Tech Fix: The Best Ways to Share Your Smartphone Photos This Holiday

“There are a few really clever photo sharing tools, but as smart as they are, you might still need to teach family members how they work,” said R. C. Rivera, a professional photographer in San Francisco.

So here are some tips for the quickest and most efficient ways to share digital photos, based on my tests and interviews with professional photographers.

Sharing With Google Photos

If you have a modestly sized family, chances are some members use iPhones but others use Androids. The quickest method for everyone to share pics is to rely on a photo storage service that supports both devices.

Mr. Rivera said that most of his family in the United States used iPhones, but that his relatives in Asia all used Android devices. So he goaded his family to use Google Photos, which is included on Android devices and works on iPhones.

After you sign up for Google Photos, each photo you take is automatically backed up to Google’s cloud. From there, you can create albums for your trip to Spain or your 2-year-old’s birthday party to share with other members of the family with Google accounts. You can also create public albums that anyone can see with a web link.

To make sharing more effortless, you can also take advantage of some neat artificial intelligence. Google Photos detects the face of a person and automatically groups all the photos of that person into an album. From there, you can set up Google to automatically share photos of that person with others — which is great for baby photos.

To do that, inside the Google Photos app, you add a partner account that you want to share with, like your spouse or relative, and then select the option to share photos of specific people. Then select the subject you want to share. If you want to keep people up to date with photos of your toddler, this is a quick and efficient method. (An added bonus: This trick also works for dogs.)

Google Photos is cheap. Google offers to store an unlimited number of compressed images for free. For full-resolution images, you get 15 gigabytes of free storage and can pay at least $2 a month for 100 gigs.

Moving Photos Between Apple Devices

For families that entirely rely on iPhones, there’s a major benefit: the ability to share photos among devices almost instantly. Apple phones and computers have AirDrop, a tool that transfers pictures directly between devices via a wireless Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection.

Unfortunately, this useful feature is difficult to find. In iOS 11, the latest mobile operating system, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hard press in the upper-left corner to open a hidden menu that includes AirDrop. From there, you can set up AirDrop to receive photos from everyone or just people on your contacts list.

To share with AirDrop, make sure your relative nearby has AirDrop receiving turned on. On your iPhone, you can select a photo or a group of photos and tap the Share button (a box with an arrow pointing up). Your relative’s device will show up under the AirDrop menu, and you can select the device. The files will move over instantly — even a batch of 50 photos will take only a few seconds.

Slide Shows on a Big Screen

Your older relatives are probably familiar with the tradition of using a slide projector to show vacation photos or talk about family events. You can do something similar to that with a smartphone, a television set and a media streaming device.

First, pick your streaming device. Google’s $35 Chromecast, a small dongle that can be plugged into the TV, is perfect for families using Google Photos. For those relying on iPhones, a $149 Apple TV is also great.

After you set up your streaming device, beaming your photos to the television set is a breeze. In the Google Photos app, a small broadcasting icon will appear in the upper-right corner. Tap that while you are reviewing photos, and they will beam onto the television screen.

With an Apple TV, the process is just as simple with the tool AirPlay. On your iPhone, open the photo album you want to share and hit the Share button, and then tap AirPlay. The photos you are looking at on your phone will show up on the television screen, and you can narrate your trip to Hong Kong while swiping from photo to photo.

Print Your Albums

There’s always the old-school option of printing out your photos for a physical album. There are several different apps you can use to skip buying a printer.

The easiest option for Google Photos users is to just print directly through Google. A photo books tool lets you compile photos into a book. In my tests, dragging some favorite photos from my trip to Japan into a photo book was a breeze. A 20-page book costs $10; each extra page costs 35 cents.

There are other options if you want to assemble an old-school scrapbook. Online printing services let you upload photos and order prints in different sizes. Wirecutter, a New York Times company that tests products, highlighted Nations Photo Lab as its top printing service that offers high-quality prints for a good price.

Mr. Rivera, the professional photographer, takes the route that requires minimal effort: He regularly prints Google photo books for his relatives. The color accuracy in the photos is not perfect, but the outcome is good enough.

“As a photographer I would scrutinize the color,” he said. “But for 90 percent of the population, it’s perfect. My parents wouldn’t notice.”

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Tech Fix: How to Buy a Great TV This Black Friday


You know how it is: Every Black Friday, you are bombarded with lousy shopping deals that do not offer as much of a discount on an item as you think. But there is a bright spot: If you are shopping for a television, it really is the best time to buy one.

To stoke sales, electronics manufacturers typically slash prices of popular TV sets during Black Friday to the lowest all year. This week, you will be able to buy high-quality televisions for $500 to $1,500 after discounts of 15 percent to 30 percent. That’s a deal considering that typically, many TVs in the $500 range are just O.K. and high-end sets cost upward of $2,000.

But as always, there will be duds to watch out for. Many TV brands take this opportunity to sell sets with exaggerated features that have subpar picture quality. And inside stores, TVs often look different from the way they would at home, because you probably don’t have gigantic lights in your ceilings like the showrooms at Best Buy.

“A lot of Black Friday marketing is designed to get the consumer interested in something, sometimes with not a lot of facts but a gut feeling of ‘I need to buy this,’ ” said Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate, a consulting firm that studies TV and smartphone screens.

So we did some research ahead of time. To help you scout for great TV deals, I interviewed experts on TV technologies and teamed up with Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews products. Here is our guide to picking out a TV you will be happy with this Black Friday, advice that may also come in handy if you are shopping for TVs over the rest of the holiday season.

Viewing Conditions

To narrow down your search, the first rule of thumb is to assess the ambient light in your living room.

If your living room gets lots of sunlight, you will want a very bright TV with vivid colors that can overcome some of that ambient light that washes out your TV, Mr. Soneira said. In this situation, you would probably go for an LCD TV, which can produce very bright and sharp images.

Two important features to look for in a television are local dimming and high dynamic range, a Wirecutter tester said.CreditRobert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

If your living room has lower ambient light or if you have a dark theater room, go for a TV with more lifelike colors. In this case, you could go for televisions with so-called OLED screens, which can be made thinner and lighter with more accurate colors and contrast. In general, OLED TVs look better than LCD sets, but OLED TVs are not as bright, so their colors and shadow details can be washed out by bright sunlight.

And then there is content to consider. If you watch a lot of movies, you would benefit from an OLED television to get a picture that more closely resembles what the director intended you to see. But if you mostly watch sports or broadcast television, a good LCD television would be sufficient to get a clear, bright picture of the ballgame or your local news coverage.

In the end, your budget may drive your decision. Good LCD televisions cost as little as $500. A nice OLED television tends to cost $2,000 and up.

A Few Important Features

After you have decided on a type of TV, there are two important features to look for: local dimming and high dynamic range, said Chris Heinonen, a writer and TV tester for Wirecutter.

Local dimming is a technology that uses a backlight embedded inside the TV to make bright parts of the screen look brighter without washing out shadow detail. It also helps improve contrast and produce a more vibrant image.

High dynamic range, or HDR, is a software feature that enhances the contrast and color profile of a picture. In bright colors, you will see brighter highlights; in dark colors, you will see more details.

Most television sets today come with 4K high-definition resolution, also known as ultrahigh definition. But 4K videos won’t look very good if the TV lacks local dimming. In addition, the expanded color gamut from high dynamic range makes a big difference when watching videos in 4K, Mr. Heinonen said.

Buyer, Beware

Here’s the tricky part: On Black Friday, many companies exaggerate the features on their TV sets to make them look more attractive. Here are some things to look out for.

■ Fake contrast ratio numbers. Contrast ratio is the difference between a TV’s peak brightness and lowest darkness. All you need to know is that a high contrast ratio helps make a picture look good. Manufacturers enjoy pumping up the contrast ratio of their TVs by listing results in unrealistic test settings, Mr. Heinonen said.

■ Unknown TV models. On Black Friday, TV brands also enjoy releasing obscure television sets with model names that are similar to popular sets but with inferior features. “They all do it,” Mr. Heinonen said.

For example, Samsung could hypothetically sell a TV set called MU8020, which sounds similar to the Samsung MU8000, a well-reviewed television. But the unknown TV might lack important features like local dimming.

■ Misleading display technologies. TV makers use confusing terms that may mislead you. LED televisions, for example, sound similar to fancy OLED televisions — but they are just LCD televisions with an LED backlight, Mr. Soneira said. In addition, companies advertise TVs with high dynamic range, but some sets are not even powerful enough to display HDR properly, Mr. Heinonen said.

Do Your Homework

The best way to avoid falling into any traps is to figure out what TV you want and keep track of its price leading up to Black Friday. Here’s a good place to start: Wirecutter put together a chart of the best TVs based on dozens of hours of testing. It highlighted sets from Sony, TCL, Vizio and LG.

Some TV makers have already announced Black Friday prices for a number of top-rated TVs. LG, for example, is selling an OLED TV, called B7A, for about $1,500 for the 55-inch set and about $2,300 for the 65-inch model. Originally, they cost $2,200 and $2,700. The $1,500 price is remarkably low for a high-end TV of this caliber and size.

In addition, Amazon is selling a great 55-inch Sony LCD TV with HDR for about $1,000, down from about $1,300. And Walmart is selling Vizio’s M50-E1, a well-reviewed 50-inch budget TV, for about $500, down from $600.

Whatever you do, try not to overspend. Mr. Heinonen said to steer clear of TVs that cost more than $3,000 because TV technologies were rapidly maturing and prices plummet every year.

“Paying a ton right now for the top of the line is really paying a premium when things are improving so fast,” he said.


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Tech Fix: With C.I.A. Hacking Revelations, How to Protect Your Devices

The fallout may also end up being broader. WikiLeaks, which released documents covering 2013 to 2016, has said its initial publication was just the first installment in a bigger cache of secret C.I.A. material.

So even if you aren’t worried about what WikiLeaks revealed about the C.I.A. right now for yourself, here are some tips for protecting your cellphones, televisions and internet routers.

What you can do if you’re on Android

Hundreds of millions of Android users still use devices based on older versions of the Google-made mobile operating system. The WikiLeaks document collection, which includes 7,818 web pages and 943 attachments, showed that the Android devices targeted by the hacking programs were mostly running a version of Android 4.0.

Runa Sandvik, The New York Times’s director of information security in the newsroom, and Nicole Perlroth, who writes about cybersecurity and privacy, answered reader questions about cybersecurity.

Today, about 30 percent of Android users, or at least 420 million people, are on a variant of Android 4.0, according to Google. The company said it was investigating reports of the security issues described in the WikiLeaks documents.

With the limited information we have now, the best thing people can do is to stop procrastinating on updating their software.

“The one thing that people can and should be doing is keeping their apps and phones as up-to-date as possible,” said Kurt Opsahl, deputy executive director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit.

For owners of older devices, getting the latest software updates may not be easy. Many older Android handsets, like the Samsung Galaxy S3, are unable to download the latest version of the Android software. If you are in that boat, it’s a good time to purchase a new smartphone — such as the Google Pixel — which is running the latest Android software.

Other than ensuring that you have the latest operating system, Google recommends that Android users protect their devices with lock screens and PIN codes, and to enable a setting called Verify Apps, which scans apps downloaded from outside of Google’s app store for malware.

What you can do on an iPhone

Many iPhone owners are far more up-to-date with their mobile software than Android device owners. So only a minority of iPhone users have devices with the versions of the Apple iOS operating system that the WikiLeaks documents mention.

Specifically, the WikiLeaks documents referred to exploits working on versions of iOS up to 8.2. About 79 percent of Apple users are running iOS 10, the latest version of the system, and only 5 percent are running a version older than iOS 9, according to Apple.

In raw numbers, with more than one billion iOS devices sold worldwide, that amounts to at least 50 million people running the outdated software.

For those worried about their iPhone security, the advice is generally the same here as for Android owners: iPhone and iPad users should make sure to be running the latest operating system, iOS 10. Apple said on Tuesday that many of the security issues described in the WikiLeaks documents had already been patched in the latest version of its software and that it was working to address remaining vulnerabilities.

Not all Apple devices can get the latest operating system. Apple’s iOS 10 is compatible with iPhones as far back as the iPhone 5 released in 2012, and with iPads as old as the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 released in 2013. If you are using anything older than those, it’s a good time to buy a new device for the stronger security.

What you can do with your Samsung TV

With Samsung televisions, the situation is less clear. The documents mentioned programs attacking smart TVs in Samsung’s F8000 series, which include microphones for voice controls. Samsung said it was looking into the WikiLeaks reports, and noted that software updates with the latest security enhancements are automatically downloaded on its televisions. The company did not immediately comment on whether any vulnerabilities had been patched.

The documents published by WikiLeaks disclosed that a tool called Weeping Angel puts the target TV in a “fake off” mode. Then, with the owner believing the TV is turned off, the set secretly records conversations in the room and sends them over the internet to a C.I.A. server computer.

Smart TVs are part of a proliferating category of “internet of things” devices that have raised security concerns because many of the companies that make them do not have strong backgrounds in information security. In a recent column I wrote about defending a smart home from cyberattacks, experts recommended strengthening Wi-Fi settings and regularly auditing smart home devices for software updates, among other tips.

That advice might not be sufficient for addressing privacy concerns around Samsung’s smart TVs, because the Weeping Angel hack continues to control the television even when it appears to be turned off.

Craig Spiezle, executive director of the Online Trust Alliance, a nonprofit privacy group, said the WikiLeaks revelations could spur action that he sees as lacking from makers of connected devices.

“I see this as a wake-up call for the industry to build better security and for consumers of these devices to rethink what they have and, in some cases, disconnect their connectivity,” Mr. Spiezle said.

What to do with your router

The WikiLeaks documents also described methods of injecting malware into routers offered by Asian manufacturers like Huawei, ZTE and Mercury.

In general, it is wise for everyone to regularly check routers for so-called firmware updates to make sure they get the latest security enhancements.

Depending on which router you own, downloading the latest firmware update isn’t very intuitive because it usually requires logging into the router. More modern routers like Eero and Google Wifi include mobile apps that help you download the latest updates automatically, so consider one of those if you are worried.

What to do with your computer

The WikiLeaks documents mentioned attacks on Linux, Windows and Apple computers. Personal computers have always been the most vulnerable devices we own, so this tip is fairly obvious: Make sure to install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software. And as always, stay on guard for suspicious websites that may be serving malware.

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