Google wants you to send AI-generated poems using its strange digital postcards

Google has redesigned its little-known Arts & Culture app introducing new features plus an improved layout for easier exploration.

We wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t aware that Arts & Culture even existed in the first place. It is a pretty niche mobile app aimed at people who want to learn more about the art world and its history. It looks like Google is attempting to attract a bigger audience by making the Android app more “intuitive to explore… [while also] creating new ways to discover and engage with culture.” Leading the charge so to speak is the AI-powered Poem Postcards tool. Utilizing the company’s PaLM 2 Model, the tool asks you to select a famous art piece and then choose from a variety of poetic styles (sonnets, limericks, ballads just to name a few) in order to create an AI-generated poem.

Poem Postcards on Google Arts & Culture

(Image credit: Google)

After a few seconds, you can share your generated work with friends or have the AI write up something new. We should mention you can access Poem Postcards on your desktop via the Arts & Culture website although it appears to be “experimental”. So it may not work as well as its mobile counterpart.

Endless art feed

The other major feature is the aforementioned Inspire section which utilizes an endless scrolling feed akin to TikTok. It brings up a series of art pieces with the occasional cultural news story and exhibition advertisement stuffed in between. The app doesn’t just focus on paintings or sculptures either as the feed will throw in the occasional posts about movies, too. 

In the bottom right-hand corner of Inspire entries is a “cultural flywheel”. Tapping it opens a menu where you can discover tangentially related content. Google states it is “always investigating new ways to connect cultural content” meaning the flywheel will see its own set of updates over time.

As for the layout, the company has added buttons on the Explore tab for specific topics. If you want to look for art pertaining to sports, science, or even your favorite color, it’s all at your fingertips. There’s also a Play tab on the bottom bar where you enjoy games like the adorable Return of the Cat Mummy.

Arts & Culture new layout

(Image credit: Google)

The redesigned Arts & Culture app is currently available on Android through the Google Play Store with an iOS version “soon to follow”. The company says Poem Postcards is only available “in select countries”. We reached out to the tech giant for clarification. This story will be updated at a later time.

Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best drawing apps for 2023 if you ever decide to scratch that artistic itch.  

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Microsoft scores strange own goal with latest Teams update

Microsoft is preparing an update for collaboration platform Teams that has the potential to help users make the most of their desktop space, but is limited by a strange design decision.

According to an entry in the Microsoft 365 product roadmap, Teams users will soon receive the option to pack a larger number of messages on screen courtesy of a new compact mode.

The view mode will reduce both the font size and space between lines, allowing for 50% more chat messages to be displayed at once.

The feature is still currently under development, but should roll out to all Microsoft Teams customers by the end of the month.

Compact mode in Microsoft Teams

Although compact mode in Microsoft Teams will probably be inappropriate for anyone that struggles with vision problems, it could prove useful in a range of scenarios.

For example, multitaskers running Teams in windowed mode will be able to reduce the amount of real estate taken up by the app without cutting the number of messages they can see. The new mode will also benefit those running Teams on a portable monitor or work laptop, who until now have had to make do with reading fewer messages at a time.

Bafflingly, however, compact mode will only apply to one-on-one chats, not channels. It’s a strange decision, given the volume of messages that pass through group channels is typically much larger than in private chains.

The update will also apply only to the Microsoft Teams desktop client, at least for now, which means those working from smaller smartphones and tablets will not benefit.

TechRadar Pro has asked Microsoft about the rationale behind the decision to exclude channels from compact mode, and whether iOS and Android users will receive the option in future.

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