TIME Tablets

This Enormous Tablet Could Replace Your Kid’s TV

Fuhu's Big Tab tablet boasts a screen as large as 24 inches. Fuhu

The Big Tab is aiming to replace video game consoles and TVs for kids' entertainment

Family game night is going digital — a new super-sized tablet for kids is aiming to replace the classic board game, the Xbox and maybe even the television.

The Big Tab, developed by fast-growing startup Fuhu, boasts a massive screen of either 20 or 24 inches, depending on the model. That’s a big jump from the company’s popular Nabi 2 tablet, which has a seven-inch screen. But Fuhu founder Robb Fujioka says the big screen size will encourage children to collaborate and socialize when they use their device, rather than tuning out the rest of the world.

To make the tablet into a social hub, Fuhu has developed a large suite of multiplayer games, from classics like checkers and Candyland to internally developed titles. A feature called “Story Time” offers 35 interactive e-books that utilize animated illustrations. Kids can also utilize video editing software, a Pandora-like radio service and educational software.

There are also tools for adults on the Android-powered device. A separate Parent Mode allows adults to download apps from the Google Play or Amazon stores. Parents can also set limits on which apps their children can access and for how long they can use them. Like Fuhu’s other devices, the Big Tab also boasts a virtual currency system that lets parents pay their kids when they complete chores or use educational apps for a certain amount of time.

The device, which also lets parents track their kids’ usage patterns, could appeal to adults looking to guide their children toward more productive forms of entertainment. Fujioka says he replaced the television in one of his children’s rooms with the Big Tab and uses it to keep track of whether his kid is playing educational games or watching Netflix. “It’s not just a boob tube,” he says. “It’s an interactive device.”

Though the tablet market is only a few years old, the devices have been embraced by parents in a big way. Tablet usage among children between ages two and 12 increased from 38% to 48% over the last year, according to research firm NPD. Juli Lennett, head of the toys division at NPD, said it’s a combination of safety, durability and kid appeal that has led to the quick popularity of children’s tablets. “When the price point is $99, on top of being a real functional tablet, these additional features are tough to beat,” Lennett told TIME via email.

The challenge for Fujioka and Fuhu will be convincing parents to pony up for a high-end tablet. The Big Tab will cost $449 for the 20-inch model and $549 for the 24-inch when it launches this fall, far more than the $180 the Nabi 2 goes for. And while the larger size means the Big Tab can be used by multiple people at once, it also makes the device less portable than its smaller cousins, eliminating one of the original selling points of the tablet form factor. “The beauty of these tablets is you throw them in your bag and you go,” says Gerrick Johnson, an equity research analyst at BMO Capital Markets who follows the toy industry. “A [24-inch] tablet becomes a little more difficult.”

Still, Fuhu is well positioned to prove skeptics wrong. The company sold 1.5 million of its normal-sized kids’ tablets in 2013, says Fujioka. This year, Fuhu is leading the children’s tablet market in the U.S., according to NPD, beating out competitors like Samsung and KD interactive. The question now is whether others will follow their lead in developing kids’ devices that cost as much as an iPad or a video game console.

“We think there’s a big market out there,” Fujioka says. “We believe we’re defining a new category of tablet products for the family.”

TIME Companies

Uber Wants To Bring You Your Diapers and Shampoo

The Hamptons Lure Uber Top Drivers Amid NYC Slow Summer Weekends
The Uber app Bloomberg/Getty Images

Uber, but for deliveries

Uber wants to be your delivery boy now, too. The car-hailing service is testing a new delivery feature called Uber Corner Store that will allow customers to get more than 100 items sent right to their doorstep in a matter of minutes.

Via the Uber app, users can select the “Corner Store” option, and will then receive a text from the company with a list of items available in their area. Next, an Uber driver calls the customer and takes his or her order. Then the goods get delivered to the customer’s home. There’s no additional delivery fee and customers are not expected to tip their driver, according to an Uber blog post.

For now the service is only available as a test trial to a limited number of users in the Washington, D.C. area. The item list is mostly limited to pricey name brand products—you’ll be buying Pampers or Huggies, for instance, not store-brand diapers. But Uber says it plans to expand the number of products offered and extend the service, currently only available on weekdays, to weekends and late nights.

Uber Corner Store will compete directly with Google Shopping Express, which lets users receive buy products and receive deliveries from local stores, and Amazon’s same-day delivery service. The new service illustrates Uber’s ambition to extend far beyond being simply a taxi app. The company is also experimenting with a courier service in New York and a moving service called UberMovers in Atlanta and Nashville.

TIME apps

Apple’s iPhone Is at the Center of Another Major Revolution

First Person In The UK To Be Fitted With The I-limb Ultra Revolution Bionic Hand.
Patrick Kane is fitted with a Touch Bionics prosthetic hand on April 23, 2013 in Livingston, Scotland. Jeff J Mitchell—Getty Images

Improving lives in unexpected ways

The most essential app Aimee Copeland has downloaded for her iPhone isn’t Facebook, Candy Crush Saga or Evernote. It’s “my i-limb,” an app that allows her to easily change the gestures her two prosthetic hands can make while on the go. Copeland, who lost her hands after a zipline accident in 2012, used to have to visit a registered prosthetist who had access to special software in order to adjust the grips on her hands for different physical activities. Now, with the i-limb bionic hand and its accompanying mobile app, such changes are as simple as booting up her phone or tablet.

“The two things go together,” she says of the hands and the app. “It really allows me to have a greater control over the i-limb instead of having to go the prosthetist to have any tiny thing adjusted.”

Copeland is just one of the many people with disabilities who now use a smartphone as a tool to help navigate the physical world. A bevy of apps and services are helping not only those with prosthetic limbs but also those with poor hearing, troubled vision and impaired motor skills.

Copeland’s hands are developed by Touch Bionics, a Scottish company that specializes in prosthetic limbs. The company launched its app for Apple’s iOS devices in 2013 in order to provide users more mobility. Previously, changing grip settings would have required downloading software to a PC or visiting a prosthetist. Now the company’s app and the hand can communicate wirelessly and quickly via Bluetooth. “We wanted to move it to a more mobile platform,” says Touch Bionics CEO Ian Stevens. “You’re not going to take a PC to a restaurant with you if you want to reprogram the hand.”

Beyond programming the hand itself, users can also place special bluetooth sensors called grip chips around their home or office to shift their hand to different positions when it enters the chip’s proximity—a chip near a sink, for instance, might automatically shift the hand’s grip to effectively grasp a water faucet. The chips can also be programmed by the i-limb mobile app.

Apple’s ubiquitous iPhone is increasingly becoming a centerpiece of this new ecosystem. The California company has sold more than half a billion iPhones since the device launched seven years ago. Hearing aid manufacturer Starkey Hearing Technologies, for example, offers an iPhone app that allows users to fine-tune audio settings—such as volume, bass and treble—of its hearing aids. Using the iPhone’s so-called geo-fencing technology, users can program their hearing aids to automatically adjust to specific areas, a noisy restaurant for instance or home. Users can also pipe music and phone calls directly into the hearing aids, and even use an iPhone’s microphone to speak into the wearer’s ear from a distance.

Beyond the high-tech features, the ability to adjust the hearing aid’s basic settings has big appeal to users, says Dave Fabry, Starkey’s vice president for audiology. “You don’t have to fiddle around up in your ears or use an additional piece of hardware,” he says. “They just look like they’re doing what the rest of the world is doing, fiddling around with email or text. It reduces that stigma that they’re doing something different with that special device.”

Both Starkey and Touch Bionics say their phone-enhanced products have seen strong sales. Stevens said his company’s mobile app was “definitely a contributing factor” to the firm reaching $20 million in sales last year, while Fabry says Starkey’s app has opened up hearing aids to a new demographic. “We’re seeing young people being more attracted to this,” he says, noting that the average hearing aid user is 69. “It’s been selling like crazy.” Both companies apps are exclusive to Apple’s iOS for now, but they say they have versions for Google’s Android operating system in the works.

These small companies are able to offer innovative apps thanks to the groundwork laid by the tech giants in developing platforms that can cater to the disabled. Apple’s iOS 7 comes pre-installed with a wide variety of accessibility features. A program called VoiceOver helps the visually impaired by reading aloud whatever item a user touches on his iPhone screen, while AssistiveTouch lets people with motor challenges create alternate gestures to interact with their phone. Google’s Android also boasts accessibility features, and the company’s newest gadget, Google Glass, is already attempting to improve the lives of users with disabilities.

Advocates for the disabled still want software makers to do more. While praising Apple as the firm that “has done more for accessibility than any other company to date” earlier this year, Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said his group is still trying to ensure that all developers make their apps as accessible as possible.

Though accessibility in technology is hardly standard, experts say significant progress has been made. “In the past, people with disabilities have often been the afterthought,” says Mark Perriello, president of the American Association of People With Disabilities, which works with tech companies to implement new technologies for the disabled. “Now people with disabilities are at the forefront of these technological innovations.”

TIME Companies

Uber Says a ‘Number’ of Lyft’s Investors Want Uber to Buy Lyft

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

Uber's statement came in reaction to Lyft's claims that Uber staffers were scheduling and then canceling Lyft rides.

Ride-hailing service Uber has shot back at bitter competitor Lyft over accusations that Uber employees intentionally called in and then cancelled Lyft rides in order to slow down the service’s drivers. Lyft claims Uber engaged in this practice at least 5,000 times since October, according to Bloomberg.

In a statement Tuesday, Uber denied Lyft’s claim and asserted Lyft was actually the one engaging in the shady practice. “Lyft’s own drivers and employees, including one of Lyft’s founders, have canceled 12,900 trips on Uber,” Uber said. “But instead of providing the long list of questionable tactics that Lyft has used over the years, we are focusing on building and maintaining the best platform for both consumers and drivers.”

Uber went so far as to say Lyft’s tactics are part of a strategy to provoke a buyout from Uber, which is now valued at $17 billion. “A number of Lyft investors have recently been pushing Uber to acquire Lyft,” Uber’s statement reads. “One of their largest shareholders recently warned that Lyft would ‘go nuclear’ if we do not acquire them. We can only assume that the recent Lyft attacks are part of that strategy.”

Lyft and Uber offer similar services and have gotten into the habit of copying each other’s featuresets. Last week, for instance, both companies announced a new carpooling option within mere hours of each other. And they’re increasingly battling for the exact same customers—Lyft just launched in New York, where Uber already operates. Whereas Lyft is most well-known for being a rideshare app and Uber a taxi-hailing app, Lyft has essentially adopted the taxi-hailing model in New York under regulatory pressure to do so.

A Lyft spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

 

TIME Companies

Apple Is Mostly White and Male, According to Its First Diversity Report

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone during an Apple product announcement at the Apple campus on September 10, 2013 in Cupertino, California.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone during an Apple product announcement at the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., on Sept. 10, 2013 Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Apple is the latest major tech company to reveal its workplace diversity numbers

Apple, the latest tech company to reveal its workforce demographics, said Tuesday that its U.S. staff is 55% white, 15% Asian, 11% Hispanic and 7% black. Two percent of workers are multiracial, and another 9% did not declare their race.

In regards to gender, Apple’s global workforce is 70% male and 30% female. Within tech-related jobs specifically, the disparity is 80% male and 20% female.

Apple’s employee-demographic trends are similar to those of other major tech companies, several of whom, like Google, Facebook and Twitter, have also recently released diversity reports. Like the other firms, Apple included in its report a public commitment to increase the diversity of its workforce.

“As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” Apple head Tim Cook said in a letter accompanying the figures. “We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.”

In addition to race and gender, Cook said that Apple celebrates other types of diversity, like people with disabilities as well as varying sexual orientations.

TIME apps

Here’s How to Avoid Having to Use Facebook Messenger

Social Networks Facebook WhatsApp.
Marie Waldmann—Photothek/Getty Images

Facebook Messenger is here, but there's a work-around that lets iPhone users avoid it

Facebook is in the midst of forcing its mobile users to download a second app to chat in real time with their friends. Messenger, a stand-alone texting app, is replacing the Messages tab within Facebook for iPhone and Android users. Users aren’t happy about it — Messenger currently has a 1-star rating in the App Store — but there may be a work-around to avoid the new app, at least for now.

iPhone users will soon see a screen that compels them to download Messenger when they click the Messages tab. There’s no getting around this — you have to at least start downloading Messenger to send private missives to your friends. However, if you pause the download in the App Store, then return to Facebook, the old messaging interface will return. You can even give Messenger a test drive and delete it if you don’t like it. After that, Facebook won’t pester you to download the new app again.

Our tests showed that the test only worked with iPhones (sorry, Android owners). And since the shift to Messenger is part of Facebook’s broader strategy to both dominate the messaging space and unbundle the company’s different offerings into discrete apps, it’s likely it’ll close this loophole sooner rather than later.

But for now, you can show off your rebellious side by refusing to download a small social app — and you’ll save 35 megabytes of space to boot.

TIME Apple

New Apple Ad Shows Your iPhone Can Measure a Horse’s Heart Rate

Apple's not horsing around

+ READ ARTICLE

Apple has a new commercial for the iPhone 5s that touts the device’s usefulness for medicine, science and creativity.

In the ad, people are using the device to help inspect and measure minerals as well as track a horse’s heart rate. It’s not clear how often the average iPhone user will want to play veterinarian, but the ad may encourage you to experiment with a new app or two.

“You’re more powerful than you think,” Apple declares at the end of the spot.

TIME Earnings

Time Warner Posts Solid Earnings But Shares Still Lag

Murdoch Said To Mull Sky Proceeds To Boost Time Warner Bid
Pedestrians walk past the Time Warner Center in New York, U.S., on Monday, July 21, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

After 21st Century Fox withdraws its $80 billion merger offer

Time Warner posted solid quarterly earnings Wednesday, but investors are still punishing the company for rebuking a takeover bid by 21st Century Fox. The media giant generated a profit of $850 million and adjusted earnings per share of 98 cents during the second quarter, topping analysts’ estimates of 84 cents. Revenue for the quarter was $6.79 billion, missing estimates of $6.87 billion.

Time Warner shares took a pummeling in after-hours trading Tuesday when Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox announced that it was withdrawing its offer to buy the company for $80 billion. The offer valued Time Warner at about $85 per share, and the company’s stock rallied above that figure as some investors guessed that the merger was a foregone conclusion. With Fox out of the picture, Time Warner shares dove more than 12 percent in after-hours trading to below $75.

That swiveled the pressure back on Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes to prove that his company can be just as prosperous without joining forces with Fox. In a conference call with investors, Bewkes said he wouldn’t comment on the 21st Century Fox offer, but he went to great pains to outline his company’s rosy future. He noted that Time Warner has had the greatest shareholder returns of any company in its peer group (that would include Fox) over the last six years.

“Our strong performance this quarter and the last several years is evidence that our strategy is working,” he said. “The board and our senior management team appreciate very much the continued support of our shareholders.”

Bewkes touted the performance of HBO as a company highlight. The premium cable network generated $1.4 billion in revenue for the quarter and had the largest growth of any division. Operating income from HBO was $552 million. The medieval drama Game of Thrones was likely a big driver, as it became HBO’s highest-rated show ever during the quarter. The company is reportedly looking to expand the network’s international footprint by offering the streaming service HBO Go without a cable subscription in more countries.

Time Warner’s Turner division also saw growth, generating $940 million in operating income on $2.7 billion in revenue. However, the company’s Warner Bros. production studio saw revenues dip 2% to below $2.9 billion. The division’s operating income rose 28% to $236 million.

Bewkes also noted the spinoff of magazine publisher Time Inc. in June as a signal of Time Warner’s future as a more singularly focused company (TIME is owned by Time Inc.). The media giant has steadily shed parts of its business over the last decade, including AOL and Time Warner Cable, to focus almost exclusively on movies and television. “We’ve only just begun to reap the benefits of being a nimbler … video content company,” he said.

So far Bewkes’ arguments haven’t swayed investors much. Time Warner shares were trading at about $75.20 at 11:30 a.m., up marginally from their open of $74.90.

TIME Earnings

Disney Earnings Soar to All-Time High

The Wanted performs at the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on Dec. 6, 2013.
The Wanted performs at the Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on Dec. 6, 2013. Mark Ashman—Disney/Getty Images

The company's movie studios gave its performance a boost

Disney achieved record profits between April and June, the company said in its quarterly earnings report Tuesday.

The media giant generated earnings per share of $1.28 during the third fiscal quarter, topping analysts’ estimates of $1.17 per share and beating last year’s figures for the same period by 27%. Revenue during the quarter was $12.5 billion, up 8% from last year and beating analysts’ estimates of $12.2 billion.

The company’s movie studios continued to be a stellar over-performer, with operating income in that segment more than doubling year-over-year to $411 million. Disney’s divisions for consumer products and theme parks also increased their operating income by more than 20% year-over-year, to $273 million and $848 million, respectively. Disney’s video game division swung from a loss of $58 million to a profit of $29 million, while the earnings from the company’s television networks were essentially flat at about $2.3 billion.

Disney yet again attributed its monetary success to Frozen, which the company said experienced strong home entertainment sales. Films such as Frozen, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Maleficent also performed better during the quarter at the international box office than Disney’s roster of films during the same quarter last year. However, this year’s Disney lineup was down at the domestic box office year-over-year.

On the TV front, the World Cup was a boon for Disney as it became the most-watched soccer event ever in the U.S., leading to gains in advertising revenue for ESPN. But Disney’s cable networks were down 7% overall in operating income, partially because of increased programming and production costs on the company’s flagship sports network.

The next quarter is already looking to be another winner for Disney, at least on the movie front. The latest film in the Marvel universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, opened to the largest ever August debut for a film last weekend.

TIME Crowdfunding

More Than 4 Million People Visited the Potato Salad Kickstarter

Scandinavian potato salad from Silver Palate. (Bob Fila/Chic
Scandinavian potato salad from Silver Palate. Chicago Tribune—MCT via Getty Images

Forget Oculus Rift and the Reading Rainbow reboot—a bowl of potato salad was better able to hold the attention of the Internet this summer.

Crowdfunding site Kickstarter today revealed a bevy of stats related to what has become one of its most famous (or infamous) projects, an initiative by a random guy to make his first-ever bowl of potato salad. The project gathered widespread media attention and ultimately attracted 4.1 million visitors to its web page, making it the fourth most-viewed Kickstarter project of all time:

 

tater sald views

 

Unlike many widely-viewed Kickstarter projects, almost everyone who viewed the potato salad project got a hearty laugh and then went about their business. In the end, the project earned just $55,492 from 6,911 backers. Oculus Rift, for comparison, made $2.4 million, and Reading Rainbow racked up $5.4 million, though both attracted fewer visitors than potato salad.

On the other hand, though, a guy made a cool $55,000 just by saying he wanted to make potato salad. This is the great, democratizing force of the Internet.

Unsurprisingly, most of the project backers came from the U.S., with the United Kingdom and Canada being the next-biggest potato salad backers. Among U.S. states, the most backers hailed from Ohio (potato salad connoisseur Zack Brown’s home state), California and New York.

tater salad map

Brown is planning to host a festival called PotatoStock2014 in Columbus, Ohio with live music and, of course, lots off helpings of the tasty side dish. Proceeds will benefit a charity aimed at ending homelessness in Ohio. A portion of his potato salad money will also be used to start a for-profit venture to “spread humor and joy around the world,” he said on his Kickstarter page.

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