Sony Xperia Z2

It's been nearly three years since I reviewed the Xperia Neo, manufactured by what was then Sony Ericsson. The Neo represented just the second generation of Xperia phones running on Android, from a period when Sony was finding its feet in the world of mobile and still chucking out plenty of duds (I'm looking at you, Tablet P). Fast-forward to today and things have changed dramatically under Kaz Hirai's stewardship. I'll tell you this right now: The Z2 is an easy phone to recommend, at least for those living in countries where it'll definitely be available (a list that includes the UK and Canada, but not yet the US). The only real caveat is the handset's huge, monolithic construction (a far cry from puny, 126-gram Neo). As you'll see, if you can get past its size, the Z2 addresses some of the most serious gripes we had with its predecessors, the Xperia Z and Z1, particularly with respect to its LCD display. In fact, in some respects, it's far ahead of any other Android phone currently on the market.

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Samsung Milk Music on a Galaxy Note 3

You know what they say about all good things in life. Samsung has been offering an ad-free version of its Milk Music service for no charge since launch, but the company has posted a new infographic revealing that Americans will soon have to pay $4 per month for a Premium tier to escape marketers. You'll also get some "exclusive features" as a bonus, although it's not clear just what they'll entail. We've reached out to learn more about both the paid service launch and what those perks will be. For now, you'll want to cherish the current listening experience -- it may not be around for much longer.

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If a Windows Phone app disappoints you, it's probably right that you call out its failings and warn others to steer clear. Don't be surprised, however, if the minds behind the software start responding to your gripes directly. Microsoft is slowly rolling out a program whereby developers can comment on your reviews of their handiwork. Fortunately for you, however, the devs won't get access to your personal details, and, if they overstep the mark, you can report them for poor conduct. Still, the notion that coders will now get the chance to openly gain feedback from users seems like a step in the right direction -- just as long as everyone remains civil.

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Project Tango on a NASA SPHERE in zero gravity

Wonder what Google's Project Tango-equipped SPHERES robots will look like when they're in action aboard the International Space Station? The company is more than happy to show you. It has posted video of a recent test that took the machines on a zero gravity simulation flight to see how the 3D environment sensors and other systems will work in practice. As you'll see in the clip, it wasn't quite as easy as testing on the ground -- Google's ATAP team had to work during brief bursts of weightlessness that could challenge both the employees and the devices.

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Like most companies in the smartphone game, HTC wants to pack its top-of-the-range devices with powerful camera tech, and that's no longer just a case of adding more megapixels. The new HTC One (M8), for instance, hosts a pair of cameras on its rear that allow you manipulate depth-of-field, among other special features. Talking with UK carrier Vodafone on HTC's roadmap for camera tech, imaging guru Symon Whitehorn claimed "we could be 4K ready now," if it actually made sense to do so (burn, Sony). Whitehorn also mused that with phones well on their way to making point-and-shoot cameras obsolete, we could see performance encroach on DSLR territory within two years. To make that happen, however, handsets need to incorporate optical zooming, which according to Whitehorn "is not too far off at all for HTC." He wouldn't "give too much away," he said, "but within 12-18 months we'll see huge advances in phone optics." If HTC is indeed this close to adding optical zoom to it camera tech repertoire, let's hope it can keep things classy -- something previous attempts have universally failed to do.

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iPhone 5 on Rogers LTE

Canada got LTE relatively quickly, but that fast data currently has a big catch: since it doesn't run on low frequencies like in the US, you sometimes drop to 3G when you head indoors. Thankfully, those slowdowns won't be an issue for much longer. Rogers has officially switched on its 700MHz network in parts of Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, bringing LTE to your basement and other places where it was previously off-limits. It may help American travelers, too, since AT&T customers (who already have 700MHz support) can roam on Rogers' airwaves.

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Sure, UberX might get you to your destination for less money than a taxi, but do you want to arrive safely? That will be an extra dollar. Not really, but sort of. Uber has added a $1 surcharge to UberX rides. Called a "Safe Rides Fee," the company says the cash will help offset the cost "an industry-leading background check process, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education, development of safety features in the app, and insurance." You know, basic stuff that Uber needs to do to make sure you're not being picked up by a serial killer or in a car that's going to lose a wheel once you get on the highway. Uber's been doing that stuff already, but taking on the cost itself – a move that's ultimately made it lose cash on every ride. It's not unreasonable that it might pass the buck literally on to its customers, but it could have probably come up with a name for the charge that doesn't sound like you're going to die if your don't pay up. Our only question: If our Uber starts texting while we're on the road can we have our dollar back?

Image source: Flickr/Adam Fagan

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Twitter beta on Windows Phone

A handful of those eager to install the Windows Phone 8.1 preview just got an additional perk for being early adopters. NokiaNewsIreland has discovered an unannounced (and now unavailable) open beta for Twitter's Windows Phone 8.1 app that makes much better use of Microsoft's mobile OS than the regular client. For a start, it now ties into the Photos Hub -- it's now easy to browse the pictures you've tweeted, even if they didn't come from your phone.

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When it comes to being fit, it's really the small stuff that counts. You can go to the gym as much as you want, run five miles every morning -- but if you eat like crap, drive yourself to the corner store and take the elevator every morning to your 2nd floor office, it'll be all for naught. RunKeeper can already help track each training session as you make your way from couch to 5K, now it's trying to motivate you to keep moving between runs with Breeze. The iOS-only app uses the iPhone 5s' M7 chip to track your movements and count the number of steps you take. Of course, pedometer apps are quickly becoming a dime a dozen. Breeze attempts to set itself apart through simplicity and minimizing user interaction.

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Slingbox has pushed out a handful of updates for SlingPlayer on iOS and Android, adding new features on both platforms. On the Android side, Slingbox joined forces with sporting-app Thuuz. Now if you have to skip watching the Giants game for work, SlingPlayer will let you know Tim Lincecum is using his secret mustache powers to pitch a no-hitter . If you can sneak away from your meeting for a "bathroom break," a link within the app will instantly tune you into the hair-raising action. The sports app won't be integrated into the iPhone version of SlingPlayer until this summer, but iOS users can still download it on its own to try out now.

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KnowRoaming review: This SIM 'sticker' makes it easy for travelers to save on data

Thanks in no small part to T-Mobile's free global data initiative, US carriers have begun to lighten the fee load when it comes time to roam. But you'll still pay an arm and a leg in many countries, and discounted plans from AT&T and Verizon, while more reasonable than they once were, require a monthly subscription that can be a hassle to add and remove. If you're expecting to use gobs of data abroad, KeepGo's disposable-SIM program is probably your best bet, but an intriguing alternative from KnowRoaming will keep leisure travelers and other casual users connected in 220 countries without the need to worry about coming home to an enormous bill. That solution, an incredibly thin card with passthrough leads and an adhesive back, simply sits atop your existing SIM, springing into action whenever you arrive in a foreign country. Join me as I travel to Europe and beyond to see how well this sticker works.

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If you're of the sort that likes to plan those otherwise impromptu encounters, Facebook has just announced a optional new feature that will certainly help with that. Nearby Friends will show you if your friends are close by, so you can reach out about meeting up. This isn't automatically turn on inside Facebook's apps though, as you'll have to toggle it on and your friends will have to decide to share their location for it to work. However, there's the ability to broadcast coordinates for a certain amount of time -- the hour or two that you plan to be at your favorite bar, for example. You can also see when folks that have opted-in are traveling, giving you the opportunity to send any ramen or burrito recommendations their way. As you might expect, the feature will beam push notifications to your mobile device to alert you when your best mate is nearby. This news is certainly interesting in the context of the outfit's push for its own location services, along with recent news of Instagram testing the in-house Places for tagging photos. While there's no official arrival date, Nearby Friends is rolling out to both Android and iOS in the weeks to come.

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​Today Yahoo is rolling our Flickr "3.0," a completely redesigned approach to its photo-sharing apps on Android and iOS. In addition to offering improved sharing through Dropbox and Google+, Flickr on mobile now features Instagram-like filters and in-depth editing tools. We especially like the new option to view each photo's metadata, including which camera an image was shot with, aperture setting and more.

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Eyefi Mobi SD card

There are plenty of cameras that send their photos to your phone, but you frequently have to transfer those pictures yourself -- and it's another hassle to get the pics to other devices. Eyefi thinks it can solve these headaches by launching its own online service, Eyefi Cloud. If you're using one of the company's WiFi-equipped Mobi cards in your camera alongside new Android and iOS apps, any photos go both to your mobile device and Cloud right after you've hit the shutter button. You only need a browser to manage your shots, so you're not stuck if you want to see your photos on a new PC.

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Samsung seems to be on a roll with bagging media partnerships for its Galaxy line of phones and tablets. First music streaming service Deezer, and now it's getting a custom-built Kindle book store in a deal with Amazon. Announced this morning, the service also gives Galaxy owners referred to the service (starting with the GS5, but more to follow) 12 free books a year. Users will get four "prominent" titles a month to choose from, which have been "chosen specifically" for Galaxy owners (whatever that means). Samsung's already laden with bespoke services, such as its Milk internet radio platform, its own custom app store, and there's even an existing Samsung Books app. Of course, let's not forget the existing Kindle app for Android. However, if you want to snag yourself those free libros, Kindle for Samsung launches in the next two weeks.

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