Facebook is rolling out a “Trending News” section on mobile that includes its own link in the app’s main navigation. This follows the company’s earlier announcement this spring of a redesign for Trending Topics, an increasingly important part of Facebook’s social network, where it tracks the news stories that are buzzing across its service. That redesign is now rolling out to users on iPhone and Android devices in the U.S., while the added navigational link to Trending News became available on iPhone over the past few weeks, and is in testing on Android, Facebook tells us.
In case you missed Facebook’s announcement in May, the Trending Topics section was redesigned with a focus on making it easier to see how other publications are covering a topic, in addition to what friends and public figures are saying about the matter.
When you click into a Trending Topic following the update, Facebook explained you will see a carousel of stories from other publications that you swipe through horizontally.
The publications linked to in this section are determined by engagement around both the article and publisher in general on Facebook, as well as what other articles are linking to it.
This card-style carousel look-and-feel was inspired in part by Facebook Paper, the company’s long since shuttered standalone news reading app.
This carousel is still in the process of rolling out across the U.S.
However, one aspect to Trending’s makeover that wasn’t really touched on during Facebook’s earlier announcement was how Facebook was toying with a redesigned list of news stories that focused on headlines, not just “trending topics.”
The original look for Facebook’s Trending Topics – which you pull up with a tap into the app’s search box – is a simple list of topics and the beginning of a lede that’s usually cut off. These appear below your own recent Facebook searches in the app.
However, if you access the new Trending News link that’s just popped up in Facebook’s navigation menu, you’ll see an entirely different sort of Trending section.
Above: Old Trending on left vs New Trending on right
Instead of a “topic” (often just a word, person or place, like “China” or “Donald Trump”) and squiggly arrow icon, the news stories here include a headline, a photo, the name of a major media outlet that’s reporting it, and how many other sources are available on the topic.
For example, next to the headline, it might say: “Reuters and 100+ other sources.”
Plus, by adding the photo next to each item, there’s more room for expanded information – that is, a full headline and sourcing.
The new section also gives stories a rank (#1, #2, #3,…etc.)
Facebook’s prior announcement in May didn’t specifically detail how this Trending News section looked different from Trending Topics.
Frankly, it’s all a bit confusing, because Trending Topics and Trending News don’t seem to be tied directly together at this point. For example, you could have the link to Trending News in your app’s main navigation, but still not have the new look for Trending Topics, which includes the carousel redesign.
However, in that same post, we did get a little peek at Trending News – but it was referenced as being a part of a “small test.”
Trending integration in News Feed still a “small test”
Facebook said then it was testing adding the top three Trending News stories to users’ News Feeds. In a screenshot of this, you were able see this list of stories with photos that were ranked by numbers, as well as stories identified by headlines instead of just “topics.”
This integration of a “mini” Trending News section into News Feed is not broadly available. That remains a “small test,” we understand.
But the addition of the Trending News link to Facebook’s navigation is already live on iPhone, and being trialed on Android.
Of course, any changes Facebook makes to Trending are sure to met with a lot of scrutiny. The company last year faced criticism when it removed its human editors who curated this section, to run Trending by way of algorithms instead. (And those algorithms soon screwed up.) The social network has more recently made several changes to address the spread of fake news and filter bubbles, as well.
In this case, though, Facebook is not monkeying with how news is selected as “Trending,” only how it’s being displayed.
The new Trending News section joins a number of other new additions to Facebook’s main navigation as of late, including the food ordering option, Town Hall, weather, the Explore feed, and more. Not all these additions have stuck around – the new travel-focused City Guides section, for instance, has since disappeared.
IBM’s Watson Beat: who owns music made by a machine?
We’ve seen IBM’s Watson politely annihilate humans in Jeopardy, make a movie trailer for Morgan, create never-before-eaten recipes and even understand nuance and tone… to say the least. Now it’s moving on to music.
Watson Beat is IBM’s music arm of Watson; an AI-driven music composing app that’s sparked some debate about music copyright.
“Essentially you take monophonic melody input and pick a genre and Watson Beat will generate composition after composition after composition until it’s a non-deterministic model – so everything is always unique.”
This is made possible by the ‘cognitive technology’ developed by IBM researchers, Janani Mukandan and Richard Daskas. By teaching Watson Beat the nuances and characteristics of music keys and music theory, the AI technology creates completely original songs with varying moods or styles.
Developers foresee the technology being used to inspire musicians out of ‘writer’s block’, eliminate genre biases or simply to create music that’s never been heard before.
However, when it comes to who owns the music created by a machine, no one seems to have a solid answer.
“I have some pretty strong opinions about copyright, but, I’m not a lawyer,” explained Transier. “I actually don’t think a machine can own a copyright. I think it’s the person who sees that spark and takes it and creates something with it. I think that’s the owner. But that’s not an IBM statement,” she added.
Entertainment Lawyer, Bjorn Schipper, who was also on yesterday’s panel, explained that copyright for AI-composed music is an extremely new area so it’s hard to give a definitive answer.
“In the past, you could always direct [a creation] to a human being. In the future, there’s no human spark anymore – maybe the spark is being made by a machine. So then, from a legal perspective, if it’s not traceable to anything, what do you do with it?”
Schipper went on to explain the issue of music copyright from current legal standards. “According to European copyright law, [a creation] must be the own intellectual creation of ‘the author’ and in the law it says [the author] must be a human being these days,” Schipper continued. “So without human intervention, it’s hard to say if there will be copyright protection.”
Also part of yesterday’s panel was Meindert Kennis, the Lead Digital Strategist and CMO of Spinnin’ Records. Kennis gave some important takeaway advice for artists to potentially avoid the likely copyright concerns of the future.
“A lot of artists create music and come to us and say “Here’s my new track,” but, if they start to use more AI instruments, it might be wise to record the actual recording of the music and the creative process more to show that it’s actually them.”
Schipper agreed and went on to say, “I always advise creative clients, the key is design history, where you can prove, if necessary, inside or outside the courtroom, that on a certain date you created this kind of work.”
As Watson Beat is still in its early stages, it’s hard to say exactly how this AI-driven music composing technology will effect copyright legislation. However, as disruption is inevitable, it might be wise for AI-using musicians to take the advice from the experts and begin recording their entire creative process. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you must use Prisma-style art filters on your photos, try Portra
Prisma took the world by storm when it launched last year with its AI-powered art filters for your photos. It was a neat trick that eventually expanded to video and selfie stickers, and even prompted Facebook to copy it. But I’ve hardly ever found the results appealing.
If you’re still keen on art filters, though, Portra is worth a try on Android and iOS. The company hasn’t explained how its app works or whether it uses AI, but it sure is good at applying a range of fine art effects to your pictures. Interestingly, I enjoy these a lot more than the ones available in Prisma.
It’s easy as pie to use Portra: just snap a picture or import one from your gallery, choose from 19 filters, and that’s it. You can adjust how strong an effect you want, and how much of the frame you’d like to retain – moving the slider causes the edges of your picture to fade and let a canvas show behind it. Oh, and you can also tap the edge of the editing area to see your creation mounted in a frame.
When you’re happy with the results, you can save the image to your phone or share it directly to social networks. Annoyingly, Portra adds a wordmark at the bottom of the image, which you might want to crop out. That aside, it’s a nice tool for giving your pictures a whole new look; I like using it on photos of city scenes, landscapes and my dog.
While the OG Prisma offers a larger range of filters and even more features, like applying the art style to only the foreground or the background, the results seem artificial in comparison to what Portra manages. For reference, here are the same three images from the header of this article, processed in both Portra (left) and Prisma (right):
Sadly, Portra doesn’t generate high-resolution images that you can print; the output looks fine on small screens, but aren’t enough to print even on A5-size paper. That’s a feature I’d happily pay for.
Google Play will now let you try select Android apps before installing them
Google announced a bunch of updates big and small to its Play store today, but the most exciting of them all is the arrival of Instant Apps, which you can stream to your device and try out without having to install them first.
We first heard about Instant Apps at Google’s IO developer event back in May 2016; the company began rolling out support for these programs this January, but few such apps have been spotted in the wild.
Now, Google says you’ll be able to trial supported apps from the Play store by tapping the Try it Now button beneath their listings. There are a bunch of them on this page, but the option wasn’t available to me on multiple devices in India – so it’s likely that Instant Apps aren’t yet supported everywhere and on all eligible devices just yet.
This feature should make it easier to decide if you want to buy a game or a premium app before ponying up for it. There’s already a refund system that lets you get your money back if you return the app within two hours of your purchase, but this might help even more. If you’re interested in making your app streamable, you can follow Google’s lead on this page.
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Serials2 days ago
Shaneeshwaruni Divya Charitra Episode 77
Serials1 day ago
Shaneeshwaruni Divya charitra Episode 78
Entertainment1 day ago
5 Actor Siblings Who Hate Each Other (And 10 Who Are Really Close)
Entertainment2 days ago
Supernatural: 17 Things That Make NO Sense
Entertainment2 days ago
Supernatural: 17 Things That Make NO Sense
Opinion2 days ago
Samsung’s Note 8 feels as fast as the Pixel 2, and that’s a big deal
Entertainment19 hours ago
Watch The Justice League Trailer Remade With Dogs
Entertainment3 days ago
Can The Arrowverse Introduce a New Batman?