TIME Video Games

Xbox Controllers Are About to Get a Huge Upgrade

CHINA-US-COMPUTERS-GAMES-INVESTIGATION
Johannes Eisele—AFP/Getty Images A control of a Microsoft's Xbox One game console is pictured in a shop in Shanghai on September 29, 2014.

Hold off on buying those clunky headset adapters

The Xbox team released the specs for a new controller that will finally include a headphone jack, eliminating the need to buy a separate headset adapter.

The new controller will release after June 2015, according to a recent post on Xbox’s official support blog. The addition of a 3.5mm port will enable gamers to plug a wide range of compatible headsets directly into the controller.

That may irk owners of the current controller who spent $24.99 to connect their headphones through the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter. On the other hand, the adapter does include a few handy audio controls, which add mute and volume buttons to the bottom of the controller. Standard headsets may not be able to match those functionalities, though Xbox may offer some clarification at its E3 press event in June.

TIME apps

Why Your Next Tablet Might Come With Word and Excel

Microsoft PRO 3 Surface Tablet Launch
Steve Sands—Getty Images Microsoft Pro 3 Surface Tablet at Skylight Clarkson Sq on May 20, 2014 in New York City.

It's Microsoft's latest move in mobile

Microsoft has signed partnerships with 20 new hardware manufacturers to pre-install Skype and Office apps on a range of new Android devices, marking the company’s latest push to expand its mobile footprint beyond Windows devices.

Sony, LG and Haier are among several major manufacturers to sign the strategic agreement, joining Samsung and Dell as Microsoft’s leading partners. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype will roll out to Sony’s newest tablet, the Xperia Z4, within the next 90 days.

“Our aspiration is to continue to build and grow a vibrant community of billions of people who love and rely on Microsoft experiences, on any device, across all aspects of their daily lives,” Microsoft vice president Nick Parker wrote in an official blog post.

New Microsoft Office apps were first released as a free download for iPhone and Android users last year.

TIME Innovation

Lab-Grown Burgers Could Get $330,000 Cheaper

Developer Of First Cultivated Beef Burger Mark Post
Simon Dawson—Bloomberg /Getty Images Mark Post, a Dutch scientist, poses for a photograph while holding the world's first beef burger created from stem cells harvested from a living cow following a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.

"I do think that in 20, 30 years from now we will have a viable industry producing alternative beef."

Cattle farmers are wringing their hands over a staggering drop in the price of lab-grown beef, with cost estimates plummeting from more than a quarter million dollars a patty to as little as $12.

Dutch professor Mark Post, who developed the world’s first “frankenburger” in 2012, will discuss the latest breakthroughs in lab-grown beef to a gathering of cattle farmers in Darwin (yes, Darwin) Australia, according to Australian broadcaster ABC News. The price drop, first spotted by Fast Company, could bring artificial beef within the same cost bracket of natural beef within one year, Post estimates.

However, the Maastricht University professor also estimated that the patty was still 20 to 30 years away from being served up on a mass scale. And early taste tests suggests it’s still a distant second to the natural beef patty. Still, that hasn’t stopped Google co-founder Sergey Brin from becoming an early investor in the alternative meat.

TIME Google

This Is What Google Could Announce This Week

Inside The Google I|O Developers Conference
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

Google's I/O Conference agenda hints at a major update to Android and a push toward wearables, virtual reality and the internet of things

Google’s annual developers’ conference kicks off Thursday at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. As always, the agenda hints at a slew of new product announcements, including…

Android M. Google wouldn’t let a developers’ conference go to waste without promoting the latest changes to Android, and this year the changes could be significant. A new operating system codenamed “Android M” may not release to the public until next fall, along with a batch of new Nexus devices, but Google is expected to offer developers a peek under the hood. The operating system may introduce several features that are now familiar to iPhone users, including one-tap payment and a fingerprint scanner to unlock devices.

Google also appears to have released an intriguing talking point, first spotted by 9to5 Google, that shows a new emphasis on Android’s business users:

“This opens huge new markets for hundreds of millions of devices to workers at small business, deskless workers, logistics and warehousing jobs,” read one item on the conference agenda shortly before it was taken down.

Smart Home Devices. This may be the year the “Internet of Things” at last becomes a thing, especially if Google releases a new development platform that could seamlessly connect Android devices to everything but the kitchen sink.

Google is reportedly working on a new platform codenamed “Brillo” that would enable anything from locks to lightbulbs to garage doors to wirelessly connect to the Internet, offering Android users a new measure of control through their mobile devices.

The announcement could steal some thunder from Apple’s highly anticipated launch of HomeKit, a new smart device platform expected to go live with its first compatible products this June.

Virtual Reality. The darling of last year’s conference was Google’s startlingly low-tech answer to virtual reality headsets: Cardboard, a corrugated cardboard enclosure for a smartphone, with two eyeholes cut out for viewing virtual reality apps. This year Google may double down on the virtual reality apps for Android, or it may at last offer a clue of what’s going on at Magic Leap, a virtual reality company that lured Google into a $500 million funding round last year. At least one conference session will focus exclusively on how virtual reality “may change our lives.”

Wearables. The Apple Watch may have superseded Google’s release of Android Wear smart watches last summer, so Google may attempt to rejuvenate its wearables line with a few product improvements, including rumors of stronger batteries and smarter fitness tracking sensors. One conference session, spotted by CNET, will hone in on health data generated by Google Fit, an app that rolls up fitness data into one comprehensive dashboard.

TIME Smartphones

The iPhone Is About to Change in a Big Way

Apple's new "Force Touch" technology could introduce a whole new range of gestures for the smartphone

Apple’s Force Touch technology will reportedly debut on the next generation of iPhones, enabling a range of new pressure-sensitive taps for the touchscreen.

Apple is incorporating the technology into a new display that will resemble the iPhone 6, albeit with a new sensitivity to how much pressure the user applies to the screen, company insiders have told 9to5 Mac.

The “taptic feedback” system could eliminate the need for more finicky gestures, such as the double tap and the tap-and-hold. Apple is reportedly developing new gestures for iOS 9 and encouraging app developers to follow suit with new methods of scrolling, highlighting and navigating through content.

It will feel familiar to Apple Watch users, who were among the first users to get their fingers on the new technology. Apple has also incorporated force touch technology into the trackpad of the newest MacBooks, which went on sale last week.

TIME apps

Microsoft’s New iPhone App Could Make Siri Jealous

Cortana is coming to iPhone and Android

Microsoft’s “personal digital assistant” for Windows devices, Cortana, will soon take spoken commands on Apple and Android devices as well.

Microsoft announced Tuesday that a version of its Cortana app is coming to iOS and Android. Cortana will enter a crowded field of personal digital assistants on those platforms, dominated by Apple’s Siri and Google Now.

Microsoft has attempted to distinguish Cortana as a careful listener, responding not only to spoken commands but seizing on context to answer follow-up questions. Chattiness aside, Cortana will first have to break users of the habit of using convenient shortcuts to Apple and Google’s personal digital assistants, which have been tightly integrated into their respective operating systems.

Here’s more on Cortana for iOS and Android, via Microsoft:

The Cortana app can do most of the things Cortana does on your PC or on a Windows phone. You can have Cortana remind you to pick up milk the next time you’re at the grocery store, and then your phone will wake up and buzz with the reminder. You’ll be able to track a flight using Cortana on both your phone and your PC, and get the updates on the device that you’re on so you don’t miss anything. Everything in Cortana’s Notebook will show up across all your devices and any changes you make on one device will be reflected when you use Cortana on any of your other devices.

The new app comes as Microsoft unleashes a suite of mobile services across rival operating systems, beginning with Microsoft’s surprise roll out of free Microsoft Office apps last November.

Read next: Watch: Proof Bill And Melinda Gates Are Ice Cold Under Pressure

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Smartphones

Samsung’s Iron Man Phone Will Make You Want to Go Fight Bad Guys

Samsung Iron Man Galaxy S6 Edge
Samsung

This is what happens when you cross an electronics brand with a box office juggernaut

Samsung unveiled a limited edition ‘Iron Man’ smartphone on Tuesday to coincide with the Marvel comic book hero’s latest big screen appearance in the box office smash Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The Iron-Man-themed Galaxy S6 Edge is part of an ongoing partnership that Samsung launched with Marvel last June, in an attempt to find cross-promotional opportunities between movies and electronic devices.

The latest hybrid product comes in a matching red and gold case that Iron Man fans will immediately recognize as their superhero’s preferred color scheme. A decal of Iron Man’s face is also printed on the back of the phone.

Unfortunately for fans stateside, the phone will only go on sale in South Korea, Samsung’s home country, beginning May 27, followed by limited releases in China and Hong Kong in June.

Read next: 15 Tricks For Getting Way Better Smartphone Battery Life

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Internet

Emilio Estevez Live-Tweeted the Ducks Win Like Gordon Bombay

Mighty Ducks actor cheers (and quacks) for his old team

Actor Emilio Estevez seems to love the Ducks as much as ever, judging by his latest flurry of tweets during Game 5 between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Estevez, who played the youth hockey coach Gordon Bombay in the The Mighty Ducks, let loose a few cheers and quacks as the game progressed Monday evening.

TIME Retail

Pacific Sunwear Yanks Inverted Flag T-Shirt Amid Memorial Day Backlash

Some viewed the shirt as "disrespectful" to the nation's veterans.

A Pacific Sunwear t-shirt displaying an upside-down American flag against a black backdrop elicited an angry Memorial Day backlash from critics on social media, who viewed the shirt as “disrespectful” to the nation’s veterans.

A picture of the shirt went viral on Facebook after one shopper in Foley, Alabama photographed the shirt and vowed to boycott the store. The post and her sentiment were widely shared by other Facebook users, prompting Pacific Sunwear to issue an apology.

“Out of respect for those who have put their lives on the line for our country, we have decided to stop selling the licensed flag t-shirt and are removing it from our stores and website immediately,” the company wrote in response to fierce criticism on its Facebook page.

“We thank the men and women in uniform for their extraordinary service,” the company added.

See some of the angry tweets below.

TIME space

See a Rare View of Saturn’s Rings

It's the best time of year to view Saturn's rings

Saturn will come closer to earth this weekend than at any other time of the year, giving us earthbound creatures an incomparable view of its rings. For a closer look, “community observatory” Slooh trained Internet-connected telescopes on the planet during peak viewing hours. The images are shown in the video above, which includes expert commentary from Slooh astronomer Will Gater and Cornell University planetary scientist Dr. Jonathan Lunine.

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