Tech News

Cross your fingers, Instagram is widely testing desktop uploads

Since its inception, Instagram has been a mobile-first app. While it has a website where you can look at your feed, watch Stories, and chat with your friends over DMs, you can’t post photos.

Well, that’s about to change as the company is rolling out a desktop upload feature to select users. Multiple people on Twitter noted that they’re seeing this function appear for them on Instagram‘s desktop site.

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Last month, developer and leaker Alessandro Paluzzi tweeted about this feature being tested internally. However, Instagram has now confirmed this development:

We know that many people access Instagram from their computers. To improve that experience, we’re now testing the ability to create a Feed post on Instagram with their desktop browser.

From the looks of these early screenshots, you can upload multiple photos, edit them, and apply filters to them without having to switch to the mobile app. At the time of writing, I haven’t seen this feature for my account, so I haven’t been able to test it. We’ll update this story when it rolls out more widely.

Back in 2013, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said, “We do not offer the ability to upload from the web as Instagram is about producing photos on the go, in the real world, in real-time.”

Anyone who’s spent time on the platform over the years knows this is not how most creators use Instagram lately: they edit a lot of content using professional tools on their desktops before beaming it to their phones to upload.

As such, this new development should be a boon to those folks. If you’re looking for authenticity in your feed, you’ll want to check out alternatives like Dispo.

Can we have Instagram for iPad now, please?

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Tech News

Google Photos to end free unlimited uploads: What it means to you

Google Photos has brought a whole new dimension to treasuring cherished memories ever since it first burst into the scene in 2015. Right from that time, the photo sharing and cloud storage service has been popular for its free unlimited storage. Users have enjoyed this feature all these years, saving the most important moments with utter piece of mind – not having to worry about storage space running out on their device.

Google’s trusted service gives unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos of up to size 16MP and 1080p resolution. Anything uploaded beyond these limits is simply scaled down to the mentioned parameters – called the High Quality storage. Basically, users don’t have to do anything beyond, hitting the “back up now” button or keep automatic backup on for the secure backup of all photos and videos.

Brace for the change

Starting June 1, 2021, Google Photos will count all the uploaded images and videos against the free 15GB storage with your Google account. Go past the threshold and you’ll have to get the Google One subscription to keep enjoying the service.

The foundation for the move was laid back in November 2020 when Google Photos lead David Leib tweeted the reason for this strategic move. According to him, providing completely free backups is costing the company heavily. So, Google had no other way but to alight the primary cost of running the service and accepting the primary value of online storage.

Already more than a billion people are uploading a whopping 28 million photos to the platform each week. Understandably, to meet the expenses and provide streamlined service that users have got used to all these years, demands a subscription model going forward.

What about existing uploads

Users who rely on Google Photos to upload their device’s content need not worry about their existing files. The existing high-quality content will remain exempt from the upcoming storage restrictions. It’s only after the mentioned date, any new uploads will start ticking the Google account storage meter.
If you manually backup the photos and videos to the service, it is a wise idea to go through your library again and upload any important content before June 1. Anything on or after June 1 will start adding to the space in your designated 15 GB storage quota.

Users will also get a new feature starting June 1 that’ll be more of a photos and video management tool. The AI tool will analyze your stored files and suggest if you want to get rid of photos that are blurry or video clips that are too big to fit on the 15GB free limit.

Existing Pixel users need not worry

Pixel devices being part of the Google ecosystem have the privilege of enjoying the benefits further. Yes, Pixel owners need not worry, as they will get free unlimited storage for high quality uploads. If the users choose to upload the original quality of photos and videos, it will however count toward Google account storage. But yes, nothing for the high quality 16MP and 1080p criteria.

For Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL owners, they can enjoy unlimited upload of photos and videos at the Original Quality settings until the end of 2021. It is beyond that time frame any content will be scaled down to the High Quality resolution for cloud storage. Users who have the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL devices will enjoy this benefit until January 31, 2022. After that the same methodology will follow for any new photos or videos – i.e. they will be scaled down to High Quality settings.

The newer devices in the lineup including Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a and the Pixel 5 will however not get the free unlimited uploads in the Original Quality settings. They’ll have to live with the free unlimited High Quality storage option. Also, Google will not provide the luxury of free photo and video storage for Pixel devices released in the future.

What are the options?

Once you reach the 15GB storage quota, you’ll have to figure out the options on the table. You can go for the Google One program which is a unified cloud storage platform for Google products. The service has spread across 140 countries ever since its launch in 2018.

The 100GB tier for the plan costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. A 200GB storage slot will bump up the price to $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. Then there is the 2TB plan which will set you back $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. These plans should be more than enough for normal usage. If you do require more storage due to professional requirements, there is the 10TB plan for $99.99, 20TB for $199.99 and 30TB for $299.99 per month.

The next best option is Microsoft OneDrive for those who want to try a service out of the Google ecosystem. The single-user plan gives 5GB free storage and thereafter the paid plans start. 100GB storage costs the same as Google at $1.99, and then is 1TB plan for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. The 1TB plan comes with Skype and office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The Dropbox option is also open for single-user plans, as it provides 2GB of free storage and then up to 2TB storage for $9.99 per month.

It is clear, out of these options Google One provides the most set of choices. Android users will be better off sticking to the Google ecosystem for peace of mind – and yes – this is our recommendation as well. On the other hand, Microsoft OneDrive is worth consideration for professionals who want the added benefit of Microsoft Office suites.

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Tech News

Comcast’s latest hybrid broadband test teases an end to slow uploads

If there’s one thing working from home has taught us over the past year, it’s that we probably snack too much; if there’s a second thing, it’s that your home internet connection can never be too fast. With fiber slowly spreading, Comcast is showing off the next-generation of its hybrid-fiber coaxial (HFC) network technology, and in the process promising a fix to one of the more frustrating aspects of home broadband: comparatively slow upload speeds.

Typically, ISPs love to shout about their download rates. Less common, though, are boasts about upload speeds, since they’re usually a fraction of the pace. That’s traditionally not been such an issue, as people tend to download things – such as streaming video – more than they upload.

While we’ve been working from home, home-schooling, and getting onto more and more video calls, however – not to mention playing streaming games in our spare time – the need for more upload capacity has increasingly become obvious. That’s one big advance that Full Duplex DOCSIS will bring, Comcast says, though there’s still a little time to wait before your friendly Xfinity sales rep will be pestering you with calls to upgrade.

Right now, the first successes are in the lab still. Comcast has been working with Broadcom on the first Full Duplex DOCSIS system-on-chip (SOC), compatible with the DOCSIS 4.0 Full Duplex standard. Though there are a few benefits to that, one is the ability to “dramatically increase upstream speeds,” Comcast claims, without sacrificing download speeds in the process.

We’re talking multi-gigabit rates in both directions, in fact, which is going to come as welcome news to anybody paying for the maximum cable internet rates right now but finding their upload tops out at around 10 Mbps.

The test involved Comcast labs in Philadelphia and Denver, the company says, with throughput rates exceeding 4 gigabits per second (Gbps). It’s a big jump over the symmetrical 1.25 Gbps rates Comcast announced it was achieving last October, and it’s expected to get faster still as the system is optimized. It’s part of what the internet provider industry is referring to as the “Path to 10G”: a recognition that, as with so many things, more speed is going to be required in the years ahead.

One big advantage is that the hybrid-fiber coaxial approach means Comcast will be able to use much of its existing wiring, rather than install brand new connections to each subscriber. For now, though, patience is still required. Expanded testing of the system is on the schedule for later in 2021, but there’s no public timescale for when it might see a commercial launch: Comcast is clear to point out that this is a multi-year initiative, so don’t hold your breath.

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Messaging app Go SMS Pro uploads every file you send to the internet, which is bad

Messaging app Go SMS Pro, which has over 100 million installs from the Google Play store, has a massive security flaw that potentially allows people to access the sensitive content you’ve sent using the app. And even though the app’s maker was informed about the issue months ago, they haven’t made updates to fix what’s going on.

To give you an idea of just how much information the app leaks, here’s what TechCrunch was able to find: “In viewing just a few dozen links, we found a person’s phone number, a screenshot of a bank transfer, an order confirmation including someone’s home address, an arrest record, and far more explicit photos than we were expecting, to be quite honest,” cybersecurity reporter Zack Whittaker says. Not great.

Here’s what’s going on: Go SMS Pro uploads every media file you send to the internet and makes those files accessible with a URL, according to a report by Trustwave. When you send a message with media via Go SMS Pro, such as a photo or video, the app uploads the content to its servers, creates a URL pointing to it, and sends that URL to the recipient. If the recipient also has Go SMS Pro, the content appears directly in the message — but the app still uploads the file and still creates that publicly accessible link on the internet.

That URL is where the trouble is. There’s no authentication required to look at the link, meaning that anyone who has it could view the content within. And the URLs generated by the app apparently have a sequential and predictable address, meaning that anyone can look at other files just by changing the right parts of the URL. Theoretically, you could even write a script to autogenerate sequential URLs so you could quickly find and browse through a lot of private content shared by people using Go SMS Pro.

Worse, the app’s developer has been unresponsive, so it’s unclear if this vulnerability will ever be fixed. Trustwave said it has contacted the developer four times since August 18th, 2020 to notify them about the vulnerability, with no response. TechCrunch tried emailing two email addresses connected to the app. An email to one address bounced back with a message that the inbox was full. Another email was opened but wasn’t replied to, and a follow-up email hasn’t been opened. The Verge attempted to reach the developer for comment through an email listed on the Play Store listing, but the email bounced back with a “recipient inbox full” message. And the developer’s website listed on the Play Store listing appears to be broken.

So if you’re using Go SMS Pro now and want to keep the things you share from being leaked onto the internet, you might want to find a different messaging app.

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