AI Stories April 5, 2019

We previously reported that Google was having “issues” with its newly created AI ethics board as a result of controversy surrounding certain board members. In a Vox exclusive, Google has since confirmed that they have dissolved the AI ethics board having barely managed a full week.

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AI Stories January 24, 2019

Following a resounding Go victory in 2017, Alphabet’s DeepMind turned to conquering StarCraft II. The game is a “grand challenge” for how successful AI agents are at complex tasks, with DeepMind and Blizzard tomorrow live streaming a demonstration of the latest progress.

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AI Stories May 25, 2018

We haven’t done a Talking Schmidt in a while, not because the former Google CEO and current Alphabet Board member Dr. Eric Schmidt has been quiet with his sometimes outlandish commentary, but because of his reduced role at Google and its now parent company Alphabet. In February Schmidt stepped down as Chairman, taking an innovation role at MIT and was replaced by John Hennessy.

But back to the matter at hand…

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AI Stories January 24, 2018

With the 2018 World Economic Forum underway in Davos, Switzerland, Sundar Pichai took to the stage for a one-on-one interview. Artificial intelligence and its impact were unsurprisingly big areas of discussion, with the Google CEO offering ways to mitigate risks. Meanwhile, data and taxes were also brought up.

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AI Stories December 27, 2017

Google claims that the latest version of its AI-powered speech synthesis system, Tacotron 2, is almost indistinguishable from human speech – and has put some comparative examples online to demonstrate.

Tacotron 2 works directly from written text, and Google says it can use context to correctly pronounce identically-spelled words like ‘read’ (to read) and ‘read’ (has read), responds to punctuation and can learn to stress words …

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AI Stories November 27, 2017

We’re expecting a major revamp of the Snapchat app to land early next month, but it seems the company isn’t holding back everything until then. It’s been quietly rolling out a feature that recognises (some of) the content in your photos, and suggests relevant borders and filters …

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AI Stories August 8, 2017

A bot can use your Instagram feed to tell whether you’re clinically depressed

It seems there’s not much AI can’t do these days. Whether it’s drive a car, improve music discovery, retouch photos or narrate the world to blind people. And now machine learning can even look through your Instagram feed to decide whether you are clinically depressed …

AI Stories July 11, 2017

Reflecting a continued focus on machine learning, Google has announced a new venture fund specifically aimed at artificial intelligence. Gradient Ventures will focus on providing technical mentorship for early-stage startups focused in the burgeoning field.

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AI Stories March 31, 2017

Google invests in Canada’s AI boom w/ Google Brain Toronto and Vector Institute funding

Noting Canada’s artificial intelligence boom, Google announced yesterday that its internal deep learning division is opening another office in the country. The company is also investing $5 million into the new Vector Institute AI research facility.

AI Stories March 3, 2017

image01

It’s hard to think of a job more important that determining whether or not a patient has cancer. Yet the magnitude of the task facing pathologists is so vast that agreement between different clinicians studying the same slides can be as low as 48%.

There can be many slides per patient, each of which is 10+ gigapixels when digitized at 40X magnification. Imagine having to go through a thousand 10 megapixel (MP) photos, and having to be responsible for every pixel. Needless to say, this is a lot of data to cover, and often time is limited.

Which is why Google is working on automating the task with a Deep Learning AI project – with incredibly exciting results …

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AI Stories February 17, 2017

screenshot-2017-02-17-at-10-12-19-am

Google uses machine learning in a lot of unique ways, and the company is constantly branching that technology out into new apps and services. This week, Google has released another new service that runs on top of machine learning, ‘AI Duet.’

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AI Stories January 25, 2017

galaxy-s7-edge-panel

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is just weeks from going official, and we already know quite a bit about the device. Several leaks and rumors have pinpointed that the “Bixby” virtual assistant will debut on the S8, presumably as a rival to Google Assistant. Obviously, Google might not be thrilled about that development, but Samsung says that the competition could take AI “to the next level.”

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AI Stories December 20, 2016

Deepmind Logo

After making huge strides with AlphaGo and beginning work on replicating similar victories in StarCraft, Google DeepMind is setting up a new US division (via Bloomberg). Specifically, the first team outside of London will work on more consumer-facing products and on solving “real-world problems at Google-scale.”

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AI Stories December 13, 2016

google_assistant_02

If it wasn’t clear enough, AI, and more specifically the machine learning sub-branch, is a big deal — and not just for Google. It’s not much of a “next big thing” aimed at supplanting everything that has come before it from above, but rather a more silent revolution branching out from underneath.

And it’s being used everywhere…

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AI Stories November 23, 2016

Google‘s commitment to staying ahead of the game in the field of artificial intelligence is clear, and with the rise of machine learning in particular (whose usefulness has been proven time and time again in a number of applications) the race for talent-hiring is fierce. And today, the company has scored another significant point.

Following the important catch of ex-Snapchat head of research Jia Li last week, the search giant has today secured another spot in the ever-increasing AI-centered competition between tech companies. This time it comes from Twitter

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translate

A couple of Google announcements today highlight the astonishing progress being made in artificial intelligence. A Google Research blog post explains how the company’s switch to neural learning for Google Translate means that the machine can translate between language pairs it has never explicitly learned, while a DeepMind project showed that AI can lip-read better than people.

The company said that Google Translate no longer has individual systems for each language pair, but instead uses a single system with tokens indicating input and output languages. The AI learns from millions of examples, and it was this that made the team wonder whether it could translate between two languages without specifically being taught how to do so …

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AI Stories November 18, 2016

infinite-drum-machine

The beautiful thing about artificial intelligence is that due to its relatively back-end nature its applications seem to be virtually endless.

Today is music’s lucky day, as sound is the latest area which has undergone Google‘s AI surgery in its recent wave of “experiments”…

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AI Stories November 16, 2016

Source: Getty Images

We don’t need to further emphasize just how important AI and machine learning are for Google. Whether it be in its cloud services or inside of its Assistant-powered devices, like the Pixel phones and Home, we know that there is substantial room for improvement through technology, and the Mountain View firm is all for it.

Now, it seems, it’s low-res and blurry pictures’ turn

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AI Stories November 15, 2016

gcp

The more Google reveals its cards for the future, the more it seems clear that cloud services and AI are going to be two of its absolute cornerstones in the years to come, so much so that the company is looking to unify its disparate teams under a new, singular division, not too dissimilarly from Osterloh’s hardware group put together earlier this year.

Google Cloud‘s chief Diane Greene announced as much today, providing further information on the firm’s roadmap regarding their advancements in cloud services and how AI integrates into that. In particular, it was stressed how machine learning techniques will allow them to provide smarter services over time — like translation, computer vision, and even hiring — to enterprise customers.

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AI Stories November 6, 2016

samsung

After acquiring Viv early last month, Samsung has now once again confirmed (via Reuters) that it will be integrating that technology into its own AI assistant on future Galaxy smartphones, presumably including the company’s forthcoming Galaxy S8…

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AI Stories November 5, 2016

google-deepmind-starcraft

After conquering the challenging game of Go earlier this year, Google’s DeepMind division is setting its sights on beating StarCraft II. DeepMind is partnering with developer Blizzard to release an open research environment that better allows AIs and machine learning systems to interact with the game.

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AI Stories July 5, 2016

Deepmind LogoWe’ve seen artificial intelligence playing a growing role in tech as of late, in a wide variety of events, projects and ideas. Just in the past few months, Google‘s DeepMind division took its AI-driven computer to an historic victory against Lee Sedol, the world champion of Chinese board game of Go.

A new Guardian report shows where AI is headed next, in a joint venture between DeepMind and the British National Health Service…

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AI Stories June 23, 2016

jeff-dean

Google’s machine-learning head, Jeff Dean

A long-form Backchannel post by Steven Levy gives a fascinating insight into Google’s vision of the future of machine-learning. While it’s currently a specialist field, Google believes that one day it will be used by all software engineers no matter what the field, and that it will ‘change humanity.’

Google is starting small. It invites just 18 software engineers a year to join its Machine Learning Ninja Program, where they work alongside expert mentors for six months before going back to apply the approach to their own work. But Google’s machine-learning leader Jeff Dean estimates that around 10% of its 25,000 developers are proficient in the field, and he’d like that number to be 100%.

What’s notable is that all involved, from those in the Ninja program to the company’s key experts in the field, see machine-learning as something transformative …

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AI Stories June 22, 2016

google-robot

Any SF fan will be familiar with Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics, designed to ensure that robots were safe to be around. Scientists at Google, OpenAI, Stanford and Berkeley have just published a paper proposing the real-life equivalent for AI systems.

In a blog post summarising the proposal, Google Research’s Chris Olah says that while the team believes that AI will greatly benefit humanity, the risks do also need to be considered …

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AI Stories June 6, 2016

alphago-lee-sedolThese days, Google — as well as many other tech giants — is all about Artificial Intelligence. We’ve seen it shown off in many different shapes at its latest I/O conference, but perhaps one of the biggest achievements in the field was a little far from the consumer-world of Allo or the new Google assistant.

After the recent victory, in fact, it will be Google’s Deepmind team to be put again to the test at Go, this time against the world’s new number one player (via Engadget)…

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AI Stories June 3, 2016

google-deepmind

In the past year alone, Google-owned Deep Mind has made great strides in artificial intelligence. The company has long kept an eye towards safety with the establishment of an ethics board as part of the 2014 acquisition, and now a new paper (via BI) from DeepMind and the University of Oxford describes the creation of a “big red button” method that can be used to stop AI from causing harm…

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AI Stories May 13, 2016

GOOGLE

You may remember a little while back it was revealed that Google has been feeding its neural networks steamy romance novels to read. The aim through this exercise was to teach it to produce more human-like responses in order to power its search results and ‘smart reply’ systems.

As well as forcing its neural networks to digest more than 11,000 unpublished books (3,000 of which were romance), Google Brain’s engineers have also been teaching it to relate two unique phrases to each other. As revealed in a Quartz article, the method was fairly straightforward and resulted in some really weird, romantic, dark ‘poetry’.

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AI Stories May 5, 2016

joaquin-phoenix

Over the past couple of years, Google has been implementing a number of AI, or machine-learning technologies, in to its products. Whether it’s intuitive search within the Photos app, better automatic thumbnail creation in YouTube, ‘Smart Reply’ in Inbox, or just straight-out beating an 18-time Go world champion, its artificial intelligent brains are being developed and honed.

With all of its incredible talent, apparently, there’s still work to be done when it comes to results from neural networks sounding and looking like naturally spoken or written human language. The solution: feeding it steamy romance…

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AI Stories April 28, 2016

Sundar-Pichai-time-100

Every year, Larry Page and Sergey Brin write a Founders’ Letter to inform stockholders of recent developments and their vision for the future. For 2016, Page had recently-anointed Google CEO Sundar Pichai write the letter as a majority of ‘bets’ are under his purview. The letter focuses on six main areas.

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AI Stories March 15, 2016

alphago-result

Back when I was in high school, I remember our computer studies teacher telling us that a computer only does what it’s told to do, and so mistakes are not the machine’s, but rather the user’s. With neural networks and machine learning, that is no longer true. AlphaGo, DeepMind’s specialist Go-playing machine, has proved as much. AlphaGo has been programmed to learn from its mistakes, and can err all on its own.

The AI-powered system failed to recover from an error against Lee Sedol in their fourth game, and eventually lost. In the fifth game, however, it made a mistake and was able to win the series in seemingly dramatic fashion.

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AI Stories March 13, 2016

alphago-lee-sedol

Google’s AlphaGo AI may have secured the five-game match with its third win yesterday, but that doesn’t mean the competition is over. As announced today (via Demis Hassabis, CEO of DeepMind), the second-best-in-the-world South Korean Go player Lee Sedol actually managed to score a victory against the Google AI in the fourth game… expand full story

AI Stories March 10, 2016

robot

As achievements go, learning how to pick up objects doesn’t sound quite as impressive as twice beating the world Go champion – it is, after all, something the average toddler can do. But it’s the fact that the robots themselves figured out the best way to do it using neural networks that makes this notable.

A recent Google report spotted by TNW explains how the company let robot arms pick up a variety of different objects, using neural networks to learn by trial-and-error the best way to handle each. Some 800,000 goes later, the robots seemed to have it figured out pretty well …

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AI Stories March 1, 2016

google-deepmind-art

We’ve read a lot about Google’s machine-learning projects over the past 12 months. Perhaps most intriguing was the Deepmind project which created works of art using neural networks. Or, perhaps a more accurate description is, that the DeepDream algorithm would turn existing pictures in to the stuff of nightmares. By distorting shapes in to animal heads and psychedelic patterns and colors, the finished product was almost terrifying.

As it turns out, Google put on an auction at a trendy San Francisco venue and sold some of its larger pieces for as much as $8,000.

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AI Stories February 9, 2016

andy-rubin

Wired has an excellent profile on Andy Rubin and his latest ventures post-Google. As creator of the original Android operating system that Google would eventually acquire and later a long-time Google employee on various Internet efforts at the company, a lot of people are waiting to see what Rubin does next since leaving Google over a year ago. 

In 2013, Rubin discussed his restlessness with Larry Page, and—as Rubin recounts it—the two men agreed it was time for a change. That March, Rubin stepped down from Android… For a year, Rubin spun up Google’s new robotics division, but he quickly realized that Google’s goals, which reportedly involve creating humanoid assistants, would take a decade of basic research.

We already knew that Rubin’s new company, Playground Global, would provide support and hands-on engineering assistance to hardware tech startups it’s investing in, but Rubin elaborated on the company’s plans, including describing what he hopes will eventually become an open platform for all companies building AI into their products:

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AI Stories February 5, 2016

Google’s Go champion-beating AI machine will have its next match livestreamed on YouTube

Towards the backend of last month, it was revealed that Google had developed an AI machine so advanced, it could beat a French Go champion at one of the most challenging games to teach a machine. DeepMind’s AlphaGo machine beat European champion Fan Hui 5-0 at Go, a game which — although simple to learn — features millions of combinations. Because of this complexity, teaching a machine to play beyond an amateur level has been challenging.

AI Stories January 27, 2016

Go

In 2014, Google bought UK startup DeepMind, considered to be the premier lab working on artificial intelligence. Today, head Demis Hassabis announced that they built an AI that can beat a human being at the ancient Chinese game of Go. The game is widely considered to be a benchmark for an AI’s ability to think.

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AI Stories January 21, 2016

google

Founded by the developers of Apple’s Siri, Viv Labs is a startup working on creating a personal AI assistant that can understand and automate what a user wants. The Information is reporting that Google and Facebook have tried and failed to purchase the company within the past year.

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AI Stories January 11, 2016

talking-schmidt

Speaking at a conference in New York today, Google chairman Eric Schmidt discussed how he believes artificial intelligence could one day help the world solve its “hard problems,” including issues like population growth, climate change, human development, and education. Schmidt explained that because of the fast pace at which AI technology is being developed, it can help scientists determine the relationship between the cause and effects of such issues by quickly analyzing large amounts of data (via Bloomberg).

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AI Stories December 22, 2015

google

Hangouts is widely criticized in the Android community for being slow and buggy. According to a rumor last week, SMS support is being stripped out of Hangouts in order to make the app a better chatting service. Perhaps on a related note, The Wall Street Journal is today reporting that Google has grander ambitions for the chat field and plans to infuse their artificial intelligence technology into it.

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AI Stories December 11, 2015

halo-4-cortana-256389A group of influential technology entrepreneurs and investors introduced today a new non-profit artificial intelligence research company called ‘OpenAI’. Tesla CEO Elon Musk joins his former PayPal colleagues and venture capitalists Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel, along with several other tech investors, to pledge $1 billion toward the organisation with the goal to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole”. expand full story

AI Stories December 4, 2015

google-cloud-platform

Google is at the forefront of machine learning, and has already brought some of its AI-powered technology to apps like Gmail and Search. It’s also keen to get its tools in to the hands of developers and recently made Tensorflow machine open source. As part of that focus on giving developers the resources, it’s also launched the Cloud Vision API, giving devs the ability to build apps (and robots) which recognize objects and facial expressions, then respond to them…

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AI Stories November 9, 2015

tensorflow-lead

Google hasn’t been shy about sharing how it uses advanced neural networks (informally known as AI) in some of its products. The company has been teaching its machine learning tools a slew of new tricks in recent months. Google Photos uses it to easily find specific images based on your search, they equipped YouTube with the ability to better select thumbnails, reply to your emails from Gmail and made Google Translate far better at reading signs. And now, it wants to share its machine learning engine with developers, to make it even better…

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AI Stories November 3, 2015

inbox-logo

Update: It looks like the Smart Reply feature is rolling out starting tomorrow.

Google’s Inbox app for Gmail is one of the best things to happen to personal email management since email was invented. Using Google Now’s power, it can automatically create calendar events, sort out your junk and priority emails and suggest reminders. Now it’s about to get a whole lot smarter

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AI Stories October 26, 2015

google-servers

It’s no surprise that Google employs artificial intelligence to help parse search queries, but it did surprise me to learn that a full 15% of Google searches are ones its systems have never seen before. It’s these that the company has been decoding with the help of an AI system called RankBrain, reports Bloomberg.

For the past few months, a “very large fraction” of the millions of queries a second that people type into the company’s search engine have been interpreted by an artificial intelligence system, nicknamed RankBrain, said Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist with the company, outlining for the first time the emerging role of AI in search.

As you’d expect, Google uses literally hundreds of different ‘signals’ to make sense of searches, and the vast majority of these are based on discoveries and insights that people in the team have had – but RankBrain is the first system that genuinely learns …  expand full story

AI Stories October 8, 2015

swiftkey-neural

If you thought SwiftKey for Android was already smart and intuitive, you’ll be excited to know the company has just finished working on a product which it claims is even smarter. SwiftKey Neural Alpha has made its way to the Google Play Store, and instead of using word frequency calculators (n-gram model) to predict your next words, it’s more contextually aware of the sentence you’re typing…

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Video | Technology | Re:code 2015-10-08 10-52-14

Largely heralded as the creator of Android (and as of last year, no longer at Google), Andy Rubin yesterday took to the hotseat at the Code/Mobile conference to talk the future of computing. Now founder and CEO of tech startup incubator Playground Global, his job is to know what’s coming in tech “after mobile” — and he had some very insightful comments indeed… expand full story

AI Stories October 6, 2014

Along with a number of announcements landing today during Adobe’s MAX conference, the company has quietly released an Adobe Creative Cloud app for Android in preview mode. The app, which works with the free 2GB Creative Cloud membership in addition to paid subscriptions, allows users to manage their Creative Cloud accounts by browsing and previewing files stored in the cloud service. The app was previously available for iOS users and sports a similar design. expand full story

AI Stories July 10, 2014

Minecraft Pocket Edition gets biggest update yet w/ infinite worlds & much more

Minecraft Pocket Edition, the Android version of the popular Minecraft PC game, today is getting what developer Mojang says is the app’s biggest update yet. Version 0.9.0 introduces a number of new features carried over from the original game including infinite worlds, much improved caves, wolves, new items, and much, much more.

In addition, Mojang is bringing over new biomes from the PC version of the game with mesas, jungles, swamps and extreme hills, and you’ll also notice abandoned mineshafts, villages and “new feature generation, including lakes, vines and monster rooms.” That doesn’t even include a fraction of what’s actually included in today’s update. A full list of new features from new blocks to new and updated features for biomes, mobs, AI and feature generation is below.

The game also receives some welcomed UI tweaks in the update including a new “interaction” button that Mojang hopes will cut down on accidental sheep punches.

Infinite worlds! Caves! Loads of new blocks and items including Monster Eggs and huge mushroom blocks. Wolves! Tame a loyal companion. Loads of new flowers! So pretty. New mobs, including the spooky endermen and less spooky Mooshrooms. New biomes from the PC version, including mesas, jungles, swamps and extreme hills. Abandoned mineshafts, villages, and many other cool places to explore. A brand-new “interaction” button. Never accidentally punch a sheep again! New feature generation, including lakes, vines and monster rooms. Many bugs fixed, and possibly a few added.

The updated Minecraft Pocket Edition version 0.9.0 is available now on Google Play now.

The full huge list of what’s new via Mojang is below:

New features

  • Unlimited worlds!
  • New culling algorithm
  • New culling of clouds
  • Tile entities are saved differently
  • New falling mechanics for gravel and sand
  • New insta ticking of water and lava

New blocks

  • Podzol
  • Mycelium
  • Huge mushroom blocks
  • Cocoa
  • End portal frame
  • Double plants
  • More stairs/slabs for new wood types
  • New log types (savanna tree and dark oak)
  • New leafs (savanna tree)
  • Monster egg
  • Stained clay
  • Waterlily
  • New flowers
  • Red sand
  • Hardened clay
  • End stone
  • Granite
  • Diorite
  • Andesite
  • Emerald block
  • Emerald ore
  • New leveldb based saving format
  • New entity handling
  • New crafting screen
  • Remade network code (mostly the same packages but new system).
  • New interact button (to make the game easier for new players)

New mobs

  • Slimes
  • Endermen
  • Wolves
  • Mooshrooms
  • Silverfish

New and updated biomes

  • Deserts
  • Extreme hills
  • Forests
  • Redwood taiga
  • Roofed forests
  • Frozen
  • Jungle
  • Savanna
  • Mesa
  • Mushroom island
  • Taiga
  • Deep ocean
  • Swamps

New world feature generation

  • Sand
  • Boulders
  • Ice patch
  • Ice spike
  • Spike
  • Lake
  • Double plants
  • Ground bushes
  • Fancy oaks
  • Jungle tree
  • Mega jungle tree
  • Mega pine tree
  • Savanna tree
  • Swamp tree
  • Huge mushroom
  • Tallgrass
  • Waterlily
  • Vines
  • Melons
  • Pumpkin
  • Dead bush
  • Monster rooms
  • Desert well
  • Fallen logs
  • Emerald ore

Tweaks to caves

  • Lava at the bottom of caves
  • Caves in desert and mesa
  • Strongholds
  • Villages
  • Villagers
  • Abandoned mine shafts
  • Flat world generation
  • Limited world generation
  • “New” mob spawning
  • Updated light generation
  • Grass color for different biomes
  • Foliage color for different biomes
  • Water color for swamps

New AI

  • Spiders
  • New leaf rendering
  • Added more spawn eggs in Creative Mode
  • Added immersive mode for Android
  • Added drip particles for water and lava
  • Updated create world screen

Tweaks and bug fixes

  • Correct name for stairs, slabs and spawn eggs
  • Beds no longer gives full health in normal difficulty
  • Smooth lighting added for:
  • Beds
  • Fences
  • Walls
  • Cobwebs
  • Chests
  • Leaves
  • Smooth lighting removed for:
  • Glowstone
  • Glass
  • Jack ‘o’ lanterns
  • Improved performance of TNT
  • Prettier clouds
  • The fog is darker underground

Known Bugs

  • The block highlight flickers (z-fights) when more than 10k blocks distant from spawn
  • Changing the view distance while in a world might crash the game
  • If players walk too far from each other in multiplayer, they can’t see each other

Known bugs requiring attention

  • Multiplayer is a bit fragile. Please test it and report all issues to us!
  • The LevelDB save format + upgrading of old maps. Please report any data corruption!
  • Crashes in general – uncommon and random crashes might still happen

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