy editing software – Vids is all about practicality. It’s built for the everyday tasks we juggle at work: pitching ideas, updating teams, or explaining complex concepts. Think of it as Google Slides transformed for video.

“Anyone who can make a slide deck can make a video with Vids,” says Kristina Behr, Google’s VP of product management. “No video production experience needed.” The process is refreshingly simple. Drag and drop assets from Drive or other sources, arrange them in a timeline, and add your voiceover or on-camera segments. The result? Think recorded presentations, video calls, or those ubiquitous training videos with a talking head and supporting graphics. Vids might not win Oscars, but they can churn out a variety of useful content.

But Vids is more than just a creation tool. Share your creations with colleagues, and they can comment, leave notes, or even jump in and edit themselves. It’s all about seamless collaboration, much like Google’s other productivity apps. “Imagine a spreadsheet, but in video form,” says Behr. Sharing a Vid isn’t just handing over a file – it’s opening a conversation.

Vids isn’t the first player in this space. Tools like Loom and Descript offer similar video-focused functionality. Even project management platforms and Vimeo are getting in on the act. Google might be late to the party, but their bet is clear: the future of work is video-centric. With remote work on the rise and video communication booming, Google believes employees will spend less time hunched over emails and more time crafting impactful videos. Their secret weapon? Tight integration with the existing suite of Google tools, with even more to come, including mobile support.

One surprising omission? YouTube, Google’s video giant. While there’s some shared technology under the hood, Behr emphasizes the distinct purposes: “The audience and use cases are completely different. Vids is for work, by workers. We’re laser-focused on that specific need.” Vids is slated for a public beta launch this summer. Early testers within Workspace are already seeing trends emerge – short, focused videos under three minutes, perfect for pitches, training, team updates, or celebrating achievements. Behr herself has ditched her email recaps in favour of Vids, finding that viewers appreciate the added layer of personality.

Vids could have easily been bolted onto Slides or Docs. But by giving it its own space, Google sends a clear message: this isn’t just another presentation tool, it’s a paradigm shift in information sharing. While Google’s app graveyard is vast, the Docs-Sheets-Slides trio remains a tech titan. Vids aspires to join those ranks, permanently altering how we communicate in the digital age.

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