TIME policy

Google to Strip Porn From Its Blogging Platform

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on Jan. 30, 2014.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on Jan. 30, 2014.

Starting in March, graphic nudity is being removed from Blogger

Google is cracking down on sexually explicit content on its blogging platform, Blogger. The search giant announced Monday night that images that show graphic nudity won’t be publicly shareable beginning beginning on March 23. Nudity that, in Google’s estimation, offers a “substantial public benefit” artistically, educationally or scientifically will still be allowed.

Users who have sexually explicit content on their blog will have the option to make the content private rather than having it removed by Google. The company is reserving the right to take down any blogs created after March 23 that post explicit material.

The change may convince some bloggers to flock to Tumblr instead, which has lax policies regarding sexually explicit photos.

[The Verge]

TIME Advertising

Sheryl Sandberg: Simplifying Facebook Ads Led to Enormous Growth

FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit - Day 2
Paul Morigi—Getty Images Chief operating officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit on Oct. 16, 2013 in Washington D.C.

The company hit the milestone Tuesday

Facebook has come a long way from the banner ads that populated the site back in 2004. The world’s largest social network announced Tuesday that it now has 2 million “active advertisers,” defined as an advertiser that’s placed an ad in the last 28 days.

The company crossed the milestone less than two years after it reached 1 million advertisers in June 2013.

Facebook has recently been taking pains to court small businesses in particular, cutting the number of ad products in half to make its offerings easier to understand. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has also been hosting free marketing training sessions around the country. A new Ads Manager app launching for iOS Tuesday that lets Facebook advertisers create and edit ads on the go could help lure still more smaller marketers.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg attributes the company’s fast advertiser growth to the streamlined ad products in particular. “A couple years ago, our offering was, ‘Do you want to become a Facebook advertiser?’ That sounds complicated,” Sandberg says. “Now you do a post, and we ask, ‘Do you want to promote this post?’ That’s a pretty easy on-ramp to being an advertiser.”

Though Facebook likes to say its ads are effective because of the amount of data it has about its users, Forrester researcher Nate Elliot says advertisers are actually attracted to the platform mostly because of the sheer number of people using it: 1.3 billion. Citing surveys of marketers, Elliot says Facebook ads have not been found to be particularly more effective than other online ads.

“Facebook knows more about its users than likely any other company in history,” he says. “For its ads to work only about as well as the ads on Yahoo or the ads on a random online network is a bit damning.” Facebook says that in an internal study of 20 retailers, it found a 2% average increase in offline sales for shoppers who were shown a Facebook ad compared to those who were not.

One thing is certain: marketers are continuing to buy them, pumping money into Facebook’s coffers. The company generated $3.8 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2014, a new high. That came almost entirely from advertising. And there are plenty of potential advertisers that remain untapped—Facebook says it hosts a total of 30 million active small business Pages, up from 25 million in November 2013.

Owners of these Pages are increasingly coming to terms with the fact that they’ll have to pay to have their posts seen by many users. Facebook has been ratcheting down the reach of non-paid posts, while it tweaked its News Feed algorithm in January to cut down on promotional posts.

The company is pivoting to promote Pages as a free, simple alternative to a hosted website rather than a free way to get into users’ News Feeds. Nearly a billion people visited Facebook pages directly in October, the company says. “While organic distribution has gone down, as more people have come on the platform, it’s still really the only organic distribution or free distribution that small businesses can get that I’m aware of,” Sandberg says.

However, Elliott warns that Facebook could change the design or utility of Pages at any moment. That means a company could spend time and energy building a Page, only for its efforts to become less valuable down the road.

As for Facebook’s future, the company is continuing to push its video product, noting that 800,000 small businesses posted videos in September 2014. The company is also experimenting with new presentation formats for Pages, such as showing dinner menus or items for purchase on restaurant and retailer’s Pages. As long as users’ eyeballs are glued to Facebook, advertisers large and small will be there too.

“They’ve improved the creative formats and they’ve improved the forms of targeting that are available to marketers as well,” Elliott says. “They still have a lot of room to grow on both counts.”

TIME apps

This Is Google’s Plan to Beat Apple Pay

The Google Inc. Mobile Wallet application is displayed on a smartphone screen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 29, 2012.
Bloomberg via Getty Images The Google Inc. Mobile Wallet application is displayed on a smartphone screen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 29, 2012.

Expect to see Google Wallet pre-installed on a lot more phones

Google’s mobile wallet platform is poised to get a much-needed boost through a partnership with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The search giant announced Monday that Google Wallet will come pre-installed on phones sold by those carriers beginning later this year, as long as they run the KitKat version of Android or better. Google Wallet also requires phones to have NFC (near-field communication) technology.

Google is also acquiring the technology behind Softcard, the carriers’ mobile payments platform, as well as its intellectual property. For now, Softcard will continue to be available as a separate app. A blog post by Softcard says the company will share more information about the app’s future in the coming weeks.

Like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Softcard both use NFC technology to let users seamlessly make in-store purchases with a tap of their phones. Google has never disclosed how many people use Google Wallet, but one estimate by The Guardian pegged the total number of people who have downloaded the app at south of 20 million.

However, the arrival of Apple Pay has spurred the adoption of NFC-enabled point-of-sale terminals at retailers, which benefits Google as well as Apple. With millions more customers soon to have access to Google Wallet when they unpack their new phones, it seems like the app could indeed be a formidable competitor to Apple’s offering.

TIME Tech Policy

Here’s Why Russia Is Cracking Down on Google

A model of the Android operating system logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 27, 2012.
Bloomberg via Getty Images A model of the Android operating system logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 27, 2012.

The search giant's Android platform is at the center of complaints

Google may be running afoul of anti-monopoly laws in Russia. The country’s regulators are investigating the way the search giant bundles its apps onto Android devices in response to a complaint by Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine, according to The Guardian.

Yandex is taking issue with the fact that smartphone makers have been blocked from pre-installing the company’s services, which compete with Google’s, on Android phones in the country. Google restricts which apps can be pre-installed on the most popular version of Android. A fully open-source version of the software, which is used to power mobile operating systems used by Amazon and Xiaomi, is freely available but doesn’t include access to the Google Play store.

Google has faced legal scrutiny in multiple markets for the way it controls the Android ecosystem. In Europe regulators are reportedly planning to launch a formal inquiry into Google’s mandates regarding pre-installed apps, according to Reuters. In the U.S. a lawsuit claiming that Google harms smartphone buyers by forcing Samsung and others to pre-install Google apps on their Android phones was dismissed by a federal judge last week.

Read next: Why Chevron Is Helping Fund STEM Education

TIME Media

3 Ways ‘YouTube Kids’ Will Be Better For Your Children

New app has a streamlined interface and parental controls

If you’ve hung around kids at all in the last few years, you know they love YouTube, even though the video site is only supposed to be for people 13 and up. Now, Google is planning to roll out a YouTube app specifically aimed at kids.

The new app, which launched Monday, is the first in a suite of kid-friendly versions of Google services that the search giant is planning to launch. Here are the child and parent-friendly features of YouTube for Kids that Google has revealed thus far:

A more streamlined interface (and no comments!)

Regular YouTube has at least a dozen different channel categories across a broad variety of topics. YouTube Kids has just four: Television shows, music, educational content and exploring top videos. Comments are also stripped out of the videos, according to USA Today, and images and links are larger than on regular YouTube to make them easier for kids to tap.

Mobile-first design

With more than a third of children under two years old now using smartphones or tablets, it makes sense that Google is building this service for mobile devices instead of desktops. YouTube Kids is available on Android and iOS.

Parental controls

Parents can make sure YouTube doesn’t become a timesink by setting time limits on how long the app can be used. When the limit is reached, the user has to enter a parent-set password to reopen the app. The app will also automatically censor words like “sex,” prompting the child to input a different term.

YouTube Kids will have advertising at launch, but the commercials will be vetted by YouTube’s policy team to ensure they are family-friendly. The app won’t be tied to Google accounts, so kids’ personal information won’t be collected and stored.

TIME Fast Food

People in These Cities Can Now Order Burger King Online

A Burger King Whopper hamburger is arranged with french fries for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Uber, but for ordering a Whopper without putting pants on

The lifelong dream of ordering, receiving and consuming a Whopper without putting on pants can now become a reality for residents of the United Kingdom.

Burger King is expanding its online delivery service to select U.K. locations in the cities of Northampton, Romford, Truro, Hornchurch, Gants Hill, Hull, Skegness and Hayes. Lucky fast food fans in those places can order off a full-featured online menu that even features some delivery-specific deals.

Burger King first began experimenting with online ordering and deliveries in 2012 in Washington, D.C. and has since expanded to other U.S. locations such as New York.

[Engadget]

TIME privacy

How AT&T Wants You to Pay For Your Privacy

AT&T Reports 81 Percent Rise In Q2 Profit
Tim Boyle—Getty Images An AT&T logo is displayed on an AT&T truck July 25, 2006 in Park Ridge, Illinois.

ISP can track your web history and searches

The privilege of not having your every click tracked, saved and regurgitated in the form of targeted ads will only cost you $29 per month on AT&T’s super-fast Internet service.

The company, which just announced it’s bringing its 1-gigabit-per-second service to Kansas City, touts a price tag of $70 per month for the high-speed connection meant to compete with services like Google Fiber. But that’s actually a “premier” offering that allows AT&T to track a user’s search terms and browsing history to serve targeted ads. The standard high-speed service without the tracking costs $99.

AT&T defended the pricing model to The Wall Street Journal by arguing that the ad targeting helps AT&T make more money, which in turn lets customers who participate earn a discount. The model is somewhat similar to the discounted Kindles Amazon sells that show advertising. Companies with free, ad-based services, like Facebook, don’t allow users to fully opt out of being tracked while on their sites.

However, the fact that AT&T is an Internet provider means it could gather a more comprehensive picture of your Web browsing activities than companies with a less intrusive presence. That’s lucrative for advertisers and for ISP’s, but not so great for privacy-minded end users.

TIME Retail

Kanye West Wants To Be ‘The Steve Jobs of Gap’

Kanye West At the 2014 Cannes Lions
Didier Baverel—WireImage Kanye West attends the 2014 Cannes Lions on June 17, 2014 in Cannes, France.

He thinks he's the one man who should have all that power

Back before he was launching fashion lines, Kanye West was a lowly Gap retail employee who smoked weed on his work breaks. Now? He wants to be the creative director of the well-known clothing chain.

“I’d like to be the Steve Jobs of Gap,” West said in an interview with Style.com shortly after he debuted his Adidas Originals collection last week. “I’m talking about full Hedi Slimane creative control of the Gap is what I would like to do. And I can say this because it doesn’t conflict with my Adidas contract.”

In the interview, West talks about his desire to bring his fashion to the masses. The rapper has been working in the fashion world for several years and complained very, very loudly about how the powers that be wouldn’t let him get his ideas out. With Adidas, he thinks he has a chance to bring his apparel to a wider audience. Certainly Gap, with its thousands of retail locations, could extend that vision even more. And with the company having just posted a 9% decline in January sales at Gap stores, maybe it could use a bit of shaking up.

Once West is through eclipsing Steve Jobs, he’ll only have Walt Disney, Howard Hughes and William Shakespeare left to topple.

TIME Gadgets

Apple Granted Patent for Virtual Reality Headset

Samsung Electronics Co. Launches The Galaxy Note 4 Smartphone, Gear S Smartwatch And Gear Virtual-Reality Headset
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A visitor tries out a Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Gear Virtual-Reality (VR) headset, jointly developed by Samsung and Oculus VR Inc., at Samsung's flagship store in Seoul, South Korea, Sept. 24, 2014.

Headset would use iPhone as a display

Apple may be experimenting in the virtual reality space. The company has been granted a patent for a head-mounted virtual reality device that would use the iPhone screen as the display. Apple first applied for the patent back in 2008, meaning VR has been on the company’s mind for a while.

The functionality of the product in the Apple patent seems to have the most in common with the Samsung Gear VR, a headset Samsung developed in conjunction with Oculus that uses the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phablet as a display. These devices are a bit more complex than Google’s current solution, which slots a smartphone into a headset made out of cardboard.

Apple’s patent also calls for a separate remote control that would be able to manipulate the headset in some way.

Virtual reality isn’t the only new mode of interaction Apple is exploring. The tech giant had a patent granted for a “3D user interface” for computers earlier this year. Still, Apple being granted a patent doesn’t mean an actual product is in the pipeline.

TIME Gadgets

This iPhone Case Looks Just Like the Back to the Future Time Machine

Meet the DeLorean for your phone

We were supposed to have hoverboards and self-tying shoes by now. Even if Back to the Future II was pretty wrong about how tech would evolve by 2015, that doesn’t mean the actual signature gadget of the modern age, the iPhone, can’t get its own awesome Back to the Future accessory.

A new iPhone case by Japanese toymaker Bandai is shaped just like the DeLorean Marty McFly uses to travel between eras in the iconic sci-fi series. The mini-DeLorean features flashing blue lights and sideways wheels poised for takeoff. The iPhone 6 itself slots into the chassis of the vehicle, and the case features removable flaps covering the iPhone’s camera and volume control buttons. The accessory costs 5,940 yen (or about $50).

Check out Bandai’s ad for the new case above.

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