TIME Video Games

There’s a Ridiculous Hidden Fee Inside Windows 10

It's tucked in an old stand-by that'll cost you now

Long before we had Angry Birds and Twitter to distract us at work, there was Solitaire on Windows. The card game has been a staple of Microsoft’s operating system for decades, but getting the full Solitaire experience on the newest OS may cost you.

The newly released Windows 10 features the Solitaire Collection, which includes several variants of the classic card game. However, unlike the version of the game you played at your grandma’s house in the ‘90s, Windows 10 Solitaire comes packed with advertisements. To get rid of the ads and earn some in-game currency (yes, this centuries-old game is borrowing from Candy Crush), users can pay $1.49 per month or $9.99 per year.

Read more: Windows 10 Reviews Are In—And People Love It

This actually isn’t the first time Microsoft has tried to get users to pay for Solitaire. A premium version of the game was also released for Windows 8, but the title wasn’t pre-installed in the operating system as it is in Windows 10.

It’s not that surprising that Microsoft is charging for Solitaire, considering that Windows 10 is free and the company is increasingly seeking revenue via ongoing subscription services instead of one-off software purchases.

TIME Mobile

Google Fixed the Worst Part About Grocery Shopping

New search feature shows when stores have long lines

No one likes waiting in lines, but there’s little way to avoid them besides trying to ballpark when a business will be extremely busy.

Now, Google is rolling out a new feature in its search results that shows hourly foot traffic at millions of different businesses around the world. The feature works by using anonymized location data from people’s mobile phones, much in the same way Google measures traffic congestion data.

Google has gotten scarily good at predicting when a traffic jam is going to slow drivers down, so it will likely get equally skilled at predicting peak waiting times in stores eventually.

The feature is available across mobile phones and will begin rolling out in the next few days.

TIME Mobile

Motorola’s New Phone Has 1 Huge Advantage

Moto X
Motorola Moto X

The Moto X Pure Edition was announced Tuesday

Motorola is taking a new tack with its next flagship phone by selling the device directly to consumers.

At a global press event Tuesday, the company announced the Motorola X Style, its followup to last year’s Motorola X. A version of the device called the Pure Edition, which comes unlocked and will be sold on Motorola’s website and at select retailers, will sell for $399 starting in September.

The Moto X Style will boast a 5.7-inch quad high-definition display as well as an improved 21 megapixel camera. The device also charges very quickly. In a pre-recorded demo, the phone gained about one-third of its charge back in 15 minutes. Like the previous Moto X, customization is also a key feature, with customers able to choose outer casings in a variety of colors and with materials such as metal, wood and leather.

Last year’s Motorola X was regarded as one of the best Android phones on the market. If the new one matches it, it will be a quality high-end smartphone retailing for about $200 less than the unlocked versions of the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 when they first came to market. Customers who buy the unlocked Motorola phone will also be able to sign up for wireless service from whichever carrier they choose without having software from the carrier already installed on their phone.

“We’re confident that this is the new wave of the future,” Motorola Design Chief Jim Wicks said at the event. “This strategy allows us to take out the middle man.”

Motorola also announced that its popular more affordable phone, the Moto G, is getting a refresh that launches Tuesday worldwide. The improved Moto G has a 13-megapixel camera and 4G LTE. It’s also waterproof, able to be submerged for as long as 30 minutes. The device starts at $180 for an 8GB version.

Motorola also unveiled the Moto X Play, which boasts a 5.5-inch screen and fewer customization options than the Style. The device has a longer battery life, and like the Style, Motorola says it will be considerably cheaper than high-end phones from competitors. The device will launch in select markets in August but has no scheduled release in the U.S.

TIME Algorithms

Coders Are Making More Room for Curators in Silicon Valley

Entertainer Aubrey Drake Graham known as Drake speaks during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, June 8, 2015. Apple Inc., the maker of iPhones and iPads, will introduce software improvements for its computer and mobile devices as well as reveal new updates, including the introduction of a revamped streaming music service. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Drake
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Entertainer Aubrey Drake Graham known as Drake speaks during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, June 8, 2015.

Facebook, Apple, Netflix and others are relying on human expertise to complement automated algorithms

It’s been almost a decade since the debut of the Netflix Prize, a $1 million bounty for the person or group that could best improve the company’s movie suggestion algorithm. Netflix’s much-touted recommendation engine was, at the time, one of the driving forces of its success as a DVD-by-mail service. The idea that a computer could churn through thousands of movie cast, plots and genre and pluck out the one or two that a particular viewer might enjoy was novel and exciting. The highly publicized prize proved to be great marketing for the company.

Fast forward nine years and the phrase on the tip of Netflix executives’ tongues isn’t “smart algorithms”—it’s “original programming.” Sure, Netflix still uses software to recommend titles available on its streaming platform, but the company says what’s really driving new subscriptions are the dozen or so originals it has bankrolled over the last two years, including flagship series like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. As The New Yorker’s Tim Wu points out, today Netflix’s most valuable “algorithm” might be chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who’s in charge of picking which programs the company funds.

This is just one example of human expertise and insight complementing automated, data-driven experiences in Silicon Valley. But it represents a broader sea-change in thinking about what humans can do computers simply can’t.

Since the very first Google query in 1998, Internet denizens have been taught that ever-more-intelligent algorithms would one day be able to serve them recommendations that, if not altogether perfect, were at least much better than anything a lowly human could ever muster. Each of us was supposed to have our own personalized, pristine digital experience calculated with such exaction by computers that you’d feel uncomfortable even questioning the algorithm’s authority.

MORE: 5 Reasons to Buy a PlayStation 4 Right Now

But tech companies seem to be jutting up against the limits of what an algorithm can achieve, at least affordably. (The algorithm that won the Netflix prize was never actually implemented because it was prohibitively expensive). Now, the coders are having to make more room for the curators and the creatives across a variety of sectors.

Last month, Apple launched Apple Music, an on-demand streaming service similar to Spotify. Human curators are a core selling point. Music experts hand-select songs for oddly specific but weirdly compelling playlists to serve to users based on their favorite artists and genres. Meanwhile an Internet radio station called Beats 1 has become the centerpiece of the service, featuring live DJs, interviews with artists and songs far afield of the Billboard charts. The old-school format’s launch was followed as closely by the tech press as the inaugural fireside chat.

Even in areas where it seemed as though algorithms had decidedly won out, human input is gaining greater importance. Facebook’s News Feed is controlled by a closely guarded algorithm that sorts through the thousands of posts available to a given user each day and shows only the ones that it thinks will be most interesting to each individual person. For the last year, though, the company has been paying hundreds of people around the country to grade the News Feed’s quality and offer suggestions for improvements. Insight from these everyday users has led to algorithm improvements that a computer program seeking to boost engagement metrics could never discern, such as the need to show sad or serious posts prominently even though they may not garner a lot of “Likes.”

MORE: YouTube Is About to Look Very Different

The approach seems to be paying off. Facebook’s number of users and the average time spent on-site has continued to climb as it has made its algorithm more human. The human elements of Apple Music, such as Beats 1, have received high praise even as people have griped about the service’s confusing interface and rocky stability. Even newcomer Snapchat has gotten in on curation. It’s hard to imagine an algorithm replicating the mini-narratives that emerge in Snapchat’s “Live Stories,” the 24-hour local pastiches the burgeoning social network curates from snaps from its 100 million users. These stories now attract 20 million viewers a day, and the format has been so successful that Twitter is planning to imitate it this fall with Project Lightning, an upcoming feature that will show a human-curated feed of interesting tweets, photos and videos tied to major events.

Algorithms are here to stay, of course. They have the ability to analyze millions of pieces of data faster than a team of humans ever could. The emergence of Big Data—the vast trove of data generated by people and devices—is only likely to make them more crucial. But in the future, recommendation systems that meld human and algorithmic input may be more commonplace. Apple Music analyzes a user’s past listening activity to decide which human-curated playlists to present, for instance. Netflix uses its massive trove of data about people’s viewing habits to determine what types of shows to bankroll (though, Sarandos and other executives give the final green light).

We increasingly rely on computers to guide us in the right direction, but we may still need a living, breathing human to be that final arbiter of taste.

TIME Email

Now You Can Make That Embarrassing Email You Sent Self-Destruct

dmail
Google Chrome

A new tool for Gmail lets you revoke access to messages whenever you please

Everyone’s fired off a hasty email that they desperately wish they could take back. A new Gmail tool will let you do that whenever you please.

Dmail is a new browser extension for Google Chrome that gives people more control of how long others can view their Gmail messages. When sending an email through Gmail, users can set a specific time when the message will self-destruct, ranging anywhere from an hour to a week. And even emails without a specific self-destruct timer can still be recalled by the sender at an time, making them unviewable to the recipient.

The product was developed by the people who made the social bookmarking service Delicious. Eventually the team wants to expand the application to let users set self-destructing timers on other types of documents, such as PDFs.

Google itself seems to understand the value of being able to take back an email as well. The company recently made its Undo feature, which allows users to delete an email up to 30 seconds after it’s sent, standard across Gmail.

[TechCrunch]

TIME Uber

Toronto Cab Drivers Sue Uber for $300 Million

The Hamptons Lure Uber Top Drivers Amid NYC Slow Summer Weekends
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Class-action suit could include drivers across Ontario

Toronto cab drivers are suing the ride-hailing app Uber for over $300 million ($400 million Canadian) in damages and seeking an injunction to get the startup out of the Canadian city.

The class-action lawsuit, which specifically targets the low-cost UberX service, covers all cab drivers in Ontario, according to the law firm representing the drivers. Uber said the suit was without merit.

An earlier attempt by the city of Toronto to remove Uber from the city was rejected by an Ontario court. On Thursday Uber expanded into several new cities in southwestern Ontario, including Hamilton and London.

Toronto is just one of many cities where Uber is embroiled in municipal fights. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had threatened to impose a cap on the number of Uber cars that could drive in the city, but tabled the initiative this week. In France the company suspended its Uberpop service at the start of July following large protests by the city’s taxi drivers.

[Reuters]

TIME movies

Sony Tweaked Adam Sandler Movie Pixels to Avoid Embarrassing China

Executives made changes to assure a good reception, according to leaked emails

Sony altered a scene in its newly released film Pixels in order to avoid running afoul of censors in China, now the second-largest film market after the United States.

Reuters reports, citing emails leaked by Sony hackers, that a scene in the original Pixels script featuring aliens shooting a hole in the Great Wall of China was scrapped because it would “not benefit the China release at all,” according to a Sony executive.

Other changes included removing a mention of China as the potential perpetrator of an attack during the movie and a reference to a cyberattack by a “Communist-conspiracy brother.”

Emails sent in 2013 also showed that a Sony executive wanted to alter the plot of the studio’s action film RoboCop by locating a weapon company in the movie in Southeast Asia rather than China. That change didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.

Movie censorship guidelines in China ban content that disparages the government, endangers national unity or harms public morale. Studios in the past have been known to change their movies specifically to appeal to Chinese audiences. Marvel, for instance, lengthened a scene in Iron Man 3 featuring a Chinese doctor specifically for the Chinese release.

In a statement to Reuters, Sony said that creating content that has wide global appeal but doesn’t compromise creative integrity is a top priority as it develops films.

[Reuters]

 

TIME apps

YouTube Is About to Look Very Different

Google Holds Event For Creators At YouTube Tokyo Space
Kiyoshi Ota—Bloomberg/Getty Images An employee holding recording equipment walks past Google Inc.'s YouTube logo displayed at the company's YouTube Space studio in Tokyo, Japan, on March 30, 2013.

On your cellphone, at least

The horror of watching a vertical YouTube video on your cellphone marred by enormous black borders will soon be behind us.

The video site announced Thursday that its redesigned mobile app features a vertical video mode that will better display such content, CNN Money reports. Vertical videos have long been the scourge of the Internet, but they better fit the aspect ratio of smartphones and have become popular among young users thanks to Snapchat, which encourages them.

In addition to improving video playback, the new app features a subscriptions tab that allows users to see a stream of new videos from channels they follow, as well as improved editing tools for shooting video directly within the app. The updated app is available now on Android and coming soon to iOS.

More than half of YouTube’s views now come from mobile devices. The Google-owned brand, which is facing ever-increasing pressure from competitors like Facebook, also revealed that its total watch time is up 60% year-over-year.

[CNN Money]

TIME Race

Majority of Americans Now Say Race Relations Are Bad

Confederate Flag Columbia South Carolina
John Moore—Getty Images A man holds a Confederate flag on the state house grounds in Columbia, S.C. on July 18, 2015.

A significant reversal since President Obama's election

When Americans elected the first black president in 2008, two-thirds thought race relations were generally good. But that’s not the case anymore.

According to a new New York Times/CBS poll, six in 10 Americans now think race relations are poor, and four in 10 think they are getting worse. The reversal comes in the wake of the June killing of nine black people in a historically black church in South Carolina and amidst ongoing, racially charged protests concerning police killings of black people around the country.

Blacks in particular have had a dramatic shift in their view of race relations during the Obama era. Six in 10 said race relations were bad in 2008, but that figure dropped to around 30% just after President Obama was elected. Today more than two-thirds of blacks say race relations are poor, which is close to the figures seen in the aftermath of Rodney King’s beating by police officers in the early 1990s.

A majority of white respondents also said race relations were poor, but for them it was the first acknowledgement of that fact in a long time. In 2008, before Obama’s election, nearly 60% of whites said race relations were good in the U.S.

[NYT]

TIME Economy

Here’s Every City in America Getting a $15 Minimum Wage

As New York is set to raise fast food workers' pay

When dozens of New York fast food workers walked off the job in 2013 demanding minimum pay of $15 per hour, their campaign seemed like a longshot. But two years, several nationwide strikes and new rules laws later, a $15 minimum wage is becoming a reality for millions of workers across the United States.

The workers’ campaign, known as Fast Food Forward and backed by the Service Employees International Union, has slowly gained momentum through a series of increasingly large one-day strikes targeting fast food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King. At first, the effects of the strikes seemed small, with individual restaurant owners conceding to minuscule wage increases for some of their workers. But even as businesspeople were doing their best to ignore the movement, politicians were paying close attention.

Over the last two years, several cities and now the entire state of New York either have or are in the process of enacting a $15 minimum wage for various workers. Here’s a look at the cities that have enacted huge pay increases, and the ones that could still be to come.

New York

How it Happened: A wage board appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a recommendation Wednesday to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15 per hour across the state, up from the current $8.75. Cuomo has enthusiastically backed the initiative.

The Plan: In New York City, the minimum wage will increase to $10.50 by the end of this year, then increase incrementally each year to reach $15 by 2018. In the rest of the state, the increments will be smaller and $15 will be reached by 2021. The wage increases apply only to fast food chains with at least 30 locations in the U.S.

The Effect: None yet, since the measure still must be approved by the state’s labor commissioner. Experts predict other types of businesses that employ low-wage workers, like retailers or landscapers, will have to increase wages to compete with fast food restaurants.

Seattle

How it Happened: Mayor Ed Murray made increasing the minimum wage one of his first priorities when taking office at the start of 2014. In May of that year, he put forth a proposal to increase the city’s minimum wage from Washington state’s rate of $9.32 to to $15 over several years. The city council approved the measure a month later.

The Plan: Workers at large businesses with 500 or more U.S. employees will see their wages hit $15 per her hour by 2017. Workers at businesses with fewer than 500 U.S. employees will reach that rate by 2021. After the hikes, large businesses will have to keep increasing wages to keep pace with inflation.

The Effects So Far: The first stage of Seattle’s plan went into effect in April 2015, with large businesses raising their minimum wage to $11 per hour and small businesses’ wages rising to $10. So far, the effects are largely anecdotal. Some local restaurants have raised prices from 4 to 21%. In nearby SeaTac, where the minimum wage for some workers jumped to $15 per hour last year, there hasn’t been any measurable economic fallout.

San Francisco

How it Happened: City residents voted by a large majority to raise the city’s minimum wage from $10.74 to $15 last November.

The Plan: Wages have already jumped to $12.25, and will increase to $15 by 2018. After that, the minimum wage will increase every year at a rate tied to the consumer price index.

The Effects So Far: This year’s wage increase boosted the pay for as many as 86,000 workers, most of whom were women and minorities, according to one estimate. However, at least one local bookstore said it would close due to the increased costs.

Los Angeles

How it Happened: The Los Angeles city council voted in May to increase the local minimum wage to $15 by 2020, up from the current $9. This week the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors also voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 for people working in unincorporated parts of the county.

The Plan: Workers will earn $10.50 per hour starting next year, with incremental increases until they make $15 in 2020. The hikes are delayed by a year for workers at businesses with 25 or fewer employees. After reaching $15, annual minimum wage increases will be tied to the consumer price index.

The Effects So Far: Because many cities in L.A. County, like Pasadena and Long Beach, haven’t yet committed to matching the county’s wage increase, prices for goods and services at stores very close to one another could become highly skewed.

Washington, D.C.

How it Might Happen: Residents of the nation’s capital will vote next year on whether to increase the minimum wage to $15 from the current $10.50.

The Plan: The minimum wage would increase to $15 per hour by 2020 and would afterward be tied to increases in the consumer price index.

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