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Google Says It Will Stop Scanning Your Emails to Serve Ads

Photo: Getty

Gmail is free, in part because Google has always scanned the contents of users’ inboxes in order to serve targeted ads. It’s a sleazy business model, but Google certainly isn’t alone: Most other free email services (and, hi, social media platforms) do the same thing.

But Google has finally decided to end the practice of scanning emails for advertising, according to a
blog post
published Friday by Google Cloud senior vice president Diane Greene.

The search giant’s stated reason for the change is simple: Google Cloud sells a collection of enterprise office products, called GSuite, and Greene

told
Bloomberg

that paying customers were concerned that Google was mining their data for advertising. Even though Google has only scanned the emails of free Gmail accounts (and not those belonging to paying customers) the change needed to be made in order to promote trust.

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“Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change,” wrote Greene in the blog post. “G Suite customers and free consumer Gmail users can remain confident that Google will keep privacy and security paramount as we continue to innovate.”

This doesn’t mean ads are disappearing from Gmail altogether-free users will still see ads that are personalized based on data from Search and YouTube. Google also offers its users the choice to
opt out of this personalization
.

The change is a signal that Google might not need to rely so heavily on advertising dollars as it commercializes some of its products, like GSuite. It also erases one of the arguments against giving users a way to easily and seamlessly encrypt their email-something Google and other free email providers have resisted because it would prohibit them from scanning messages for profit.

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Ominous ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Case With Global Consequences Heads to Europe’s Highest Court

Photo: AP

Following the laws of individual nations becomes a hell of a conundrum when your business fundamentally has no borders. But recent court cases are threatening to make the situation even more difficult by demanding that a country’s laws be honored by companies like Google all around the world. On Wednesday, an
ongoing case
with terrifying implications was kicked up to the European Union’s highest court.

Back in 2014, European courts
ruled
that Google had to respect the “right to be forgotten,” a set of guidelines that allow citizens to request the removal of certain search results in their home country if the linked page features their name. The rules stipulate that Google has to comply with a request if the link is outdated, irrelevant, or violates the citizen’s privacy. It was a foolish ruling that ignores the way the internet works and is effectively rewriting history.

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But that wasn’t enough for France’s top privacy watchdog. In 2015, The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL) told Google that it would
have to remove
the search results across all of its websites.

The particulars here are a little tricky. Let’s say that someone in France files a removal request that’s approved. Google will then remove that link on google.fr and all of its other sites in the EU. It will also ensure that anyone searching any Google site from within France will not see the link on any of its sites. That doesn’t apply to other countries within the EU. Someone in Germany could go to google.com, and the link might show up in the search results. But the CNIL has insisted that the link must be removed across all of Google’s sites for all users around the world. When Google refused to comply with the regulator,
it was fined $112,000
by the French government. A ruling by the French court on the subsequent appeal has been delayed until the
highest court in the European Union
decides on the legality of CNIL’s demands.

Part of CNIL’s argument relied on the fact that someone in France could just use proxy services to find the removed links. Google’s lawyers have countered that the original system, “is perfectly effective unless you want to be a fraudster.” In other words, the search giant is arguing that if a person is capable of abusing a system, but a company is perfectly compliant with the system, the company isn’t responsible for that person’s abuse.

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Google has complied with the basic compromise that it agreed to in 2014 and it claims in its transparency reports to have removed 590,000 links over the last few years. While it wasn’t thrilled about the initial ruling, it has adopted the view that each country has a right to its own laws. As a Google spokesperson put it in an email to Gadgetlayout, “For the last 18 months, we’ve been defending the idea that each country should be able to balance freedom of expression and privacy in the way that it chooses, not in the way that another country chooses.”

That’s the core issue at play in this case. It’s just one of many
recent instances
in which governments have charged ahead with their own requirements while ignoring the global repercussions. In June, the
Canadian Supreme Court ruled
that Google can be forced to remove links globally. The ruling applies to all search engines, as does the EUs right to be forgotten. Google can’t appeal the Canadian case, but it can ask for alterations to the order if it can demonstrate that the ruling violates the laws of other countries, such as the protection of free speech.

The $112,000 fine that was levied in 2016 was a one time penalty that was designed to spur Google into action. The potential consequences for Google refusing to comply if they lose the case are unclear.

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[
Bloomberg
,
Wall Street Journal
]

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Glitch causes prices of Apple, Google, other stocks to appear off

The prices of several big-name Nasdaq-listed stocks appeared on some websites to either spike or plummet well after the closing bell on Monday, seemingly due to a glitch related to the market data that runs the largely automated markets.

At around 6:30 p.m., the prices of Amazon Inc and Microsoft Corp stocks appeared to have lost more than half their value, while Apple Inc shares appeared to more than double. Google parent Alphabet Inc and eBay Inc shares were among others that all appeared to be priced at $123.47 on some financial news websites on Monday evening.

The actual prices of the stocks were not affected and no trades were completed at that price, a Nasdaq spokesman confirmed.

Nasdaq said in a statement it was investigating the improper use of test data distributed by third parties. Prices on Nasdaq’s website were not affected.

Nasdaq and other U.S. stock exchanges closed early on Monday ahead of the U.S. Independence Day holiday on Tuesday.

Testing of stock exchange software is mandated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and happens on a regular basis to help prevent electronic glitches, often using test symbols and historical data.

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Google Home Breaks Up Domestic Dispute By Calling the Police

Photo: Alex Cranz/Gadgetlayout

We’re gradually learning that smart home devices can be quite valuable for police. Following a recent case in which
Amazon handed over data
from its Echo device to police investigating a murder, a Google Home called the police when a couple was allegedly involved in a violent domestic dispute.

According to
ABC News
, officers were called to a home outside Albuquerque, New Mexico this week when a Google Home called 911 and the operator heard a confrontation in the background. Police say that Eduardo Barros was house-sitting at the residence with his girlfriend and their daughter. Barros allegedly pulled a gun on his girlfriend when they got into an argument and asked her: “Did you call the sheriffs?” Google Home apparently heard “call the sheriffs,” and proceeded to call the sheriffs.

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A SWAT team arrived at the home and after negotiating for hours, they were able to take Barros into custody. Police tell ABC News that the man’s girlfriend was injured but did not need to visit a hospital. The couple’s daughter was safe and unharmed.

“The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III said in a statement.

Barros was charged with possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon, aggravated battery against a household member, aggravated assault against a household member and false imprisonment.

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While Google Home was a hero in this particular case, these kinds of stories certainly leave some people uneasy. It’s a clear reminder that smart home devices are always listening. We don’t know what data, if any, was recorded by the Amazon Echo that was involved in the December murder case. But police felt confident enough that it may have recorded audio of the incident to seek a warrant.

In a different incident in January, a local TV news broadcast involving a dollhouse
reportedly
triggered multiple Amazon Echo devices in the area to start ordering dollhouses. It’s easy to imagine police getting tired of being called to citizen’s homes every time they watch the latest episode of
Law and Order
.

[
ABC News
via
All That Is Interesting
]

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Gboard supports Google Maps, YouTube, doodling for iOS

Google’s virtual keyboard app Gboard has rolled out new features for iOS by adding integration with Google Maps and YouTube, and an option for artists where they can draw and doodle.

According to a report in tech portal 9TO5Google on Monday, with Gboard’s new integrations, iOS users can simply send a link to their location that opens directly in Google Maps on a recipient’s phone.

“Whether you’re coordinating a rendezvous point at the park or dinner plans at a nearby restaurant, meeting up with friends and family has never been easier. Just tap the G button then ‘Maps’ to share your current location or a local address,” the report said.

The integration with YouTube works on the same lines.

Gboard has also adding a new drawing mode called “Ink” which gives users the option to create their own images and send them.

“For you artists (or doodlers!), you can now use our new Ink feature to draw and share your creations right from your keyboard. Just tap on the emoji button followed by the pen icon and get to to work!” the report added.

Gboard has also added Arabic, Hebrew and Farsi languages. The features are exclusive to the iOS version of Gboard.

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Truecaller integrates Google Duo for video calling

Leading communication app Truecaller on Tuesday announced it has integrated with video calling app Google Duo that will allow users to make video calls directly through Truecaller on Android and iOS platforms.

The feature, that went live on Tuesday, will now make high-quality video calling available to the over 250 million Truecaller users globally.

“We’re very excited to announce the next step in delivering a one-stop communication platform for Truecaller users globally. By having a fantastic partner like Google, we can provide a high-quality video experience to millions of users using Google Duo,” Rishit Jhunjhunwala, Vice President of Product at Truecaller, said in a statement.

The initial announcement of the collaboration came in March earlier this year, where Truecaller had announced its plans for the Indian market.

Along with this integration, Truecaller had also announced a completely new redesign of the Android app that includes features including SMS filter, Flash Messaging and Truecaller Pay.

In April, Truecaller launched Flash Messaging for Android and iOS devices.

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Ex Google VP says the iPhone is way ahead of Android when it comes to photography

Former Senior Vice President of Google, Vic Gundotra, who lead the company’s mobile division has come out stating that the iPhone is way ahead of Android in terms of photography. Through comments on a Facebook post, he explained how Apple has overtaken Google in terms of computational photography, which in turn has rendered bulky DSLR’s almost obsolete.

In the
Facebook post
which was about the state of photography in Android and iOS, Gundotra stated that it’s Android’s open source nature that has kept it from innovating the photography experience. He shared two photos that he took from the iPhone 7 Plus using the Portrait Mode and praised the Cupertino giant for its prowess in computational photography.

Apple iPhone 7 review: Batman’s phone

Former Senior Vice President of Google, Vic Gundotra, who lead the company’s mobile division has come out stating that the iPhone is way ahead of Android in terms of photography. Through comments on a Facebook post, he explained how Apple has overtaken Google in terms of computational photography, which in turn has rendered bulky DSLR’s almost obsolete.

>

But then someone replied to the post stating that the days of carrying a bulky DSLR’s are over and that his Samsung Galaxy S8 does an ever better job than the iPhone. That’s when he lost it. In just about ten minutes, he replied stating that he would never use an Android phone to take photos. Naturally, people asked why not?

This is what he had to say:

Android is an open source (mostly) operating system that has to be neutral to all parties. This sounds good until you get into the details. Ever wonder why a Samsung phone has a confused and bewildering array of photo-options? Should I use the Samsung Camera? Or the Android Camera? Samsung gallery or Google Photos?

He stated that since Samsung is using Android which is open-source, Samsung has to ‘convince’ Google to allow the innovations to trickle down to Google applications through the appropriate APIs.

Apple, however, is free from such constraints. It has the freedom to innovate both on its hardware as well as software. All Apple has to do is innovate on the hardware and update the software to implement features like the Portrait Mode.

Moreover, he said the real innovation was not in the hardware space. It is computational photography that is the future. He said Google was ahead of everyone half a decade back. He gave the instance of “auto awesome, the auto enhancement filter in Android’s image editing app, that “implemented AI techniques to remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, add vignetting, etc.”

Vic ended his comment by saying that if you are serious about photography, the iPhone is the device to get and if you don’t mind being a few years behind the curve, Android will serve your needs.

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Apple gets nod to test its 5G technology

Apple

is set to begin testing its 5G technology after the US Federal Communications Commission approved its application to work towards bringing the technology to masses.

According to a report in Engadget on Thursday, Apple is targeting millimetre-wave broadband at higher frequency and smaller wavelength bands.

Millimetre-wave technology helps in larger data transmission at faster speed. But to allow such larger data transmission go through, a direct line of sight is needed.

There are already other tech companies in the field working on 5G technology. Facebook, Google, Samsung and Starry have been already working on this technology for a while.

“Sprint is looking to launch its 5G service in 2019, while T-Mobile is shooting for 2020. AT&T and Verizon are making moves towards 5G networks as well,” the report said.

There are no details in Apple’s application about how its 5G service would work in practice.

According to media reports, it has been granted access to test its technology in two locations near its California offices until August 2018.

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We now have a clearer picture of what Android O will bring to the table, thanks to Redditors


Reddit AMAs have become a revelatory source of information. Reddit, anyway houses an engaging community, no matter what topic you are looking for and when it comes to tech, the people like to geek out over the creators asking all sorts of questions. We have seen it happen with OnePlus when Carl Pei answered questions about the OnePlus 5. Recently, it was Android O’s turn. The
Android O team came on Reddit
and took questions about the new features and were quite in-depth in their answers, so much so, that we are already looking forward to what Android O will do to our Android devices.


Among
all the new features that Android O
is going to come out, it was clear from the AMA that the most anticipated is the Project Treble


Android’s answer to its terrible fragmentation problem. The team informed Redditors that all phones that will launch with Android O out of the box will come enabled with Project Treble. The initiative will see the Android team working closely with device makers and silicon manufacturers to get the required Android customisations, like the carrier specific requirements into AOSP
(
Android Open Source Project) and reduce the cost and complexity when updating to the new version of Android.

“Sony and Qualcomm have already contributed dozens of features and hundreds of bug fixes into AOSP so they no longer need to rework these patches with each new release of Android. We’ll publish more information about Project Treble on source.android.com soon,” the team said.

But will it really solve the issue that has been plaguing Android since its inception? The team is hopeful.


“It depends on how much the partner wants to take advantage of some of the benefits of Treble. Device maker partners can choose to utilize the same stable vendor implementation with the newest version of Android or they can choose to work with silicon manufacturers to update both the Android OS framework and the vendor implementation,” the team wrote on Reddit.

Yet another point of concern for users was the extent to which Android can be themed and whether the team has deliberately put in restrictions to prevent a total overhaul of the UI. Not going too technical, the team stated that theming on Android is not hard, but reliable and consistent theming is. The team still doesn’t have stable APIs for describing what can be themed. It doesn’t even have adequate methods of verifying existing applications that properly support theming. The team stated the example of the fabled dark theme which made brief appearances on the beta versions of previous Android releases. Since the team was unable to convert every existing app like Calendar, Photos, and other stock Apps to support the dark Material theme, it was scrapped from the final version.

This veered the discussion towards the return of a dedicated Tablet UI. But the team to quick to kill any hopes about it.

“Honestly, I don’t think tablets is a space where we can meaningfully talk about

completion.” It’s more about figuring out what the next driver of innovation will be for this form factor. We are continuing to invest in productivity use cases
(
keyboard-driven UI, multiwindow, etc) but also

along with lots of other folks in the industry

working on what the next evolution of tablets should be. For Android, there are some interesting overlaps with tablets given the increasing success of Chromebooks and the recent addition of the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS. We are working to make the Android developer stories for both form factors
(
tablets, Chromebooks) identical,” the team stated.

From the AMA, we did get a better picture of how Android O will change the way we will be using our phones. However, the team kept mum on the name, which is perhaps, the most anticipated thing about every Android release.

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The Best Cloud Storage For Every Need

Image: Screenshot/Gadgetlayout

Thanks to dropping storage prices,
speedier internet
, and slicker software, you’ve now got a plethora of choices when it comes to keeping your files in the cloud,
safe from harm
and ready on demand. Yet there are a lot of different services, and while they can all handle your storage needs, they are not all created equal. Some work better for photo fans, while others are a better option if you’re hoarding thousands of MP3s.

We’ve been putting them to the test to find out their strengths and weaknesses, and, broadly speaking, they’re all more than adequate for your simple cloud storage needs. Each will hold onto a few gigabytes of files and let you access them wherever you have internet access.

The competition. For services that only offer annual subscriptions, we’ve calculated the equivalent monthly cost.

Yet, depending on your particulars circumstances, only one will rise above the rest.

For the Person Who Just Wants Something Cheap

Amazon Drive’s clients are relatively sparse. Image: Screenshot

Amazon Drive

At just $50 for 10TB, Amazon Drive remains a bargain for people with loads of data, even if it is now shuttering the unlimited storage option that’s been offered for a couple of years.

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As usual, Prime members get the best deals: unlimited photo storage in this case. Though that doesn’t include videos, it does make the service more tempting if you’re on Prime anyway .

Still Amazon doesn’t offer the best user experience-yes the apps all work as advertised, but from functionality to reliability, other options have Amazon beat. Only videos under 20 minutes in length can be streamed from the cloud, for example, one of a few annoyances which stops us using this service regularly-it’s also not the most polished when you actually try and interact with it.

The web interface is clean and functional, but there’s no polish when interacting with it. (Image: Screenshot)

There’s no online office suite, no smart photo organization or editing, and a buggy interface to boot-it’s a simple cloud storage locker in the old sense of the term: It holds your files in the cloud cheaply and that’s about it.

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As an add-on to Prime then fine, but we’d struggle to see why anyone would use Amazon Cloud Storage over the other options here if they want to do more than just archive data on the web. The apps are ponderous in operation, rudimentary in looks, and sparse in features-file version history (keeping older versions of files), for example, comes as standard in other services but is nowhere to be found in Amazon’s.

Web:
https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive

Platforms:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

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Pros:
low prices and extras for Prime members.

Cons:
unpolished apps, zero goodies like office suites or photo editing.

For the person who needs to manage their photos
 

Backup & Sync is Google Drive’s new desktop tool. (Image: Screenshot)

Google Drive

As you might expect, Google Drive is the smoothest service when it comes to actual web access: opening up files, streaming files, converting files, editing files, and collaborating using the built-in Docs, Sheets, and Slides tool.
Chrome OS
relies on a solid cloud storage system, and that’s exactly what Google Drive is.

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Thankfully, the desktop clients just got a bit more polish with the addition of the new
Backup & Sync
tool. In terms of desktop clients, it’s probably the easiest one to use in this list bar maybe Dropbox.

It’s
Google Photos
and Google Play Music where the real standout benefits lie. They might not technically be part of Google Drive, but they’re so closely linked you can’t really consider them separately either.

Google Drive handles everything from documents to videos natively on the web. Image: Screenshot

Google Photos is by far the best photo organization and syncing tool out there, from the way it tags and searches photos to the unlimited free storage it offers if you don’t mind a 16 megapixel maximum size for your photos and a 1080p maximum resolution for your videos. It’s difficult to recommend anything else unless you’re really heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem.

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Google Play Music isn’t quite as impressive, but still stores 50,000 of your tracks free of charge and will stream and sync them anywhere you like. That’s an awful lot of photo and music storage and features for free, with smart and intuitive apps to boot.

Perhaps it’s cheating to bundle in those extras in Google Drive, but the main app considered on its own is still clean and stable and user-friendly, even if it doesn’t quite have the sophistication of Dropbox in the file syncing and management departments.

Web:
https://www.google.com/drive

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Platforms:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android

Pros:
brilliant photo management, excellent web access, good music management

Cons:
it’s Google.

For the Person Syncing Files on Every Platform

Dropbox’s clients are slick and stable. Image: Screenshot

Dropbox

Dropbox has been at this game a long, long time, and it shows-while Google, Apple, and Microsoft feel like they’ve caught up in terms of features and functions, the intuitiveness and look of Dropbox’s apps still give the service an edge.

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Not only that, but the apps are more reliable and faster too. They’re updated more often and more consistently across multiple platforms, and if you want best-in-class syncing and backup then this is the place to find it.

Handy features like version history and file undelete aren’t exclusive to Dropbox, but they feel easy to find and easy to use here, without having to delve into help files and online tutorials. To borrow a phrase from Apple, it just works, which might be why Steve Jobs
was interested
in acquiring Dropbox in its early days.

The web interface is also polished. Image: Screenshot

File and folder sharing is another plus, giving you a variety of ways to share files on the web or through the apps, with very useful features like editing controls and expiry dates for links just a few clicks away.

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So what are the downsides? The service could use a bit of variety in its pricing and storage plans (and 2GB isn’t much room for free), and
Dropbox Paper
is a slick web tool, but it can’t compete against the online office suites offered by Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Though, thanks to a partnership with Microsoft, you can now open and edit Office files in your browser. Yet that feature feels a little tacked on.

Meanwhile, photo, music, and video management is basic and largely uninspiring: Dropbox doesn’t have much in the way of tools for organizing your media, though you can, for example, stream videos, regardless of length, straight from your Dropbox.

If your focus is on your files-syncing, sharing, and viewing them across multiple platforms-then Dropbox is difficult to beat. The areas where it isn’t so strong are the extra bells and whistles that you might not need anyway.

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Web:
 
www.dropbox.com

Platforms:
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile

Pros:
file syncing, file sharing, cross-platform support.

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Cons:
Less than robust online office suite, uninspiring photo, music, and video management.

For the music hoarder

iCloud is much better integrated into macOS than it used to be. Image: Screenshot

iCloud

Long in last place, iCloud has improved a lot in recent years in terms of user-friendliness and accessibility, and has slowly integrated itself more neatly into macOS and iOS-the way you can now sync whole desktop folders to iCloud, Dropbox-style, is a big step forward.

All your files and photos and music appear on all your Apple devices as if by magic and the vast majority of the reliability problems and software bugs that plagued iCloud in the beginning have now been ironed out from what we can tell.

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Plus, iWork for iCloud is now a more competent online office suite than a lot of people give it credit for, complete with sharing and collaboration options, templates, and an interface that’s actually fast and responsive as you move around it.

iWork for iCloud is now a capable online suite. Image: Screenshot

As much as it’s improved, iCloud does have some gaps in its functionality: You can’t view most files on the web unless they’re from Apple apps, so PDFs and videos, for example, have to be downloaded rather than streamed or viewed. It’s little annoyances like this that put Google Drive and Dropbox a step ahead. Then there’s cross-platform support-limited and fiddly on Windows, and almost non-existent for Android.

Like Google, Apple has separate iCloud components for music and photos, and in the case of the iCloud Music Library locker you can store 100,000 tracks without it counting against your storage, which is double Google’s offering. You can even get those tunes on Android, if you pay an extra $9.99 for Apple Music.

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The 2017 edition of iCloud looks good and works well, and with a little more web savviness and better support for Android and Windows, Apple could seriously challenge Google and Dropbox. As it is, it’s only users who like to go all-in with Apple that are going to prefer this above all the other contenders.

Web:
 
https://www.icloud.com

Platforms:
Windows, macOS, iOS

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Pros:
can store up to 100,000 songs that work seamlessly with iTunes, works with existing Apple products.

Cons:
can’t view many files on the web, limited multi-platform support.

For the Windows user too lazy to try anything else

OneDrive is integrated into Windows and has a macOS client available. Image: Screenshot

OneDrive

On paper, you’d say Microsoft has caught up to the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive with its OneDrive (previously SkyDrive) offering; in reality, it’s still a lot clunkier to use. The integrated syncing feels shoehorned into Windows 10, and the online apps feel like desktop programs shoehorned into a web browser.

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Actually, it’s not as bad as that sounds. If you only use Windows and you’re too lazy to switch to anything else then OneDrive will suit you just fine and cover all of the basics of syncing files between computers and keeping copies in the cloud.

To no one’s surprise, Microsoft is trying to leverage the power of the bundle to get people to use OneDrive-stump up $70 a year and not only do you get 1TB of OneDrive space, you also get Office 365 (for the desktop) thrown in as well, which suddenly makes the deal look a lot more appealing.

OneDrive tries to copy Google Photos on the web, but it’s not there yet. (Image: Screenshot)

Microsoft is having a stab at keeping up with Google in terms of organizing your photos, and it even tries to auto-tag them these days, but again while the two services look similar in terms of a simple feature-to-feature comparison, Google’s head start shows in how speedy and intuitive its online apps are.

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It’s the same with other features, like version history and document collaboration-they’re here, but they’re not particularly pleasant to use.

You do get clients for macOS, Android, and iOS with OneDrive, so you can take it with you to other devices, but we’d only recommend you spend your monthly cloud storage allowance on this if you live and breathe Windows and Microsoft Office and need the option that works most seamlessly with Microsoft’s existing products.

Web:
 
https://onedrive.live.com

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Platforms:
Windows, Windows Mobile, macOS, iOS, Android

Pros:
works with other Microsoft products.

Cons:
works poorly with everything else.