A Glimpse of Many Possible Futures: Story Remix (2017.35063.12420.0)

Posted on July 25, 2017 by Rafael Rivera in Windows, Windows 10 with 20 Comments

Microsoft is still A/B testing features in Story Remix – or the Photos app as it’s called in Windows 10. And while this testing is normally administered and controlled by Microsoft server-side, I managed to unlock an internal control panel allowing me, not Microsoft, to choose which features are turned on and off.

Here are those features, with my personal on/off preference following each summary. Keep in mind, some of these features are experimental and may never ship.

Automatically enhance my photos

This feature isn’t really new. You may recall from earlier versions of Windows 10 that it scans your photos and automatically enhances bad ones, storing the results in a separate file. This switch controls that behavior and whether or not an enhance button appears in the photo viewer.

My preference: Enabled.

Back Button Highlight

The Universal Windows Platform offers standardized methods of going backward in apps. This test explores whether it’s useful to bring attention to the back button by giving it more color.

My preference: Enabled. Looks great.

Bing Page

My muscle memory tells me to head over to Google images to find an image when needed. But that involves visiting the site via my browser and juggling the photo into my media collection. This test brings Bing to the front, via a new pivot at the top, to determine if users can bust that habit.

My preference: Disabled. Bing has a lot of work to do. Right now, it’s just an awkward embedded web-page that’s incredibly difficult to use and sullies the entire app experience.

Create Video Button

Surprise, Story Remix can create videos from scratch, not just work with existing ones. And this button will be one of the many places you can start that journey.

My preference: Enabled.

Collection Item Size Layout Selector

A mouthful for what is a simple widget that allows you to manually control how dense the collection view appears.

My preference: Enabled. And set to the smallest unit.

Discover Bar (and Factoids)

The discover bar is the horizontal tile strip – “river flow”, internally – that lives at the top of the app window offering shortcuts to common tasks and other information. One of the tile types is a factoid tile. This tile automatically presents data inferred from the photos in your collections – like how many of them contain giraffes (no joke, this happened).

My preference: Enabled. Very cool stuff.

Explore, Create, and Folders Pivots

At the top of the app are two pivots you’ll use a lot – Collection and Albums — based on the things you’re working with. However, alternate naming – Explore and Create – is in test.

My preference: Explore and Create. I don’t have to wonder about the differences a Collection and Album anymore.

Refresh Button In Overflow Menu

The refresh button, currently in the main toolbar, may get moved into the overflow menu. This allows for thinner window widths before the buttons have to ditch the text and cleans up the toolbar of uncommon actions. This one is pretty straight forward.

My preference: Enabled. I don’t often need to click this button.

Search

Traditionally, searching for photos involves the painful task of remembering what the filename is. Or perhaps the date it was taken. But with deep learning and artificial intelligence, Story Remix can automatically tag your content and let you search for people, places or things naturally.

My preference: Enabled. It found all 19,084 photos where Paul looks like a monkey.

Upload To YouTube

Videos created in Story Remix can soon be uploaded to YouTube, complementing OneDrive and Facebook.

My preference: Enabled.

Story Builder

Creating memories and building stories is what Story Remix is about. So it makes sense to see a lot of features in its main editor being tested.

Like themes.

And camera motion.

And transitions. And tweaks to text placement, text appearance, music preview, and even the ability to rename your work.

My preference: All enabled.

Teaching Moments

While Story Remix is relatively easy to use, there are moments where you could use a nudge to get the most out of the app. And the team is toying with converting those moments into little tips that appear the first time you do something.

My preference: Enabled.

Viewer Chrome Off

To reduce UI clutter, the viewer may lose some of its UI bits and buttons, commonly referred to as chrome.

My preference: Enabled. A lot of the removed chrome is duplicated in the app itself. For example, instead of clicking the arrows, you can hover over the left/right edges of the viewer and click to move forward or backward. Or you can touch swipe either direction, too.

What’s New Dialog

  

Yep, that’s being tested too. And we’re talking minute differences in the text that appears in the window.

My preference: The “Edit videos” variant. The less I see the word “remix” the better.

Miscellanea

I couldn’t take screenshots of all the features being tested, as some relate to under-the-hood changes or are difficult to stage. But they deserve mention nevertheless.

  • Pairing of theme and music with content (AGM)
  • Capturing content directly into an album
  • Burst shot detection (stacking)
  • Automatic album creation
  • Viewer support for “rich media”
  • Viewer activation via URI
  • Thumbnail caching improvements
  • Import button badging
  • “Sticky Ink” inking also known as ink anchoring
  • OneDrive ads and notifications
  • Photo Collage
  • Remote services (e.g. machine learning and AI)
  • Search improvements (people, teaching moments, tiles, throttling)
  • Scroll collection to item opened via Open With

What About Special Effects?

Unsurprisingly, the special effects shown at Microsoft’s Build conference earlier this year haven’t made it into the product yet. While I did put my hands on this feature at the conference – it’s real! – the absence of these features in experimental form seems to indicate they’re far away from actually shipping. (It clearly won’t make Fall Creators Update.) That’s a bummer.

Anyway, as Story Remix continues to evolve, we’ll keep you updated.

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