Use this everyday AI in your pocket – The Seattle Times | Hot Mobile Press

Virtual assistants are usually in the spotlight when it comes to artificial intelligence software on smartphones and tablets. But Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby and co. aren’t the only tools that use machine learning to make life easier – other popular programs also use the technology.

Here’s a quick tour of some popular AI-driven apps and how you can manage them.

device security

When you set up a new device, you’re usually asked to “enroll” in its facial recognition security program, which captures and analyzes your image so the program recognizes you in different viewing and lighting situations. If you later decide to unlock the device or use apps like digital payment systems, the camera will confirm that your face matches the stored data so you can proceed.

If you decide to use the feature, check your device manufacturer’s privacy policy to see where this data is stored. For example, Apple states that “Face ID data doesn’t leave your device,” and Google says it stores facial data on the security chips of its Pixel phones. If you sign in and then change your mind, you can always go to your phone’s Face ID or Face Unlock settings, wipe or reset the data, turn it off, and stick with a passcode.

photo apps

Apple’s Photos and Google Photos use artificial intelligence in a variety of ways, including face recognition, scene recognition, and image analysis, to automatically sort images of people, places, and things into albums. This sorting saves you manual keywording and makes it easier to find specific photos in a keyword search. (Apple and Google have technical documents on facial recognition on their websites.)

Apple says all face recognition and scene recognition in its Photos app is done locally on the device. You can also edit the People album.

Google Photos stores the face grouping data in your Google account. In the settings you can turn off the face groupings and edit the descriptive tags.

The default camera apps use machine learning in image processing to produce sharper photos. Apple’s scene detection and photo style features enhance the image based on what’s in the picture, and Google Photos’ blurring and noise reduction editing tools use AI to enhance images.

writing aids

If you’ve ever typed along on your phone’s keyboard and noticed suggested words for what you might type next, then machine learning is in action. Apple’s iOS software includes a text recognition feature that bases its suggestions on your past conversations, Safari browser searches, and other sources.

Google’s Gboard keyboard for Android and iOS can offer word suggestions, and Google has a Smart Compose tool for Gmail and other text input apps that uses personal information collected from your Google account to customize its word predictions. Samsung has its own text recognition software for its Galaxy devices.

The suggestions can save you time, and both Apple and Google say the customized predictions based on your personal information remain confidential. However, if you want fewer algorithms in your business, turn them off. On an iPhone (or iPad), you can turn off predictive text in the keyboard settings.

For some apps, like Gmail, you can turn off text recognition and the use of your personal information for suggestions in your Google Account general settings. On certain Android phones, you can also control permissions or delete data collected by Android System Intelligence software in Privacy and Apps settings.

Augmented Reality Apps

Google Lens (for Android and iOS) and Apple’s Live Text have artificial intelligence to analyze the text in images for automatic translation, and can perform other helpful tasks like Apple’s “visual lookup.” Google Lens can identify plants, animals and products seen through the phone’s camera and these searches will be saved. You can delete the information or disable data collection in the web & app activity settings in your Google account.

In iOS 15, you can disable Live Text by opening the Settings app, tapping General, then Language & Region, and disabling the Live Text button. Later this year, Live Text gets an upgrade in iOS 16, with Apple emphasizing the role of “intelligence on the device” in getting work done.

Virtual Assistants

These AI-in-action tools are most useful when they have access to personal information like your address and contacts. If you have concerns, read your phone manufacturer’s privacy policy: Apple, Google, and Samsung all have documents posted on their websites. The non-profit site Common Sense Media has published independent privacy assessments for Siri, Google Assistant and Bixby.

Setting up the software is straightforward as the wizard guides you, but check the app’s own settings to customize them. And don’t forget the general privacy settings built into your phone’s operating system.

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