The Nexus 6 is finally coming to Verizon Wireless, making it the last carrier to get the device. The availability date is currently unknown, but according to a new banner on the carrier’s site, the phone is “coming soon.” Users can sign up for updates through Verizon’s website for updates on the availability of the […]
With YouTube video as the motivation, Chrome recently received some enhancements to make the video experience as smooth as possible across devices. Dubbed “Project Butter” (not that Project Butter), YouTube engineers worked together with Chrome engineers to make optimizations to video playback.
YouTube engineers walked us through their thought process with the optimizations in a blog post:
Your device’s screen redraws itself at a certain frame rate. Videos present frames at a certain rate. These rates are often not the same. At YouTube we commonly see videos authored at 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 48, 50, 59.94, and 60 frames per second (fps) and these videos are viewed on displays with different refresh rates – the most common being 50Hz (Europe) and 60Hz (USA)… For a video to be smooth we need to figure out the best, most regular way to display the frames – the best cadence. The ideal cadence is calculated as the ratio of the display rate to frame rate. For example, if we have a 60Hz display (a 1/60 second display interval) and a 30 fps clip, 60 / 30 == 2 which means each video frame should be displayed for two display intervals of total duration 2 * 1/60 second.
Using that math, the team was able to come up with an algorithm that will allow Chrome to auto adjust to the optimal settings based on the display and the quality of the video being streamed. The improvements were introduced with Chrome 44:
In Chrome 44, we re-architected the media and compositor pipelines to communicate carefully about the intent to generate and display. Additionally, we also improved which video frames to pick by using the optimal display count information. With these changes, Chrome 44 significantly improved on smoothness scores across all video frame rates and display refresh rates… Smooth like butter
YouTube has more on the enhancements for video in Chrome 44 in its blog post here.
Google’s original Project Butter debuted with the announcement of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, as an initiative to make the Android experience smoother and more user-friendly. For its purpose, the project was a success — Android 4.4 went on to become one of the most stable and beloved versions of Android yet, and was succeeded by Lollipop, a complete revamp that reinvented Android from the ground up.
As you may know, the current stable release of Chrome is version 46, and version 44 stable was released a few months ago.
Google Maps on mobile has since last year had an Explore section where users can find the best restaurants to eat at and things to do in their area. With an update rolling out today to the Android app, it’s becoming a bit more easy to specify and narrow down exactly what you’re looking for.
Prior to today, Explore only used the inputs of distance and time of day to determine what to show you. Users can now, however, specify a nearby neighborhood, category, and type of cuisine to find, on top of the existing inputs. Tapping on a suggested place will bring up more detail like who the vibe is best, or least, suited for, and sometimes it’ll include why Google chose to recommend that place in particular.
It seems crazy to me that Explore in Google Maps was lacking this type of gradual search before, but it was. The new inputs make perfect sense, too — what if I specifically want to find a place to have drinks with friends, and also make sure it’s not too upscale of a place? You couldn’t narrow your results down that far before, but now you can. Well, that’s if you’re in the US or UK, where the Explore update is limited to for now. And if you happen to be in NYC, San Francisco or London, Google will even curate its suggestions into named sections like “Best places for classic Mission-style Mexican food.”
Aside from the new search, the UI has been updated a bit with a card-based interface for swiping through suggested places and their corresponding photos. This interface closely matches what Google rolled out to its search product on mobile for rich content results just a few days ago. Maps for Android also recently saw its directions interface updated with a similar tabbed design displaying duration estimates for every form of transportation to a given location.
Other location-based recommendation apps like Foursquare and Yelp have had what Google is rolling out now for quite a while, it’s worth noting. When I find an APK for this new update I’ll be sure to update this post.
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