Apple could be working on a new AI tool that animates your images based on text prompts

Apple may be working on a new artificial intelligence tool that will let you create basic animations from your photos using a simple text prompt. If the tool comes to fruition, you’ll be able to turn any static image into a brief animation just by typing in what you want it to look like. 

According to 9to5Mac, Apple researchers have published a paper that details procedures for manipulating image graphics using text commands. The tool, Apple Keyframer, will use natural language text to tell the proposed AI system to manipulate the given image and animate it. 

Say you have a photo of the view from your window, with trees in the background and even cars driving past. From what the paper suggests, you’ll be able to type commands such as ‘make the leaves move as if windy’ into the Keyframer tool, which will then animate the specified part of your photo.

You may recognize the name ‘keyframe’ if you’re an Apple user, as it’s already part of Apple’s Live Photos feature – which lets you go through a ‘live photo’ GIF and select which frame, the keyframe, you want to be the actual still image for the photo. 

Better late than never? 

Apple has been notably slow to jump onto the AI bandwagon, but that’s not exactly surprising. The company is known to play the long game and let others beat out the kinks before they make their move, as we’ve seen with its recent foray into mixed reality with the Apple Vision Pro (this is also why I have hope for a foldable iPhone coming soon). 

I’m quite excited for the Keyframer tool if it does come to fruition because it’ll put basic animation tools into the palm of every iPhone user who might not know where to even start with animation, let alone make their photos move.

Overall, the direction Apple seems to be taking in terms of AI tools seems to be a positive one. The Keyframer tool comes right off the back of Apple’s AI-powered image editing tool, which again reinforces the move towards user experience improvement rather than just putting out things that mirror the competition from companies like OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google.

I’m personally glad to see that Apple’s dive into the world of artificial intelligence tools isn’t just another AI chatbot like ChatGPT or Google Gemini, but rather focusing on tools that offer unique new features for iOS and macOS products. While this project is in the very early stages of inception, I’m still pretty hyped about the idea of making funny little clips of my cat being silly or creating moving memories of my friends with just a few word prompts. 

As for when we’ll get our hands on Keyframer, unfortunately there’s no release date in sight just yet – but based on previous feature launches, Apple willingly revealing details at this stage indicates that it’s probably not too far off, and more importantly isn’t likely to get tossed aside. After all, Apple isn’t Google.

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Copilot gets a big redesign and a new way to edit your AI-generated images

It’s been one year since Bing Chat received its generative AI power-up and we’ve seen it change a lot since including a rebranding into Copilot. To celebrate the first anniversary, Microsoft decided to redesign Copilot’s homepage as well as introduce a new editing feature.

The company states when you visit the AI’s engine desktop website, “you will see… a cleaner, sleeker look”. In the middle of the page is a revolving carousel of sample prompts with an accompanying image. Its purpose, according to Microsoft, is to give you an idea of what Copilot is capable of; to get those creative juices flowing. It is certainly more engaging than the previous version. The old page had three sample text prompts next to each other with no indication that it could create images.

Copilot on mobile is receiving an identical update. The app has the same carousel of sample prompts with a picture above to give you some ideas. You also have the option to toggle GPT-4 for better results. Activating it turns the software’s blue accents to purple. 

Tweaking prompts

As for the feature mentioned earlier, it’s called Designer. It allows you to make tweaks to generated content like highlighting certain aspects, blurring the background, or adding a unique filter. As an example, let’s take Copilot’s suggestion of creating an image of an animal wearing a football helmet. Moving your cursor over the picture makes a bold white line appear around an object. Clicking it highlights the portion. 

A couple of options appear at the bottom of the window. We chose to tell Copilot to make the colors pop. After a few seconds, the finished product appears. You can then either undo the effect or keep it. For filters, you have eight to choose from. Pixel art, block print, and claymation are some of the selections. Like the edits before, applying a filter takes a few seconds. 

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Copilot highlighting subject

(Image credit: Future)
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Copilot making colors pop

(Image credit: Future)
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Copilot pixel filter

(Image credit: Future)

Designer is free for everyone to try out. However, subscribers to Copilot Pro will be given extra tools. They can resize generated content and regenerate images into either a square or landscape orientation. Microsoft says it eventually roll out a “Designer GPT” to Copilot. The company calls it a canvas of sorts where people can “visualize [their] ideas.” If we had to take a guess, it could be a publicly available GPT model that you can use to create editing tools. OpenAI offers a similar service with its online store. We reached out to Microsoft for more details. This story will be updated at a later time.

Check out TechRadar's list of the best free drawing software for 2024 if you'd like to find a way to make the edits yourself.

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Facebook and Instagram will label fake AI images to stop misinfo from spreading

Meta will begin flagging AI-generated images on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads in an effort to uphold online transparency.

The tech giant already labels content made by its Imagine AI engine with a visible watermark. Moving forward, it’s going to do something similar for pictures coming from third-party sources like OpenAI, Google, and Midjourney just to name a few. It’s unknown exactly what these labels will look like although, looking at the announcement post, it may simply consist of the words “AI Info” next to generated content. Meta states this design is not final, hinting that it could change once the update officially launches.

Facebook's new AI label

(Image credit: Meta)

In addition to visible labels, the company says it’s also working on tools to “identify invisible markers” in images from third-party generators. Imagine AI does this too by embedding watermarks into the metadata of its content. Its purpose is to include a unique tag that cannot be manipulated by editing tools. Meta states other platforms have plans to do the same and want a system in place to detect the tagged metadata.

Audio and video labeling

So far, everything has centered around branding images, but what about AI-generated audio and video? Google’s Lumiere is capable of creating incredibly realistic clips and OpenAI is working on implementing video-creation to ChatGPT. Is there something in place to detect more complex forms of AI content? Well, sort of.

Meta admits there is currently no way for it to detect AI-generated audio and video at the same level as images. The technology just isn’t there yet. However, the industry is working “towards this capability”. Until then, the company is going to rely on the honor system. It’ll require users to disclose if the video clip or audio file they want to upload was produced or edited by artificial intelligence. Failure to do so will result in a “penalty”. What’s more, if a piece of media is so realistic that it runs the risk of tricking the public, Meta will attach “a more prominent label” offering important details.

Future updates

As for its own platforms, Meta is working on improving first-party tools as well. 

The company’s AI Research lab FAIR is developing a new type of watermarking tech called Stable Signature. Apparently, it’s possible to remove the invisible markers from the metadata of AI-generated content. Stable Signature is supposed to stop that by making watermarks an integral part of the “image generation process”. On top of all this, Meta has begun training several LLMs (Large Language Models) on their Community Standards so the AIs can determine if certain pieces of content violate the policy.

Expect to see the social media labels rolling out within the coming months. The timing of the release should come as no surprise: 2024 is a major election year for many countries, most notably the United States. Meta is seeking to mitigate misinformation from spreading on its platforms as much as possible. 

We reached out to the company for more information on what kind of penalties a user may face if they don’t adequately mark their post and if it plans on marking images from a third-party source with a visible watermark. This story will be updated at a later time.

Until then, check out TechRadar's list of the best AI image generators for 2024.

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Google Search’s generative AI is now able to create images with just a text prompt

Google is taking on Microsoft at its own game as the tech giant has begun testing its own image generation tool on the AI-powered Search Generative Experience (SGE).

It functions almost exactly like Bing Chat: you enter a prompt directly into Google Search, and after a few seconds, four images pop out. What’s unique about it is you can choose one of the pictures and develop it even further by editing its description to add more detail. Google gives the example of asking SGE to generate “a photorealistic image of a capybara” cooking breakfast in the forest. The demo then shows you how to alter specific aspects like changing the food the animal is cooking, from bacon to hash browns, or swapping out the backdrop from trees to the sky. 

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This feature won’t be locked to just Google Search as the company states you might “see an option to create AI-generated images directly in Google Images”. In that instance, one of the image search results will be replaced with a button offering access to the engine. The creation will slide in from the right in its own sub-window.

Image generation on Google Images

(Image credit: Google)

Limitations

There are some restrictions to this experiment. SGE includes safeguards that will block content that runs counter to the company’s policy for generative AI. This includes, but is not limited to, promoting illegal activities, creating misinformation, and generating anything sexually explicit that isn’t educational or “artistic”. Additionally, every picture that comes out will be marked with “metadata labeling” plus a watermark indicating it was made by an AI. 

Further down the line, AI content will receive its own About This Image description giving people important context about what they’re looking at. Google clearly does not want to be the source of misinformation on the internet.

Google states in the announcement this test is currently only available in English to American users who have opted into the SGE program. You also must be 18 years or older to use it. What isn’t mentioned is that not everyone will be given access. This includes us, which is why we’re unable to share our creations with you. 

If you’re interested in entering the program, we have a detailed guide giving step-by-step instructions on how to join SGE. It’s really easy to do. You just have to sign up on the Search Labs website on desktop or mobile. 

SGE drafts

Besides pictures, you can ask SGE to write up drafts for messages or emails if you’re not very good with words. Google gives the example of having the AI “write a note to a contractor asking for a quote” for renovating a part of your house. Once that’s done, you can take the draft into either Google Docs or Gmail where you can tweak it and give it your voice. The company states this particular content has the same level of protection as everything under the Google Workspace umbrella, so your data is safe.

Like the image generation, SGE drafts are rolling out to American users in English. No word if there are plans for an international release, although we did ask.

If you're looking for something on mobile, check out TechRadar's list of the four best AI art generator apps on iPhone.

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Bing Chat can now create more realistic images thanks to DALL-E 3 AI upgrade

Bing Chat has received a substantial update, now integrating OpenAI’s most recent text-to-image model DALL-E 3. Best of all, it’s available to everyone for free.

As it’s laid out in Microsoft's announcement post, DALL-E 3 is a big upgrade to previous generations because it’s able to produce more “realistic and diverse images” thanks to improvements made in three areas. 

The AI is now able to adhere to a text prompt more closely than before when producing content. Microsoft recommends adding as much detail as possible to ensure the final image sticks close to your vision. Due to the extra precision, outputs will be more coherent or “logically consistent”. Sometimes creations from other models like Stable Diffusion look downright weird. Bing's new update improves on this front.

Also, tweaks were made to DALL-E 3 so it can accurately portray unique art styles that meet your standard of creativity, according to the company.

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Bing Chat DALL-E 3 generation

(Image credit: Future)
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Bing Chat DALL-E 3 generated hand

(Image credit: Future)
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Bing Chat DALL-E werewolf

(Image credit: Future)
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Pixel art parrot

(Image credit: Future)

Above are some samples we created ourselves to give you an idea of what the AI can now do. Using the generative engine is really simple. You can head on over to either Bing Chat or the Bing Image Creator website, enter a prompt in the text box, give it a few seconds, and you're done. It's just that easy.

Security upgrade

Besides the performance upgrade, Microsoft has added two security features to Bing Chat aimed at maintaining ethical usage. Every output will come with a Content Credential and an “invisible digital watermark” stating it was generated by Bing Image Creator as well as the date and time it was made.  

Content Credential notice

(Image credit: Future)

The company is also implementing a “content moderation system” to remove images deemed “harmful or inappropriate”. This includes content “that [contains] nudity, violence, hate speech, or illegal activities.” Something not mentioned is you can’t generate pictures featuring famous figures. We asked Bing to create something with President Joe Biden in it. But we were told we couldn’t as it violates the service’s policy. 

Work in progress

As impressive as Bing Chat is now, it is still a work in progress. Like other AI engines, Microsoft’s model still has difficulty drawing hands. It’s not as bad as when you had Stable Diffusion generating gnarled hands back in early 2023. However, you may notice an extra digit or two. In fact, the werewolf image above actually has five fingers on its right hand while it only has four on the left. 

Generated image of hands with an extra finger

(Image credit: Future)

We do want to warn you that you may experience some slowdown in AI image-generation output. We certainly did although Bing Chat picked up speed after a few minutes. In the worst case, the AI will refuse to do anything because it can't process new requests.

If you want to take generative AI on the go, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the four best art generator apps for iPhone

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Google Photos’ Locked Folder can now keep your sensitive images safe on iOS

Google is expanding the reach of its Locked Folder tool on the Google Photos app so it will soon be available on iOS and web. This means that if you decide to switch from an Android device to an iPhone, you can still access your secure files without issue.

It doesn’t appear like there’s any major difference between the three versions. All three types of users can store their content in a Locked Folder then back it up so it can be accessed across multiple devices. According to Google in the official announcement that you’ll be saving your files on “one of the world’s most advanced security infrastructures.”

When it first launched, Locked Folder was exclusive to Google Photos on Android. It provided users a “passcode-protected space” for images or videos, ensuring that they won’t appear on your “photo grid or other apps.” 

The problem was the Locked Folders feature wasn't available outside of Android smartphones, as we just covered. So if an iPhone owner wanted to hide particularly sensitive media, they were out of luck. Those images could end up on other connected apps where they're displayed in full view. 

With this update, you can rest easy knowing that moving forward, any embarrassing snapshots of you at that Christmas party will remain hidden on your iPhone.

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In addition to the expansion, the company is also simplifying the settings page on Google Photos to make finding and adjusting privacy controls easier. The menu will no longer have everything messily displayed on a single screen. Instead, individual tabs will be compartmentalized into larger sections for a much cleaner look. The Privacy tab, for example, will have all of the sharing tools where you can decide which of your friends has access to your image folders.

Availability

Keep an eye out for the update patch when it arrives. Google states the new layout for the settings page is now available on Google Photos for Android and iOS. Also, Locked Folder support begins rolling out to iOS users today. 

It’s unknown when Locked Folder will make its way to Google Photos on web browsers. We didn’t see anything on our personal account. However, it is worth mentioning there are instructions for setting up Locked Folders for desktop via the official Google Photos Help website. This could mean the browser update will be launching soon – although we don’t know when. We reached out to Google for more information about when we can expect the final patch. This story will be updated at a later time.

If you’re looking for alternatives, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best photo storage and sharing sites for 2023

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