Google is bringing video reviews to Google Maps

e’re still very far away from real-time Google Street View or satellite imagery on Google Maps, but Google is, for the first time, introducing video in parts of its mapping service. Users who are part of the company’s Local Guides program can now shoot 10-second videos right from the Google Maps app (or upload 30-second clips from their camera roll).

While the company quietly launched this feature for Local Guides about two weeks ago, Google is now also notifying them about it via email and will likely release it publicly in the near future.

Until now, you could only upload still images to Google Maps. Videos, however, can capture a restaurant’s, store’s or sight’s atmosphere far better. Google is also explicitly allowing users to use their videos for personal reviews (as long as they adhere to its usual review policies that also apply to written reviews). Local businesses will, of course, also be able to use this feature to highlight their own products, too.

To record or upload videos to Google Maps, you’ll have to search for and select a place in Google Maps (this is Android-only for now, as far as we can see), scroll down and tap “add a photo,” tap the “Camera” icon and then hold the shutter to record (or you can upload a short video, too).

For now, though, the program is only open to Local Guides on Android, but it looks like Google is also testing this with local businesses already. As far as I can see, though, the videos will be visible on all platforms.

While this may look like a minor update at first, it’ll make for quite a change on Google Maps, especially for local business owners. Snapping a few pictures is pretty easy, after all, but chances are that many of them will soon want to take professional video of their locations, which is far harder and — if they hire a videographer — expensive.

[“Source-techcrunch”]

Canon EOS 77D Review

Canon EOS 77D Review

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The EOS 77D features a 24.2-megapixel sensor and 45 autofocus points
  • ISO performance is very good and the Dual Pixel AF works well
  • The Canon EOS 77D is priced at Rs. 59,995 for the body only

Earlier this year, Canon refreshed its mirrorless and enthusiast-level DSLR lineup with the introduction of the EOS M6, EOS 77D, and EOS 800D. Going by Canon’s numbering scheme, the new 77D and 800D DSLRs are aimed at beginners with some enthusiast-level features for when they master the craft over time. The new models also make some higher-end features, like the Dual Pixel autofocus system, more accessible to users.

Today, we’ll be testing the EOS 77D, which slots in just below the EOS 80D and above the 800D. The EOS 77D and EOS 800D are priced within Rs. 10,000 of each other and are very similar in terms of features, except that the 800D lacks a secondary LCD and a few shortcut buttons, which is one of the reasons it costs less.

Let’s see if the Canon EOS 77D makes a strong case for itself as a value-minded semi-enthusiast DSLR.

 

Canon EOS 77D design and build quality

The 77D has a plastic body which, at 540 grams, is lighter than that of the 80D. There are rubber grips on either side for your palms and another at the back for your thumb. This model lacks any form of weather sealing but we found that it can handle a light drizzle without any fuss.

On the left side, we have flaps covering the remote control terminal, external mic socket, Micro-HDMI port, and an old-styled Mini-USB port. The NFC contact point for pairing is also placed here. The mode dial is placed on the top left of the camera with a locking system, and a power switch that lets you jump straight to video mode. The optical viewfinder uses a pentamirror to reflect light from the lens to the viewfinder rather than a pentaprism, which is generally heavier and more expensive to implement. We also have a hot shoe terminal and a built-in pop-up flash above the viewfinder. An infrared sensor turns the LCD off when you bring the camera up to your eye.

Canon 77D flip lcd ndtv canon 77d

To the right of the viewfinder, we have another cluster of buttons for live view, AF-On, and magnification. A second control dial lower down also doubles up as a four-way navigation pad. The multi-function lock switch at the bottom can be used to lock the primary or secondary dials or the touchscreen. The secondary LCD lets you check settings like ISO, aperture, shutter speed, battery level, and the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth status at a quick glance. The articulating 3-inch LCD has a 1,040k dot resolution and supports two-finger multi touch input. The touchscreen can be used for changing settings in the menu and viewing pictures.

We received an 18-135mm EFS lens with the body, which can be bought as a bundle from Canon. The lens features a built-in image stabiliser, aperture of f/3.5-5.6, and a switch to lock the lens when not in use.

Canon EOS 77D features and specifications

The Canon 77D features a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor with Canon’s new DIGIC 7 image processor. Light sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 25,600, shutter speed ranges from 30 to 1/4,000 seconds, and the burst shooting tops out at 6fps. The camera has 45 autofocus points, all of which are cross-type, along with phase detection pixels on the sensor for video and live view. The latter is what enables the 77D to seamlessly switch focus between subjects when shooting video, which is a big advantage compared to most DSLRs which rely on the contrast detection AF system alone. Unfortunately, video recording maxes out at 1080p at 60fps, which is a bit disappointing.

Canon 77D top LCD ndtv canon 77d

Some of the notable improvements however lie in the firmware. The Canon 77D has something called ‘Guided Mode’, which can be enabled for the shooting screen, menus, and the mode guide. This gives you a visual representation of what you can expect from shots based on which way you adjust the slider. So for instance, say you’re shooting in aperture priority mode, the graphical representation on the screen shows you what sort of effect you can expect by decreasing or increasing the aperture. This encourages you to use the touchscreen, by making the icons larger and easier to use.

Hitting the ‘Q’ button at the back gives you quick access to toggles including white balance, drive mode, picture size, metering, type of focus, etc. You can either use the touchscreen or either of the two dials to manipulate the settings.

The Creative Filters option on the mode dial lets you add effects such as soft focus, fish-eye, etc to your photos. You even get special filters for video like a film-grain effect, miniature, black and white, and more. The Custom Functions option in the menu lets you access features like the expanded ISO mode, which bumps up the maximum ISO to 51,200; adjust the level of exposure increments (one-third or half); toggle the state of the AF assist beam; and more.

Canon 77D dial ndtv canon 77d

Canon EOS 77D performance and battery life

We begin with the ISO test to gauge how this camera handles noise when the ISO level is pushed upwards. It’s also a good indicator of how the camera performs in low light. One thing to keep in mind is that the Canon 77D only allows ISO jumps at full stops, and you cannot make adjustments by one-third or half a stop. We start at ISO 800 as there’s no discernible difference in image quality between ISO 100 and that level. Sharpness goes down a notch at ISO 3200 but the image is still noise-free. At ISO 6400, we begin seeing a small amount of noise in the shadows. At the highest ISO level, details start to deteriorate but there’s still no visible chroma noise, which is quite impressive.

Canon EOS 77D ISO test – tap to see full-sized image

The EOS 77D works with the Canon Connect app for Android and iOS, for remote shooting and transferring files to your smartphone. Even when paired using Bluetooth, the camera will need a Wi-Fi connection to your device, even if you want to simply view the photos on the camera. With the dedicated Wi-Fi button, you can jump to a list of previously paired devices or set up connections to a Wi-Fi printer, a desktop PC (through the EOS utility), or a cloud service through the Canon iMAGE Gateway. This is the same as we saw when reviewing the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II .

The buttons on the Canon 77D have good tactile feedback and fall in place under your fingers nicely. The power lever felt a bit stiff and rough, but other than this, we didn’t have any issues with usability. The fact that there’s no headphone socket might frustrate those who want to use this camera for professional recording.

Canon EOS 77D sample: ISO 640, f/4.56, 1/60sec, 35mm (tap to see full-sized image)

Canon EOS 77D sample: ISO 1250, f/5.66, 1/128sec, 93mm (tap to see full-sized image)

In daylight, the 77D does a good job of capturing accurate colours and good detail. We found that the 18-135mm lens isn’t all that sharp, and this is evident in the slightly soft macro shots we got. There is very mild chromatic aberration in some scenes but it’s mostly kept in check. Thankfully, we didn’t have trouble with other artifacts like barrel distortion in our pictures.

Canon EOS 77D ‘Grainy B/W’ sample: ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/80sec, 135mm (tap to see full-sized image)

The Creative filters are where you can really have some fun. ‘HDR art standard’ combines three consecutive exposures to give you an HDR photo, while ‘HDR art bold’ boosts colours to give you an oil painting effect. ‘Grainy B/W’ is another effect (seen above) which we found quite useful. There are similar effects for videos too, which add a fun element to shooting. Burst mode works well although 6fps isn’t ideal for fast-moving animals or birds. The camera’s high ISO prowess can be seen in low-light shots. Details were maintained fairly well and noise was kept to a minimum even when we had the ISO set to Auto.

Canon EOS 77D sample: ISO 800, f/4.5, 1/25sec, 35mm (tap to see full-sized image)

Canon EOS 77D sample: ISO 100, f/18.2, 16sec, 24mm (tap to see full-sized image)

The 77D has good video capabilities thanks to the Dual Pixel AF system. Autofocus mode includes subject tracking, smooth zone AF, and 1-point AF. Subject tracking works decently, but if your subject’s motion is too erratic then the camera has a tough time keeping up. The phase detection system shifts focus between subjects smoothly, without any focus hunting lag, or the irritating motor sound that plagues most DSLRs. You can use the touchscreen to shift focus too. Another neat feature is electronic image stabilisation, which has two levels. With it enabled, frames are cropped a bit but the end result is more stable footage.

The 77D is rated at 600 shots per charge and we managed to come close to this number during our review period, but features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth do have an impact here. Your mileage will vary drastically depending on if you have these features on or not.

Canon 77D hand ndtv canon

Verdict

The Canon EOS 77D is a feature-packed DSLR that’s positioned just below the EOS 80D in Canon’s lineup. If you don’t need the secondary display on the top or the second control dial at the back, then the slightly less expensive 800D could serve you just as well, as its features are pretty much identical to those of the 77D. New additions like the guided mode and Dual Pixel autofocus are great to have, but we also wish that this camera supported more current-day features like 4K video recording and maybe finer controls over the ISO level.

The Canon 77D gives you all the flexibility of a DSLR plus good battery life and a variety of inexpensive lenses to choose from, and video performance is also much better now.  If you buy this camera with the 18-135mm kit lens, the price shoots up to Rs. 89,995, which feels a bit too expensive. While the lens is versatile enough for close-up and long-range shooting, we would have liked more sharpness in our images. If video is what you’re after then you should consider a mirrorless camera like the Sony A6300, which retails for around Rs. 67,000. It doesn’t have the best battery life or a very user-friendly interface like the 77D, but you do get much better video capabilities like 4K recording, much faster autofocus, and burst mode.

Price: Rs. 59,995 (body only)

Pros

  • Very good high-ISO performance
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Fast autofocus for video
  • Decent battery life
  • Novice-friendly interface

Cons

  • No 4K video recording
  • Basic ISO adjustments
  • Burst shooting isn’t impressive

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Build/Design: 4
  • Image Quality: 4
  • Video quality: 4
  • Performance: 3.5
  • Value For money: 3.5
  • Overall: 3.5

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Destiny 2 Reviews: Release Day Impressions Roundup

Image result for Destiny 2 Reviews: Release Day Impressions Roundup

Destiny 2 has officially launched, and soon it will be available worldwide. Full reviews won’t arrive just yet, but reviews-in-progress have started to pop up around the internet based on a recent three-day event in Seattle.

The much-anticipated sequel doesn’t radically shake up the Destiny formula, instead opting primarily to refine and improve the core of the first game. You can see our breakdown of Destiny 2’s five biggest changes for a basic idea of what to expect.

Below, you’ll find a collection of various critics’ impressions of the game so far. In GameSpot’s Destiny 2 review in progress, Kallie Plagge calls the story a “clear improvement over Destiny’s much-maligned storytelling,” adding that “Destiny 2 builds on the original in smart ways that make me excited to keep playing.” We’ve also more recently published a Destiny 2 review diarythat offers more of Kallie’s thoughts now that the game is live.

  • Game: Destiny 2
  • Developer / Publisher: Bungie / Activision
  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Release: September 6 (PS4/Xbox One), October 24 (PC)
  • Price: US $60 / £50 / AU $100

GameSpot

“Of course, all of this still feels like Destiny. The new social space, the Farm, is functionally the same as the Tower in the original. Finding loot and switching out your old gear still takes up a significant portion of your time. Enemies have been tweaked, but they’re not wildly different, either. That’s not necessarily bad, but it also makes me wonder if I’ll see Destiny 2 as a sequel, rather than a half-step forward, the longer I play and the more I grind and repeat.” — Kallie Plagge [Full review in progress]

“Though I’ve only replayed things I’ve already done, I’m still excited about Destiny 2. I can’t wait to find my next exotic weapon, but I’m also looking forward to completing more Adventure missions and learning more about the world. My next step is to finish the story, reach level 20, and run some Strikes, so check back soon for more impressions.” — Kallie Plagge [Destiny 2 review diary]

Polygon

“At the very least, what I’ve played of Destiny 2 is an incredibly promising start. In plain English, it feels like Destiny without all the bulls***. It seems like the sequel Bungie needed to make–not a fundamentally different experience, but improved enough over its predecessor to reel veterans back in and attract people who skipped the original Destiny. Now we have to see how it holds up.” — Samit Sarkar [Full review in progress]

IGN

“My initial impressions leave me with more questions than answers. Is the story going to stay engaging through the end? Are the great drops going to get stingier at higher levels? Am I going to get bored exploring the new destinations? We’ll have to answer those hanging questions later, but based on what I’ve experienced so far, Destiny 2 hasn’t disappointed my high expectations as a fan of the original. There have been deliberate steps to improve the moment-to-moment experience, be it something as simple as bringing up the next task with the press of a button or by keeping you constantly climbing the Light ladder without realizing it with enticing dynamic events. That’s all on top of a story the team at Bungie knew they had to get right after the convoluted mess of the first game which forced you to read Grimoire cards on a website to experience the original story. So far it seems as though they’ve succeeded.” — Destin Legarie [Full review in progress]

Rolling Stone

“However, what’s remarkable about the structure of Destiny 2–aside from it having a real central plot–is that it achieves what the first Destiny tried but ultimately failed to do: it gives the player freedom. Yes, there’s some linearity to the Red War missions and the order in which the destinations are introduced–but you can spend the bulk of your time wherever you’re most comfortable, where you find combat encounters most fulfilling, or where the rewards on offer are most appealing to you.” — Alex Kane [Full impressions]

Ars Technica

“I am not at an ideal state to issue anything resembling a verdict. But I at least feel safe declaring this: I entered the event perturbed that I would play so much Destiny 2 and not get to transfer that progress to the final, retail version. Now, I am anxious to dive back in and try again. I want to flex the muscles of an entirely different class. I want to devote far more attention to so much in-mission dialogue and exposition. Above all else, I want to group up with some friends and see how the ‘always a battle around every corner’ sensation feels when I have some persistent fireteam members at my side.” — Sam Machkovech [Full pre-review]

DualShockers

“So far, Destiny 2 has improved upon the original Destiny in every way. There’s a Pierce Brosnan-impersonating sniper who serves as your faction representative for the European Dead Zone. There’s new enemy types, including staff-wielding Fallen Wretches and caped-flaming-crossbow-wielding Hive Knights. There are cutscenes where The Speaker, who never really had much to say, is actually a savage and disses Ghaul in rap-battle proportions during cutscenes. When I sat down to play this game I had one mission for Bungie: prove to me that Destiny 2 isn’t just another expansion. Thankfully, it turns out that Destiny 2 has listened to the fans and has taken a look in the mirror: the product is one that I–so far–thoroughly enjoy.” — Noah Buttner [Full review impressions]

[“Source-gamespot”]

Trips App by Lonely Planet: Where Instagram Meets Google Photos

Trips App by Lonely Planet: Where Instagram Meets Google Photos

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Trips by Lonely Planet is available on iOS
  • It lets you create a curated version of your holiday
  • You can follow other people for travel ideas

Lonely Planet – well-known for its travel guidebooks – is stepping out into the social realm. Its new app, Trips, wants to help you share your travel experiences with fellow travellers, while being inspired by trips other people take. Essentially, it wants users to create their own guides for each other, and help foster a community in the process.

It’s not so much a social network in the traditional sense, but rather a curated way to present your travels. Sure, you could create a Facebook album for all to see, but it’d be buried amongst thousands of other pieces of content. Or like millions of others, you could put your vacation photos up on Instagram, and make use of its album feature for a slightly-more curated feel. The lack of easy navigation still persists with Instagram though, undercutting the experience.

Neither will give you what Trips attempts to offer. The Lonely Planet app creates a chronological feed out of your vacation pictures and videos, replete with headers, captions, text, location tags, and maps. Think of it as Instagram meets Google Photos albums, albeit minus the former’s size, and the latter’s AI-smarts.

At first start, Trips will recommend you to follow a bunch of fellow travellers, curated by Lonely Planet itself. Later, you can add your friends, or select from other strangers whose holidays appeal to your liking. Your home page will then be populated by trip cards, all of which are a virtual scrapbook in themselves.

lonely planet trips home discover Lonely Planet Trips

The home page and Discover tab of Lonely Planet’s Trips

Then there’s the Discover tab, which lets you pick from a variety of holiday types to browse through. There’s Adventure, Wildlife and Nature, Cities, Ruins, Road Trips, Festivals and Events, Art and Culture, and so forth. Each of these contain trips shared by the community or the Lonely Planet team, such as “The Wilds of Namibia”, “Crossing the Romanian Mountains”, or “A Week Around Iceland”.

To create your own trips, you select the blue-coloured plus symbol button in the middle, which takes you to your photo library. If you only use your iPhone to take pictures, this will suit you fine. But if you carry a professional camera with you, and those pictures are on Google Photos, Dropbox, or some other cloud service, you’ll need to import them yourself first. It’s a restriction baked in by Apple, one that will hopefully be lifted with the introduction of Files in iOS 11.

Once your pictures are in the app, Trips will attempt to sort them on its own, and use embedded geotags to create a map and name. It creates new sections whenever you change location, and then hands it off to you to make further additions, such as changing the title, adding an intro, and putting captions or tips in between your pictures.

lonely planet trips view Lonely Planet Trips

The opening page and inside look at a trip in Lonely Planet’s Trips

The option to collect your pictures in one place is what separates Trips from Instagram, while the ability to add captions is how it adds onto the Google Photos album experience. After you’ve finalised the look of your curated trip, you can choose it post it publicly, or share it privately with people you know.

This brings us to one shortcoming of Trips that people may not like. Although Trips allows you to view your well, trips, on a desktop, you can’t make any changes or create new ones from the browser. In fact, you can’t even view someone’s profile on a computer. By contrast, Google Photos is a full-fledged experience on both desktop and mobile. Plus, Photos’ map widget (below) – which creates two points and a dotted line to signify travel – is a lovely touch that helps visualise your journey.

In itself, Trips is a pretty way to browse through vacation ideas, glean some tips, and offer your own experiences. It’s a digital magazine that’s continuously updated, but it doesn’t do anything more that. You can’t edit your images inside the app, and you can’t leave comments on trips created by people you know.

lonely planet trips edit google photos Lonely Planet Trips

Map widget in Lonely Planet’s Trips, and Google Photos respectively

There’s some work to be done here, and it’s definitely worth the effort, considering the size of the travel market. Studies have shown that millennials are more interested in saving up for travel than in buying a house. At the same time, people spend 85 percent of their time with just five of the apps on their phones, so it’s going to take some convincing to make people choose Trips over Instagram.

The latter doesn’t offer the former’s level of curation, but it’s where all your friends and family are. And that counts for a lot.

Trips by Lonely Planet is now available on iOS.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]