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The Google Pixel 3 Is a Very Good Phone. But Maybe Phones Have Gone Too Far (buzzfeednews.com)
37 points by panic on Oct 18, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 28 comments

From the actual review the article links to, I've got to say, this is pretty cool:

Super Res Zoom is Google’s software that aims to make up for the missing telephoto lens. The machine learning–powered feature makes photos taken with digital zoom look better. Typically, photos taken with optical zoom are higher resolution, while digitally zoomed photos look grainy and blurry.

Here’s how it works: Whenever you take a photo, your hand is never perfectly still. It moves ever so slightly. Super Res Zoom uses those hand vibrations to capture the image from slightly different angles to get more information from that scene. Those angles are used to make digitally zoomed-in photos appear more detailed and higher resolution.

Sounds great for a static scene, but it's bound to cause problems when zooming in on moving subjects.

They use optical flow to handle moving images just fine

It's nothing new. Hydra has done it for years and years.


It can merge up to 50 images to create either a giant picture, or a zoomed picture.

The novel bit here is being able to do it in a couple of seconds on a phone. They have custom silicon for it (the same bit that does the on-device machine learning), it's that compute heavy.

They need to do it in a couple of seconds because the RAW video (used as input to make a single photo) is gigabytes per second of data. If you do it slowly, you run out of RAM if the user tried to take another photo.

hydra is an iphone app, and it worked back on my iphone 4.

Seems this tech could be applied to any phone but I suppose it'll only be applied to the pixel 3. Not my pixel 2.

Actually it says older Pixels will get it too.

Oh, that would be surprising and great!

I really don't know how to feel about this article, because it's barely a review of a phone, and more of a review of phone culture. The actual review of a phone is only a smidge more than a press release ("call screening is cool! cameras are good!"), but then it makes some nice digressions into phone culture, yet never seems to reach a satisfying conclusion?

I suppose this says something about the state of phones where "reviews" can basically be anything cause all smartphones are pretty much the same now.

This piece shouldn't be read as just a review. I see it as a commentary on how mundane tech can be while simultaneously undermining the fabric of society.

World looked pretty bad in the 20th century, and it (mostly) happened without cell phones to blame.

You mean the century where the 2nd half of it saw the greatest acceleration of invention amd wealth creation in history that has yet to be repeated? The most prominent time in history? That century?

The first half of that one certainly was very bad.

Nothing going on in the world today compares to the low points of the 20th century. Even if you want to ignore the first half, we had Cambodia. Genocide, Korean War, Gulag, Vietnam War, endless Cold War chaos, multiple Arab Israeli wars, Rwandan genocide. We are now enjoying the dividends of prosperity created then. But to claim things are worse now is absurd. And thats ignoring the first half which had two world wars and the most killing and death in human history, all without cell phones to blame.

I don't have a bone in this fight.

The Google Assistant call screening sounds really interesting. I probably get 10 spam/scam calls for every legit call. I'm curious how it will work, or if telemarketers will end up gaming the assistant. This is the first feature since 2007 that would get me to consider switching from iPhone.

Someone was forced to write a review for a phone, but felt like having an op-ed about the philosophical impact that our phones has on us? Fun read though.

This is certainly one of the most bizarre hardware reviews I’ve read, including this rather bombastic claim:

Our phones are radicalizing and dividing society

Perhaps the title of this piece should be changed:

“Google Pixel 3, I literally can’t even”

I didn't know https://twitter.com/nihilist_arbys was doing phone reviews now too.

This is a bizarre review that goes from "fire and brimstone smartphones are causing genocides" to complaining that the back scratches easily. Not really sure what it adds. It also doesn't touch on the new wellness and privacy features that are being added to a lot of modern phones.

I would say it is not what it adds, but what it expresses without attempting anything else than having those words read. It echoes the disconnect a lot of us feel between the power of a world-changing-device with what is being used for, embodied I think in what I often read here on HN comments: "This era has produced the smartest (or more knowledgeable) and wealthiest people in the history of humanity an what are they doing? trying to make you click on ads."

The smartphone has reached maturity and very little more can be said that hasn't been said about the technology inside of it so maybe it's time we take a step back and rethink the place of it in our society, or maybe not or not yet. The value of at least asking that question is what I took from the article.

In other words, it is more a "review" not of the phone but of the people using it.

> "This era has produced the smartest (or more knowledgeable) and wealthiest people in the history of humanity an what are they doing? trying to make you click on ads."

At first I nodded my head in agreement. Then I paused, pondered a bit, and reworded it a bit:

We are living in a system designed for viewing ads and clicking ads; the scale of this system is creating an unprecedented amount of wealth; the system best rewards those who disregard guilt in order to service it; profits are the new progress; shamelessness the new barometer of success; exploitation the new innovation.

Harsh? Or simply blunt and honest?

Blunt and honest.

But maybe you forgot: a race to the bottom?

I was hoping you'd contrast the world-changing device as seen in ads and how it changed the world in reality, which is what the author did but you put in a nice tag line. Maybe the Internet (from its invention up to a certain point) made thr world a better place, but "Web 2.0" certainly made it a worse planet: like the author wrote; genocide, mass surveillance, the constant expression of rage made worse by anonimity and mob-building (140 characters at a time, excuse me, 280 characters at a time...).

Now I want to do a mock phone ad with all the images of these atrocities and end it with a shot of a shiny phone and the tag line "We make world-changing devices. - Silicon Valley".

There is always a real reason for the rage and immediate communication just exposed it. Building mobs worked before too, it just got cheaper and harder to control by silencing or bribibg mob leaders. Buying out a newspaper or TV or radio station.

Most people never had an outlet for it before not knew about the atrocities done on the world. Or had a comparison to people living in other countries.

Ignorance is bliss, literally. Even when you live in a nasty and deadly neighborhood.

The only thing to avoid is fake outrage and manipulation.

i mean just turn off notifications.

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