TIME innovations

This Is What Computers Look Like Now and That’s Just Awesome

Google Chromebit
Google Google Chromebit

ASUS' new Chromebit is a very big deal

Take a look at the device above. It’s a colorful USB drive, right? Maybe a very pretty streaming stick?

Nope. That’s a computer.

That’s right: The device before you is ASUS’ Chromebit, a new sub-$100 dongle you can plug into any display and turn it into a full-blown computer running Google’s Chrome OS. The Chromebit packs 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and HDMI and USB ports. The HDMI port is for connecting to external displays, while the USB helps with attaching a keyboard and mouse — and the Chromebit has Bluetooth, too, making that even easier. (Intel is working on a similar but costlier device running Windows 8.1)

The ASUS Chromebit certainly won’t run laps around a Mac Pro speed-wise when it launches this summer. But that’s not the point. The idea here is more profound.

Using the Chromebit and a decent Internet connection (Chrome OS relies heavily on web access), you could turn any aging computer into a lean, mean processing machine on the cheap. That’s going to have huge implications in places where cost is a major roadblock to better tech, like public schools or the developing world. Instead of upgrading every computer in every school, a cost-strapped district could just buy a whole bunch of Chromebits, plug them in to classrooms’ old computers (or monitors) and essentially turn them into lean terminals for running web apps like Google Docs.

How well the Chromebit performs has yet to be seen. But right off the bat, this is one of the most exciting new products to hit the market in some time.

TIME apps

Twitter’s Meerkat-Killer Livestreaming App Just Went Live

Periscope has a more polished feel

Periscope, Twitter’s answer to popular livestreaming app Meerkat, went live in Apple’s App Store Thursday morning, while an Android version is still in the works.

As with Meerkat, Periscope lets you broadcast live footage of whatever your iPhone’s camera is pointing at: Your friends at a birthday party, your dinner sizzling on the stove, your view from a train window. You can also choose to share a link to your broadcasts over Twitter, a helpful feature for users with large social media followings to quickly amass sizable live audiences — and a feature also shared by Meerkat.


Where Periscope differs from Meerkat is that it app makes it much easier to save recordings of livestreams in the app for yourself and others to view later. Meerkat has a feature intended to let you save your broadcasts to your device, but many users have reported issues with that option.

Periscope was being developed as an independent service until Twitter acquired the company back in January for what’s said to be $75 million or more. That acquisition came just weeks before Meerkat took off among early adopters and journalists, early success that was amplified as the app spread by word-of-mouth during this month’s South By Southwest Interactive technology festival. News of Twitter’s purchase of Periscope didn’t become public knowledge until after Meerkat started making the rounds.

The two services are now poised to compete with one another to become the livestreaming app of choice. Meerkat has the advantage of being first — “Meerkatting” is already a verb synonymous with instant live broadcasting over smartphones, even though similar apps have existed before. However, Periscope is a Twitter-supported app, meaning it alone will have access to Twitter’s social graph and marketing team. It’s also a more polished app; Meerkat was coded in a short amount of time and has the feel of a product made during a hackathon, even if its creators are pumping out updates at a high frequency.

It’s unlikely there’s room for two separate apps that do much the same thing. Only time will tell which app winds up a home screen staple, and which is relegated to a footnote in mobile history.


TIME Amazon

Amazon’s Drone Delivery Dreams Just Took a Step Closer to Reality

Amazone Drone Delivery
Amazon/AP Amazon's 'Prime Air' unmanned aircraft project prototype.

But don't expect a drone on your doorstep anytime soon

Amazon’s hopes of delivering shipments to customers via drones got a little more real Thursday as federal regulators granted the company approval to test its unmanned aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration gave Amazon’s drones what’s called an experimental airworthiness certificate, which lets the company fly its aircraft for research, testing and crew training purposes. Amazon must follow a handful of rules laid out by the FAA: It must keep flights at 400 feet or below, only fly in daylight, and pilots must hold at least a private pilot’s certificate, among other stipulations. The company also has to report a wealth of data about its drone flights to the agency every month.

However, the FAA is not yet allowing Amazon to conduct commercial drone flights. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first said back in late 2013 that he wants to use drones to deliver packages directly to customers’ doorsteps in a program dubbed “Prime Air.”

The FAA’s Thursday decision comes after Amazon petitioned the agency last July to let it test its drones. In February, the FAA proposed new commercial drone rules that would make it significantly easier to legally operate a drone for money in the U.S., an activity that currently requires case-by-case approval from the agency. However, the plan would require drone pilots to fly their aircraft with “unaided vision” and avoid flying over people, rules that would seem to preclude Amazon’s drone delivery concept.

The FAA is expected to vote on those new rules later this year.


TIME Apple

Apple Thinks the Apple Watch Will Convert Android Users Into True Believers

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images An attendee inspects the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

It's offering a trade-in deal that will coincide with the Apple Watch launch

Apple is reportedly planning a first-of-its-kind trade-in deal offering gift cards to Android users swapping for a new iPhone. The deal will “begin in the coming weeks,” according to 9to5mac.

You know what else begins in the coming weeks? Sales of the Apple Watch, which goes into preview mode April 10 with actual shopping starting April 24.

That’s not a coincidence. If you want an Apple Watch, you need the iPhone 5 or newer to go along with it. That makes it just one more way Apple can suck customers into its gadget and software ecosystem. Apple is betting that the Apple Watch will be so much more compelling than the Android-compatible smartwatches on the market, like Motorola’s Moto 360, that Android users will abandon ship and finally See The Light.

That explains the timing of the unprecedented gift card deal better than it just being a move to boost sales — Apple really doesn’t need help in that department anyway, recently posting record iPhone sales. It’s also a safe bet Apple will see some pretty stellar foot traffic in Apple Stores once the Watch preview period begins.

Read next: Tim Cook: The Apple Watch Is the First Smartwatch ‘That Matters’

TIME Google

Google Is Making an Apple Watch Killer With This Swiss Luxury Watchmaker

Google Tag Heuer
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A Tag Heuer logo sits on the face of a Carrera wristwatch, produced by Tag Heuer, a watchmaking unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, as it sits on display at the company's boothduring the Baselworld luxury watch and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland, on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

TAG Heuer's upcoming device will compete with the high-end Apple Watch Edition

Luxury Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer is working on a new smartwatch with help from Google and Intel, the companies announced Thursday. While it’s unclear what any resulting device will look like, the companies said it would be packed with Intel hardware and run Google’s Android Wear wearable operating system software.

“Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility,” said Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer parent company Hublot, in a statement. “Our collaboration provides a rich host of synergies, forming a win-win partnership, and the potential for our three companies is enormous.”

The move is clearly a response from both companies to the Apple Watch, which goes on sale April 24. While the entry-level Apple Watch starts at $349, the higher-end gold models begin at $10,000 and will compete with luxury offerings from the likes of TAG, Rolex and more.

Google can provide TAG Heuer with expertise in smartwatch software it’s gained through developing Android Wear. TAG Heuer can in turn give Google’s brand more credibility in the luxury watch space, helping it better compete with Apple in that arena. Most Android Wear devices fall in the $200-$500 range, prices classifying them more as consumer electronics rather than luxury goods.

The Google-TAG Heuer news comes after co-inventor of the famous Swiss watch brand Swatch said he expects the higher-end Apple Watch to be a major threat to Swiss luxury watchmakers.

The introduction of the Apple Watch could cause the global smartwatch market to balloon from 4.6 million units sold last year to upwards of 28 million this year, per Bloomberg.

Read next: Tim Cook: The Apple Watch Is the First Smartwatch ‘That Matters’

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Apple

Tim Cook: The Apple Watch Is the First Smartwatch ‘That Matters’

Apple Watch
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

The Apple Watch goes on sale April 24

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview that the company’s upcoming Apple Watch is the first smartwatch “that matters.”

Cook’s comments came in a wide-ranging discussion with Fast Company about the device and the company as a whole.

Via FastCo:

These are lots of insights that are years in the making, the result of careful, deliberate…try, try, try…improve, improve, improve. Don’t ship something before it’s ready. Have the patience to get it right. And that is exactly what’s happened to us with the watch. We are not the first.

We weren’t first on the MP3 player; we weren’t first on the tablet; we weren’t first on the smartphone. But we were arguably the first modern smartphone, and we will be the first modern smartwatch—the first one that matters.

Cook also discussed how Apple designed the user interface on the Apple Watch:

You look at the watch, and the primary technologies are software and the UI [user interface]. You’re working with a small screen, so you have to invent new ways for input. The inputs that work for a phone, a tablet, or a Mac don’t work as well on a smaller screen. Most of the companies who have done smartwatches haven’t thought that through, so they’re still using pinch-to-zoom and other gestures that we created for the iPhone.

Try to do those on a watch and you quickly find out they don’t work. So out of that thinking come new ideas, like force touch. [On a small screen] you need another dimension of a user interface. So just press a little harder and you bring up another UI that has been hidden. This makes the screen seem larger, in some ways, than it really is.

The Apple Watch is the company’s first new product line introduced during Cook’s tenure as CEO. It goes on sale April 24, with a preview and presale period beginning April 10.

Cook also said that late Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ greatest gift to the world was Apple “and its culture.”

Read the rest of the interview at Fast Company.

TIME Apple

Tim Cook Says This Was Steve Jobs’ Biggest Gift to the World

Apple Unveils New Software For iPhone And iPad
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaks during an Apple special event April 8, 2010 in Cupertino, California.

"The company and its culture"

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview that late Apple chief Steve Jobs’ most significant contribution to the world was “the company and its culture.”

Cook’s comments came in a lengthy interview with Fast Company in which the Apple CEO spoke at length about Jobs’ legacy at the company, the upcoming Apple Watch and Apple’s future at large.

Via FastCo:

Steve’s greatest contribution and gift is the company and its culture. He cared deeply about that. He put in an enormous amount of time designing the concept for our new campus: That was a gift to the next generation. Apple University is another example of that. He wanted to use it to grow the next generation of leaders at Apple, and to make sure the lessons of the past weren’t forgotten.

Cook also said Jobs was “the best teacher I ever had by far.”

Read the rest of the Tim Cook interview at Fast Company.

TIME Innovation

NASA’s Crazy 18-Engine Electric Concept Plane Could Be the Future of Flying

LeapTECH Demonstrator Concept
NASA Photo LeapTECH Demonstrator Concept

The wing is in testing, while a concept plane could be just two years away

The good news for whichever test pilot winds up flying what NASA hopes will be an upcoming experimental aircraft? If they lose one engine, they’ll have 17 more to fall back on.

NASA is testing an experimental 31-foot aircraft wing with 18 electric motors placed along the leading edge. The wing is made of carbon composite, while the electric engines are powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries. NASA says the unusual setup, called Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech), could result in more energy-efficient and greener aircraft.

For now, NASA will test the new wing by mounting it on top of a truck and driving across a lakebed at up to 70 m.p.h., a slightly different approach compared to the wind tunnels typically used by aerospace engineers. But if all goes well, NASA says it hopes to install LEAPTech wings and engines on a modified Tecnam P2006T — a four-seater Italian aircraft that’s typically powered by two traditional engines — within two years. The image above is a concept rendering.

While the 18-motor idea might sound a little strange, NASA is hopeful the technology could offer big benefits to commercial carriers, the military and travelers alike. Via NASA:

Each motor can be operated independently at different speeds for optimized performance. Key potential benefits of LEAPTech include decreased reliance on fossil fuels, improved aircraft performance and ride quality, and aircraft noise reduction.

LEAPTech is a key element of NASA’s plan to help a significant portion of the aircraft industry transition to electrical propulsion within the next decade. According to Mark Moore, an aerodynamicist at Langley, “LEAPTech has the potential to achieve transformational capabilities in the near-term for general aviation aircraft, as well as for transport aircraft in the longer-term.”

Read next: Here’s the Incredible Flying Car You Can Buy in 2017

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

The First Star Wars Spinoff Movie Will Be Called Rogue One

Here's what that title could mean

The first Disney-made Star Wars film outside the new and upcoming main trilogy will be titled Rogue One, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said on March 12.

Disney gave out a few details about the new film: It’s being directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Chris Weitz, Felicity Jones has been cast for the film, and it’s set for release on December 16, 2016, after Star Wars: The Force Awakens but before Star Wars: Episode VIII, which also had its release date announced.

Disney also said the idea for Rogue One’s storyline came from John Knoll, Chief Creative Officer at Industrial Light & Magic, the production company George Lucas started in 1975 to work on the first Star Wars. Knoll has worked on visual effects for a host of sci-fi favorites, including the Star Wars prequels and Star Trek TV episodes and films.

That’s all Disney is saying for sure about Rogue One for now. So what will it actually be about? The film’s title betrays one big clue.

In Star Wars lore, several top Rebel Alliance fighter pilots (they’re the good guys of the films) formed up an elite unit after the destruction of the first Death Star, seen at the end of A New Hope. The group isn’t mentioned much in the movies, but a series of video games in the late 1990s and early 2000s cemented their status in Star Wars canon.

The unit’s name? Rogue Squadron, headed up by “Rogue Leader.” Or, alternatively, “Rogue One.”

Does that mean we’re getting a Rogue Squadron spinoff movie? Maybe! In the first trailer for Force Awakens, we get a glimpse of an X-wing pilot who very well could be a member of Rouge Squadron. In Star Wars history, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles have both served as Rogue Leader, but that doesn’t mean a Rogue Squadron film would be about them. It could easily be set more in the future—long after those two had hung up their flight jackets.

Read next: You’ll Want to Read These Star Wars Books Before the New Movies Come Out

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Apple

This Is What a $17,000 Apple Product Looks Like

The most expensive Apple Watch costs an arm and a wrist

Apple products have never been cheap — but now we know what it looks like to spend the kind of money that could get you a decent used car on one of the company’s offerings.

The most expensive Apple Watch appears to be the high-end Apple Watch Edition 38mm 18-karat yellow gold case with bright red modern buckle. The cost? $17,000, according to the Apple Store.

Apple first unveiled the Apple Watch late last year, but at the time, it only gave pricing for the entry-level model, pegged at $349 to start. On Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook detailed a more precise pricing structure for the Apple Watch, saying the ultra high-end Apple Watch Edition models would start at $10,000 and go upwards from there. Cook also revealed that the larger versions of each Apple Watch will cost slightly more than their smaller brethren.

The $17,000 Apple Watch is by far Apple’s most expensive singular offering. Customizing a Mac Pro desktop computer with all the bells and whistles rings up at about $10,000.

The Apple Watch goes on sale April 24, with a preview period beginning April 10.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com