Instagram's UK Users Get Ads

While Instagram has been monetising its app for nearly a year, UK users have enjoyed scrolling through timelines that are completely free of ads. Until today, that is. The company has taken to the service to share the very first sponsored post with UK users (shown above), letting them know that "over the coming weeks" it will begin displaying paid content their streams, whether they like it or not. Users are invited to tap the "Sponsored" label to learn more about a specific campaign, but the majority are likely to become acquainted with "..." button, which quickly hides them from view. The dream might be over but Instagram says it's starting out with only a "few" businesses, meaning you shouldn't be bombarded with ads when they begin rolling out.

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Facebook's megaphone-like approach to sharing makes it less than ideal for more private missives. Sharing private images or jokes with select people is something of a test of nerves. One slip of a drop-down menu, and your intimate photo could go global, rather than just to your "mates" privacy group. But, Facebook wants you to share in anyway, and to anyone you like with confidence it seems. According to TechCrunch, the social network's working on a "Moments" mobile app to help. Once again, Facebook would be taking a single-focused idea out of the main mobile app into a standalone one if sources are correct. The Moments app will reportedly use a visual, tile-based interface for you select the group or sub groups of people you wish to share your -- we assume -- moment with. If this sounds a lot like Google+'s "circles" mechanism, that's because it does. There's no word when Moments could find its way onto phones, so for now, you'll just have to run the gauntlet with current tools to avoid having your mom comment on bachelor(ette?) party photos.

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Philips will soon launch a couple of iPhone- and iPad-controlled devices, but they're not the company's usual phone docks or Hue smartlight models -- they're gadgets designed to help suppress persistent pain. The first device (above) called PulseRelief uses Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation or TENS technology, which delivers electric pulses straight to your nerves. That's supposed to prevent pain signals from reaching your brain and to release endorphins, chemicals that make you feel good and happy. There are tons of similar gadgets out there (search for "TENS device" on eBay and Amazon to see what we mean), but Philips' version lets you choose from 60 intensity levels through its smartphone app.

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Moto Maker Live In The UK

Motorola's new Moto X might not be sale in the UK yet, but that isn't stopping the company from letting customers create their own designs ahead of its release. Today, for the first time, Brits can get to grips with Moto Maker, Motorola's web-based customisation tool, allowing them to choose the finish, colours, cases, storage and even engraving options for their Moto X before putting down (at least) £419.99 to buy one. Moto Maker comes to the UK with a number of additional customisations in tow, including a new leather finish (that'll cost £20 extra and adds to the traditional plastic and wooden options) and a choice to include metal accents on the power and volume buttons, speaker grilles and that big Motorola logo on the back. On the subject of storage, you'll be forced to pay an extra £40 if you want the 32GB model, as the Moto X doesn't come with a microSD slot. Currently, you can only use Moto Maker to create your bespoke design and email it to yourself, allowing you to pick it back up and apply it when the Moto X eventually goes on sale later this month.

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Can't wait for the Xbox One version of Goat Simulator's absolute madness and have an iOS device? (Update: Or an Android one?) Well, then Coffee Stain Studios has you covered. The team's not-at-all serious (or realistic) depiction of goat life is now available for your Apple-branded mobile gizmos, as spotted by the ever vigilant Wario64. A majority of the game's charm comes from how intentionally glitchy and broken it is, so don't be alarmed if, say, your hoofed avatar's head gets stuck inside a wall. Or worse. Depending on where you live, though, it might be cheaper to keep an actual goat that to download this $5 game to your smart device of choice.

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Once again recalibrating its bad news for the latest financial quarter, Sony has quadrupled its forecast loss for the financial year and it's down to those Xperia smartphones. The company already cut its forecast for smartphone sales in July, and this latest reassessment - to the sum of a 180 billion yen ($1.7 billion) "impairment" - comes following an internal review of it mobile arm in mid-summer. It found that the mobile arm was focused on "achieving significant sales growth" which apparently is no longer the game plan: the company is now aiming towards reducing risk, volatility and "more stable profits". (Some profit is likely a good place to start.) The revision will also factor new strategies depending on regions, and a focus on its premium smartphones -- and likely a reduction in its midrange devices.

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You excited that iOS 8's scheduled to land on your iPhones and iPads later? Cool, but if you avidly use Dropbox to back up your photos and videos, the new software comes bundled with a dash of disappointment. According to Dropbox, its service has an unfortunate compatibility issue with Apple's latest mobile platform that specifically affects the Automatic Backup function. The new software apparently prevents both Dropbox and its photo managing app Carousel from properly uploading photos and videos to the cloud.

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The latest game development toolkit from Epic Games supports Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus, but what about virtual or augmented reality on mobile devices? That's coming, too -- and apparently pretty soon. Road to VR has noticed that on Epic's publicly-accessible "Unreal Engine 4 Roadmap" task-board two new bits were added to the VR to-do list: Samsung Gear VR and Google Project Tango support. They're labeled as September and October projects, and as Road to VR notes, the VR project category has been empty since Oculus' and Sony's features have been completed. If anything, this yet another example of just how versatile Unreal Engine 4 is when it comes to what the engine's games can run on. Maybe Amazon's Fire phone is up next? After all, there's precedent (sort of).

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Verizon's HD voice and video chat feature is now live, just like it promised back in August. The carrier officially calls it "Advanced Calling 1.0," and it lets you make high-definition voice calls over LTE to other Verizon phones that also have the capability. Its video chat function, on the other hand, is a combination of HD voice and real-time video feed, though it can transfer the video portion of the call from LTE to Verizon WiFi when available. Anyone with a compatible device can access the feature at no additional charge, with HD voice costing the same as your standard call rates. Video, however, will be billed as data, with one minute eating up between six to eight MB.

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girl with a mobile phone reads...

In many parts of the world where LTE and 3G aren't as accessible, something like the Cosmos browser for Android could be incredibly cheap and useful. This upcoming Android app, you see, doesn't need data to work -- you simply plug in a URL, and it sends back a simple, stripped-down version of the page via text messages. On the project's GitHub page, its developers explained that once you input a URL, the app texts it to their Twilio number, which then forwards it to their backend. The system then gets the source code of the website and nukes the CSS and javascript to deliver a series of clean text messages to the user's phone.

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Out with the old, in with the new. That was the theme of last year's iOS update, known as iOS 7, which ushered in a flat new design. Although Apple threw in some new functionality as well, it was clear the company was mainly focused on giving its mobile OS a face-lift and setting the stage for future updates -- the first of which is coming out tomorrow. iOS 8 builds on last year's software with a plethora of new features, including third-party keyboards, camera controls, widgets, home automation, health and fitness tools and the ability to interact with other apps. (Yes, it's hard to believe these are just arriving on iOS.) Here's what to expect.

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To say that Apple's doing things differently would be an understatement. With the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, the company introduced two new high-end phones at the same time, both with a complete redesign and a much larger screen size than any iPhone that came before. Gone are the days of 3.5-inch and 4-inch phones that, at one time, seemed to provide more than ample amounts of screen space. Now, the new iPhones make their predecessors look like the tiny handset Ben Stiller used in Zoolander. The market has changed, and it was high time Apple did the same.

Even though this is Apple's first attempt at building large phones, it's not breaking new ground -- in fact, it feels more like the company is catching up than innovating. To be fair, finding a fresh take is a difficult thing to do in this crowded space: Samsung's Galaxy Note series, which started out at 5.3 inches and is now up to 5.7, is selling by the millions, and most competing flagships aren't much smaller. Basically, Apple would be leaving money on the table if it didn't address this segment of the market. So how did the company do on its first try at large phones? Pretty well -- mostly.

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Google Play Store's Material Design makeover

Google may have already given Android's Play Store a big makeover this summer, but it's not done yet -- there's another revamp coming this year. Android Police has posted shots of a pre-release Play Store 5.0 update that's very clearly guided by Google's Material Design concept. While it's not quite as dramatic an overhaul as what we saw a few months ago, it's still a pretty noticeable change. Swaths of bright, solid color are everywhere, and there's even more of an emphasis on title pictures. You should get some extra function to go with this form, too; code buried in the update hints that you'll get to restore apps on a per-device basis, making it much easier to recreate your setup from an old phone. It's not certain just when the new Play Store will go live, but it's reasonable to presume that you'll see it around the same time as the similarly-styled Android L update.

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ZTE ZMAX for T-Mobile

If you like the prospect of a giant smartphone but find even LG's G Vista too rich for your blood, ZTE might have something that's more up your alley. It just unveiled the ZMAX, a 5.7-inch device that hopefully won't crush your bank account. The 720p screen, quad-core Snapdragon 400 chip, 16GB of expandable storage and 8-megapixel rear camera are nothing special, but you're getting a lot of battery for the money; the 3,400mAh power pack is estimated to last for two days, or more than enough for a busy weekend. You might also like the not-quite-stock (read: potentially very speedy) Android 4.4 interface. ZTE's low-cost behemoth will only be available through T-Mobile when it ships on September 24th. However, you'll only have to pay $10.50 per month over two years to own the ZMAX, or $252 total -- not too shabby considering that other phones this big frequently cost two or three times as much.

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Need another reason to activate two-factor authentication on your Apple device? Ars Technica and Apple Insider report that the security check now extends to cover iCloud device backups too, something it didn't do before. That means if someone gets your password, or is able to reset it, they could pull down the data with a tool like Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker and have access to anything stored there -- it's thought that many of the stolen personal photographs of celebrities recently posted online were obtained by this method. With two-factor authentication, they'd need access to your trusted device to generate a four digit code to get in. Another security tweak Apple just turned on is a notification that lets users know when their account has been accessed, to make sure it's for legit reasons. Before your new iPhone and Watch show up to handle your selfies, payments and anything else better kept private -- hit Apple's website and turn the extra level of security on.

Update: Tonight Apple sent out an email to Apple ID accounts detailing the change. It also mentions that beginning October 1st, app-specific passwords will be necessary for third-party apps that don't support two-factor (like Outlook or Thunderbird) to access iCloud. If you have an account it should be in your inbox, or you can check out the text after the break.

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