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Facebook has launched ‘Instagram Lite’ in 170 countries. | Picture by special arrangement.  

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Facebook has launched ‘Instagram Lite’ in 170 countries to provide access to its popular photo and video sharing platform to people living in rural and remote communities, using minimal data. The new app requires only 2 MB to download on Android, considerably less than the full-sized version, which is closer to 30 MB, but retains the key features that people using entry-level devices want, the Facebook-owned company said in a release. Instagram Lite is available for download in the Google Play Store in 170 countries, and will be rolled out globally soon, it added. To keep the features on the smaller app, the team took a page from Facebook Lite, by offloading much of the code from the app into the cloud. Facebook removed much of the ornate, data-rich animation, such as cube transitions and the AR filters. However, it retained features that need less data, like GIFs and stickers. This week, Facebook also said it is testing a new feature on its app that will allow content creators in India to share Reels to their Facebook accounts.

Netra.AI is an Intel-powered cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) solution that uses deep learning to identify retinal conditions in a short span of time, and is said to have the accuracy level of human doctors. Netra.AI can accurately identify diabetic retinopathy (DR), and is being deployed by Sankara Eye Foundation and Leben Care in India, Intel said in a release. “India has one of the largest diabetic populations in the world and diabetic retinopathy is the major cause for vision loss and blindness in persons of working age,” said Prakash Mallya, MD of Sales, Marketing and Communications Group, Intel India. Netra.AI can leverage Intel technology to accurately detect DR and enable timely treatment to effectively combat avoidable vision impairment and blindness in diabetic patients, he added. So far, Netra.AI has screened 3,093 patients in India and identified 742 at-risk patients, Intel noted. Earlier this year, Intel had launched a new facial recognition camera system aimed at bringing safe Face ID biometric system to ATMs, kiosks and smart locks.

Facebook has almost 10,000 people working in its group developing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices, which is nearly 20% of the company’s total global workforce, according to a report by The Information. Facebook Reality Labs is creating virtual and augmented reality devices, and according to the social media giant, “AR and VR will ultimately change everything about how we work, play, and connect.” This week, in an interview with The Information, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “I think it really makes sense for us to invest deeply to help shape what I think is going to be the next major computing platform, this combination of augmented and virtual reality, to make sure that it develops in this way that is fundamentally about people being present with each other and coming together.” In another update, a U.S. agency investigating Facebook Inc for racial bias in hiring and promotions has designated the probe as “systemic.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced the expansion of the company’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta programme on Twitter. “If you want the Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta downloaded to your car, let us know. Doubling beta program size now with 8.2 & probably 10X size with 8.3. Still be careful, but it’s getting mature,” Musk wrote on the microblogging platform. Tesla will also be adding a ‘Download Beta’ button to the Service section of a car display in about 10 days, he added. FSD is one of the two autopilot options available to Tesla owners and the FSD beta was released by the electric car company in October last year. Musk also explained the use of the word ‘beta’, and said it is “used to reduce complacency in usage & set expectations appropriately.” He added, “All software is first tested internally by Tesla simulation & QA drive teams.” In another development, Elon Musk’s Space X wants to connect Starlink’s satellite internet service to moving vehicle such as ships, planes and trucks.

Microsoft has announced that it is bringing 20 of Bethesda’s most iconic and award-winning games to Xbox Game Pass. The Redmond-based company officially completed the acquisition of ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion, earlier this week. The Bethesda games playable with Xbox Game Pass include Dishonored 2 and Definitive Edition; DOOM (1993), II, 3, 64 and Eternal; The Elder Scrolls III, IV, V and Online; The Evil Within, Fallout 4, 76 and New Vegas; Prey; RAGE 2; Wolfenstein: The New Order, The Old Blood and Youngblood. 16 of these titles will be available across PC, console, and mobile devices through the cloud for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members, Microsoft noted in a blog post. A handful of these games will also benefit from FPS Boost on Xbox Series X or S, it added. In another gaming update, we reviewed ‘Bravely Default 2’.

Adobe has introduced an AI-powered feature called ‘Super Resolution’ that can intelligently enlarge photos while maintaining clean edges and preserving important details. The software company said in a blog post that it trained an advanced machine learning model using millions of pairs of low-resolution and high-resolution image patches so that the computer can figure out how to upsize low-resolution images. “Press a button and watch your 10-megapixel photo transform into a 40-megapixel photo,” it added. “Super Resolution doubles the linear resolution of the photo. This means that the result will have twice the width and twice the height of the original photo, or four times the total pixel count, Adobe further explained. Super Resolution is now shipping in Camera Raw 13.2 and will be coming soon to Lightroom and Lightroom Classic, it said. In another development, researchers have developed AI-powered high-speed robots to move packages inside warehouses.

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