​Google sets RAISR to work: Hi-res images now hog less Google+ mobile bandwidth

Google is using machine-learning technology to display higher-resolution images on Google+ for mobile but using much smaller file sizes.

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Google's RAISR technology uses machine learning to produce high-quality versions of low-resolution images, which allows it avoid hogging bandwidth and enable faster downloads.

Image: Google

Google has started applying a new technology called RAISR to images on Google+, so that they can be displayed in high resolution without using loads of bandwidth.

The hi-res images are rolling out to Google's Google+ social network on some Android devices this week. According to Google, it's been able to use up to 75 percent less bandwidth on large images that it's applied its RAISR technology to.

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Google introduced Rapid and Accurate Image Super-Resolution, or RAISR, in November as a way to offer razor-sharp images on bandwidth-constrained mobile devices.

The technology uses machine learning to produce high-quality versions of low-resolution images, which allows it to avoid hogging bandwidth and enable faster downloads.

As John Nack, a product manager for Google+ explains, where RAISR has been enabled, a device will request a fraction of the pixels from Google's servers, and then uses RAISR to restore the image to its full glory on the device.

It's the second product Google has rolled the technology out to. In December, it began using RAISR to sharpen up videos exported from its iOS app, Motion Stills, for snaps taken with the iPhone's Live Photos feature.

That benefited iOS users who have newer iPhones with Live Photos. However, the application of RAISR to Google+ enables it for a potentially wider audience, starting with Android, which might also entice more people to use its social network.

"While we've only begun to roll this out for high-resolution images when they appear in the streams of a subset of Android devices, we're already applying RAISR to more than one billion images per week, reducing these users' total bandwidth by about a third," John Nack said.

It's not clear when RAISR will be available to Google+ users on iOS, but Nack notes Google will be rolling out "more broadly" in the coming weeks.

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