TIME apps

How One Word Made a Massive Change to Apple’s App Store

Apps are seen on Apple iPhone 5s January 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

Apps aren't labeled "FREE" anymore. They're labeled "GET"

Free apps on Apple’s App Store aren’t listed as “FREE” anymore — they’re listed as “GET.”

The change in the App Store’s download buttons arrives after the European Commission this summer forced Google to eliminate the word “free” on Google Play. That’s because the word “free” was misleading, the Commission said in a statement addressing both Google and Apple, as apps tagged with the “free” label could still have in-app purchases — a big revenue driver for app developers, particularly with mobile games. While Google’s change was seen only in European countries, Apple’s change is worldwide.

Striking the word “free” is also meant to protect children who are misled into making in-app purchases on their parents’ accounts, a situation that’s caused both Apple and Google a few multi-million dollar legal headaches. Apple has previously taken steps to make the App Store more child-friendly by launching a Kids section for children 11 and under.

There is one exception to the App Store’s word swap, though. Apple’s own free apps without in-app purchases, like iMovies, Numbers and Keynote, have retained the “FREE” label.

 

TIME apps

This Is the 1 Thing Facebook Can’t Figure Out

Facebook Creative Labs Apps
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images

Can Facebook make a popular standalone app?

Facebook has a good track record of pulling off big things. One-sixth of the world’s population is on the social media platform, which, by the way, is also developing laser-based Internet to connect the rest of the humanity while its CEO finds time to pick up Mandarin Chinese.

But if there’s one project that’s stumped the company, it’s the very thing that made Facebook what it is today: Creating the Next Big Thing, particularly in the form of a new mobile app. Facebook has recently released several apps separate from its primary offering, hoping one will be a hit. Its most recent attempt, Groups, takes the social media platform’s group messaging feature and spins it off into a separate mobile app. Before Groups arrived on Tuesday, there was Rooms, an anonymous chatroom app, Slingshot, a Snapchat-style disappearing messages app, Paper, a Facebook app redesigned for mobile devices and a much-mocked “Facebook for celebrities.”

Rooms and Slingshot are standouts because they’re the company’s first attempts at designing a completely new app outside its core platform. And while Slingshot feels very much like a Snapchat clone, Rooms, with its focus on old-school online chatting’s anonymity, is curiously distant from Facebook’s real-life focus. That makes it special among other apps from Facebook Creative Labs, a Facebook initiative that seeks to create new platforms to “support the diverse ways people want to connect and share.”

While the Facebook Creative Labs’ mission statement doesn’t say anything about building mainstream ways to connect, making popular apps seems an implied goal of a company that wants to be as much of a daily presence as running water. However, most of Facebook’s standalone apps have seen their rankings nosedive since their debuts, according to data from business intelligence firm App Annie. (Groups is still too new to track.)

Facebook does have a proven, if unpopular, way to get people to download its standalone apps — it can force them to do so. Several months ago, Facebook removed the messaging feature from its primary mobile app, telling users to go download the separate Messenger app instead if they wanted to keep privately messaging their Facebook friends. Messenger quickly climbed to the top of the app rankings and mostly remained there, despite poor reviews from users upset over the split.

But Facebook, like other social media companies, has shown it has another option, too: Finding successful apps outside the company’s walls and snatching them up in big-money acquisitions. Facebook’s desire to capture top-notch, widely-embraced apps — and keep them out of rivals’ hands — helps explain why the company paid nearly $1 billion for photo-sharing app Instagram and a jaw-dropping $19 billion for the WhatsApp messaging app, with both deals involving a mixture of cash and Facebook stock.

Whether Facebook can ever come up with a new mobile app that people really love — or if it should even bother trying — is an open question. But that clearly hasn’t stopped Facebook from trying to think up the “next Snapchat,” even if some of its attempts, like the now-extinct Poke and Camera, have totally flopped. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg said himself, the failure of new products has been “humbling.” As a company on top of its own particular mountain, Facebook can afford to learn by trial and error. So until it adds one of its own creations to its portfolio of big-name apps, expect it to keep trying.

TIME Companies

Yahoo Will Be Firefox’s Default Search Engine Until 2019

A screen displays the logo of the open-s
A screen displays the logo of the open-source web browser Firefox on July 31, 2009, in London. Leon Neal—AFP/Getty Images

"Most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years"

Yahoo and Mozilla have announced a strategic five-year partnership making Yahoo the default search engine for the Firefox browser, according to a Wednesday statement on Mozilla’s blog.

The agreement, called “the most significant partnership for Yahoo in five years,” will introduce an enhanced search experience featuring a “clean, modern and immersive design” for U.S. Firefox users starting next month. The partnership will also open up the door to explore other product integrations between the Internet company and the Internet browser.

“We’re so proud that [Mozilla has] chosen us as their long-term partner in search, and I can’t wait to see what innovations we build together,” said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in the statement. “At Yahoo, we believe deeply in search – it’s an area of investment, opportunity and growth for us.”

 

TIME Smartphones

Here’s What Happens to Your Spine When You’re Constantly Texting

Spine Phone Texting
Kenneth Hansraj

A spinal surgeon explains why your cell phone habits are hurting your neck

Your Candy Crush addiction might be harming your neck more than your productivity, according to new research.

Looking down at your phone can add up to 60 pounds of pressure on your spine, depending on the angle. That’s according to a new study from spinal surgeon Dr. Kenneth Hansraj and published in Surgical Technology International.

People spend two to four hours per day on average with their heads tilted downward in activities like texting and reading, the study said. Over the course of a year, that time adds up to 700 to 1,400 hours of excess stress on the cervical spine, or up to 5,000 hours for high school students. Over time, this causes a hunched-forward position and increases the risk of spinal wear and tear.

It’s “nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues,” Dr. Hansraj wrote in the report. But people can take preventative steps by looking at their phones while maintaining good posture, defined as having one’s ears aligned with their shoulders.

 

TIME Gadgets

Apple Just Revealed Lots More Info About the Apple Watch

Apple Watch SDK New Features
View of the Apple watch displayed in a shop on September 30, 2014. Loic Venance—AFP/Getty Images

We can learn a lot from the Apple Watch's developer guidelines

Apple opened the floodgates for Apple Watch developers Tuesday when it made the smartwatch’s Software Development Kit available for the first time. But the SDK isn’t just for coders — it also has lots of hints about what using the Apple Watch will be like for consumers when it hits store shelves sometime next year.

Here are some new discoveries about the Apple Watch:

The Apple Watch isn’t a standalone device

The iPhone is pretty much a requirement if you want to use what will be the Apple Watch’s most advanced apps. In Apple’s own words, “a Watch app complements your iOS app; it does not replace it.” Apple Watch apps will essentially run on your iPhone, and the smartwatch will be an extension of your smartphone.

The Apple Watch probably has the most hi-res screen of any smartwatch

We already knew the Apple Watch’s two sizes (just their heights, not widths). But now we know their display resolutions, too. The 38mm watch is 272×340 pixels, while the 42mm watch is 312×390 pixels. Apple says those are good enough resolutions to be labeled as Retina displays, which Apple has said is a feature of the watch.

Still, it’s unclear exactly how sharp the displays will be. Some estimates have put the Apple Watch screen clarity on the level of the iPhone 5, which has a more hi-res display than iPads and MacBook Pros. If that’s the case, the Apple Watch could boast a better display than the current smartwatch market leader, Samsung Gear S.

The Apple Watch could come in more sizes

The way Apple has set up the Apple Watch’s interface is more like a website than a smartphone, which should make it easier for developers to adapt their apps to work on larger or smaller watches sometime down the road. While our wrists are only so wide, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say Apple is considering new ways to build all sorts of screens.

There’s a brand new font

The new font, called San Francisco, was “designed specifically for legibility on Apple Watch,” according to Apple’s developers’ site. The sans serif font looks a bit like Arial and is meant to take up less horizontal space.

There are two types of notifications

Apple gave users a preview of how notifications work during the Apple Watch unveiling, but we know a bit more now. There are two types of “looks:” the Short Look, which briefly provides a “discreet, minimal amount of information” when you raise your wrist, and the Long Look, which gives you more info if you tap on a Short Look notification or keep your wrist held up.

TIME Companies

Peter Thiel: Uber Is the ‘Most Ethically-Challenged Company in Silicon Valley’

The Hamptons Lure Uber Top Drivers Amid NYC Slow Summer Weekends
Th Uber Technologies Inc. car service application (app) is displayed for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Uber is "right on the cusp of going too far," the investor said

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel warned in an interview with CNNMoney that Uber is “right on the cusp of going too far” as the car service tacked on another ethical controversy to its ever-growing list this week.

Thiel, an investor in Uber competitor Lyft, called Uber the “most ethically-challenged company in Silicon Valley” in a segment filmed before reports surfaced that an Uber exec floated an idea to dig up dirt on journalists critical of the company, CNN said.

“It’s always a question how far you push the envelope in business. Sometimes the people who break the rules win, and sometimes they push it too far,” Thiel said in the interview. “And I think Uber’s right on the cusp of going simply too far on many of these things.”

The PayPal co-founder added that he thinks companies like Napster were too disruptive in breaking the rules. Napter, a music sharing company, was shut down in 2001 after a legal battle over copyright infringement.

“Most companies in tech, you take some risks. You push the envelope a little bit,” Thiel said. “But Uber’s been in a class of its own.”

TIME weather

State of Emergency Declared as Buffalo Pounded by Snowstorm

Wintry Weather New York
A band of storm clouds moves across Lake Erie and into Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 18, 2014 Gary Wiepert—AP

Four people have died from the storm

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Tuesday for several counties in and around Buffalo, where a severe winter storm has already covered parts of the region in over three feet of snow.

The National Guard will be deployed to the affected communities to residents dig out, according a statement on the New York State governor’s website. Forecasters are predicting the snowy conditions could last through the week.

“This storm may persist until Friday morning with the potential for another two feet of snow,” Cuomo said in the statement. “New Yorkers in these areas should exercise extreme caution, and stay off the roads until conditions are clearer and safer.”

Four people have died due to the storm so far, including three from heart attacks and one who was fatally pinned while pushing a car out of snow, ABC News’ Buffalo affiliate WKBW reported. Meanwhile, hundreds of cars remain stranded on roads as temperatures plummeted across the nation — all 50 states experienced freezing temperatures Tuesday.

Snow levels are forecasted to reach over six feet in some parts of Western New York areas, while other spots have experienced snowfall rates of 4 to 5 inches an hour. The massive snowstorm is a result of what’s called the “lake effect,” in which moisture over the Great Lakes freezes into snow and blows onto land. The lake effect also results in a strange phenomenon where areas as close as a few minutes of driving from snow-pounded towns have almost no snow at all.

The snow storm is expected to continue through at least Thursday, reaching parts of central New York, before dissipating. It may even break Buffalo’s all-time record of 82 inches of snow falling over five days in 2001, according to Buffalo News.

Read next: More Snow Expected in Buffalo’s Deadly Winter Storm

TIME Companies

Toronto Wants to Kick Uber Out of the City

Uber Toronto
The Uber Technologies Inc. logo and website are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and laptop computer. Bloomberg/Getty Images

"Uber's operations pose a serious risk to the public"

Toronto is the latest city trying to give Uber the red light.

The City of Toronto has filed an application for injunction against Uber Canada, requesting the end of the company’s activities in the Ontario city, officials announced in a Tuesday statement. The statement said that Uber has been operating in Toronto without a license since 2012.

Like other major cities cracking down on Uber, Toronto is concerned that “Uber’s operations pose a serious risk to the public, including those who are signing on as drivers.”

The City is specifically worried that a lack of vehicle inspection and driver training is threatening both passenger and driver safety. Officials also say Uber’s insurance covering passengers and drivers in the event of an accident is below what’s required by the Municipal Code. Outside of safety concerns, the City cites unregulated fares and Uber’s “possible threat to the taxi industry.”

“With Uber, Torontonians have enjoyed real competition and greater choice,” an Uber spokesman told Bloomberg in an e-mail. “It’s disappointing that city bureaucrats have deployed expensive legal tactics to attempt to halt progress.”

Similar claims have successfully banned the car service in two German cities, major losses that Uber has managed to avoid in major hubs like New York and London.

Cities’ opposition to Uber is only one of many problems being tackled by the company, which is known for its ability to overcome several dead-serious controversies. Most recently, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick offered a Twitter apology after reports that an Uber exec said he wanted to hire researchers to dig up dirt on journalists criticizing the company.

 

 

TIME golf

Tiger Woods Outraged by ‘Sheer Nastiness’ of Fake Interview

Tiger Woods Dan Jenkins Fake Golf Digest Interview
Tiger Woods of the United States hits a tee shot during the first round of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on August 7, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. Warren Little—Getty Images

"A grudge-fueled piece of character assassination"

Pro golfer Tiger Woods published an editorial Tuesday slamming a parody interview in Golf Digest between him and the article’s author, sportswriter Dan Jenkins.

“Jenkins faked an interview, which fails as parody, and is really more like a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination,” Woods wrote in a piece titled “Not True, Not Funny” on The Players’ Tribune, a platform founded by Derek Jeter featuring the “unfiltered voices of professional athletes.”

Jenkins’ article, which appeared in the December issue of Golf Digest, involves targeted questions that “Woods” answers, including a question about why he doesn’t tip well, a claim made by fellow sportswriter Rick Reilly.

“All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media. But this concocted article was below the belt,” Woods wrote. “Good-natured satire is one thing, but no fair-minded writer would put someone in the position of having to publicly deny that he mistreats his friends, takes pleasure in firing people, and stiffs on tips—and a lot of other slurs, too.”

Woods also made public a copy of a letter sent by his representatives to Golf Digest publisher Mark Townsend. The document demands an apology and a response to questions about the piece’s journalistic integrity.

TIME Autos

Feds Demand Nationwide Recall for Millions of Cars Over Air Bag Problem

The Takata Corp. logo is displayed outside the company's headquarters in Tokyo.
The Takata Corp. logo is displayed outside the company's headquarters in Tokyo. Bloomberg/Getty Images

Regulators say they'll enforce the recall if Takata doesn't agree

Federal regulators said Tuesday they are calling for a nationwide recall of millions of cars with Takata driver’s-side air bags after an incident occurred outside a previous recall’s parameters.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said its push for a recall expansion was prompted by an incident involving a defective air bag in a car in North Carolina. North Carolina wasn’t covered by a previous recall which targeted the Gulf Coast region due to safety problems related to high humidity.

“We now know that millions of vehicles must be recalled to address defective Takata air bags and our aggressive investigation is far from over,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said in a statement.

High levels of airborne moisture can cause the propellant in the Japanese-manufactured air bags to burn too quickly, causing them to inflate with excess force, potentially causing injuries to drivers and passengers. Some victims have also suffered from shrapnel wounds due to the explosion of the air bags, which are found in over a dozen major automotive brands.

NHTSA said that it will use its regulatory authority to enforce the nationwide recall if Takata does not voluntarily agree to the recall.

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