FindTheBest

The 8 Best Alternatives to the Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface 2
Microsoft

If you want a tablet built for productivity, but can’t stomach the Microsoft Surface, you might feel stuck.

You could go with the iPad. Apple tells us its tablet is made for work, the chosen device of high school football coaches, heart surgeons, and teary-eyed grandparents meeting newborns over FaceTime. But let’s be honest: For every one iPad-assisted heart surgery, there are 100 beer-bellied, Cheetos-eating Americans doing nothing but belching their way through Cut the Rope 2. There’s nothing wrong with this: Just don’t call it productive.

Meanwhile, other popular tablets do various tasks well, like the Kindle Fire HD (reading), Galaxy Note 10.1 (writing and drawing with a stylus), and Nexus 7 (logging into Google Plus), but none come close to serving as a proper laptop replacement.

We understand how you feel. We set out to pick eight solid alternatives to the Surface, each designed for true productivity. Choose your own adventure by picking the problem that matches yours most closely:

For Those Who Can’t Stand Windows 8(.1)

Give Microsoft credit for trying. From the initial “no compromises” mission, to the highly-publicized Windows 8.1 Update, the tech giant has packed in new features almost as fast as it’s churned out youthful, ethnically diverse Surface ads. Unfortunately, limited app support and a half-mobile-half-desktop interface continue to plague the operating system. With that in mind, here are some top alternatives that don’t run on Windows (with the corresponding Surface product included for comparison purposes):

The Full-Spec Laptop Replacements

 

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

It may not come with a detachable keyboard, but the new Galaxy Note Pro is too powerful, and — literally — too big to ignore. With a massive 12.2-inch screen, 2.3 GHz processor, and 3 GB of RAM, its spec sheet reads more like a laptop than a mobile device. Take notes in class with the handy stylus, then grab a third-party keyboard to type up the essay back home, laptop free. You can give mom your old ThinkPad for Christmas.

Runner-up: ASUS Transformer Pad TF701T

The old standby, the TF701T is so committed to its half-tablet-half-laptop design that ASUS threw the word “Transformer” into the name — even after Michael Bay’s film series went off the rails and submarined Shia LaBeouf’s career. It’s not quite the technical achievement of the Note Pro, but the detachable keyboard comes built-in, and it’s over $200 cheaper than its Samsung competitor.

The Lightweight Hybrids

 

So you’re not ready to give up on a laptop, but you’d still like a lightweight device for doing a bit of work between flights. Consider the following:

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4

Cheaper and more compact than its stylus-wielding big brother, the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 is nonetheless a powerful little tablet, with the same 2.3 GHz processor and quad core CPU. Snap up a third-party keyboard and slip this small-but-mighty gadget into your carry-on. Better yet, it’s half the weight of your buddy’s 4th-generation iPad (and a third lighter than the iPad Air).

Runner-up: iPad Air

Okay: we lied. If you can force yourself to put down the Cheetos, the iPad can accomplish a thing or two between five-hour Minecraft building sessions. Grab Microsoft’s newly released Office suite for iPad, poke around in view-only mode, and dream about all the work you’re about to get done.

Finally, note Office’s $100-per-year subscription fee, delete the app, and get back to your cheap, time-wasting mobile games.

For Windows Fans Who Can’t Stand the Surface

Maybe you actually like Windows, but the Surface itself just doesn’t do it for you. Perhaps it’s the tablet’s unpredictable battery life, or else you just can’t trust a piece of hardware from the same company that brought us the Zune. Regardless, here are our top picks for Windows 8 tablets not designed by Microsoft (again, with the corresponding Surface included for comparison):

The Full-Spec Laptop Replacements

 

Winner: Dell XPS 18

Though it’s been around since late 2012, the Dell XPS is still the best Surface alternative for truly serious Windows users. With 18 inches of screen real estate and 8 GB of RAM, you’ll have plenty of space and memory to do a dozen tasks at once. Just keep in mind that this titan of tablets is over five times heavier than an iPad Air.

Runner-up: Dell Venue 11 Pro

The Venue 11 Pro actually beats the XPS 18 in most technical categories, from processor speed to battery life — and that’s not to mention its far superior portability. If you plan to use your tablet mostly at your desk, grab the XPS. If you tend to live on trains and planes, however, consider the Venue 11 Pro.

The Lightweight Hybrids

 

Winner: ASUS Transformer Book T100

Take the classic flexibility of the ASUS Transformer pad, slap on Windows 8, and sell it for a modest $350. You’ve got yourself an ASUS Transformer Book T100. Even if you don’t mind the Surface, but just want to save $100, this tablet is a solid choice.

Runner-up: Samsung ATIV Tab 3

With Windows 8.1, a $499 MSRP, a low-profile kickstand, and a thin keyboard attachment, you might confuse the Samsung ATIV Tab 3 for the Microsoft Surface 2 itself. Yes, Samsung, that’s a backhanded compliment. But the ATIV Tab 3 still provides a competent, no-frills alternative to Microsoft’s latest creation. Throw in Samsung’s long, reliable track record for hardware, and the ATIV Tab 3 is a safe buy for Windows fanatics.

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

Technologizer

FarmVille Is Back — and This Time, It’s Portable

FarmVille 2: Country Escape
In FarmVille 2: Country Escape, your farm is on the coast--and on your phone or tablet Zynga

The one-time Facebook phenom arrives on iOS and Android in its first made-for-mobile edition

Remember FarmVille? Of course you do. Once upon a time, circa 2010, chances are that you either played it on Facebook or were annoyed by addicted friends seeking your help tending to their crops. It was the Facebook game that made Facebook gaming famous.

A lot has happened since then — particularly to Zynga, FarmVille’s creator. The company boomed, went public, paid a lot of money to buy Draw Something developer OMGPOP, saw its stock crater, went through multiple rounds of layoffs and brought in former Xbox chief Don Mattrick to replace founder Mark Pincus as CEO. Although the FarmVille franchise is no longer a phenomenon, it’s still important to Zynga: In its last quarterly results, it reported that its first and third highest grossing games were FarmVille and FarmVille 2, respectively.

The new Zynga wants to be a much bigger player in mobile gaming, a category where King’s Candy Crush Saga is enjoying a reign of pop-culture dominance that’s reminiscent of Farmville back in the day. And it’s bringing FarmVille along with it, in the form of FarmVille 2: Country Escapes, a game for iOS and Android that’s launching worldwide today. (It’s already been available in Canada and a few other countries as Zynga tested and tweaked it before the full rollout.)

This isn’t FarmVille’s debut on mobile devices: That came with an iPhone app back in 2010. But it’s the first version designed with mobile devices in mind from the get-go, and that competes with existing mobile farming games such as Supercell’s Hay Day.

As the name indicates, FarmVille 2: Country Escape is an extension of FarmVille 2, which modernized the famously blocky franchise with fancier 3D graphics when it premiered in 2010. Visually, it’s quite similar, with the same adorable little farm folk and animals, rendered with lots of details and little animated flourishes. You touch and swipe your way around your land in a manner that, if anything, feels more natural than the pointing and clicking of FarmVille in its Facebook incarnations.

FarmVille 2: Country Escape
Zynga

But FarmVille 2: Country Escape isn’t just FarmVille 2 in app form. In fact, it doesn’t even involve the same farm. You start all over again with new farmland nestled on a cute little coast, and the gameplay, while still involving tending to crops and animals, is quite different in its details. (The two incarnations are linked through a feature that lets people who have farms in both games move goods such as water and sugar between them.)

You can connect FarmVille 2 to Facebook, iOS’s Game Center (iOS) or Google Play Games, play with friends and speed your progress by forming co-ops with other players. But in a FarmVille first, you can also opt to play in standalone mode, without having to go online at all. “Friends are not required to play this game, ever,” says Zynga VP of Games Jonathan King. “As you can imagine, that’s a big deal for FarmVille.”

Though the game looks and feels like FarmVille, it’s not aiming to be a FarmVille-like timesink. Instead, in recognition of the fact that people often use mobile devices when they’re doing stuff like waiting in line at the grocery store, it’s designed to provide more instant gratification. “You can have a short session that actually has meaning,” Knight says. “You don’t have to feel that every time you open FarmVille, it’s a giant commitment.”

As always in FarmVille, there are forms of currency you can trade for items, including both ones you can earn and ones you can buy with real money. New this time around are stamps that can be traded for prize animals, such as a special cow capable of producing more milk than the game’s plain old cattle.

Here’s Zynga’s trailer for the new game:

FarmVille 2: Country Escape may rejigger the FarmVille experience in multiple ways, but Zynga hasn’t fundamentally reimagined it. I asked Knight about where the series might go, especially in light of Zynga’s acquisition in January of NaturalMotion, whose Clumsy Ninja iPad game features spectacular production values more reminiscent of a Pixar movie than a Zynga game. Though he didn’t have anything specific to share, he told me that the company sees lots of opportunity to embrace new technologies and take the franchise new places.

“We think FarmVille is an evergreen,” he says. “I expect FarmVille on the Holodeck in a couple hundred years.”

apps

Google Remote Desktop Lets Android Users Access Their PCs, but iOS Users Have to Wait

Google

Google's new mobile app lets you control your Windows, Mac or Linux computer remotely using any Android smartphone or tablet.

If you’re an Android user, you can now access any computer running Google’s Chrome web browser remotely, courtesy the company’s just-unveiled Chrome Remote Desktop app: it’s freely available here on the Google Play store.

Those who remember something called pcAnywhere (or still use it — Symantec still makes and supports it), you’ll probably feel right at home. Those who’ve never heard of pcAnywhere (or VNC, or GoToMyPC, or any of the others listed here) or have long since abandoned such tools, well, you probably don’t need a remote desktop application, because you store all your files in the cloud anyway.

But if the notion of accessing your computer’s desktop remotely sounds intriguing, Chrome Remote Desktop will let you connect to a PC running the Chrome web browser, then pipe the computer’s visual interface back to your Android phone’s screen, allowing you to fiddle with your interface and local content from afar. See that shot of an Android phone running Windows 7? Like that.

Google’s targeting the app at users who might be on the go but need access to a file stored locally on an otherwise inaccessible computer. From September 2011, the company’s let users do that computer-to-computer using its Chrome Remote Desktop, so this is just the company extending the concept to Android devices, be they phones or tablets.

To make it work, you’ll need to install a listener service (a Chrome extension) on the intended target PC. You can find that here, and Google says it supports Windows (XP and above), Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) and Linux. To facilitate the initial handshake, you’ll have to enter a code and pin generated by the computer on your Android device, after which accessing the computer (or any others you configure) is as simple as pulling up the app and tapping the intended target.

Importantly, Google notes that “All connections are fully secured,” and if you bring up the help page for Chrome Remote Desktop, Google says it’s using SSL (with support for AES), and that all connections are maintained directly between client and host, “except in limited circumstances where they may pass through Google relays.” That said, Google says “The PIN/Access Code and SSL encryption combination also ensures that when you do connect to your host, whether peer-to-peer or relayed, no one can see your data, not even Google,” and adds that “None of your session data is ever recorded, and no session data is transmitted in a way that would let Google or anyone else (besides the participants) access it.”

As noted, the launch version only supports Android, but Google says an iOS version is on the way “later this year.”

technology

Everything You Need to Know About the Chinese Version of Twitter

CHINA-US-STOCKS-TECHNOLOGY-INTERNET
WANG ZHAO—AFP/Getty Images

The first of China’s big 2014 IPOs arrives on U.S. shores Thursday. Weibo, a Chinese social network that allows people to post real-time messages of up to 140 Chinese characters, will list on the Nasdaq with shares priced at $17. The company will be valued at $3.46 billion and raise around $285 million in the offering, figures at the low end of the company’s IPO pricing range and far below analyst expectations earlier this year. The performance of the Beijing-based startup could portend the trajectory of both Chinese stocks and the overall tech sector, which has seen a precipitous decline on Wall Street in the past month.

Weibo is a subsidiary of the Chinese Internet company Sina and is partially owned by the e-commerce giant Alibaba. Like Twitter, the website has become a digital water cooler where both ordinary people and celebrities gather to discuss events. It’s become a key resource for following news events in China, like the crash of an Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco in July and the trial of former Chinese politician Xilai Bo in August. Weibo boasts 144 million monthly active users, making it more than half the size of Twitter.

Though initial reports indicated that Weibo would ride the coattails of Twitter’s successful November IPO to a valuation of as much as $7 billion, a confluence of factors have thrown some cold water on the company’s stock. The tech sector in general is has been on a slide for the last several weeks as investors abandon so-called momentum stocks, including Weibo’s parent company Sina. The first Chinese business to go public this year, an IT training firm called Tarena, has seen its share price drop more than 20 percent from its IPO price.

Weibo also faces its own, very specific set of challenges. The social network is heavily censored both by the Chinese government and the company itself to remove content that attempts to mobilize people toward political action. Such censorship could reduce user activity in the future. It also puts Weibo at a disadvantage against Tencent’s WeChat, a messaging service for smaller groups of people that allows people to more easily communicate away from the government’s prying eyes (though WeChat was hit with its own round of censorship last month). Weibo has also racked up more than $250 million in losses over the last three years, though it finally turned a small profit in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Still, it’s possible that with expectations now lowered, Weibo will shine. Investors have a keen interest in companies that target China’s quickly growing Internet population, which is expected to reach 800 million by 2015. The company is also linked to Alibaba, which is prepping a heavily anticipated IPO that could be be the largest for an Internet company since Facebook. Weibo will be a bellwether of the market’s appetite for both Chinese startups and tech stocks as a whole.

Technologizer

Eyefi Cloud Is the Best Wi-Fi Camera Experience Yet

Eyefi
Eyefi

New apps and a web-based service make it much easier to get to your photos from anywhere.

You might think that the market for Eyefi cards–the SD cards that have built-in WiFi, providing any camera with wireless networking–would have dwindled away by now. After all, the first cameras that came with Wi-Fi debuted almost a decade ago. But Wi-Fi still only ships as standard equipment on slightly over a third of new models, giving Eyefi a big market to go after.

I’ve used its cards with my cameras for years, especially since I started spending most of my time on my iPad, which otherwise only accepts SD cards through an external dongle I never remember to take with me. They’re indispensable. But in the past, I’ve never been overly impressed with the company’s software: It’s tended to be tough to set up and pretty clunky in everyday use.

Now that’s changing. The company is unveiling Eyefi Cloud, a new service designed to make it a cakewalk to to get your photos off the camera and onto every gadget you own: phones, tablets and PCs. And it’s coupling the service with all-new versions of its iOS and Android apps that are major improvements on their predecessors.

The service and apps work with Eyefi’s Mobi cards, which start at $49 for a model with 8GB of storage. The company’s more PC-centric X2 line remains on the market, and isn’t compatible with the new stuff.

As before, the apps snag photos wirelessly by connecting to the card while it’s still in your camera. But now they’re much meatier and modern-looking. Using an interface that reminds me of Dropbox’s new Carousel app, they cluster your pictures by date, present them more attractively and let you create tags and albums.

And now the apps automatically upload all your photos in full resolution, as well as snapshots you take with the camera on your phone or tablet, to Eyefi Cloud. (You can choose to have them do this over Wi-Fi and cellular connections, or only Wi-Fi.) Once they’re there, they’re available on all of your devices running the app, as well as in a browser-based version of the service you can use on your Windows PC or Mac. You can also share images and albums with other folks, who don’t need to have Eyefi Cloud accounts to view them.

The apps keep only recent photos on the devices themselves so they don’t gobble up all your storage. But you can quickly swipe backwards in time to get to any photo you ever took, and save it on any of your devices. (Any photo you took with your Eyefi card or device’s camera once you started using Eyefi Card, that is: The apps don’t provide a mechanism for getting your older pics into the service. But the company says it’s working on that.)

The Eyefi Cloud service lets you store an unlimited number of photos indefinitely at full resolution, so it shouldn’t come as stunning news that it’s not a freebie. After a 90-day trial period, you pay $49 a year. If you don’t want to spring for that, you can still use the new iOS and Android apps and take responsibility for moving your pictures between devices yourself.

Eyefi Cloud isn’t doing anything radically new: It’s already possible to automate the process of putting your Eyefi photos online by using the automatic uploading features provided by apps such as Dropbox, or the Google+ uploads built into Android. But it does what it does really well.

I do have one remaining beef, though. Each time you want to pair an Eyefi card with a phone or tablet, you need an activation code that’s in the original packaging. It’s possible to find the code online or in the app on an already-activated device if you’ve misplaced the printed version–which I did, inevitably, moments after buying my card. But the apps don’t explain that. And why do you need to re-enter the code manually, anyhow?

Nitpicks aside, this is the best user experience that Eyefi has ever offered. I recommended its cards in the past; now I do so more heartily than ever.

Security

The First Heartbleed Arrest Has Been Made

Authorities in Canada have made what appears to be the first arrest related to the Heartbleed encryption bug that pushed millions of people to change their passwords, taking a teenager into custody this week for allegedly hacking into the country's tax agency website

Nineteen-year-old alleged Heartbleed hacker Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes was arrested by Canadian Mounties at his London, Ontario home on Tuesday, and his computer equipment seized. Solis-Reyes is accused of using the Heartbleed bug to hack into the Canada Revenue Agency’s database and hijacking Social Insurance Numbers and other sensitive information from 900 taxpayers. The data breach forced the agency to delay its tax-filing deadline from April 30 to May 5. “We are currently going through the painstaking process of analyzing other fragments of data, some that may relate to businesses, that were also removed,” the agency said in a statement. While Canadians have been relieved of tax-filing pressures for an additional week, Americans shouldn’t count on the Heartbleed bug to do the same for them. The IRS stated last week that their systems are unaffected by the bug – and that all citizens and green-card holders should follow through on their tax-filing obligations in advance of the 15 April deadline. [CNN]

deals

Sen. Franken Urges Netflix to Join His Quest to Scupper Comcast-TWC Merger

Cable Giant Comcast To Acquire Time Warner Cable
Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Vocal merger critic Senator Al Franken has called on Netflix CEO Reed Hasting to take a public stance on the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, warning of "an anticompetitive advantage in the content market" if it goes ahead

Senator Al Franken on Wednesday called on Netflix CEO Reed Hasting to take a public stance on the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

“My concern is that Comcast will be able to use its clout in the broadband distribution market to obtain an anticompetitive advantage in the content market,” wrote Franken in a letter. “Comcast can achieve this by blocking, degrading, raising costs for or otherwise interfering with unaffiliated content that relies on Comcast’s distribution network to reach consumers.”

Franken is an unabashed critic of the proposed deal, and his missive to the Netflix camp may lure the online streaming company into locking horns with Comcast once again.

Earlier this year, Netflix protested Comcast’s additional fees, ostensibly to help safeguard high-quality streaming for its own customers.

Technologizer

Anki’s Slot Cars for the iPhone Era Get a New Game, New Tracks and New Cars

Anki Drive
Anki's new cars, Corax and Hadion Anki

Whenever I write about Anki’s Anki Drive — a remarkable plaything that involves tiny robotic cars you control via iPhone — I call them a dazzling modern-era take on the slot-car racing of my youth.

They are. But strangely enough, until now, Anki Drive hasn’t been racing. The gameplay involves shooting tiny virtual weapons at other cars (controlled by your friends or artificial intelligence). Rather than being the fastest car, it’s often been advantageous to hang out in back so you can shoot at the ones in front.

And for all the ways Anki improves on old-school slot racing, it’s only offered one track — the giant, roll-up one it comes with. With slot car racing in its old-school form, you could vary gameplay by breaking apart the track pieces and reassembling them in new configurations.

With some new additions to its lineup, Anki is addressing both these issues. It’s giving its iPhone app a free update with a new game that really does involve racing: You compete to be the first to complete a set number of laps. The weapons are still part of the play, but the dynamics of the competition are meaningfully different, since you can’t win through pure violence alone.

The company is also rolling out two new tracks, each with the same dimensions as the original one (8.5 feet by 3.5 feet). “Crossroads” has a figure-eight layout, with an intersection where cars may cross each others’ path as they whiz by in both directions. And “Bottleneck” has an unevenly-shaped road, with one particularly narrow area that forces cars to squeeze through one at a time. You can play in either battle or racing mode on either track. They’re $99 apiece, and here they are…

 tracks
Anki

Then there are two new Anki cars, which go for $69 each. Like the others, they’ve got their own capabilities and personalities: Corax can use two weapons at once and works only in AI mode until you’ve beaten it on the track, and Hadion is Anki’s fastest car to date.

Anki’s cars may be physical, but a huge percentage of what makes its products interesting is the software that powers the experience. When the company does something like introducing additional tracks, it’s less about designing the new layout, and more about updating the iPhone app — which orchestrates the competition and keeps track of where the cars are — to deal with the new gameplay dynamics that layout introduces.

“People should expect products to change over time,” says Hans Tappeiner, Anki’s co-founder and president. “You see it with cell phones, but you don’t see it in this industry with toys. That’s just wrong. There’s no reason you can’t use software to make things better over time.”

The updated app and additional cars are available on Anki’s site beginning today. The two new tracks go on sale May 6.

Video Games

Sony Says 7 Million PlayStation 4s Have Been Sold Worldwide

Sony

And Sony adds that it's sold more than 20.5 million PS4 games worldwide across retail and digital content.

Sony’s coming out swinging one day before U.S. retail tracker NPD’s game sales numbers are due: the international electronics behemoth says it’s shipped more than 7 million PlayStation 4 game consoles since the system arrived last November. That figure is as of April 6.

Sony Computer Entertainment president and group CEO Andrew House doles out the usual kudos in the press release, but adds that the company is “still facing difficulties keeping up with the strong demand worldwide.” In recent months, analysts and pundits alike have speculated that Sony’s sales might be higher still were the company able to provide retailers sufficient inventory to keep the system on shelves, though in fairness to the Xbox One, the PS4 is presently available in at least three or four times as many countries (Sony says 72 total countries and regions at this point).

The company adds that PS4 software sales are robust at more than 20.5 million to date (split between worldwide retail and digital downloads via the PlayStation Store through April 13). And there’s some crowing about games to come, in particular PS4 exclusives like DRIVECLUB, MLB 14: The Show and The Order 1886, as well as indies like N++, Secret Ponchos, Transistor, Octodad: Dadliest Catch and Daylight.

Related, Sony says over 135 million “shares” (pictures, videos, etc.) have been captured using the sharing button on the DualShock 4 controller. And between Twitch and Ustream, the company says players have delivered over 4.9 million gameplay broadcasts and nearly 90 million spectate sessions.

Sony community manager (and former GamePro editor) Sid Shuman announced the news on Sony’s PlayStation blog, and notes that the company will “have some great new details to share with you regarding our upcoming PS4 system software update very soon.”

Stay tuned tomorrow evening, when we’ll likely have Microsoft’s response, which’ll include Titanfall sales and give us a sense for whether that game — arguably the most important Xbox One exclusive for the first half of 2014 sales-wise — helped Microsoft make inroads on Sony’s lead.

In any event, 7 million units sold this early in a set-top’s lifecycle (we’re not six months out) is very, very good news for Sony, and the games industry in general.

Social Networking

Gmail Lets Users Share Images Auto-Uploaded from Their Phones

With help from Gmail, Google+ photos finally get social.

My friends and family probably don’t know this, but I have photos of them on Google+ stretching all the way back to October 2011, when I bought a Samsung Galaxy S II and set up automatic photo backups.

These photos aren’t public, and the vast majority of them are visible to no one except me. That’s because I haven’t bothered to share them.

The reason is not complicated: Most of the people I know don’t actively use Google+, so sorting through and sharing my photos on Google’s social network would be a waste of time. Still, I auto-upload my photos anyway, using Google’s unlimited storage (for images of 2048 pixels or less) as a glorified backup service.

The recent addition of Google+ photo attachments in Gmail may be a sign that Google has recognized the fate of its own network. Instead of forcing people to share photos through Google+, Google is now letting Gmail users attach photos directly to their messages, using a new “Insert Photo” button at the bottom of the email. As a way of sharing photos I’ve snapped from my phone, it’s incredibly convenient.

Google

I will be considerably more likely to share my auto-uploaded photos over email than Google+. Sharing images via email is more private, more convenient and less proprietary. I know my recipients won’t have to visit Google+ or even have a Gmail account to view the images I send. And on my end, I’ll no longer have to wade through the Google+ interface just to find a photo, download it and re-upload it again.

There are now more ways than ever to auto-upload photos to Google+. The latest version of Android includes a new “Photos” app, separate from the main Google+ app, that can automatically upload camera images. In December, Google released an auto-backup desktop app for Windows and Mac. And in October, the Google+ iOS app gained background uploads, allowing users to back up their photos without having to periodically re-open the app.

But without a good way to share those photos, users are essentially stuffing their pictures in a dusty closet, and Google is just wasting server space. By liberating automatic photo uploads from Google+, Gmail is making those photos more social than they ever were on Google’s social network.

 

 

 

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