Categories
Computing

Mac app concept reimagines a classic that needs a revamp

One of Mac’s most used apps hasn’t seen a significant redesign in years. While the Contacts app works just fine, there are plenty of ways it could be improved, as shown in a fascinating new concept that reimagines it after being given the same treatment as many other apps bundled in MacOS.

First spotted by 9to5Mac, the new concept was recently created by BasicAppleGuy and posted on their website, hopefully inspiring Apple to rethink the outdated design of the Contacts app.

MacOS Ventura is already out in beta release and, unfortunately, the Contacts app retains the same look and features as MacOS Monterey. As BasicAppleGuy points out, the design hasn’t really changed much since 2003.

The reimagined MacOS Contacts app isn’t simply a visual makeover. The designer envisions added features that make better use of existing Apple technology, such as Siri Suggestions to identify related details from other system apps, shared groups similar to the new shared Tab Groups in Safari, and shared photo albums in MacOS Ventura.

Thumbnails are more widely used in the imagined MacOS Contacts app concept, which would make it much easier to locate people you know at a glance. A serious amount of thought and effort went into the redesign effort. An enhanced sharing toolbar would speed communication by offering buttons to start a call or message a contact via Slack, Twitter, Whatsapp, and other installed apps.

The great thing about BasicAppleGuy’s design is the way it integrates with the look and feel of some of the best Mac apps that are preloaded on every machine. The odds of this exact redesign being used by Apple are quite slim but perhaps some of the functionality will make its way into a future version of MacOS.

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Categories
Tech News

Intel researchers explain how they used AI to give GTA V a photorealistic revamp

Nearly eight years after Grand Theft Auto V was released, modders are still enriching — and ruining — the game‘s celebrated visuals.

Last week, researchers from Intel Labs unveiled an AI-powered revamp of the Rockstar classic that brings the graphics close to photorealism.

TNW spoke to Intel research scientist Stephen Richter to find out more about the technique — and the potential to productionize the method.

The cornerstone of the Intel Labs method is a convolutional network, a deep learning architecture that’s commonly used for image processing.

The team trained their convolutional networks on real-life images to translate GTA V’s graphics to a model of reality.

Richter said convolutional networks are well-suited to learning this type of task:

For games, simulations, and films, there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to go into modeling objects, materials, etc. to make them look realistic. Set up the right way, convolutional networks can just learn these things directly from real-world photo collections automatically.

The resulting output is strikingly realistic: reflections are added to the windows of cars, roads are paved with smoother asphalt, and the surrounding vegetation gains a lusher texture.

[Read moreThis dude drove an EV from the Netherlands to New Zealand — here are his 3 top road trip tips]

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the revamped graphics is the influence different training datasets have on the output.

In one application of their method, the researchers trained the convolutional network on the Cityscapes dataset, a collection of images recorded primarily in Germany. As a result, GTA V’s parched hills were reforested to mimic the German climate, while San Andreas acquired a grey hue that’s more resemblant to Bavaria than Southern California.

When the network was trained on the more diverse Mapillary Vistas dataset, however, the visual style of the output was brighter and more vibrant.

Some of these changes are a reflection of the location where the training images were recorded. But other differences are due to the cameras that captured the pictures.

The changes to the vegetation, for instance, were because Cityscapes represents mostly German cities. But Richter said the revamped color palette was due to the recording equipment:

Cityscapes was recorded with an automotive-grade camera, which has this characteristic green tint. Consequently, images enhanced to look like Cityscapes also get this green tint. Vistas was recorded with a diverse set of cameras, including, for example, smartphone cameras. Images from Vistas are much more vibrant and you can see this in the results by our method.

Credit: Richter, Abu AlHaija, and Koltun
Categories
Game

Among Us developer plans to revamp the game’s art style

Hit imposter game Among Us received its big Airship update today as promised, but that’s only the start of what Innersloth has planned. Coming alongside the update is a new blog post from the developers who revealed plans to revamp the game’s animation style, including improving the line artwork.

Among Us now features a new map called Airship, which is available on all platforms supported by the game. This is the game’s fourth and biggest map thus far, one that adds new tasks and the ability to choose which room you’ll start the game in. The map brings new explorable regions, as well as better mobility and some free cosmetics.

Innersloth recently announced that it has hired two new programmers, which means that it should be able to speed up the rate at which it introduces changes. Barring any major bugs that may need to be addressed, the developer says, it has multiple projects in the pipeline.

One of those projects is a ‘full art style revamp,’ Innersloth says, which includes ‘an easier animation process’ and those aforementioned cleaner lines. Likewise, the game will get 15-player lobbies, which will be particularly great in the large Airship map.

Beyond this, Innersloth says that it aims to offer more transparent and frequent updates on its development process and the things it is working on behind closed doors. Beyond the game itself, meanwhile, the team has also launched Crewmate plushies in a dozen colors for fans who want something to cuddle.

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