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Google's ML Kit Lets Any App Put Machine Learning to Work

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May 8, 2018, 1:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

Google today announced ML Kit, a new SDK that will allow developers to add machine learning to their own applications. ML Kit gives developers access to five ready-to-use APIs: text recognition, face detection, barcode scanning, image labeling, and landmark recognition. Google believes these base APIs will let developers add a whole new level of smarts to their applications. ML Kit is available for both Android and iOS, and includes both on-device and in-the-cloud offerings. The image labeling API, for example, includes 430 sample images for offline, on-device object recognition, but more than 10,000 in the cloud. Developers will be able to add the offline component to their apps for free, though accessing the APIs via the cloud will carry nominal fees. Google said it worked with Qualcomm and Huawei, both of which have machine learning built into their most recent flagship processors, to generate its ML Kit models. The idea behind ML Kit is to bring machine learning to any device, regardless of the processor inside. "We want machine learning to be a thing," said Brahim Elbouchikhi, Product Manager at Google. Developers will be able to test different models side-by-side without doing any computation their own. Elbouchikhi envisions ML Kit will be most useful in camera apps, fitness apps, meal planning apps, fishing apps, and any other app where object recognition and labeling provides an extra layer of information and detail. "A fishing app [enhanced by ML Kit] can help you figure out what fish you just caught and estiamte the size," remarked Elbouchikhi. Developers can find ML Kit in Google's Firebase console.

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