Innovation

Microsoft's Snapchat-like Sprinkles app showcases the power of AI on mobile

Microsoft's Sprinkles app can detect the face and age of photo subjects, and suggest captions based on what's happening in a picture. Here's what it could mean for the future of mobile.

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Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has launched a new camera app called Sprinkles that uses the company's machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to analyze photos, and can detect faces, the age of photo subjects, and their celebrity look-a-like. The app can even offer captions based on what is happening in the photo, according to its iTunes App Store description.

Similar to Snapchat, Sprinkles' face detection technology can also place images such as hats and moustaches on subjects in a photo. It also offers different time- and location-based stickers and captions.

With Sprinkles, Microsoft seems to be targeting the teen audiences that typically flock to photo apps like Snapchat. As the description reads:

"Sprinkles is a camera with fun ideas. Snap a pic and automatically get new ideas for witty captions or add your own quip. Captions are unique to what's in the picture, so try different things such as coffee, food, pets, and selfies! Have fun with face-detecting Smart Stickers that fit your face perfectly. Choose from hundreds of Emojis and stickers and find even more with a quick web search. New captions and Smart Stickers are added frequently, because fresh fun is the best fun."

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The app allows users to swipe through the different photo options, including the caption ideas, accessories, and age suggestions. They can also decorate their own photos with emoji, stickers from the web, or text. The images can then be shared via messaging, Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms.

While the app is not targeted toward enterprise users, its technology could be useful for marketing professionals and social experts who could rely on the algorithms to help them make their social posts or picture-based ads more impactful. The photo recognition technology could also potentially be used in the future to help professionals analyze work-related photos, such as those from job sites or hazardous areas.

The release of Sprinkles and the technology it includes also points to a larger issue: With hardware commoditized, AI will likely be the next big battleground in mobile. Leveraging machine learning technology in sophisticated apps could be Microsoft's way of gaining ground in the mobile market.

The Sprinkles app is available for free in the iTunes App Store.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. A new camera app from Microsoft called Sprinkles leverages the company's machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to recognize faces and create photo captions based on what is happening in a picture.

2. Though the company seems to be targeting a teen audience, the app could potentially be useful for marketing and social media professionals.

3. The app also demonstrates how the rise of AI will likely be the next big issue in mobile, and could help Microsoft gain a foothold.

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About Alison DeNisco

Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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