TIME Smartphones

MS-DOS Is Back and It’s On Your Smartphone

Nice April Fool's Day prank, Microsoft

Microsoft rebooted its old and unimproved MS-DOS interface for mobile phones on Wednesday, touting it as the “simplest OS yet” in what may be the company’s most elaborate April Fool’s Day prank ever.

Fans of the monochromatic interface that put Microsoft on the map 34 years ago can download MS-DOS as a free app from the Windows Phone store, then struggle to execute jargon-laden commands to access files and launch primitive apps.

The app launched with a slickly produced promotional video on YouTube, in which executives offer deadpan praise for a “beautifully simple OS,” that, perhaps thankfully, is a thing of the past.

 

TIME Web

You Can Now Download Microsoft’s New Browser

'Spartan' is seen as Internet Explorer's replacement

Microsoft’s radically redesigned web browser, Project Spartan, was released to the public in “preview mode” on Tuesday, giving users an early look at the successor to Internet Explorer.

“You will see a bold new design for Project Spartan,” Microsoft vice president Joe Belfiore wrote in a statement on Tuesday, “one that is streamlined and puts the focus on the page, not the browser.”

The browser includes built-in searches via Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant that can handle spoken commands like Siri or Google Now. It also includes an intriguing note-taking feature that enables the user to type or scribble directly onto a webpage. “Inking” could encourage users to take up the Surface tablet’s digital pen, which Microsoft is eager to promote as a more natural alternative to the keyboard.

The browser is currently available for download along with the latest build of Windows 10, which will be released as a free upgrade for Windows users this summer.

 

TIME Television

Watch the Trailer for Jiro Dreams of Sushi Director’s New Netflix Show

David Gelb's "Chef's Table" debuts April 26

Netflix released a trailer Tuesday for Chef’s Table, a series on six world-renowned chefs who will get the full, slow-motion treatment from David Gelb, the acclaimed director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Like Jiro, each episode will follow a single chef in his or her obsessive pursuit of culinary perfection. The series will premiere on Netflix on April 26.

TIME hockey

Your Kid’s Hockey Helmet May Not Be as Safe as You Think

ice-hockey player
Getty Images

Researchers say the sport with the highest rate of concussions suffers from a dearth of effective safety helmets

Researchers at Virginia Tech have devised a five-star rating system for hockey helmet safety, and not one of the 32 helmets tested earned a five or even a four-star rating, the team revealed this week.

Researchers subjected each model of helmet to 48 impacts inside an ice rink and at the laboratory. The helmets were then ranked according to how many concussions the wearer could expect over an average hockey season. The sturdiest helmet, the Warrior Krown 360, received a three-star rating, meaning the wearer was unlikely to suffer more than three concussions. Nine helmets received zero stars, which could expose the wearer to six or more concussions, according to the team’s predictions.

Price appeared to have no effect on performance, with helmets priced at $100 outperforming helmets at triple the price.

The researchers decided to examine hockey helmets because the sport has the highest rate of concussions, assistant professor Steven Rowson said.

“Our focus is to improve the safety of the sport, and we have spent a great deal of time developing the methods and relaying these to the manufacturers so that they can optimize their designs,” said lead researcher Stefan Duma, head of the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics.

TIME Gadgets

Microsoft’s New Tablet Could Be a MacBook Air Killer

The Surface 3 runs Windows 8.1 and costs $499 and up

Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled the Surface 3, the latest version of its tablet that can double as a laptop thanks to a keyboard attachment.

The Surface 3 is a slimmed down, less costly version of the the Surface Pro 3, a tablet that critics welcomed as the first two-in-one device that finally began to deliver on its promise of functioning reasonably well in both laptop and tablet mode. While Microsoft initially had trouble selling the Surface line, things improved when it began marketing the 2-in-1s as laptop replacements rather than tablets which also boast a laptop mode.

At a starting price of $499, the Surface 3 marks a steep discount on the Surface Pro 3’s $800 price tag. The Surface 3 includes a 10.8-inch display and an Intel Atom x7 processor, which gives it enough juice to run a full version of Windows 8.1 and, coming this summer, Windows 10. The low cost of entry could also attract buyers unwilling to fork up $899 or more for Apple’s cheapest offering, the $899-and-up 11-inch MacBook Air.

Previous Surface tablets ran Windows RT, a stripped-down operating system for mobile devices that could run apps but not Microsoft’s flagship Windows desktop applications. Early reviews of the device have welcomed the addition of a full-fledged Windows operating system as a welcome and necessary improvement to the non-pro Surface line.

The Surface 3 is currently available for pre-order at the Microsoft Store, and will hit retail stores by May 7.

 

TIME space travel

This Is How Ants React in Space

Catherine Ledner—Getty Images

With surprising agility, study finds

Ants aboard the International Space Station showed a surprising ability to regain their footing as they slipped and tumbled through zero gravity, according to a new study that released an ant colony in space just to see what would happen next.

The ants were ferried on a supply rocket to the International Space Station in 2014, where researchers observed how different species might adapt their search habits to a radically new environment.

“The ants showed an impressive ability to walk on the surface in microgravity, and an even more remarkable capacity to regain their contact with the surface once they were tumbling around in the air,” researchers wrote in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Researchers say the results could offer deeper insights into how ants conduct searches of new terrain without centralized commands, an area of particular interest in robotics, and also an area of comedic interest first explored by a prescient episode of the Simpsons:

TIME Syria

Heartbreaking Photo of Syrian Refugee All Too Real, Photojournalist Confirms

"I was using a telephoto lens, and she thought it was a weapon."

The photojournalist who captured a striking image of a 4-year-old Syrian refugee holding her hands in the air to surrender has confirmed that the viral image was not staged, and that the expression of fear on the girl’s face is all too real.

The image was retweeted more than 11,000 times, according to BBC News, which tracked down the original photographer after questions surfaced about its authenticity.

Osman Sağırlı, a Turkish photojournalist, told the BBC that he was photographing child refugees in the Atmeh refugee camp in Syria last year when the 4-year-old girl in the picture apparently mistook his camera lens for a weapon.

“I realised she was terrified after I took it,” Sağırlı told the BBC, “and looked at the picture, because she bit her lips and raised her hands.”

“Normally kids run away, hide their faces or smile when they see a camera,” he said.

Read more at BBC News.

Read next: Star Wars Landmarks Safe From ISIS, Tunisian Officials Say

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TIME apps

The 10 Best Free Apps for Travel Junkies

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Stephen Simpson—Getty Images

These apps could make your next journey a little faster, cheaper and smarter

Odds are you use no more than two travel apps to get from point A to point B, and that’s fine — surveys show you’re not alone.

But consider for a moment these 10 travel apps, which can shave time and money off your next journey and help you sniff out a few hidden gems to boot. They’re all free and just one download away from making your next trip smooth sailing.

Hopper

Hopper predicts the optimal time to snag a flight deal by analyzing billions of airfares daily and picking out those brief moments when a price drops below its historic average. Travelers with flexible dates can use Hopper’s color-coded calendar to spot the cheapest dates in a month. Hopper’s handiest feature, “Watch a Flight,” sends a push notification when the price of a given route tends to bottom out.

Options Away

Of course, no forecast is perfect. Options Away essentially gives flyers insurance for missed deals. For a small fee, users can lock in an airfare two days to three weeks ahead of the purchase. If the airfare drops, they automatically get the cheaper ticket. If not, they pay the original price and swallow the fee ($5 to more than $50, depending on the hold time). Perfect for flyers who suffer from frequent bouts of buyer’s remorse.

TripAdvisor

Millions of travelers use TripAdvisor to rank restaurants, bars, hotels and sights on a five star system. Collectively, they’ve enabled TripAdvisor to create a handy, crowdsourced list of the city’s must see attractions. Think of it as a Cliffs Notes version of the travel guide, perfect for anyone who doesn’t have the time or patience to plod through 300 pages of advice. For more curated travel tips, TripAdvisor also offers a standalone Offline City Guides app to more than 80 destinations you can download and access later without a mobile data connection.

Localeur

Maybe you’d rather steer clear of the well-trodden sights and slip into the local scene. Localeur solicits advice from, you guessed it, locals, whose travel tips range from the eclectic — “Miami’s awesomely authentic taqueria’s” — to the bizzarre — “Portland’s 4 best photo booth bars.” For now, the quirky advice is limited to 14 major U.S. cities. But what Localeur lacks in coverage, it makes up for in personality.

Airbnb

No hotel booking site can match the sheer diversity of Airbnb‘s 1,000,000 listings and counting. Rental options range from castles to vans, yurts to watchtowers, and an ever-growing supply of apartments, rooms and sofas to accommodate just about anyone’s budget. Using the app requires a little more administrative work than the typical hotel booking — you’ll need to authenticate your identity and work out the logistics of the key hand-off with the host. On the other hand, yurts!

Postagram

For a more personal postcard, upload a vacation picture to Postagram, type in a greeting, and Postagram will print out the card and send it through snail mail for 99 cents in the U.S. and $1.99 worldwide.

Google Translate

The Google Translate team recently launched a killer feature for international travelers: “Conversation mode.” Simply open the app, hold the mobile device between two people speaking a different language, and listen as it translates a conversation live. The speakers may struggle to adjust to the lag time and a fair amount of mistranslations, but it certainly beats trying to get messages across through frantic hand waving.

TripIt

Confirmation emails for flights, hotels and rental cars can pile up fast and easily get lost in the shuffle of inbox. TripIt automatically converts those emails into a single, easy-to-read travel itinerary. The app scans the body of emails for reservation times, automatically adds events to your calendar, sorts them in chronological order and pulls in maps to help with navigation.

Skype

Cell phone carriers tend to make off like bandits when it comes to international charges. Bypass the fees with Skype, which routes calls over a Wi-Fi network for $.02 a minute. Calls placed to other Skype accounts, a user base of more than 250 million people, are free of charge.

Gas Buddy

Gas Buddy keeps a running tab of the cheapest gas stations in your area. Tap on a gas station to pull up driving directions on Google Maps. The prices are reported by users, who are incentivized to keep prices up to date by racking up points, which they can later redeem for free prizes.

Read next: These Are the First 24 Apple Watch Apps

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TIME Amazon

The Absolute Strangest Thing You Can Now Buy on Amazon

Among other things, Amazon's new service lets you rent grazing goats

There are about 700 professional services listed on Amazon’s new Home Services marketplace, which lets customers find everything from a plumber to a mover. But surely the least essential yet hardest to resist offering? Goat grazer.

That’s right: Some Amazon Home Services customers can hire a goat to come graze on their grass, a seemingly strange but not totally unheard of method of keeping vegetation levels under control.

 Goats
AmazonAmazon Goats

Not sold yet? Consider the free bonus offering: “As they graze, they will likely leave behind some droppings, too, and you’ll get to keep this fertilizer as a friendly parting gift!”

Weirdly, this isn’t Amazon’s first brush with goat-kind. Amazon Japan has used goats on its grounds in Gifu Prefecture, Kotaku reported in 2013.

 

TIME Video Games

Halo 5: Guardians Finally Has a Release Date

Halo 5: Guardians is due out later this Fall

Microsoft’s Xbox team has announced the release date for the long-awaited next installment in the Halo franchise, Halo 5: Guardians — and unfortunately it will involve seven more months of waiting.

“The Master Chief returns October 27th,” the Xbox team announced on its official Twitter account.

The announcement coincided with the release of a teaser trailer and a new Twitter hashtag, #HUNTtheTRUTH, that will surely be used in the coming months to keep the buzz going. Above. is the first installment of the 7-month-long tease.

Microsoft has estimated the Halo franchise has made the company $3.38 billion in total.

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