All posts in “Smartphones”

How to put old photos in your social media stories

You can add old photos to your social media stories.
You can add old photos to your social media stories.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Stories started with Snapchat, then Instagram and Facebook added their own versions to try and win our loyalty. 

There are crazy amounts of ways to make your story unique within each app. But you might not know that you can also post old photos in your current stories.

Here’s how to put photos you’ve already taken in your stories on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Just note that your followers might get a little annoyed if you do it too much.

Snapchat 

Access Snapchat and camera roll photos at the bottom of your screen.

Access Snapchat and camera roll photos at the bottom of your screen.

Image: molly sequin/mashable

Open up Snapchat and you’ll see a little bubble on your screen directly underneath the circle button to snap a new photo. Click that and you’ll see a screen with photos you’ve saved on Snapchat and from your camera roll. 

Hit "Edit and Send" (which is covered by this caption) to jazz up your photo.

Hit “Edit and Send” (which is covered by this caption) to jazz up your photo.

Image: molly sequin/mashable

Scroll through either feed until you find the old photo you want to post. After you pick one, there will be an option asking if you’d like to edit the photo before sending. This will bring up all of the editing options you normally see on Snapchat. 

Photos from your camera roll appear with a white border around them.

Photos from your camera roll appear with a white border around them.

Image: molly sequin/mashable

When it’s all ready to roll, click the blue arrow button to send to your story or any of your friends. It’s worth noting that photos pulled from Snapchat will look normal, but the ones taken from your camera roll will appear with a white border and say they’re from your camera roll. In other words, people will be well aware of the fact that you’re posting an old photo. If that doesn’t bother you, everything’s good to go. 

Instagram

Instagram works somewhat similarly. However, you can only post photos that you’ve saved to your camera roll in the last 24 hours. So, if you want to post a photo from last week you’re going to have to re-save it. 

Add photos from your camera roll to your Instagram story.

Add photos from your camera roll to your Instagram story.

Image: molly sequin/mashable

To get started, hit the camera button in the upper lefthand of the app or just hit your face icon by the rest of the stories. Choose the box next to the flash icon on the screen to see your photos. 

Camera roll photos get cropped in your story.

Camera roll photos get cropped in your story.

Image: molly sequin/mashable

Pick a photo and it’ll appear on your screen, ready to be edited. A slight downfall is that you don’t have a say in how it’s displayed. The photo will fit to the screen, so parts of it might get cut off. In the example used above, Instagram cut off a fourth person that was standing to the left of me. However, you can still edit it just like any other Instagram story. Do that and hit “Your Story” and it’ll show up in your story for the next 24 hours. 

Facebook

Once again, Facebook is similar to the other two, with slight differences. 

Add old photos to your Facebook story.

Add old photos to your Facebook story.

Image: molly sequin/mashable

Hit your icon at the top of your Facebook mobile app to create a story. Then tap the little square button on the far right of the screen. It will bring photos from your camera roll to the bottom of the screen so you can scroll through to find the one you want. 

Posting old photos to your Facebook story only takes a minute.

Posting old photos to your Facebook story only takes a minute.

Image: molly sequin/mashable

All of the editing options will pop up after you select a photo. Add any stickers or filters you want, then hit “Your Story” to make it live. You’ll confirm by clicking “Add” and your old photo will appear on your Facebook. And no one will be able to tell it’s not a photo you just took. 

Now you know how to post old photos to your social media stories, so start sharing some of your best memories.

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Hands on with Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone

It’s a pretty captivating pitch: Andy Rubin, one of the guys who founded Android (and who lead the project within Google for eight years!) has a new company… and he’s building an Android phone. The “Essential Phone,” as it’s known.

I’ve been carrying around an Essential Phone for a few days now. Here’s what I think so far.

(I’m considering this a “hands-on” rather than a “review” because we, along with a handful of other outlets, have had the phone for a little over two days at this point. With something as key to our day-to-day lives as a smartphone — and one from a brand new company, no less — that’s just enough time to scratch the surface. We’ll have a more in-depth review in the coming weeks, once we feel like we know this thing inside and out — but with the device having just gone on sale, I figured it was worth sharing some early impressions.)

In a world with a million different Android phones, what makes this one stand out? The aforementioned ties to an Android co-founder might hook some die-hards… but what about everyone else? What’s this phone’s thing?

It has a few:

  • A body built of titanium and ceramic, coming together into what is probably the shiniest (for better or worse — more on that later) smartphone I’ve ever seen. It’s truly a beautiful phone.
  • A striking display with a mega-thin bezel; it stretches nearly all the way to the top of the device’s body, with a small cutout reserved for the front-facing camera and a more standard bezel across the bottom.
  • A pair of data/power pins on the rear of the device that allow you to snap on optional magnetic accessories to expand the phone’s capabilities down the road.

If you were to walk up to an Essential Phone sitting on a table, the first thing you’d probably notice might actually be the lack of things you’re meant to notice.

There is no branding, be it Essential’s logo or a carrier’s. There is no camera bump. Beyond the cutouts for things like the dual cameras, the flash and a fingerprint reader, it’s a sprawling, gleaming slab of shiny.

And oh how shiny it is. The model I’ve been carrying around is a color the company calls “Black Moon” — the color it’ll ship to buyers first. Imagine a mirror finish with a limo tint; fully polished, fresh out of the box, it’s pretty damned stunning.

Alas, a shine like that comes with an inherent catch: This thing picks up fingerprints like that is its job. If fingerprints drive you up the wall, you might want to wait until matte colors are available or get used to wiping this thing down every five seconds.

But what about marks more permanent than a fingerprint? I’ve been toting this phone around with all sorts of other stuff crammed in the same pocket. Keys. Coins. Other phones. Two days in and — honestly, a bit to my surprise — both the display and the back of the phone are flawless. We’ll see if it holds up in the coming weeks.

It feels good in the hand, its titanium body feeling remarkably sturdy. At around 180 grams, it’s a touch heavier than either the iPhone 7 (138g) or the Pixel (143g)/Pixel XL (168g), but never so much that it bothered me.

The battery life seems great so far. Two days is a short sample, but I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much battery was still left on the device on multiple occasions. That’s a good sign.

And, because I just can’t not mention it: this phone has no 3.5mm jack. I don’t like that. I don’t like it on the iPhone, I don’t like it on the rumored Pixel 2 and I don’t like it here. I have half a dozen Bluetooth headsets around my house, and I still mourn the death of 3.5mm. It comes with an adapter, but I’ve been anti-adapter for nearly a decade now.

Now, about that screen. That crazy bezel-light screen, and that front-facing camera poking out right into the middle of it.

When the first photos of this thing trickled out, I thought I’d find the camera cutout a good bit more distracting than I do in practice. I’ve already stopped noticing it. Android mostly uses that top-most section of the screen for its notifications bar, and doesn’t really use that center bit much — so rarely do I find myself thinking about what should be there.

When apps — take, say, Netflix — go fullscreen, the regions next to the camera go dark, effectively shrinking the size of the display to what it’d look like with a more standard top bezel. While it’s better than having a camera sticking a quarter of an inch into your video, it’s a bit jarring to have your screen suddenly lose a chunk you’ve grown accustomed to seeing lit up.

Would it be better without that cutout? Sure! But with display bezels shrinking and selfie-taking at an all-time high, the front-facing camera will forever need a home. Add in the fact that it looks like the next iPhone might take a similar approach, and I’d expect these lil’ front-facing camera peninsulas to become pretty standard.

We’ll save the deeper camera comparison stuff for the full review, but the Essential Phone’s rear camera seems strong — particularly outdoors. Indoors and in low-light situations, my results have been more mixed.

To slim things down and ditch the camera bump, they’re actually spreading photo duties across two cameras here: one color, one monochrome. The monochrome sensor is able to pick up a bit more detail than its color-sensing counterpart, so they take an image from each and merge them together through a bit of post-processing magic. The dual cameras also allow for a portrait mode (read: pretty blurred backgrounds while your foreground subject is in focus); the company showed us a preview build of it, but it wasn’t quite ready in time for the review units.

Arguably the most intriguing aspect of the Essential Phone are those two little pins on the back.

In theory, those pins let the Essential Phone do all sorts of fun things moving forward. They carry power and data between the phone and optional magnetic accessories that you can buy moving forward. Those accessories should be compatible with other devices the company releases down the road, including their Amazon Echo/Google Home competitor, the Essential Home.

I say “in theory” because… well, they haven’t done the best job of saying what those fun things might be. They’ve announced a 360º camera, a dock and… that’s it, so far. They’re promising new accessories “every few months,” but aren’t saying much concrete about what they’ll be.

It’s a similar promise to the one Motorola made with the Moto Z last year and, more recently, the Moto Z2. Even now, Moto’s platform lacks any real earth-shattering, must-have accessories that really prove the concept.

Could Essential have some ultimate accessory up its sleeve? Maybe. But until they show it, anyone buying the phone for those pins is buying on the intangible promise of something. “Imagine the possibilities!” is an easy well to fall into — but, if those pins are the main draw for you, I’d wait until there’s at least an accessory or two that really make sense for your needs.

Alas, no accessories — including the 360º camera — were ready for reviewers just yet, so there’s not much I can say on that front. I did get to check out a prototype model of the 360º camera, which already felt quite easy to magnetically snap in place and sturdy once it was there — but beyond that, we’re still waiting on the production units before we really dive deep here.

The device runs what is effectively pure Android (Nougat, 7.1.1), tweaked only to account for things like the camera cutout. I saw a glitch or two along the way — it took a few resets before my SIM would activate, the notifications bar seemed to crash twice, the camera app felt a bit shaky at times… but things like that are all part of the deal with a brand new phone from a brand new team, and I’ve already seen them issue patches. On the software front, this team seems to move fast.

So far, the Essential Phone feels like a solid foundation for Andy Rubin’s grander vision — one of a unified ecosystem with a catalog of add-on accessories; one of Android phones that promise two-year updates and monthly security patches. Buying it now is betting on that vision, whatever that means to you. I like a lot about it — but, if you’re already content with what’s in your pocket, there’s nothing here quite yet that screams “YOUR PHONE IS GARBAGE! THROW IT AWAY AND BUY ME INSTEAD!”

Motorola patent reveals designs for a phone screen that heals itself

Motorola wants to put an end to all those expensive smartphone screen repairs. The company recently applied for a patent on a phone screen that can heal its own cracks and damages. 

The patent, which was filed in February and awarded last week, explains how a phone screen made out of shape memory polymer could heal itself. The screen would have “thermal elements” in it that could detect deformations in the screen. Then heat would be applied to the memory polymer screen as the solution to reversing the damage that has been done.

A new Motorola patent application shows a self-healing screen.

A new Motorola patent application shows a self-healing screen.

Image: united states patent and trademark office

According to the patent, the heat reaction on the polymer screen can’t promise to fix all of the damages caused by users’ clumsy behavior. But it will fix as much as it can. 

But before you get too excited, remember that this is just a patent application. The patent hasn’t actually been granted to Motorola, yet. And even if it is, it’s not a sure thing that Motorola will ever actually create the self-healing screen. 

There are also some questions involved if the patent really is approved and manufacturing moves ahead on the project. How will this memory polymer look and feel compared to the glass phone screens that we’ve become accustomed to. Also, what will the price tag on this look like? Not having to take your phone in for a repair every time you drop it could be a real money saver, but is it going to cost a lot more up front to get that technology?

Whatever happens, this looks like a step in the right direction for mobile phones. Self-healing screens could be an absolute game changer for all the uncoordinated folks out there. Just image a day when your heart doesn’t drop as your pricey phone plummets down to the concrete sidewalk. That sounds pretty nice.

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Android newbie HMD’s Nokia 8 flagship lets you livestream ‘frontbacks’


Rebooting the venerable Nokia smartphone brand has not been a rush job for HMD Global, the Foxconn-backed company set up for the purpose of licensing the Nokia name to try to revive the brand’s fortunes on smartphones.

But after starting with basic and mid-tier smartphones, it’s finally outted a flagship Android handset, called the Nokia 8, which it will be hoping can put some dents in Samsung’s high end. And/or pull consumers away from Huawei’s flagships handsets — or indeed the swathe of Chinese OEMs surging up the smartphone market share ranks.

With the Nokia 8, HMD is putting its flagship focus on content creators wanting to livestream video for their social feeds.

Competition in the Android OEM space has been fierce for years and there’s no signs of any slack appearing so HDM faces a steep challenge to make any kind of dent here. But at least it now has an iron in the fire. As analyst CCS Insight notes, the handset will be “hugely important in getting Nokia-branded smartphones back on the mobile phone map”.

Specs wise, the Nokia 8 runs the latest version of Android (Nougat 7.1.1) — which HMD is touting as a “pure Android experience”, akin to Google’s Pixel handsets. (There’s a not-so-gentle irony there, given Nokia’s history in smartphones. But clearly HMD is going full in on Android.)

On the hardware front, there’s a top end Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, plus 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory (expandable thanks to a MicroSD card slot). While the 5.3 inch ultra HD resolution display puts it on the verge of phablet territory — and squarely within the current smartphone screen size sweet spot.

Also on board: dual rear cameras, both 13MP (one color, one B&W), and a 13MP front facing lens — all with f/2.0; using Zeiss optics; and with support for 4K video.

The flagship camera feature — and really phone feature too — is the ability to livestream video from both front and back cameras simultaneously.

HMD is trying to coin a hashtaggable word to describe this: “bothie” (as opposed to a selfie)…

This split screen camera feature can also be used for photos — so they’ve basically reinvented Frontback. Well done.

“Content creators can natively broadcast their unique #Bothie stories to social media through the Dual-Sight functionality located within the camera app. Fans can also enjoy unlimited photo [<16MB in size] and video uploads to Google Photos,” HMD writes.

This could prove a sticky feature for social media lovers — perhaps especially the dual video option, which lets people share twin perspective video direct to Facebook and YouTube via the camera app.

Or it could prove a passing fad, like Frontback. Time will tell. CCS Insight describes it as an “interesting approach” but also cautions on whether consumers will take to it.

Commenting on the feature in a statement, HMD’s Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer, said: “We know that fans are creating and sharing live content more than ever before, with millions of photos and videos shared every minute on social media. People are inspired by the content they consume and are looking for new ways to create their own. It’s these people who have inspired us.”

Elsewhere on the device, there’s a spatial surround sound recording tech that uses three microphones and is apparently drawing on Nokia’s Ozo 360 camera division, plus USB type C charging port; a 3.5mm headphone jack; and a non-removable 3090 mAh battery.

The handset, which is clad in an aluminium unibody casing and has a fingerprint reader on the front for device unlocking and authentication, is described as splashproof rather than waterproof.

Global RRP for the Nokia 8 is €599, with a rollout due to start in September. The handset comes in a choice of four colors: Polished Blue, Polished Copper, Tempered Blue and Steel.

Behold, the LG V30 in all its glory

LG has been revealing key details about its upcoming V30 flagship ahead of the Aug. 31 launch, but one important piece of the puzzle is missing: An actual picture of the phone. 

Well, it’s not missing any more. The image of the phone from all sides comes courtesy of leaker Evan Blass, and even though it’s not an official photo (likely a press render), it looks exactly what we thought it would look based on previous leaks. Simply put, it’s very likely the real thing. 

On the front side, the LG V30 looks a lot like the G6 with even smaller bezels, especially on the bottom and on the sides. It’s the currently prevalent trend in smartphones and I like LG’s simple approach. The back shows a dual camera, a flash and a fingerprint sensor, and it looks a bit clunkier than the G6’s symmetrical design, but still better (in terms of usability) than Samsung S8’s awkwardly positioned fingerprint sensor

Though this is hard to judge from the photo, it also looks that the V30 will have a metallic back, instead of the glass back design on the G6. Also notable is the lack of secondary screen which was so far a staple of LG’s V series of phones. With the V30, it seems that LG’s consolidated its two flagship lines into a singular design philosophy, leaving the days of wild experimentation (both with G5’s modularity and the V20’s secondary screen) behind. 

So what else do we know about the LG V30? It’ll have a 6-inch, 18:9 OLED screen, a powerful camera with an f/1.6 aperture and face recognition. And yes, if there’s anything left for LG to reveal, we’ll be there Aug. 31 to tell you all about it. 

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