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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Google Developers Event Held In San Francisco

Android is getting a TouchID-style system of its own with Android M, according to Buzzfeed's sources. Apparently it'll act a lot like the iOS tool too, bypassing passwords for associated apps in favor of reading your fingerprint. Given that I/O is practically right around the corner (next week!) it shouldn't be long before this all gets confirmed -- Google hasn't responded to our request for comment just yet.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

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9to5Mac, citing unnamed sources, reports that Apple is potentially gearing up to release its updated Transit service -- the same one it nixed immediately before last year's WWDC event -- with iOS 9. Transit acts as an add-on layer to Apple's existing Maps program providing accurate navigation instructions for public transportation systems. This functionality hasn't been available as a part of the official built-in app ever since Apple switched to its own service instead of using Google's.

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My wife often says I'm fat, but that's hardly a motivation for me to resume my exercise routine. Then the ASUS VivoWatch landed on my desk, so I had no choice but to get back on the treadmill for your amusement. To keep things short, it turns out that this fitness-centric smartwatch does have a couple of compelling features that made me interested in getting fit again -- more so than the other basic (as in no heart rate monitoring) fitness trackers that I've long left in the drawer. Also, the VivoWatch can pair with both iOS plus Android, and costs just under $150 in Taiwan, meaning it'll be going head to head with the similarly priced Fitbit Charge HR around the world. So is ASUS' first fitness device worth trying? Or should you stick to some more mature offerings? Let's take a look.

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It shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that the NSA worked on iOS and Android malware meant to capture information from a target's phone, but actually getting the software onto phones? That's tricky. To help solve that problem, the NSA (and the rest of the Five Eyes intelligence community) attempted to hijack data being sent to and from app stores like those run by Samsung and Google. According to a document leaked by Edward Snowden, obtained by The Intercept and published by the CBC, it was mostly in search of a way to implant secret surveillance payloads into those data connections in hopes of identifying an Arab Spring in action in other countries.

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Digital Life Review TV Cord Cutting

So far, Dish has done an exceptional job of launching its internet television service, Sling TV, on most major mobile and stationary platforms. And now Android TV is the latest to offer support for the cord-cutter app, joining others like iOS, Roku, Xbox One and, of course, Android in doing so. At the moment, Sling TV on Android TV really just means being available for the Nexus Player, although there are many devices launching soon with Google's newly minted ecosystem on board. Sling TV also announced ESPN Deportes (the Spanish version of ESPN) has been added to its channel lineup, which it will be including as part of the Latino-tailored, $5-per-month Deportes Extra pack.

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Contactless Payments

It's taken a while, but the UK is now primarily cashless. No, it's not all-digital, but for the first time, consumers and businesses are making more payments with cards, smartphones and online banking than standard notes and coins. That's according to the Payments Council, which found that 52 percent were completed without physical currency, with debit cards accounting for almost a quarter (24 percent) of all payments.

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Amazon Prime Now

When it's not busy sending its delivery personnel on the New York subway, Amazon has quietly been working to expand its one-hour delivery service. From today, customers in Manhattan, the company's first Prime Now location, can shop at a number of local businesses and have fresh food delivered within 60 minutes. D'Agostino, Gourmet Garage and Billy's Bakery are the first companies on board, offering groceries, cooked meals and freshly baked cupcakes respectively alongside Amazon's own range of goods. The online retailer is starting small but plans to add more stores across Manhattan over time, with Italian food market Eataly and Westside Market already waiting in the wings. As before, Prime Now's one-hour deliveries cost $7.99, so be sure to factor that in before impulse buying those delicious treats.

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Instagram filters on an iPhone

Whether or not you think photo filters represent creative assets or the death of photography as we know it, one thing's becoming increasingly clear: they're your ticket to popularity. Yahoo and Georgia Tech researchers have learned that filtered photos (at least, on Flickr) are 21 percent more likely to get views, and 45 percent more likely to receive comments. This doesn't mean that you can throw on any effect you like, mind you. Warmer-looking filters usually get the best results, while colder examples have less of an impact. In short, feel free to tweak your Instagram shots if you feel they lack a certain oomph that will draw in the crowds -- just don't try to be overly dark and edgy.

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Before you dismiss this as a slow-day news post, hear us out: these aren't your run-of-the-mill phone cases. These are the first products Google has released under its new Editions project, a series of collaborations with artists to develop limited edition "live cases" for select Android phones. For this batch, Mountain View worked with electronic dance music producer/DJ Skrillex, who designed an outer space-inspired set. Now, here's the cool part: in keeping with the space theme, the products come with live wallpapers showing images of the Earth from the stratosphere during the day and constellations visible from your location at night. The tech giant actually launched a high-altitude balloon named after Skrillex's dog Nanou to capture images of our planet and didn't just take images from NASA.

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