Microsoft Cortana on Android

Yes, it's official: Microsoft is bringing Windows' Cortana voice assistant to Android and iPhone. Both platforms will get a dedicated app that, much like you see on Windows Phone today, will let you dictate reminders, track flights and otherwise keep your life organized. Cortana's Notebook, which remembers what you like, will also sync across all your platforms. This won't be a one-for-one recreation of what you get right now, though -- since Microsoft can't tap directly into the operating system like it can on Windows devices, you won't get hands-free activation through "hey Cortana" or options to launch apps or settings. Still, it'll be worth seeing what this Halo-inspired helper can do when it reaches Android in late June, and iPhones sometime later this year -- and we'd add that it's not the only treat Microsoft has in store for your smartphone, either.

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Opera Max WiFi data saving

Opera's data compression was originally meant to get the most out of thimble-sized cellular plans, but you'd probably agree that WiFi matters, too. After all, you've likely had that moment when you were struggling to visit websites on a lousy public hotspot. Mercifully, relief is in sight: an updated version of Opera Max for Android now squeezes app data even when you're on WiFi, helping you save bandwidth no matter what connection you're using. You can manage cellular and WiFi data separately, and there's an equally new blocking option if you need to put a particularly greedy app on ice for a while. Snag the upgrade today if you find that fast, unfettered internet access is sometimes hard to come by.

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There are plenty of tales on how Nokia phones -- now under Microsoft -- have saved people's lives, with the latest one coming from China, where a man managed to survive a collapsed wall courtesy of his Lumia 920 earlier this month. As recalled by the lucky survivor himself, Mr. Geng Ming instinctively covered his head with his trusty Windows Phone device, which managed to soften the blow from the heavy wall. Microsoft China caught wind of this story and was kind enough to replace Geng's old flagship phone with a new model. Nope, not a Lumia 930, but a brand spanking new Lumia 640 XL. We don't blame Geng for looking so emotionless here.

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Sony Xperia Z3+

Sony announced the Xperia Z4 for Japan last month, but this isn't it. Well it is, but internationally Sony wants it to be known as the Xperia Z3+. Truth be told, that's a more appropriate name for the phone, given the incremental upgrade it represents over last year's model. The Z3+ may look virtually identical to its predecessor, but internally it has almost everything you'd expect from a 2015 flagship.

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With Samsung being an active promoter of Marvel's latest Avengers movie, it's no surprise to see the tech giant releasing some sort of special edition product to sweeten the deal. Why yes, it's an Iron Man limited edition Galaxy S6 Edge with matching red-and-gold color theme -- something that HTC should have done a while back. This curved 64GB device is quite a looker, and the special package even comes with an "arc reactor" wireless charger plus a clear cover, but you'll have to make do with Google Now instead of the snarky J.A.R.V.I.S. Here's the real bad news, though: right now Samsung is only releasing this phone in South Korea on May 27th, followed by China and Hong Kong in June. So while you're searching for the earliest flights to Asia, feel free to keep yourselves entertained with the official unboxing video after the break.

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Apple's Jony Ive

There's no question that Jony Ive is more important than ever to Apple's design process given his heavy influence on everything from the look of iOS to the philosophy behind the Apple Watch, and the Cupertino crew just gave him a promotion to reflect that fact. The Telegraph has revealed that Ive was recently promoted from Senior VP to become Apple's first-ever Chief Design Officer. He'll still oversee the company's broader design efforts, but there will be leaders dedicated to user interfaces (Alan Dye) and industrial design (Richard Howarth) as of July 1st.

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Photos on Android

Wondering what will happen when Android's Photos app finally makes a clean break from Google+? You should now have a pretty good idea. Android Police has peeked at a leaked copy of a reworked Photos app, and it's clear that Google is using the service split as an incentive to shake things up. The highlight may be Assistant (below), an effective substitute for Auto Awesome that gives you more creative power -- you can produce more content yourself (such as Stories) instead of waiting for it to show up. The interface should also be more intuitive across the board, with more options for viewing your photos, a better editing interface, privacy-minded sharing and pinch-to-zoom gestures for opening pictures. There's a chance these features could change or disappear before they're official, but it won't be surprising if you see this Photos redesign on the Google I/O stage this week.

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Instagram from one Mr. Steele

Instagram's photographic social feed isn't as novel as it once was, and you may be tempted to stop using it if you're overwhelmed by that never-ending stream of square pictures. How is the company supposed to keep you coming back for more? Though regular email blasts, apparently. TechCrunch has confirmed that Instagram is now sending "Highlights," email digests that showcase some of the better photos from those you follow. While this see-what-you're-missing strategy isn't new (Facebook and Twitter have done this for a while), it acknowledges that only some of Instagram's 300 million users are active shutterbugs -- this could help you remember the service and catch photos that would otherwise slip under the radar. Yes, the highlights are ultimately meant to get you viewing more ads, but they may be useful if you'd rather not spend every day wading through an image stream.

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Aria is a small add-on that clips underneath a smartwatch band and lets you control the device with finger gestures. It's an accessory for an accessory, which sounds kind of ridiculous, but it's not like you have a lot of choices when it comes to adding gesture control to your gadget anyway. The remote control-like clip-on can access any feature you'd usually access through the touch screen or the watch dial, completely freeing up your other hand for tasks like eating, drinking or talking on the phone. Possible gestures include tapping, flicking your fingers, and closing and opening your hand -- you can configure it all through its companion app.

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ZTE Open C running Firefox OS

Outside of one or two exceptions, most Firefox OS devices have been aimed squarely at the budget crowd -- at folks who would otherwise have to entirely forego smartphoness or tablets. However, Mozilla is ready to switch things up. The organization has unveiled a new strategy, Ignite, that should lead to Firefox OS gadgets you want to buy "because of the experience" rather than the price tag, according to CEO Chris Beard. Just what that entails isn't clear, but there's little doubt that this means a shift toward higher-end (though not necessarily flagship-class) hardware.

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Firefox and iOS intertwined

It's been a long time coming, but Firefox for iOS is nearly here... in a manner of speaking. Mozilla has revealed that it's about to conduct a "limited" beta test of the web browser, and has already posted source code for early testers. The organization would like to have an open beta that gives everyone an early peek (à la Android), but that's not really possible with Apple's current testing mechanism. Still, a public release is likely close behind -- if you're not a fan of your iPhone's existing web surfing options, you'll have another major alternative before long.

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As depressing as it may be, selfie sticks are inescapable despite how many places ban them. It's a sad truth of the future we live in. But! An enterprising artist by the name of Pablo Garcia has figured out a way to "reduce vainglory and self-importance" by adding pixely emoji to the reviled smartphone accessory. It's a bit more difficult than it looks, though. Garcia says he employed elements of anamorphosis, a technique to distort an image so that it's only visible from a specific angle, to make sure the smiling pile of poop, thumbs up and party horn appear correctly when shot from the smartphone's extended perspective. Is there some bigger message or implication here? "Perhaps it's a sober reminder of your mortality in the midst of your vainglory, or simply a pile of poop with eyes," Garcia writes. There you have it folks: sometimes a rose really is just a (smelly) rose.

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Android's factory reset function isn't as effective as we'd all like it to be, according to a team of Cambridge University researchers. The group estimates that as many as 500 to 630 million Android devices might not be capable of completely wiping the data saved in their internal disks and SD cards. They came to that conclusion after testing 21 devices running Android 2.3 to 4.3 from five different manufacturers that already went through factory reset. During their tests, they were able to recover at least part of the data stored in each sample device -- even if it was protected with full-disk encryption.

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This turned out to be quite the week for unannounced Microsoft apps. News of a "light-weight" email solution broke cover a few days ago, and today another pair of productivity apps were tipped. Thanks to @h0x0d on Twitter -- the source of the Flow email news -- we now know Microsoft is testing a cloud-based (thanks to OneDrive) clipboard tool that syncs across devices and platforms. The app is called OneClip, and though it's reportedly in internal beta. While it's available for download in the Windows Store, it'll only work for employees with the proper accounts. This means that you can copy a phone number on the desktop and have it immediately available on your Windows, iOS or Android phone.

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EE's Kestrel was its first own-brand 4G smartphone, meant for those wanting breakneck mobile data speeds without breaking the bank. One year on, the Kestrel is coming to the end of its life, and when remaining stock is depleted, it'll disappear from the network's handset roster. The market for affordable 4G smartphones isn't vanishing anytime soon, however, which is why EE's readied a replacement for the Kestrel prior to its retirement. Actually, make that two: the new EE Harrier and Harrier Mini.

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