Microsoft has a free app designed to help visually impaired users

Microsoft is using artificial intelligence to tackle a huge problem — helping visually impaired users interact with the world around them. To that end, it has developed Seeing AI, an iPhone app that recognizes people, places, documents, currency, and more to narrate your surroundings.

Open the app and point your phone’s camera at a friend, and Seeing AI will tell you who you’re looking at and the expression on their face. Point it at a can of soup in the grocery store, and it will read off the brand as well as the directions. The app can also translate printed text to speech, whether it’s on a paper or a label on a door. It can even tell dollar bills apart from one and another.

Seeing AI isn’t only intended for your phone’s camera, either. You can import images to the app through iOS’ share menu, and it will describe the picture and read text if any is contained.

The app sports a few experimental features as well, though they require you to have a data connection to function. There’s a “scene” mode, which will literally describe your environment, rather than simply reading text. Another mode can decipher and read out handwriting.

One of the more impressive aspects of Seeing AI is that everything the app can do — outside of those last two features — is handled locally on the device. Most of the time, you’ll never need the cloud’s help to use Seeing AI, which is a massive benefit. Everyone expects to be able to connect to the internet wherever they go, but the reality is much spottier — so it’s reassuring to know Microsoft has planned for the inevitable.

Microsoft’s latest project comes at an interesting time for the company, just a day after it ended support for its Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. While Microsoft may have struggled in building its own mobile devices, it’s currently producing some of its most interesting, unique, and helpful apps for other platforms.

Seeing AI is debuting on iOS, and can be downloaded for free. Microsoft has not disclosed when or if Android users can expect the app.

Mobile

5G your old phone: HTC’s 5G Hub is now available for pre-order from Sprint

HTC almost made a phone. The HTC 5G Hub runs Android 9 Pie, has a Qualcomm 855 processor with the X50 modem, 4GB of RAM, and an HD touchscreen -- but it's a hot spot designed to connect to 5G networks.
Product Review

Nikon's Coolpix B600 is long on zoom and short on price, but you should skip it

The Nikon Coolpix B600 has two big things going for it -- a 60x zoom lens and a $330 price. But the camera cuts too many features and doesn't deliver the quality you'd expect.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Mobile

The OnePlus 7 Pro helps you chill out and ignore notifications for 20 minutes

Sometimes you need to get away from distractions. If you really need to remove temptation, then the OnePlus 7 Pro's new Zen Mode will lock you out of your phone for 20 minutes whenever you need a break.
Gaming

Get ready to slay spiders and skeletons in real life with Minecraft Earth

Minecraft Earth is the new augmented reality mobile game that uses the Minecraft engine. We have everything you need to know including the release date, features, price, phone compatibility, and more.
Mobile

The Realme X is so cheap and so good that it defies the rules of economics

The Realme X has a 48-megapixel camera, an in-display fingerprint sensor, an AMOLED screen, and a Snapdragon 710 processor, yet it costs from $220. We've tried out the phone to see if it's too good to be true.
Mobile

Grab it as soon as it pops up: The OnePlus 7 Pro is now available for sale

The OnePlus 7 Pro has been revealed, and it's a monster of a phone with a stunning redesign, a pop-up selfie camera, powerful flagship specs, and a price that's hundreds of dollars less than the competition.
Mobile

Mad U.K. retailer slashes 99% off Google Pixel 3a price for a few lucky buyers

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Mobile

How to use recovery mode to fix your Android phone or tablet

If you’re having a problem you can’t seem to resolve with your Android device, or maybe you want to update it or wipe the cache, recovery mode could be what you’re looking for. Here's how to get your Android phone into recovery mode.
Home Theater

Why you can’t buy Car Thing, Spotify’s first hardware device

Spotify created a voice-activated, in-car device that lets you listen to music and podcasts. But Car Thing, as it is known, is not for sale. Instead, it will be used to gather data from a limited set of customers.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.
Mobile

Can Apple or Samsung steal the OnePlus 7 Pro's flagship killer title?

OnePlus has long been the go-to for flagship specs under a flagship price. But now Apple and Samsung have challengers in the arena, and they want the Flagship Killer crown for themselves. Who wins? We found out.
Deals

Turn your Apple tablet into a laptop with one of these iPad keyboard cases

A keyboard case serves to both protect your iPad and give you a set of laptop keys. You don’t have to shell out tons of cash for a good one, either; if you’re looking for a way to turn your iPad into a 2-in-1 laptop, check these deals…