RUSSIA-POLITICS-FEATURE

If you've spent any time on YouTube browsing for Russian dash cam or parkour videos, you know that the country's people can take life to the (often ill-advised) limit. That devil-may-care attitude also extends to how they take selfies. Since there were "at least" 10 deaths and 100 injuries resulting from folks aching to get the perfect shot last year, the Russian government has issued a set of rules for safe self-photography. A leaflet's going around advising people to not take photos with weapons, big animals, hanging from antennas on rooftops or in front of rail transport, among other situations.

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Republic Wireless' data usage app

Another unlimited mobile data option just bit the dust... although it's not quite as bad as it sounds. Republic Wireless has switched from offering unlimited cellular data on its higher-priced phone tiers to a Refund Plan that shares more than a little in common with Google's Project Fi. You start with a base $10 plan, and add data depending on how much you expect to use -- you get money back, and pay $15 per extra gigabyte if you run over. The add-ons start at a modest $7.50 for 500MB and peak at $45 for 3GB, so you won't pay much at all unless you regularly underestimate your needs.

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Jolla Tablet

Jolla's mobile efforts have barely begun, but it's already shaking things up by splitting into two companies. From now on, Jolla Ltd. is focused solely on developing and licensing Sailfish OS, its custom mobile platform. It's forming a new, as yet unnamed firm this summer for its hardware business, which sees demand from the pro-privacy crowd. As newly appointed CEO Antti Saarnio puts it, the division is all about establishing a "clear focus" -- Jolla believes that it'll require total concentration on software to take advantage of "large opportunities" for licensing its mobile platform.

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Swimming with Withings' Activite watch

Most activity trackers and smartwatches won't monitor your swimming, and those that do usually require that you kick in a swimming mode before you dive in. Withings doesn't think you should have to switch things up just because you've left dry land, though. The health tech firm has added automatic swim detection to its Activité and Activité Pop watches, so you only need to start that breast stroke for it to register as a workout. You probably won't want to take your tracker on a deep scuba dive (both wearables are resistant down to 164 feet), but this could be very helpful if you'd rather hit the beach this summer than roast during a run.

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It seems like we can't get through a single month these days without one UK carrier or another launching an own-brand device. And, since the last device bearing a network provider's name came from Vodafone, it's only fitting that its own-brand nemesis EE gets to make the next announcement. So, without further ado, let's take a gander at the EE Rook, the carrier's newest home-grown handset aimed specifically at pay-as-you-go (PAYG) punters. Launched today for £49 for new customers and £39 for existing ones, EE calls it "the UK's lowest priced 4G smartphone." Technically, that epithet's correct, though it's only a lone pound cheaper than Vodafone's Smart 4 Turbo on PAYG. As EE's Harrier Mini is available for free on the provider's lowest-price contracts, it makes sense that the Rook be a PAYG-only affair, but what exactly do you get for that kind of money?

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Samsung predicts that its earnings from April-June of this year will likely be down four percent from last year, suggesting that sales of its newest flagship smartphones have failed to hit the mark. However, it will still be the company's highest quarterly profit since Q2 2015. The company's forecast is thin on details -- revenue is also down 8.4 percent from the same period last year-- but many analysts think supply shortages have stymied sales of Samsung's S6 Edge. The WSJ's sources say that the company struggled to match production to the demand of customers, who wanted the curved Galaxy S6 Edge over the original S6, initially predicting to sell four Galaxy S6 smartphones for each S6 Edge. At the same time, the company's lucrative component business, which puts parts in rival phones as well as PCs, will likely have another strong quarter, putting an equally strong spotlight on the mobile arm's struggles.

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A Helio Ocean

Remember Helio, the virtual carrier that tried to cater to the tech-savvy young crowd (not so successfully) with data-centric plans and rebranded basic phones? It's baaaack. Ubi Telecom, a mobile company focused on Korean-speaking Americans, has quietly revived the brand as a mostly bring-your-own-device service on Sprint's network, with Verizon* as a roaming partner. However, it's definitely not the provider you remember from a decade ago. Service is much cheaper at $29 (tax included!) for unlimited data, text and voice, but that data is capped at a paltry 128Kbps -- you won't be checking out Netflix. The ready-to-go phone catalog is old, too, with the Galaxy S4 being as good as it gets. The resurrected Helio makes sense if you think that even Virgin Mobile's $35 plans are too rich for your blood, but it won't trigger those warm, fuzzy nostalgic feelings.

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Microsoft Tossup on an iPhone

Microsoft's Garage team has tried to solve many everyday problems with its experimental mobile software, but it's now tackling one of the most common: how do you get your friends together for a night on the town? The group's new Tossup app for Android and iPhone gives you a simpler, shared experience for deciding on where you're going, when, and who's coming. You only have to ask your friends for a vote, and Tossup will automatically plug your decisions into your calendar. Is this a one-trick pony? You bet -- but that might be all you need if you don't want to set up a Facebook event (or juggle multiple conversations) just to head out for Korean barbecue.

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Welcome to the new music experience in Windows 10. As hinted at earlier this morning by Paul Thurrott, the company just announced it's rebranding the Xbox Music experience to "Groove", while also renaming the Xbox Video app to just "Movies & TV." According to a blog post about the changes, the new naming is meant to be "more identifiable to our broad customer base" and will roll out to other devices in the coming months. The timing of the change is odd as Windows and Xbox begin to work more closely together than ever before, but it doesn't appear that the actual features will be much different. Of course, with the launch of Apple Music, rebranding could be just the way to get some attention for an existing service that already offers a lot of the same features.

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If you prefer Bing Maps as your go-to navigation tool, the software's preview version received a big redesign. Focused primarily on helping you plan trips, a load of new features aim to make it easier to search, view and share multiple destinations easily. Bing Maps Preview will pull in reviews and photos from Yelp in its search results, so you'll have quick access to suggestions when traveling in an unfamiliar locale. When it comes to planning an evening out, for example, there's a new card-based format to keep each stop a few taps away. For those entries, hours, useful details and similar options nearby are all included. Bing also employs predictive routing to help you determine the best time to head, showing you what traffic would be like for a specific time of day.

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While Amazon already offered mobile apps for sorting your photos and music parked in its Cloud Drive repository, there wasn't an option for getting at all of your stored files. Late last week, a dedicated Cloud Drive app for iOS arrived in the iTunes App Store, joining both Android and Amazon versions that debuted in late June -- all three of which rolled out rather quietly. Similar to the Dropbox app, the mobile software allows you to organize and access photos, videos, documents, spereadsheets and other files you've stored in Cloud Drive. As you might expect, you can also preview images (no editing abilities), PDFs and other documents from within before sharing in another app, with a link or as an email attachment. And yes, you can use the app to play videos and music stored in Amazon's cloud, too. Until now, desktop apps for PC and Mac offered the only direct access to Cloud Drive as a whole, and mobile devices could only leverage those media-specific apps.

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Germany Gadget Show Samsung

A minor Chinese consumer protection group has filed lawsuits against Samsung and Oppo to contest the pair's use of bloatware on their smartphones. The Shanghai Consumer Council believes that the two companies install far too many additional apps on their devices and then make it difficult for them to be easily removed. The group says that it was motivated to launch the legal broadside after a high number of complaints from users. It believes that people are aggrieved that they've got less storage space than expected, and that these apps slurp down excessive quantities of data.

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Apple Pay UK's initial partners

Irked that Apple Pay is only officially slated to reach the UK sometime in July? Don't worry -- you might not have to wait all month to see it. Multiple retailer leaks at 9to5Mac point to Apple launching its iPhone tap-to-pay service in Old Blighty on July 14th, or soon enough that you can likely use it if you're off to one of the country's many summer music festivals. Just don't expect to splurge on more than a quick bite to eat while you're out. That £20 (soon to be £30) contactless payment cap seriously limits how much you can spend, so the British implementation won't be quite as convenient as it is for Americans.

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Mi Band 1S

Chinese phone maker Xiaomi has made a name for itself by delivering premium devices at budget prices. As well as phones and tablets, Xiaomi also sells accessories, including the Mi Band fitness tracker. After almost a year on sale, China's biggest mobile manufacturer feels the time is right to update its popular wearable, and thanks to Taiwan's National Communications Commission, we now know that it will come with its very own heart-rate monitor. The Mi Band 1S retains the same design as its predecessor, complete with aluminum cap, but features a new sensor on the back that's designed to stay in constant contact with a user's skin.

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