Posts tagged Google’s

How to Avoid Buying a Bad Domain – Tips From Google’s Matt Cutts

Checking the Internet archive, doing some Google and Bing searches, and asking the seller for specific analytics or Google Webmasters data can help ensure that you’re either starting with a clean domain, or discover potential problems.

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Blur Wars: Google’s Camera App vs. The iPhone 5S And A Real Camera

You know when a photo has that fuzzy background thing going on and the subject is sharp while the rest looks all dreamy? That technique, usually achieved by setting a camera’s controls to a wide aperture—the smaller the f-stop number, the bigger the aperture—remains one of the easiest shortcuts to a photo that makes people go ooh.

Not one to stand by tradition, Google just released a camera app for Android that does exactly the same thing—except you can adjust the focus and that dreamy blur effect after you take the picture.

Ooh.

Can Free Software Mimic Expensive Hardware? 

The feature is called “Lens Blur,” and it’s built into the new Google Camera app, available in the Play store for Android. Android’s impressive in-house photo software (though not always superior optics) have been more robust than those in iOS for a while, likely thanks to Google’s 2012 acquisition of the excellent photo app Snapseed.

Lens Blur pulls off a qualitatively similar trick to the one that earned the Lytro light field camera so much buzz when it debuted. (Now Lytro is back with an even crazier light field camera, the $1599 Illum, available for pre-order now.) Lytro builds dedicated hardware that allows focus and depth of field to be adjusted after the fact, by letting a camera take in more data (the “light field” idea, detailed at thesis length here).

Unlike the custom Lytro hardware, Android’s new camera app Lens Blur feature pulls it all off through depth mapping, which renders the results less than optimal if you treat it like a 2D Instagram pic. More from Google’s Research Blog on the brains behind the blur:

Lens Blur replaces the need for a large optical system with algorithms that simulate a larger lens and aperture. Instead of capturing a single photo, you move the camera in an upward sweep to capture a whole series of frames. From these photos, Lens Blur uses computer vision algorithms to create a 3D model of the world, estimating the depth (distance) to every point in the scene.

Here’s an example — on the left is a raw input photo, in the middle is a “depth map” where darker things are close and lighter things are far away, and on the right is the result blurred by distance:

Playing Around With Lens Blur

For the sake of comparison, we took a few comparison shots using the new Google Camera app, an iPhone 5S and a Sony RX100 II. The comparison isn’t about image quality, which of course differs wildly between very dissimilar shooters.

Instead we’re looking at how (and if) a few different categories of device pull off that dreamy shallow depth of field effect—the blurred points known as “bokeh” in this style of shot. As any photographer knows, not all bokeh are created equal—the quality of the effect varies quite a lot among devices and lenses. Most of all, we just wanted to see what makes Google’s new trick tick.

The shots below are both taken with a Nexus 4 using Lens Blur. Note how things get a little dicey when the depth isn’t as simple as single foreground object vs. distant background. 


Lens Blur vs. Other Cameras

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

Sony RX100 II

Sony RX100 II

Lens Blur on Google's Camera App

Lens Blur on Google's Camera App

While the iPhone 5S’s f/2.2 lens didn’t feel like doing much in the way of blur, the Sony RX100 II humored our test at f/1.8 in aperture priority mode. Google’s Lens Blur did a nice enough job blurring the background, but it didn’t like the angled depth of that tiny jaguar much.

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

Sony RX100 II

Sony RX100 II

Lens Blur on Google's Camera App

Lens Blur on Google's Camera App

Again, the iPhone 5S didn’t really give us a shallow depth of field—super close macro shots are where it really shows off—but Lens Blur did a pretty nice job here.

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

Sony RX100 II

Sony RX100 II

Lens Blur on Google's Camera App

Lens Blur on Google's Camera App

Lens Blur did not like the concave depth of this little bowl. Its effect is obviously the most successful when the depth mapping is a little less mind-bending. 

All told, Google’s new camera app is pretty cool, taking the selective focus feature so readily abused by Instagram users and ramping it up a few notches. It doesn’t work for every kind of shot—but when it does, it’s awfully dreamy, isn’t it?

Header image by Cee Webster; sample images by Taylor Hatmaker for ReadWrite

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Google’s “Step Inside AdWords” News: Features For App Ads, More UI Tools, No Wild Surprises

Anticipation has been running high among paid search marketers about what today’s AdWords announcement — dubbed “Step Inside AdWords — might hold, since Google began teasing the news. However, any fears of drastic changes in the vein of last year’s move to enhanced…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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SearchCap: Recapping Google’s “Step Inside AdWords” News Event

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Search Marketers: Keep Calm, Carry On Everybody loves progress, but nobody likes change. This adage is particularly true any time Google announces major upgrades…



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What Do Google’s Earnings Reports Tell Us About AdWords Trends?

Google published their quarterly earnings last week, but they tell us quite a lot about what is happening on AdWords across the market. Paid search budgets are growing. But what’s the story with mobile and why aren’t CPCs rising?

View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest

Google’s 4/22 AdWords News: Features For App Ads, More UI Tools, No Wild Surprises

Anticipation has been running high among paid search marketers about what today’s AdWords announcement — dubbed “Step Inside AdWords — might hold, since Google began teasing the news. However, any fears of drastic changes in the vein of last year’s move to enhanced…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Google’s Matt Cutts: How To Avoid Buying A Domain Name Previously Ruined By Spammers

In his latest video, Google head of web spam (and, today, Boston Marathon runner) Matt Cutts offers a few quick tips to avoid purchasing a domain name that may have been previously destroyed by a spammer. The video is in response to the following question from a site owner who purchased a bad…



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Google’s Cutts On Big SEO Myths Are… – Search Engine Roundtable

Google's Cutts On Big SEO Myths Are…
Search Engine Roundtable
Google's Matt Cutts released a video on the topic of some of the largest SEO myths out today. He broke it down into two categories: (1) Ads and their influence on organic results. (2) Quick fixes to break Google's algorithm. On the ads from, Matt Cutts

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Google’s Matt Cutts On SEO Myths: Ads Correlate To Organic Results & More…

In a recent video from Google Head of Search Spam Matt Cutts, Matt talks about the biggest SEO myths he sees today. By far, the biggest myth, according to Cutts, is how people think Google makes changes to their search results with the only intent of making more money. Matt said buying or not…



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