Mihaita Bamburic

Google reveals Photos -- coming to Android, iOS, and web

Google Photos shown on Chromebook, Android smartphone and tablet

Google revealed Google Photos today, at its Google I/O 2015 developer conference. It is a new standalone app for Android, iOS and the web which aims to make it easy for users to upload all of their photos and videos to the cloud, and manage everything afterwards. And it will be available starting today.

For mobile users, this means that the Google+ app is no longer needed to automate photo and video uploads. However, Google Photos is not just about uploading content to the cloud, but also organizing it. Google says that everything will be (privately) auto-grouped, so that users can easily find, for instance, dog photos.

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Google announces Android Pay

The Google I/O logo for Android Pay

Apple Pay now has some serious competition, as Google today announced its own contactless payments solution, called Android Pay, at its Google I/O 2015 developer conference. Android Pay will "soon" be available, as an app, through Google Play.

Android Pay will be an open platform, so developers will be able to integrate it into their apps to allow users to easily pay for things. Bringing its contactless payments solution to market, Google says that it is "bringing together mobile carriers, payment networks, banks and retailers".

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Cortana to play well with popular cloud storage lockers on Lenovo's Windows 10 PCs

cortana__contentfullwidth

Microsoft and Lenovo have teamed up to expand Cortana's usefulness on the Chinese maker's Windows 10 PCs, giving users the ability to call up the personal assistant to search files stored on popular cloud storage lockers.

Considering that each of the major cloud storage services has its fair share of supporters, it is a smart play to give customers the option to use their favorite locker with Cortana. It enhances the user experience and, at the same time, sets Microsoft up to gain more Cortana supporters.

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Lenovo unveils ThinkPad 10 Windows 10 tablet

2015 Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 10 with Windows 10

While shipments of Android tablets and iPads are falling, Windows slates are slowly gaining traction, making progress in the consumer and enterprise markets. In the first quarter of the year, Windows saw shipments rise by 11 percent year-over-year, which is no small feat. So, obviously, we can expect to see more and more Windows tablets hitting store shelves in the coming period.

The latest Windows tablet to join the pack is Lenovo's new business-oriented ThinkPad 10. It comes with a powerful x86 processor, which allows it to run the full-fledged version of Windows -- Windows 10 nonetheless -- and well-known programs such as Office. And Lenovo is making available dedicated accessories for it, which can turn it into a small laptop replacement. Here is what you need to know about it.

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A simple text will bring your iPhone to its knees [Update]

iPhone 6 showing a white/blank screen like it is rebooting

It does not take sophisticated software or advanced knowledge of iOS to cause an iPhone and its Messages app to crash, as a simple text message can do the job just fine. As an iPhone 6 Plus user, this is the first time that I am feeling vulnerable for using an Apple smartphone.

And I am not alone, as an increasing number of iPhone users are taking to Twitter to complain about this bug, which can be triggered with anyone who is also using an iPhone. The text that has to be sent contains a specific sequence, which triggers the crash.

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Lenovo unveils another Chromebook competitor -- $249 Windows 8.1 laptop

14-inch Lenovo ideapad 100 laptop $249

With PC shipments continuing on a downward slope, manufacturers are finding new ways to attract consumers. In the high-end segment, it is all about specs: high-resolution screens, lots of battery life, powerful processors and so on. But, at the other end of the spectrum, the focus is on value for money -- to a certain extent, it is about cramming as many nice things as possible into a package that does not break the bank.

Chromebooks are probably the offerings that best cater to this audience's needs, assuming folks can live without Windows on their new machines. If that is not the case, there are a couple of interesting options on the PC side, one of which is Lenovo's new ideapad 100 line.

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Sony announces Xperia Z3+: Just another flagship

Waterproof credentials of Sony Xperia Z3+ shown in Copper Gold

While the likes of HTC, LG and Samsung all have new flagship smartphones for 2015, Sony is still trying to sway consumers with last year's Xperia Z3. While it is not exactly dated, it is showing its age in a time when the competition is rocking newer and more impressive hardware, as well as more attractive designs.

So how is Sony answering? The Japanese maker has decided that the flagship it needs to compete against rivals like G4 and Galaxy S6 is actually a rebranded version of the Japan-only Z4 that it unveiled in mid-April. Sony is either crazy or dropping out of the race.

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Samsung announces Iron Man-themed Galaxy S6 edge

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge Iron Man-themed limited edition

Samsung has teamed up with Marvel to release an Iron Man-themed version of its Galaxy S6 edge Android flagship smartphone. The handset is introduced in celebration of the Avengers: Age of Ultron blockbuster, and hits store shelves starting tomorrow as a limited edition.

As you might expect, where the Iron Man-themed Galaxy S6 edge differs from its standard counterpart is in the looks department. But there are also differences when it comes to packaging, with the former being shipped in an Iron Man-themed box with extra -- cool -- accessories.

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Windows 10 Build 10125 leaks online -- here's what's new

Windows 10 Build 10125 Leak Start screenshot with Alarms app background

The latest Windows 10 build that you can officially get your hands on was released less than a week ago. It comes with some interesting improvements and new features, which should keep Insiders happy for a while.

But, if you are among those who are already looking for something newer to test, there's some good news for you. A new Windows 10 build, version 10125, has leaked online; and we already know what's new -- get ready for some nice changes.

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Android's factory reset leaves private information behind on 630 million devices

Insecure Android smartphone

Sensitive data, such as user credentials, can be easily recovered from an Android handset after performing a factory reset, according to a University of Cambridge report. The feature, which is claimed to "erase all data" from the device and is especially recommended come resale time, will not work as advertised on up to 630 million Android handsets.

A factory reset will not properly wipe the data partition, where "credentials and other sensitive data are stored", on up to 500 million handsets, while on a further 130 million devices it will not properly clean the user-accessible storage. Even worse, relying on encryption to secure sensitive data does not help.

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Android 5.1.1 now available for Nexus 4, 5, cellular 7 and 9 -- here's how you can install it

Android 5.1 Lollipop announcement image

You might think that Google will quickly update its supported Nexus devices to the latest version of Android, after releasing it. After all, the search giant controls the development of the mobile operating system and Nexus software updates. But that is not exactly the case.

Some Nexus devices -- like the second-generation Nexus 7 -- got Android 5.1.1 Lollipop last month, while other handsets -- like the 4G LTE version of Nexus 9 -- are only now receiving the software upgrade. Not a level playing field it would seem.

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Mid-range Microsoft Surface 3 available in Europe

Surface 3

When Microsoft announced Surface 3, the software giant revealed that its latest Windows 8.1 slate would be offered with two main hardware configurations: 64 GB of internal storage with 2 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of internal storage with 4 GB of RAM. Either can be had with or without 4G LTE cellular connectivity.

However, what most people do not know is that Surface 3 is actually available in a third hardware configuration, which slots between the two aforementioned models. It gives users 64 GB of internal storage and 4 GB of RAM to play with. And now, this model is surfacing in Europe.

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Dropbox for Windows, Windows Phone becomes universal app, gains new features in the process

Dropbox for Windows Phone logo

Cloud storage service Dropbox has turned its Windows and Windows Phone apps into a single universal app, giving users a consistent experience across smartphones, PCs and tablets that are running Microsoft's tiled operating systems.

The latest version of Dropbox bridges the gap between the Windows and Windows Phone versions of the app, sharing most of the code, also gaining a number of new features in the transition to universal app status. The most important changes are aimed at the Windows Phone-toting crowd. Some are long-overdue, being mentioned in my initial coverage of the Windows Phone client in mid-January.

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Microsoft releases May 2015 firmware upgrades for Surface Pro 3, Pro 2

Surface Pro 3 with red Type Cover keyboard

After a brief hiatus, Microsoft has released new firmware upgrades for its Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 2 Windows 8.1 tablets. The May 2015 releases feature updated drivers and UEFI, which, as expected, are meant to refine the user experience.

There are no new firmware upgrades available for the original Surface Pro, however, nor for Surface RT, Surface 2 and Surface 3, the last of which Microsoft unveiled in late-March. Now, let us take a close look at what the latest Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 2 firmware updates bring to the table.

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Apple refreshes 15-inch MacBook Pro, introduces cheaper 5K iMac

May 2015 base 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display

Apple has refreshed the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, beefing up its top-of-the-line laptop with a Force Touch trackpad, faster internal storage and dedicated graphics, and, of course, better battery life. Also new is a 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display configuration which kicks off at $1,999, $300 cheaper than the original model.

But these are not the only changes that Apple has announced. The original 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display now starts off at $200 less than before -- prior to this price-cut, it had been available from $2,499. Let us take a detailed look at what the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display brings to the table.

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