In this week's Friday 5, Google Assistant finally comes to a wide range of Android devices and adds SMS functions, Twitch adds a Twitter-like broadcaster feed, Lightroom lets you take photos with HDR processing, Snapseed adds shareable templates, and the popular Calorie Mama app can detect your food based on a photo.
Google Assistant extends its aid
Google Assistant, a conversational AI like Siri, has been built into Google's Pixel phones since those were launched in October 2016 -- but were found nowhere else. This week, Assistant's coming to every device running Android 6.0 or higher. According to Google, roughly one-third of Android devices meet that requirement. The Assistant behaves similarly to the Google App [(Android, iOS), but it activates from long-tapping the home button. When its window pops up, you can tap the three dots in the upper-right to get a tutorial and customize your settings. This version can also finally deal with SMS messages -- checking them, reading them aloud, and sending new ones.
Twitch checks your Pulse
With the long-term future of Twitter looking ambiguous, some competition is stepping up to the plate. The latest challenger is Twitch (Android, iOS), the free live-streaming service that revolves around video games. Twitch just added a feature called Pulse, which gives broadcasters a Twitter-like feed that should help them interact with their community when they don't have time to stream. Broadcasters can post text, screenshots, and prerecorded video clips. To access a broadcaster's feed, just tap the icon in the lower left (it disappears after a few seconds, but you can tap the stream to bring it up again). Posts are sorted by most recent, and you can comment and share all of them, or just express your reaction with a selection of emojis.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
On desktop computers, Lightroom (Android, iOS) is for organizing and editing your photos. But on mobile, it can actually replace your camera app and provide some editing tools you might not have had before. This week, Lightroom integrates high dynamic range (HDR) processing, if your phone is a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, or a Google Pixel or Pixel XL. In a nutshell, HDR can help bring out detail in dark areas of the image. Lightroom does not require an Adobe account and is free to use, though you are limited to effects that apply to the whole image rather than parts of it -- unless you subscribe to Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography plan. This adds desktop versions of Lightroom and Photoshop CC for $10 per month (or $8 per month for Download.com users), with cloud syncing.
Snapseed adds shareable templates
Snapseed (Android, iOS) is a respectable, popular, and free mobile photo editor designed by Nik Software, a subsidiary of Google since 2012. This week Snapseed added the ability to create your own template of image effects (called "looks") and share them with other users via QR codes. The app can also automatically correct perspective, and you can now use the Structure tool on specific areas of the image. Lastly, the Insight feature that debuted on iOS has now come to Android as well. Insights are a collection of integrated tutorials to help you make the best use of the app. Tap the banner at the bottom of the screen to go to the tutorials. Some of the tutorials are YouTube videos, while others are images and text.
Calorie Mama detects your food
There's a load of fitness and calorie tracking apps out there, but Calorie Mama AI (iOS) adds an interesting twist: It attempts to detect what you're eating based on a photo you take of your food. This week saw the release of version 1.0. Our detection results varied, but the app offers a scrolling list of possible answers that you can choose from to help Calorie Mama learn. Like most apps in this category, its macronutrient guidance is basic; you cannot change your daily goals for carbohydrates, fat, or protein unless you become a paying customer ($15 per month or $50 per year). The app also needs an Internet connection to detect food.