Microsoft updates OneDrive with automatic 'Pokémon detection'

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Considering the number of companies which have opportunistically jumped aboard the Pokémon Go craze, it’s not surprising to see yet another follow suit. On Friday, Microsoft announced a new feature for OneDrive, its cloud mobile storage service, that automatically detects digital Pokémon from the augmented reality game in photos uploaded from your smartphone.

“A lot of [Pokémon Go] players take screenshots of their captured Pokémon to show off to their friends — both digitally and in person,” said Douglas Pearce, OneDrive’s group program manager, in a blog post. “We had to make it easier for you to find all your Pokémon screenshots, so we went to work and partnered with Microsoft Research to bring a Pokémon detector to OneDrive.”


That’s all there is to it, really. If you’re milling about town and notice a Pokémon, just snap a screenshot of it. If you have the OneDrive app installed and its photo backup feature enabled, Microsoft’s cloud intelligence will parse the image for the over 150 species it’s capable of recognizing. Once it’s confident it’s found a match — i.e., that the cute Pikachu in your picture isn’t actually an Eevee — it’ll tag the pic accordingly.

That’s just one element of OneDrive’s Friday update. It’s also gaining the ability to generate albums automatically — it’ll group photos that you’ve taken in rapid succession in a particular location and pick out the “highest quality” ones — and will produce a collage every Monday morning of the preceding weekend’s festivities. And on the web, OneDrive’s gained a new section, “One this day,” which surfaces all the photos you’ve taken over the previous years on a given day.

Microsoft has beefed up OneDrive’s search and organizational tools too. You can now search for photos using emojis, if you feel so inclined, and initiate queries from OneDrive’s photo home page. On the organizational side of things, there’s a new view that surfaces all the folders in your OneDrive storage containing images (the idea is to make it easier to create and manage albums).

The update is rolling out to Android and iOS users today.

Microsoft is far from the first to tap opportunistically into the worldwide phenomenon that is Pokémon Go. Last week, business directory Yelp launched “Pokéstop Nearby,” a crowdsourced filter which lets users identify nearby businesses with PokéStops (Pokémon Go terminology for caches of Pokéballs, health potions, and other level-boosting goodies).

Last week, cellular provider T-Mobile kicked off a Pokémon Go unlimited data promotion for its subscribers. McDonalds recently launched inked a partnership with Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs to provide digital Go goods to players dining out. And battery case manufacturer Zagg, which has heavily promoted its portable power packs as “ideal” for long Pokémon Go sessions, saw its stock price soar 25 percent in the past week.

But app’s popularity has driven meteoric foot traffic to local businesses too. An enterprising café in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, saw sales skyrocket after it began offering a 10 percent discount to patrons who used the app, and food and drink sales at Manhattan pizza joint L’inizios jumped 30 percent following the launch of its Pokémon-themed pizzas.

Given Pokémon Go’s momentum — the app managed to attract an estimated 9.5 million daily active users in the United States in just shy of a week — outfits large and small are sure to follow suit.

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