Carphone Warehouse

Although there were a multitude of reasons behind Phones4U's demise, one of the key factors was the overwhelming lack of support from the UK's major carriers. Three and O2 severed ties with the company way in advance of its closure, but it was a shake of the head from both Vodafone and EE that dealt the final blow. For a short time, it looked as if the mobile reseller model could be under threat, spelling trouble for Phones4U rival Carphone Warehouse, a retailer that had just been picked up by Dixons Retail for £3.8 billion.

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Sky HQ

Talks between Three owner Hutchison Whampoa and O2 haven't yet reached a conclusion, but already some of the UK's biggest companies are keen to take advantage of a future merger. After briefly flirting with Vodafone in a recent trial, Sky has confirmed it will become a quad-play provider with the launch of its own O2-powered mobile network in 2016. According to Sky, O2's current owner Telefónica UK will provide access to the carrier's 2G, 3G and 4G services, allowing it to go up against BT, Virgin Media and also TalkTalk, which signed a deal with the operator in November, to offer phone, broadband, TV and mobile bundles.

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OneDrive's new photo interface

Microsoft has long wanted you to use OneDrive to store your photos, but actually viewing those photos isn't ideal -- you're ultimately using a file browser that just happens to have some photo-related features. That's going to change in the next couple of weeks, though. The folks in Redmond are rolling out a photography-focused update to OneDrive that gives your image library some TLC. You can organize photos into albums with edge-to-edge photo collages and larger single-picture views. It should be much easier to find and share your snapshots, as well. OneDrive now draws on Bing image recognition to give your pics basic tags (like "beach" or "dog"), and PCs running Windows 7 or 8 can automatically sync photos from devices as soon as you plug them in. Only web and iOS users will see the new photo tricks right away, but they'll reach Android and Windows Phone in the days ahead.

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Microsoft has released new Outlook apps for iOS and Android, and they might just be light-years better than those web apps the company has unleashed in the past. See, these are the result of Redmond's Accompli acquisition in December, and seeing as we liked that startup's email app when we test drove it last year, we have high hopes for these new ones. The company says the new Outlook for the mobile platforms comes with a built-in calendar and makes attachments easier to add for higher productivity. They're apparently more tightly integrated with Office apps and Outlook for desktop, as well. We can't say whether they'll truly blow your current email apps out of the water as we haven't tested them yet, but you can find out for yourself by downloading either (or both) from iTunes or Google Play. Take note that the Android app's just a preview at the moment, so Microsoft could still tweak its features for the final version.

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HTC One M9 leak

You'd be forgiven for not knowing what to expect from HTC's next flagship smartphone. The images that have emerged are frequently dodgy, and there are even claims that the company is seeding decoys to throw people off the scent. However, you might finally be looking at the real thing... or rather, things. Well-known leaker Evan Blass (aka @evleaks) has posted a supposed product shot displaying a pair of differently-sized, previously unseen devices that he believes to be HTC's successors to the One M8. Both have edge-mounted front speakers, a large front camera (UltraPixel?) and the super-thin bezels that many have been asking for. The designs are feasible, although that Galaxy S5-style home button on the larger version gives us reason for pause -- either this is sketchy, or HTC's lawyers have decided that Samsung won't get angry. You'll likely know more at HTC's media event on March 1st.

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LG is still trailing Samsung and Apple in total smartphone sales (and profits from them), but the company just revealed its financial data for the last year and has plenty to be happy about. It sold 59.1 million smartphones last year, up nearly a quarter from what it moved in 2013. The report didn't explain when we can expect the G Flex 2 in the US or leak what's in the next big G series phone, but said the company will "concentrate on improving its brand power, operating more efficiently, and focusing on selective key markets." Its TV business is doing well too, where profits grew 31 percent from last year to $482 million. Still, the company had a net loss in the last quarter of 2014 because of write-offs related to shutting down its plasma TV business as it ramps up Ultra HD and OLED.

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Samsung's profits have been on an upward swing driven by several popular versions of its Galaxy smartphones, but 2014 is going into the books as an off year. It still posted a $4.88 billion profit in Q4, but for the year it was down 32 percent from 2013 and had the lowest profit since 2011, which can be traced to a drop in smartphone shipments. So what's the plan for 2015? Other than shipping more of those curved SUHD TVs we saw, it's focusing on phone sales in India and China, planning a "diversified portfolio with unique designs" of wearable devices and launching more new phones like the Galaxy A series. It's also focusing on its processor building business, and it seems more likely than ever that the next round of Galaxy phones will have Samsung CPUs inside instead of Qualcomm. That might not be enough to keep up with the Joneses Apple for the coming year, but it will have to do.

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Delaware driver's license on a phone

For all the recent talk of moving to digital wallets, you can't really ditch the old-school kind yet -- you still need to carry physical copies of your driver's license and other forms of ID. If you live in Delaware, though, you may eventually have one less reason to worry when you leave your purse or wallet at home. The state's Senate recently passed a resolution asking the Division of Motor Vehicles to research a digital driver's license that you would store in an app on your phone. While many of the details still have to be worked out, you'd use some kind of biometric security (such as your face, fingerprint or voice) to get access on top of a code. There's no timetable for when Delaware would test these licenses, but it may not take long given that the state's development partner, MorphoTrust, has been working on the technology for a while.

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Qualcomm's presence inside many of the world's most popular mobile devices over the last few years has kept the money coming in (creating the need for the picture shown above), but today there was some bad news. In its Q4 earnings release, the company revealed (PDF) "Expectations that our Snapdragon 810 processor will not be in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer's flagship device." Uh-oh. Even though it didn't say who the large customer is, for years there have been expectations that Samsung would eventually stop relying on Qualcomm chips to run many of its Galaxy phones.

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Snapchat's already working on a library of original content, and thanks to AT&T, there will soon be shows for viewing inside the app as well. Re/code reports that a "scripted series" with 12 episodes will feature YouTube personalities like Freddie Wong and Harley Morenstein -- in addition to the Snapchat-famous Shaun McBride. This "SnapperHero" project isn't part of the app's Discover content channel, though, as AT&T is sponsoring the videos, so they're more like produced two-minute ad spots. Yahoo and others were also rumored to be considering YouTube's "talent," so we'll see how pairing popular internet things turns out. The "show" is set to debut in the near future as the number of folks leveraging the ephemeral sharing service's platform continues to grow.

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Motorola Moto E

If you were seduced by offers of "unlimited" phone data on prepaid carriers like Straight Talk or Simple Mobile only to find your service unbearably slow after a certain point, the Federal Trade Commission has your back. The carriers' owner, TracFone, has agreed to pay the FTC $40 million to settle charges that it misled customers by advertising unlimited data that was really throttled into oblivion. In other words, Straight Talk was being... less than straight. Beyond the payout, TracFone has to avoid making sketchy claims in its ads and provide refunds to anyone who's been burned. The settlement won't affect a huge number of people, but it could serve as a warning sign to AT&T and other big carriers trying to avoid penalties for similarly shady throttling practices.

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Folks buy the highly secure Blackphone handset for the warm and fuzzy feeling that nobody can see their stuff, but that trust was misplaced until recently, according to security expert Mark Dowd. He found a vulnerability in the text message application of the phone that let attackers steal messages, contacts and location info, and even execute malicious code to gain full control. All a bad guy needed to know was the device's "SilentCircle" account info or phone number.

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Did you play Monument Valley (above left), the gorgeous perspective-based puzzler from last year? It costs $4 on Google Play / iTunes, and is one of 2014's best games. And now you can get it for free. Sort of. You see, Ketchapp, the studio behind Threes! knockoff 2048 is at it again. With Skyward (above right), the developer's created a game that bears more than a passing resemblance to ustwo Studio's Apple Design Award winner. Whereas Monument Valley is a relaxing, almost Zen-like experience that's more about logic puzzles than twitch reactions, Skyward is a shallow attempt at disguising a tired Flappy Bird clone by wrapping it in pastel colors and M.C. Escher-like aesthetics. Oh, and it's full of obtrusive ads for retirement planning and compact cars -- junk that's thankfully missing from Monument Valley.

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'Harry Potter' on Oyster

If you're the sort of Harry Potter fan who can't help but read the series again and again, Oyster has a treat in store. The all-you-can-read subscription service has teamed up with Pottermore to carry all of the Harry Potter books, including the Hogwarts Library collection. There's even a little treat the first time you start reading -- rather than pick from one of the humdrum standard themes, you choose your favorite Hogwarts house (Slytherin, obviously). You probably don't want to sign up for Oyster's $10 a month service just for the sake of reliving Harry's school years, but it's potentially cheaper than purchasing the series on top of a slew of other books.

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Sony today revealed PlayStation Music, a new Spotify-powered music service coming to PlayStation 3, 4 and "Xperia smartphones and tablets" this spring. The service will outright replace Music Unlimited, the service that Sony previously implemented across devices, powered by its own enormous music catalog. The news marks the first time Spotify has come to any game console, and is a major coup for Sony's PlayStation group in the battle for major home entertainment apps on game consoles (Xbox One notoriously got HBO Go first).

PlayStation Music will require a Spotify paid subscription (the "Premium" membership), and enables both playback on the aforementioned devices and the ability to listen to music in the background during games. When the service launches at some point in Spring 2015, it'll be available in "41 markets around the world."

Update: The PlayStation Music service will support the "ad-supported free tier" of Spotify as well, a Sony rep told Engadget.

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