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Christmas Gift Guide

Cortana

Focus by Firefox

Storehouse

Google Calendar (Update)

500px (Update)

AmpMe (Update)

Bing (Update)

Yahoo Messenger (Update)

Microsoft's personal assistant officially landed on iOS and Android this week.

What does it do?: Like Google Now and Siri, Cortana is a digital personal assistant that can search the Web for you, finding answers to common questions like "Will it rain today?" and "Did the Golden State Warriors win last night?" She can also set reminders for you or help you call or text your friends.

Why should I care?: Cortana offers an alternative to Siri and Google on your iPhone or Android phone.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Focus by Firefox helps you block ads and trackers while you browse the Web on your iPhone or iPad.

What does it do?: Focus runs in the background while you use Safari to hide ads on websites and stop Web trackers used for ads, analytics and social media.

Why should I care?: The app is free and easy to set up, allowing you to customize what it blocks. It may help webpages load faster and cut down on how much mobile data you use.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Storehouse is bringing back the photo album, sort of. This popular iOS app has finally landed on Android and it lets you tell a story with your photos in a way you can't really do with Instagram or Facebook.

What does it do?: Storehouse creates pretty and interesting stories (or albums) from photos and video on your phone. Give your phone a shake to reorganize the pictures automatically with a unique layout. Once you've saved your album, you can share it with friends.

Why should I care?: Storehouse is a simply way to organize photos into meaningful albums that you can share anywhere. It's faster than uploading photos to Facebook and easy to use.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Now you can check out your to-do list while browsing your agenda in Google Calendar.

What's new?: Google added reminders to its Calendar app for iOS and Android, so you can view important tasks and events at the same time.

When you add new reminders, the app will grab any helpful information you might need to get the task done. For instance, if you need to call your doctor, the app can add their phone number to the reminder.

Any reminders you add through Google's other apps, including Google Now and Inbox will also appear in Calendar.

Why should I care?: If you use Google Calendar regularly, this update might help you stay organized without needing a to-do app.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

500px, a social network for photographers of all stripes, revamped its Android app with a fresh design and new features.

What's new?: 500px added recommendations so that you can more easily discover new photographers. It also gains improved search and a new feature called Galleries, which lets you curate your favorite public photos from other photographers into your own personal collections.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

AmpMe is a neat app that turns your phone and your friend's phones into a makeshift surround-sound stereo system.

What does it do?: Everyone fires up the app at the same time, calibrates the music and then a single song plays through all the phones in sync. It's a great way to listen to music with a group, without the need for a proper stereo.

Why should I care?: The app, available for iOS and Android, was recently updated to let you listen to music stored on your device. You can also play songs from SoundCloud through AmpMe, with more services coming soon.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

The Bing app for iOS has undergone a complete makeover to make it stylish, pretty and fast.

What's new?: Bing now connects to other apps on your phone, so that you can take action from a search result. That means if you search for a song that's available through Spotify, Bing can launch the app so you can listen with one button press.

Some of Bing's features, namely search history and bookmarks, now work offline, too, so you can recall that info without a connection.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Yahoo's 17-year-old messaging service just got a 21st century face lift. The revamped Messenger app for iOS and Android wants to connect you with your friends and save yourself some embarrassment.

What's new?: You can now unsend messages sent in Messenger, even ones sent months ago. No more drunk professions of love you cannot take back, or embarrassing typos. The apps are also designed to send hundreds of photos quickly, offering a faster, easier way to share pictures with friends and loved ones.

Another new feature lets you send GIFs in a message, tapping into Tumblr's gigantic library of the moving pictures.

Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET
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