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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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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