TIME Apple

This is Rush Limbaugh’s Absolute Favorite Apple Watch Feature

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers
George Gojkovich—Getty Images Radio talk show host and political commentator Rush Limbaugh looks on from the sideline before a National Football League game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 6, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

No, it's not the share-your-heartbeat feature

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh got his hands on an Apple Watch, and he has a fairly positive opinion of the device.

Limbaugh wasn’t bowled over by the smart watch—”there’s no question it’s cool, but I’m just gonna tell you it’s exactly as I thought,” he told listeners Monday. However, he is extremely impressed with Apple’s digital assistant Siri, which he says has been improved from previous Apple devices.

Here’s Limbaugh’s Siri praise in full:

I’ll tell you one thing where the watch is better. Siri. I am convinced, and there’s been a couple of news stories about the new back end that Apple’s used. They’re on the third iteration of Siri it turns out, software wise. I’m telling you the dictation on this watch is flawless. It has yet to make a mistake since I set it up and paired it Friday afternoon. It has yet to make an input mistake. It has translated everything I’ve said 100 percent correctly.

No word on how much experience Limbaugh has with Google Now or Microsoft’s Cortana — maybe he can review them next.

TIME Media

We Fact-Checked All of Jay Z’s #TidalFacts

Tidal Launch Event NYC #TIDALforALL
Jamie McCarthy—2015 Getty Images Kanye West (L) and JAY Z onstage at the Tidal launch event #TIDALforALL at Skylight at Moynihan Station on March 30, 2015 in New York City.

He's not a businessman; he's a prognosticator of the future of streaming music consumption, man

Things have been rocky for Jay Z’s Tidal service ever since the service relaunched with an Avengers-like call-to-arms of music superstars last month. Since then, the streaming platform has fallen out of the top 750 apps on Apple’s App Store, replaced its CEO and taken several dings in the press. So it’s no surprise Jay Z is eager to defend his new service against detractors.

The mogul-rapper tweeted a bevy of “#TidalFacts” Sunday, arguing his music service is actually doing just fine (on the rare occasions Jay tweets, he loves to talk about #facts).

But how do we separate truth from corporate spin? Here’s a quick fact-check of the claims Jay Z made about Tidal.

Verdict: True(ish)

Tidal is older than Jay Z wants to admit. It launched back in October 2014 in the U.S. and the U.K., with its main pitch being high-fidelity music streams. After Jay Z bought parent company Aspiro for $56 million in January, the brand was relaunched in March with a new emphasis on compensating artists and providing exclusive content to fans.

Regarding subscribers, 770,000 is certainly a respectable figure in a world where every on-demand music subscription service not named Spotify is fighting for table scraps. However, the vast majority of those users were using Tidal before Jay Z showed up. Aspiro previously had another music streaming service called WiMP, which had 500,000 paying subscribers at the end of 2014. The WiMP and Tidal platforms were merged in March, just before Tidal’s relaunch. So it’s unclear how many new subscribers Tidal has picked up thanks to all its publicity in recent weeks.

Verdict: False

Maybe it wasn’t one day, but the iTunes Store did sell one million songs in its first week of existence. It was wildly successful from the start. Spotify, which launched in 2006, was a bit of a slow burn, but it would be hard to argue that the platform only became successful in 2015. As the digital music space gets more crowded, it’s only going to become more challenging for new entrants to grab significant marketshare.

Verdict: False

The spate of bad press Tidal has received since it launched is mostly its own doing. The optics of the launch event, with music’s biggest wealthiest stars on stage begging fans to spend more on music, couldn’t have been worse. Perhaps instead of the press, Jay Z is referring more to behind-the-scenes dealings between streaming competitors and record labels to vie for exclusives and keep artists off of Tidal. That’s almost definitely happening, and competition among the streaming services will only get increasingly fierce as more of the music industry’s revenue pours into the sector.

Verdict: True

One of Tidal’s selling points is supposed to be that it offers a more comprehensive fan experience than other music services. Exclusive videos from stars like Jay Z and Beyonce have been popping up on the platform. And the company has been livestreaming some concerts, including a recent Jack White concert. But the service has yet to nab the kind of massive exclusive–think Beyonce’s surprise album dropping excluisvely on the iTunes Store–to truly turn heads.

Verdict: Possibly True

Here Jay may be referring to Tidal Discovery, an upcoming feature of the platform that will allow independent artists to upload their music directly to the streaming service. On platforms like Spotify, independent artists have to use third-party aggregators to make their music available. Tidal will also soon allow individual artists to access a dashboard that shows listening data and demographic information about their fans, according to tech culture site Smashd. This type of fine data is often routed to labels rather than to artists themselves.

Verdict: Possibly True

It’s not entirely clear what Jay means by “royalty rate.” If he’s talking about the amount of total revenue that Tidal plans to redistribute to artists and record labels, that would mean Tidal is doling out a larger portion of its total sales than Spotify, which pays 70% of its revenue to music rights holders. A Tidal spokesperson did not identify which rate Jay Z was referring to at press time.

Verdict: True

Yep, Apple’s market capitalization is about $760 billion and a new funding round will reportedly value Spotify at $8.4 billion. YouTube is not worth anything close to $390 billion, but its parent company Google is. And Jay bought Tidal for $56 million, so he’s mostly right here.

Read next: Watch Jay Z’s New Video for ‘Glory’

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TIME Media

ESPN Suing Verizon Over More Flexible Cable Package

Time Warner Cable, Disney Talks Said To Focus On ESPN3.Com
Getty Images The ESPN logo is displayed outside L.A. Live, which houses the ESPNZone, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010.

Verizon put ESPN in a sports add-on package, which ESPN says is a breach of contract

ESPN is suing Verizon over the pay-TV operator’s flexible new cable bundles. The sports network is arguing that Verizon’s new cable packages, which don’t include ESPN in their primary offering, are a breach of contract.

Verizon unveiled earlier this month a new set of cable bundles called Custom TV that give subscribers more choice over what channels they pay for. Customers pay for a basic channel of packages that includes broadcast networks and a few cable channels. Bundles of genre-specific channels are offered as $10 add-ons, with ESPN available as part of the sports add-on package.

However, the Disney-owned ESPN, which is the most valuable cable network by a large margin, said last week that its contract with Verizon stipulated that it not be shuttled to an optional sports tier. When the Custom TV offering was unveiled, Verizon executives said they believed the new configurations were in line with existing contracts with networks. The operator is still marketing ESPN and ESPN2 as part of the sports bundle on its website.

ESPN is suing Verizon in the state of New York, seeking injunctive relief and damages. “ESPN is at the forefront of embracing innovative ways to deliver high-quality content and value to consumers on multiple platforms, but that must be done in compliance with our agreements,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We simply ask that Verizon abide by the terms of our contracts.”

A Verizon spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TIME Gadgets

See What’s Inside the Apple Watch

Apple's new device has a few surprises inside

What exactly is making the Apple Watch tick? The good folks over at iFixit have answered that burning question for us by taking apart one of Apple’s new devices. They discovered that the screen and battery are fairly easy to remove but the watch’s S1 integrated computer chip, which Apple has disclosed little information about, is harder to wrench loose. Below the chip, there are hints of new health features that Apple may yet implement in the watch if they receive regulatory approval. Check out the full breakdown of the Apple Watch in the pictures above.

TIME Media

Comcast’s Time Warner Cable Merger Hopes Are Fading Fast

The Comcast Corp. logo is seen as Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corp. (R) speaks during a news conference in Washington on June 11, 2013.
Bloomberg/Getty Images The Comcast Corp. logo is seen as Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corp. (R) speaks during a news conference in Washington on June 11, 2013.

FCC decision could drown merger plans in red tape

Comcast is facing a new obstacle on its path to merging with Time Warner Cable.

The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly planning to issue a “hearing designation order” that would bury the deal even deeper in regulatory purgatory, according to the Wall Street Journal. Under such an order, the merger would be reviewed by an administrative law judge in a hearing that would significantly increase the time and money Comcast would need to potentially see the deal through.

Past deals that were hit with hearing designation orders, such as AT&T’s bid to acquire T-Mobile, ultimately failed to win FCC approval.

Comcast has disputed arguments that a merger with Time Warner Cable would make the company overly powerful, as the two cable giants largely operate in different markets. However, some detractors, including content producers and technology companies, have said the merged company would be able to exert unfair leverage to raise customer prices and limit the diversity of TV offerings — especially considering Comcast now owns NBCUniversal.

TIME Wireless

Everything to Know About Google’s New Wireless Service

Project Fi is cheaper and more flexible than most wireless plans

Google is already an Internet Service Provider and a pay-TV operator. Now it’s expanding to become a wireless carrier as well.

Google unveiled Wednesday a new cell phone service dubbed Project Fi, which offers the same basic functionality as traditional wireless carriers, such as voice, text and Internet access, at a lower price than many common plans.

Here’s a primer on everything you need to know about Google’s Project Fi:

What exactly does Project Fi offer?

Project Fi offers a basic cell phone plan that includes unlimited domestic talk and text and unlimited international texts for $20 per month. International calls will cost $.20 per minute. Subscribers can add a monthly allotment of 1GB of data for $10 month, and increase the allotment by $10 per gigabyte.

One thing that makes Fi different from many mainstream carriers is that any data a customer doesn’t use shows up as a credit on their next bill — each 100MB is worth $1. There are also no overage penalties, as extra data use is charged at the same rate as data that is part of the plan. And, in a nice plus for international travelers, mobile data costs the same $10/GB in more than 120 countries.

How will Project Fi differ from what traditional wireless carriers offer?

Google’s service will switch between different high-speed wireless networks operated by Sprint and T-Mobile, depending on which is stronger in a given area. In addition to regular cellular coverage, phones on Project Fi will switch to Wi-Fi networks when available to place calls and access the Internet without using up customers’ data plans.

Using Wi-Fi for voice service is becoming an increasingly popular strategy in the telco industry — Cablevision recently unveiled a cell phone service that is entirely reliant on Wi-Fi connections and costs $30 per month.

What do I need to get Project Fi?

Right now, you can only use Project Fi with a Nexus 6, Google’s flagship Android phone. The Nexus 6 costs $649 for the 32GB version. Unlike traditional carriers, Google isn’t offering a subsidy on the phone in exchange for a two-year contract commitment (Project Fi is contract-free).

However, customers can pay for the device over the course of two years if they pass a credit check. And if you already own a Nexus 6, it’ll work on Project Fi.

How is Google able to build the infrastructure to offer cell phone service?

Google isn’t building its own cell phone towers for Project Fi. Instead, it operates on networks already operated by Sprint and T-Mobile. The big wireless carriers already make lots of money by effectively renting access to their networks to smaller carriers, who then resell that service to consumers using different branding.

Google, of course, could be a much bigger long-term threat to the wireless industry than the typical small-scale operator. But Sprint has reserved the right to renegotiate its deal with Google if the search giant gains a large number of subscribers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why would Google want to be a wireless carrier?

Google’s primary interest as a company is getting people on the Internet so that they can make Google searches and be served ads, which is how Google makes money. Developing new ways to make Internet access cheaper, faster or more reliable creates more opportunities for users to feed into Google’s core business.

Google likely doesn’t have aspirations to become the next AT&T or Comcast–those firms have incredibly high infrastructure costs and often contentious relationships with their customer base because of the high fees they charge. Rather, Google wants to tip the scales to force the giants in telecommunications to offer better service. This is already happening with Google Fiber, Google’s high-speed Internet service, which has prompted Time Warner Cable to boost Internet speeds for its own customers in places like Charlotte, N.C.

How will this affect the other carriers?

For now, any impact will be small, because Project Fi is only available on the Nexus 6. T-Mobile and Sprint will actually benefit financially because Google is paying them for their networks, and those companies will have the leverage to stamp out Google’s service if it develops in ways they don’t like. But in the long run, Google’s presence could force carriers to offer customers plans that are cheaper and more flexible. T-Mobile has already been filling this disruptive role in the telco industry through its aggressive Uncarrier plan.

Read next: This Is Facebook’s Latest Move to Take Over Your Phone

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TIME Web

Google Is Making a Big Change to Its Search Results

Mobile-friendly websites will now get a big boost

Google has let the world in on a recent change to its carefully protected search algorithm. Starting Tuesday, the company is boosting the ranking for mobile-friendly websites and demoting those pages that don’t load well on smartphones.

The search giant first announced the change back in February, and the move has earned the moniker “Mobilegeddon” as anxiety over the algorithm tweak has grown in recent weeks. The end result should benefit users, who will less often be sent to hard-to-navigate websites designed for desktop computers.

The shift will also help Google, which is fiercely competing with apps dedicated to specific services (think Amazon for shopping, Yelp for restaurant reviews) that are siphoning away inquiries users could be typing into a Google search bar.

TIME apps

How to Keep the YouTube App If You Have an Old iPhone or iPad

Google is ending support for the video app on many old devices

If you’re still clinging to your first iPhone from 2009, Google is giving you one more reason to upgrade. The company is ending support for its YouTube app on many devices manufactured before 2013, including a number of Apple gadgets, because of upgrades to YouTube’s platform. Here’s a quick guide to which devices are affected and what you can do to hang onto YouTube.

iOS

Apple phones will have to run iOS 7 or iOS 8 in order to be compatible with YouTube. If you have the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G, or the iPhone 3GS, you’re simply out of luck, since they don’t support either operating system. iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 users who have never upgraded their operating system can update to iOS 8 to get access to YouTube. iPhone 4 users who already have iOS 7 will still have access to YouTube, but those who never upgraded will be out of luck because Apple now only offers iOS 8, which is not supported on the iPhone 4.

On the iPad front, only the original iPad will no longer be compatible with YouTube. Other users with old iPads can just upgrade to Apple’s latest OS to use the YouTube app.

Apple TV

The third-generation Apple TV can be upgraded to support YouTube by selecting “Settings,” then “General,” then “Upgrade Software” in the device’s menu. First and second-generation Apple TVs, which were on sale before 2012, will no longer support the YouTube app at all.

Other Devices

Sony and Panasonic TV and Blu-ray players that use Google TV may not run the YouTube app. Devices that only support version 1 and version 2 of Google TV won’t be compatible with YouTube, while newer devices that support version 3 and version 4 will run the video app.

Even on devices that don’t support YouTube’s app, users can still navigate to YouTube’s mobile site in their web browsers to watch videos.

TIME Japan

Japanese Train Breaks World Speed Record

JAPAN-TRANSPORT-TECHNOLOGY-MAGLEV
Jiji Press—AFP/Getty Images Central Japan Railway's seven-car maglev train returns to the station after setting a new world speed record in a test run near Mount Fuji on April 21, 2015.

Officials called the high-speed trip “comfortable”

The world’s fastest train can now zip along at 373 miles per hour.

A Japanese maglev train reached that dizzying speed on a test track near Mount Fuji Tuesday, The Guardian reports. Nearly 50 railway employees were on the train at the time, and railway officials called the high-speed trip “comfortable” for human passengers. The mark sets a new world speed record, eclipsing the standing record of 367 mph, reached by the same train last week.

Maglev trains, short for “magnetic levitation,” hover just above the rails through the use of electric magnets.

Current commuter trains in Japan, already super-fast by global standards, travel at speeds of about 200 mph. The maglev train is scheduled to go into commercial operation by 2027, carrying passengers from Tokyo to Nagoya, a city 180 miles away, in about 40 minutes.

[The Guardian]

Read next: What it’s like to ride Japan’s high-speed levitating trains

TIME Web

Twitter Cracks Down on Trolls With More Abuse Controls

The company is broadening the scope of what counts as abuse

Twitter is continuing its campaign against abusive online messages, announcing a new slate of changes to the social network Tuesday aimed at curtailing Internet trolls and bullies.

Twitter has broadened the types of threats that it can punish by changing its rules to ban “threats of violence against others” rather than “direct, specific threats of violence against others.” The social network says the previous phrasing was too narrow to deal with the different types of abuse that occur online. Twitter is also taking a more granular approach to dealing with abuse by locking offending users’ accounts and forcing them to delete certain tweets to access their accounts again. The company also says it will limit the reach of abusive messages in some cases without actually deleting them, though it doesn’t specify how the messages will be limited.

The changes come a day after Twitter announced it would begin allowing users who don’t follow each other to send each other private messages. The move prompted a vocal backlash from some Twitter users who felt the new policy might invite more online abuse.

Read next: This App Will Flag Your Offensive Tweets Before Your Future Employer Sees Them

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