TIME Smartphones

President Obama Forgot His BlackBerry Today

U.S. President Barack Obama holds up his BlackBerry device after he returned inside the White House to retrieve it, after boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama holds up his BlackBerry device after he returned inside the White House to retrieve it, after boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014. Larry Downing—Reuters

We've all been there, Barack

At one point or another, we’ve all left our phones at home, only to realize it after we’re already in the car, bus, or subway. Well, count one more victim of smartphone amnesia: President Obama.

Obama reportedly left the White House to board Marine One earlier Friday — only to realize once on board that he left his BlackBerry back in his office. He hurried off the presidential chopper, grabbed his phone and headed back outside, waving the device in the air and telling reporters “Didn’t you guys ever forget something?,” Bloomberg reports.

Obama is a longtime BlackBerry user, and government offices in general remain one of the company’s strongest markets.

TIME Technology & Media

A TV Network Should Buy Aereo. Here’s Why.

Supreme Court Hears Case Pinning Startup Internet TV Company Aereo Against Major Broadcast Networks
In this photo illustration, Aereo.com, a web service that provides television shows online, is shown on an iPhone 4S on April 22, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

It would help them compete against Netflix and HBO Go

Aereo, an ambitious startup that aimed to stream live broadcast television to subscribers for a small monthly fee, filed for bankruptcy Friday, months after a devastating loss at the Supreme Court. But it doesn’t have to end this way.

Aereo worked by giving each of its subscribers access to a tiny antenna that picked up broadcast television signals, which were then stored in a cloud server before being beamed over the Internet to users’ laptops or mobile devices, either almost live or well after-the-fact via DVR technology. Subscribers paid about $8 a month for the service, even though broadcasters like NBC and Fox give away their content for free to anyone with an antenna in range of their transmitters, making most of their profits from advertising.

But advertising isn’t the broadcasters’ only revenue stream. Cable companies like Time Warner Cable have for years been legally required to pay broadcasters for the right to retransmit their content to cable subscribers. What sparked the Aereo case is that Aereo didn’t pay those fees, which make up an increasingly large slice of the broadcasters’ revenues. So broadcast networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, sued Aereo on copyright grounds. The case ultimately found its way to the Supreme Court, which in June sided against Aereo. Aereo then tried a few legal hail-marys to try saving its business, but as prime Aereo backer Barry Diller admitted over the summer, the game was over once the Court’s gavel was struck.

What I have trouble moving past is that Aereo wasn’t really charging for content, as everything you could watch on the service was free anyway. It was charging for convenience — You could watch Aereo on a laptop or iPhone, and it gave customers access to a cloud-based DVR to store their favorite shows. It also made up for the fact that, here in building-packed New York City at least, the free, over-the-air broadcasts are often difficult to watch with a regular TV aerial. Most of the people I know who used Aereo here did so because they couldn’t get reliable signals from the broadcasters. In this sense, Aereo addressed a technical failure, too. With those factors combined, Aereo was certainly worth eight bucks a month.

The broadcast networks used the courts to pummel Aereo into submission, suing a potential industry disruptor out of existence. But instead of walking away smiling, those broadcasters should realize Aereo only foreshadowed a massive industry shakeup that will change everything about television. As more people cut the cord and switch to on-demand services like Netflix and HBO Go (with the latter soon to be available without a cable subscription), cable television will slowly die out — and take those lucrative retransmission fees with them as it goes. CBS, at least, sees the writing on the door: It’s launching an innovative subscription-based online service, from which it’ll likely make money off ads, too. More broadcasters should realize that cable TV is the past, not the future. And what better, bolder move to make than buying Aereo?

TIME How-To

How to Stop Accidentally Closing Your Browser All the Time

Inside The Google Chromebook Store
The logo of Google Inc. Chrome is seen alongside a Samsung Electronics Co. Chromebook laptop. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Don't be foiled by keyboard shortcuts

If you’re anything like me, you love using keyboard shortcuts to zip around your computer without moving your mouse—some say it’s laziness, I say it’s efficiency. Hitting Control-W or Cmd-W in Chrome or Firefox, for example, lets me easily close a tab once I’m done reading ’19 Reasons ‘Rose’ From Titanic Is a Feminist Hero.’

But if you are anything like me, you also have a nasty habit of hitting the wrong keys about 37% of the time. And guess what’s right next to “W?” That’s “Q,” which, when pressed along with that Control/Cmd key, totally closes your entire browser. Annoying!

Well, there’s something you can do about it.

If you’re using Chrome on a Mac, click “Chrome” on your top toolbar, then check “Warn Before Quitting.” Now, you’ll need to either hold down the Q button or tap it twice to fully close Chrome—no more accidental Cmd-Qs when you meant to Cmd-W. Chrome for Windows lacks this nifty feature, but if you restart Chrome and hit Control + Shift + T, it’ll reopen all the tabs you had open when you accidentally closed Chrome.

For Firefox users on Windows or Mac, the trick takes a little more work. First, open Firefox’s preferences panel and head over to the “Tabs” section. Check “Warn me when closing multiple tabs.” Then, open a new Firefox tab and in the address bar, type about:config. Filter those results by “warnon,” and set all the options that appear to “true.” Then filter for “quit,” and set the “showQuitWarning” to “true.” This won’t work. Huzzah! Now any time you’ve got more than one Firefox tab open, it’ll warn you before quitting.

Happy browsing, Chrome and Firefox users.

TIME technology

It Took Microsoft 3 Tries Before Windows Was Successful

Microsoft Windows 1.0
Microsoft Windows 1.0 AP

Windows 1.0 wasn't exactly a huge win — even with Microsoft Paint helping out

The first version of Microsoft Windows will be knocking on the door of its third decade Thursday when it turns the ripe old age of 29 — well past retirement in software years, given that Microsoft officially put it out to pasture in December of 2001. Still, looking back at Windows 1.0 offers exactly what its name implies: A window into how things used to be, and, in a way, how little has changed.

First announced in 1983, Microsoft Windows 1.0 wouldn’t make it to the consumer market for another two years — making it one of the first pieces of software to be dismissed as “vaporware,” a term actually coined by a Microsoft engineer a year before the Windows announcement, as a disparaging title bestowed upon a product that’s announced but never sees the light of day.

Windows 1.0′s big selling point was its Graphical User Interface (GUI), intended to replace MS-DOS-style command prompts (C:/DOS/RUN) with a computing style that looked much more like the multitasking, mouse-click-based computing most of us use today. It also came with software intended to show off its new graphical computing environment with what we’d now call “apps” like “Calendar,” “Clock,” and yes, of course, “Paint.”

Windows wasn’t the first operating system with a GUI as its primary feature. Microsoft rival Apple, for example, beat Windows to that punch by about a year when its Macintosh hit the market in 1984, and other “desktop”-style graphical interfaces were floating around before that. (Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs is said to have gotten a nudge towards the Apple desktop interface after visiting a Xerox facility in 1979.) But Windows 1.0 was marketed as an upgrade for people already running MS-DOS — and, in fact, it ran on top of MS-DOS, so anybody who wanted Windows had to have MS-DOS installed first.

So did Windows 1.0 fly off the shelves? Not exactly. Early reviews panned the product for running far too slowly — not the last time the tech press has made that particular critique. The New York Times wrote that “running Windows on a PC with 512K of memory is akin to pouring molasses in the Arctic.” Many reviews said the speed slowdown only got worse when users ran more than one application at a time — an ability that had been intended as a primary draw. And that weird mouse thing Microsoft insisted Windows users embrace? Lots of people hated it.

Despite those early hiccups, Microsoft didn’t just give up and close Windows — a smart move, given that computers running Windows operating systems now make up about 90% of the market. But not even Windows 2.0, released in 1987, set Windows on its path to world dominance. That spark didn’t come until Windows 3.0, released in 1990 to critical acclaim and widespread adoption, thanks to a redesigned interface and speed improvements. As TIME put it in the June 4 issue of that year, “Microsoft seems to have got it right this time.”

TIME Video Games

Watch This Hilarious Fake Trailer for the New Super Smash Bros.

'Or throw out skill out the window by turning on Items'

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U hits store shelves Friday here in the U.S., and Nintendo fans around the country are amped up for the latest game in one of the company’s most popular series.

But before Bros. hits your Wii U, check out this hilarious “Honest Game Trailer” from Smosh Games, a YouTube channel covering all things video games.

TIME apps

Snapchat Now Lets You Send Money to Your Friends

Fortunately, it doesn't automatically self-delete

Snapchat now helps you make it rain.

The self-destructing messaging company rolled out a new feature Monday that lets you send money to your friends on the service. To use the service — called Snapcash — simply start a chat dialogue with the recipient of your choice. Next, type in a dollar amount, say, $5.00, and the chat button turns green as the app recognizes you’re looking to shoot your friend Steve five bucks.

Snapcash is the result of Snapchat’s new partnership with mobile payments processing company Square, which is best known for its smartphone and tablet credit card readers often used by small businesses. Any Snapchat user who elects to use Snapcash will have to sign up for a Square account, and users’ financial data will be held by Square, not Snapchat. That should provide at least a little comfort to Snapchat users weary of handing their debit card number to a company that’s a favorite target of hackers.

Snapcash is an unexpected move by Snapchat into mobile payments, an increasingly crowded category that also includes Venmo, PayPal, Google, and Apple, among others. Facebook is also reportedly working on a mobile payment system of its own.

Let’s just hope your money doesn’t vanish as quickly as your other Snapchats.

TIME Gadgets

Why Google Glass Isn’t the Future

2013 Google Developer Conference Continues In San Francisco
An attendee tries Google Glass during the Google I/O developer conference on May 17, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Will Google Glass ever be a mainstream hit?

When Google first released Glass last Spring, the device immediately rocked the tech world. The wearable computer that puts a small screen in users’ field of vision to display directions, messages or video calls was quickly spotted at tech conferences, on TV pundits’ faces and, eventually, on the streets of tech-centric cities like San Francisco and New York. Google pitched Glass as a gadget that can help users take notes, get directions or take a picture, all without using their hands. There are now dozens of apps available for Glass, from news and weather apps to a Battleship-style game.

At first, it looked like Google might have been about to unlock a whole new way of computing, and developers at top websites and media outlets scrambled to pop out rudimentary apps for Glass just to plant a flag in case the device took off. A year and a half later, however, it’s clear that Glass isn’t going smoothly. Several developers working on apps for Glass have suspended their projects, Reuters reported Friday, in a story that seems to ask, “Hey, remember Google Glass?”

“While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace,” the Reuters story reads, “its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.” Developers, fearing a lack of adoption, are headed for the hills, and it’s looking like Google’s Glass hopes could be shattered.

Part of the fault lies with the way Google introduced Glass to the world. Instead of making it available immediately to all interested buyers, Google launched what it called the “Explorers” program, which meant only those consumers who received an invite from the search giant had the privilege of forking over $1,500 for a pre-market version of Glass. Google has been quiet about how many people invited to the Explorers program, meaning it’s hard to get any precise numbers on how many Glass units the company has sold to date.

From a developer’s perspective, it takes a massive leap of faith to keep working on software for a device with unknown demand. It could be true that Glass will be a huge hit on the consumer market if and once it’s publicly released, as evidenced by how quickly the company sold out of Glass units when Google suspended the invite-only rule for a single day this year. But it could be equally true that anybody who wants Glass has already managed to get an invite and buy a pair, meaning there won’t be any demand for the device on the consumer market — and the supply of below-cost Glass units already for sale on eBay is evidence in that direction.

While Glass found fans among early adopters and technophiles at first, it was also immediately met with skepticism, ridicule and even outright fear in the mainstream. Its camera, in particular, has raised serious privacy concerns as people fear being recorded without their knowledge. Glass users found themselves singled out, labeled with a derogatory nickname (“glassholes”), and banned from movie theaters, bars and other businesses. Whether to avoid the stigma of wearing Glass or just because the device’s promise is in question, there are suddenly plenty of reasons to doubt its future. Google co-founder Sergey Brin has said a consumer version of Glass would be on store shelves this year, but it’s increasingly looking like that won’t happen until next year, if at all.

Wearable devices are bound to be the next big thing, and maybe Glass will find a use in some professional field like medicine. But if Glass fails with consumers, it will likely be because it is too different, too soon. This is a familiar pattern for technology. (Most of us don’t want to go around town looking like Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge.) Instead, the most successful wearables will just quietly replace the dumb versions of stuff we already wear. That’s already happening with our watches — and nobody’s going to get banned from a bar for wearing an Apple Watch.

If Glass has a path to salvation, it’s in a refreshed version that takes a page from smartwatches and looks more familiar than different. But the good news here for Google is that it already has a grip on the smartwatch world, with its Android Wear and Google Now software powering the best models on the market today.

TIME legal

Your Phone Bill Could Go Up to Fund Schools’ Wi-Fi

California schools use blended learning to teach students
Fourth and fifth grade students at Rocketship SI Se Puede, a charter, public elementary school, use the internet and traditional classroom learning in one big open classroom, on Feb. 18, 2014 in San Jose, Calif. Christian Science Monitor/Getty

The FCC is mulling a fee hike to help bring Wi-Fi to more schools

Should Americans be asked to pay a little more in phone bill fees to help fund better Internet connections in public schools? That’s essentially what Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed Monday.

If you have a landline or mobile phone, then you probably already pay a small fee every month towards what’s called the Universal Service Fund. The USF is essentially a pool of money created in 1997 as a bulwark against market failures leading to poor Internet access in rural and low-income communities. While the USF is paid for by telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T, those companies often pass their contributions onto consumers in the form of fees on your monthly bill.

Wheeler’s idea would hike the USF fees by about $1.90 a year for the average phone subscriber, the FCC estimates, with the money going to a $1.5 billion increase for a program designed specifically to subsidize faster Internet connections in more of the country’s public schools.

The FCC has been reworking that program, called E-Rate, to shift its focus from funding old-school technologies to modern ones like high-speed wireless access, which many observers say is sorely lacking in many of the country’s schools. Almost 70% of school districts say none of their schools meet the FCC’s long-term connectivity targets, the agency said Monday, with 58% of districts pinning the problem on cost. That situation, some have warned, could make students less competitive later in life. Closing that so-called “broadband gap” has been a priority of the Obama administration, which in June of last year announced a program designed to get broadband access to 99% of American students by 2017 — and E-Rate is a big part of meeting that goal.

The agency is framing the fee hike as a way to ensure that more students have access to the kinds of high-tech learning solutions that could make them — and the nation — more competitive down the road. “While the impact on consumers will be small, the impact on children, teachers, local communities and American competitiveness will be significant,” the FCC says in a fact sheet about the proposal. The agency has also promised to make E-Rate spending more transparent, so Americans get a better idea of where those phone bill fees are going.

Still, the FCC can’t unilaterally raise the fees you wind up seeing on your phone bill. Wheeler’s proposal will first have to clear a public comment period before being voted upon by himself and the agency’s four commissioners. However, given how expanding Internet access in schools is a top Obama administration priority and the FCC’s Democratic commissioners outnumber their Republican counterparts 3-2, it’s a safe bet the agency will move forward with the plan, barring any public outrage over it.

TIME apps

Skype Now Lets You Make Calls Right From Your Browser

Mobile World Congress 2011
The Skype Technologies SA logo is seen above the trade stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday, Feb.16, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

You won't need to download the Skype app to make calls

You no longer need to download an app to make voice or video calls over Skype, the Microsoft-owned chat company announced Friday, as it unveiled a browser-based solution called “Skype for Web.”

Skype for Web lets users make voice and video calls directly in the browser of their choice by visiting Skype.com. It requires users to install a plugin, but not the full Skype software. Skype for Web is currently in beta and will roll out to more users over the next few months.

“Skype for Web makes it quicker and easier than ever before to connect with friends, family and colleagues around the world, for free – directly from Skype.com,” the company said in a blog post. “It’s perfect if you prefer using the web rather than an app: perhaps you’re sitting at a computer that doesn’t already have Skype downloaded. Or maybe you’re on the go and using an internet café or hotel computer whilst on vacation where you can’t download Skype at all.”

Microsoft rival Google has offered free in-browser voice and video chats for several years through Google Talk and Google Hangouts. Skype’s move towards a browser-based solution reflects larger recent efforts by Microsoft to develop cross-platform software that works on multiple devices.

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