Sony Xperia E3

Sony's Android smartphones haven't been tinkerer-friendly to date -- since you couldn't boot from a recovery partition, you couldn't install CyanogenMod and other unofficial operating systems without jumping through hoops. It should be much easier to mess with your software from now on, though. Sony is quietly releasing bootloaders that let you boot from that recovery space, which opens the door to installing both custom Android ROMs as well as very different platforms, like Firefox OS or Ubuntu Touch. The catch? Right now, the only devices that support these bootloaders are lower-end models you probably don't use, like the Xperia E3, M2, T2 Ultra and T3. You won't be modifying the heck out of your Xperia Z3 just yet, then, but that's no longer a far-fetched idea.

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Amazon Echo speaker

You can tell Amazon's Echo speaker to directly control certain apps and services, but what if you want it to send information to other apps that you use more often? That's where IFTTT's new Alexa channel might save the day. Give the Echo a command and IFTTT will relay certain tasks to key apps. You can deliver your to-do list to Gmail when you ask the speaker about your itinerary, for example, or add your grocery items to Evernote without touching your phone. Frankly, this makes the Echo a lot more useful in daily life -- you no longer have to change some of your app habits to make the most out of Amazon's audio cylinder.

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Since it launched in February I've been a pretty big fan of the Saturday Night Live app, and the latest update should make it quite a bit better. Now there's native iPad support (hooray!) in addition to it being available on Android devices. NBC's also gone back and remastered some of the old sketches, added around 400 more (including some of the late Phil Hartman's "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer" bits) and tossed AirPlay support in so you can watch the clips via an Apple TV. Curiously, Chromecast beaming is still missing in action, but at least now you can text the new Church Lady emoji to let a pal know they're speeeecial.

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Emojis are starting to flood Instagram, and the website's engineers are on a quest to sort out how people are using the yellow-faced emoticons. Apparently, their popularity skyrocketed after Apple released the iOS emoji keyboard and Android got native support. In just a single month after the iOS emojis came out, their usage on the website increased by 10 percent. Now, nearly 50 percent of all captions and comments have an emoji or two. Instagram's research has also revealed that folks in Finland insert emojis most frequently, with 63 percent of all text posted from the country containing at least one graphic. The US (38 percent) takes the ninth place in that list, after France (50 percent), UK (48 percent), Germany (47 percent), Italy (45 percent), Russia (45 percent), Spain (40 percent) and Japan (39 percent).

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at Microsoft's annual "Build" conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. While Microsoft has already previewed some aspects of the new Windows 10, a parade of top executives will use the conference to demonstrate more software features and app-building tools, with an emphasis on mobile devices as well as PCs. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Referencing former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's infamous "developers!" chant is practically a cliché nowadays, but it felt like the silent refrain throughout the company's entire Build conference this week. In the run-up to Windows 10, Microsoft wants developers. It needs developers. And it will do whatever it takes to get them -- even going so far as to allow devs to recompile their Android and iOS apps without much fuss. None of this seemed possible from Microsoft years ago, when simply owning the dominant desktop platform was enough. But now with mobile devices and the cloud in play, Microsoft needs to evolve. And by doing so, it's also making Windows 10 a far more exciting upgrade than Windows 8 ever hoped to be.

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Grand Theft Auto V has a few mobile apps of its own, but one enterprising modder has taken the idea to its natural conclusion: an application that lets you control the in-game cellphone with an iPhone. With the application you can scroll through text messages on-screen, peep your current list of objectives and, among other things, even control the in-game phone's camera. The YouTube video's description (spotted by former Joystiq'r Dave Hinkle) does't offer much by way of details other than it's running on an Arduino Leonardo with an Ethernet shield connected to a PC, sadly.

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FBI Director James Comey visits Denver FBI Field Office

It's no secret that local law enforcement offices around the US are using a tool called Stingray to track cellphone locations without the approval of a judge. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from MuckRock's Alex Richardson, the FBI released thousands of pages of heavily-redacted documents, emails and more concerning the project, including one titled "Cellphone Tracking for Dummies." The super secret Stingray device is provided to local authorities by the FBI, creating fake cell towers that force nearby handsets to connect to it -- even those belonging to folks other than a suspect. And as you might expect, in addition to tracking, it also reveals the identity of the phone's owner. Included in the collection is loads of correspondence between the Bureau, Boeing, the Harris Corporation and local law enforcement. Those two middle companies, by the way, are manufacturers of the tech.

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The temptation to write off Meerkat -- the live-streaming app that sort of blew up at SXSW -- is tough to resist. After all, Twitter wasted no time releasing a competitor (with a cleaner interface, no less) that slowly seems to be eating Meerkat's lunch. For now though, Meerkat's got one leg up on its bitter new rival: The team released an Android version of the app that actually works the way it's supposed to. You see, Meerkat technically beat Periscope to Android by launching a closed beta app in mid-March, but you could only watch live streams, not start your own. In other words, it was almost completely pointless. Not so anymore!

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Look, sometimes it takes a little while for things to reach their full potential. Or does it? In our review of the HTC One M9, we talked about how lackluster the smartphone's camera is, especially when compared to rival flagships like the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6. That said, HTC has released an update to its standalone camera app that will make quite a few people happy. Available now on Google Play, this version of the HTC Camera is finally getting RAW support, which will let those of you with an M9 start capturing uncompressed image files -- unfortunately, that's the only device compatible with the new feature. You can grab the refreshed app right now -- and once you've taken it for a spin, be sure to share your thoughts with us.

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Amazon has given its Instant Videos app for iOS a huge boost, and just in time for the weekend. First up: you can now finally watch movies and shows in HD on your devices. No more putting up with standard definition if crisp, clear visuals are essential to your enjoyment. You'll likely still find yourself switching to lower resolution every now and then, though, especially if you're using cellular data. Yep, that's the other big upgrade -- you can watch your shows even in the absence of WiFi, so long as you have decent mobile connection. Thankfully, that feature comes with new settings that let you choose the quality of the stream, and hence the amount of data you'll use. The update's now live on iTunes if you want to take advantage of the new features... or to give the app another shot.

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AT&T Store, Clinton, CT 2014, by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube

AT&T has acquired another Mexican carrier in what seems to be an effort to conquer the continent... well, two of its countries anyway. Ma Bell has snapped up Nextel Mexico for $1.875 billion, shortly after its Iusacell (also a Mexican carrier) acquisition was approved by the country's telecom regulator, Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT). This time around, the IFT quickly approved the sale and transfer of Nextel's spectrum licenses, network assets, retail outlets and subscribers to AT&T, so the carrier can execute its plans ASAP. According to the company's official announcement, it will merge Iusacell and Nextel into a single company for wider coverage and as part of its plan to create "the first-ever North American Mobile Service area." Despite its name, that area only encompasses the US and Mexico, but it will cover over 400 million consumers in both countries once the merged company's up and running.

[Image credit: JeepersMedia/Flickr]

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Chinese firm Huawei is no stranger to the UK. Unbeknownst to many, it's an important provider of cellular infrastructure, and just a couple of weeks ago, it held its new flagship smartphone launch in London. Over the years, some of Huawei's top handsets have been ranged by major UK carriers, but these days you're more likely to see its name attached to low-cost, pay-as-you-go devices. Towards the end of last year, Huawei debuted its Honor smartphone brand in the UK and Europe, hoping this range of reasonably priced devices would find success in these parts. Perhaps to its detriment, Huawei went to great lengths to mask its ownership of Honor, instead introducing the brand as a new, pro-consumer smartphone manufacturer. Employing an online-only sales model, however, meant the name slid quickly into obscurity, but that changes in the UK today with Honor's first carrier partnership since the brand launched just over six months ago.

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Apple Watch

After the Internet was awash with reports that tattoos can negatively affect the Apple Watch's heart rate sensor, Apple has confirmed the issue on its website. In a page dedicated to explaining how the Watch captures your vitals, the company notes: "Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can also impact heart rate sensor performance," adding that "the ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings."

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Lithium ion batteries are practically ubiquitous; they power everything from laptops and cell phones to cameras and tablets. But before they can start providing the juice for bigger and more demanding applications, research about their failure needs to happen. That's where the fine folks at University College London come in -- they've used 3D-and-thermal imaging to track exactly what happens when the power cells overheat, inside and out. As you can see in the GIF above, the results aren't pretty. After cranking the heat on a pair of the batteries to 250+ degrees Celsius (482 degrees Fahrenheit) and keeping an eye on them with the aforementioned techniques, researchers witnessed one of the batteries blow its top. Prior to that happening, during what's known as "thermal runaway," the core collapsed.

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Microsoft Band users might get to enjoy a lot more third-party apps in the near future. Redmond has released the full Band SDK, giving developers power to create fully functional apps for the fitness tracker. The company already launched a preview version back in February, which allowed devs to create tiles that send glanceable notifications to the wearable. However, that only gave them access to sensors and other basic features. According to the general manager of Microsoft's personal devices division, Zulfi Alam, the newer SDK lets developers take advantage of all the device's features/functions and comes with the ability to:

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