TIME apps

Periscope vs. Meerkat: Which Is the Livestreaming App For You?

Meerkat; Periscope

Don't cross the livestreams

With Thursday’s public release of Periscope, Twitter is trying to torpedo its live-streaming competition by launching its own app that lets users send video to viewers around the world at the tap of a touchscreen. In development for more than a year but bought by Twitter earlier this year, Periscope offers a nearly identical service to Meerkat, the wildly popular ephemeral video app that launched on Feb. 27.

But in this battle for live-streaming dominance, Twitter and Periscope currently have a huge advantage: it owns both the seas and the ports.

Opening into similar screens displaying active video streams, both Meerkat and Periscope put a peek into someone else’s world just a tap away. The competing apps also let users quickly dive into broadcasting immediately, with buttons on their main screens that the launch the camera and begin sharing video with the world instantly. And while these basic capabilities are nearly identical, the two apps have nuances that make them markedly different.

For instance, Meerkat works in a couple of different ways. First, the service’s iPhone app (neither it nor Periscope have an Android app yet) sends a tweet through your Twitter account that tells people you’re currently broadcasting a live video. When other Twitter users click that link, they can watch the video as it’s being broadcast, either through their web browser (if they’re on a desktop or laptop) or through the Meerkat app on their iPhone. Viewers can also comment on the video, posts that stream onto the screen of the broadcaster, and also appear as replies to the original tweeted link on Twitter.

Meerkat

As easy to use as Meerkat is, it’s also almost completely reliant on Twitter integration to operate. And since Twitter decided to get into the water with its own livestreaming app, the social network has blocked Meerkat’s access to some of the features that other (non-competing) apps have. For instance, Twitter no longer lets Meerkat show new users which of their Twitter followers also use the video sharing service. (Early adopters, take note: You may see your Twitter followers on Meerkat, but that’s because you got in before the social network turned off this feature.)

Meerkat has done a good job of working around this roadblock through its Leaderboard, a ranking of the most-followed Meerkaters. This gives new users some ideas of whom to follow if they don’t happen to catch any of their Twitter favorites mid-stream.

Meanwhile, Periscope also streams videos to web browsers on computers and its iPhone app for mobile users, who can tap on their screen to send “love” hearts that tell the broadcaster they like what they see. Viewers can also comment on the stream using the mobile app, but these posts do not appear on Twitter, keeping the video sharing service walled-off from the social network, and cutting down on tweets. Even through Twitter is all about the tweets, this is a smart move because it cuts down on the social network’s noise — a problem the company is trying to address.

Periscope

With access to Twitter’s social network, Periscope gains a notable advantage over Meerkat because its users can intuitively find their followers on the video-sharing app. For example, if you and a follower both use Periscope, you’ll be able to find each other on the app’s “People” tab. And to compete with Meerkat’s Leaderboard, Periscope also lists its “most loved” users. This distinct difference turns Periscope from a popularity contest into a talent show, rewarding users for posting great video streams, rather than being big personalities.

Another key differentiator for Periscope is how it saves live streams so viewers can watch them later. (And it’s worth noting, this feature can be turned off.) Similar to Twitter’s Vine service (only with no six-second limit), this feature makes it a lot easier for people to enjoy videos on Periscope, because they aren’t up against the clock. But this difference also turns Meerkat into the catch-it-if-you-can exclusive service, indicative of its name. (Those little critters move fast!) Also, users can save Meerkat streams to their smartphones, an option Periscope does not yet allow.

It’s possible that these nuances will be enough to show there’s plenty of room in the water for two video sharing apps. In fact, some investors are betting on that — Meerkat just confirmed a $14 million funding round. And with its one month head start, Meerkat has grabbed high-wattage users like Jimmy Fallon, Shaquile O’Neal, and Madonna. But Twitter never lacks in celebrity firepower, with fan-favorites like comedian John Hodgman, magician David Blaine, and actress Felicia Day already grabbing hearts and eyeballs on Periscope. The competition for users, both high- and low-profile, is not likely to stop there, just as live video streaming is likely to be a fixture in tech’s future. The question is, can Meerkat swim?

Read next: You Asked: What Is the Meerkat App?

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TIME apps

Crush Your Fantasy Draft With These 9 Baseball Apps

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Seven
Jamie Squire—Getty Images The San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tap into some Moneyball-level sabermetrics with only your smartphone

It might not look like baseball season yet depending on where you live, but Spring Training is about to wrap up, which means the boys of summer will soon be headed north.That means fans are hunkering down in their basements for their fantasy baseball draft.

But rather than lugging a laptop and piles of rotisserie guides to the big event, download some of these apps to your tablet or smartphone instead. Designed from the ground up to help you build a powerhouse fantasy franchise, they’re all you need to dominate your league this year.

DraftValet

Behind every great manager, there’s a great bench coach, whispering sage advice into their ear. But if you don’t have a real-world guru to turn to, this app offers a network of experts to tap for advice. DraftValet starts off by asking for details about your league and team, and then lets you ask anything you please, like which starter would be better in a head-to-head matchup, or what position players would DraftValet’s experts stick with in a keeper league. You can also browse other users’ questions and keep an eye out for trending topics — an important feature for sniffing out up-and-coming players and sleeper picks.

DraftValet is available for free on the App Store.

FantasyPros Mock Draft

Practice makes perfect, and with this simulator you’ll be plenty ready to pick a winner come draft day. Simply plug in your league’s variables, including the amount of teams, draft position, and roster settings (which includes the default modes for CBS, ESPN, and National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues), and the app breaks down likely scenarios.

An easy-to-access cheat sheet pulls up players’ numbers from last year, their average stats from the previous three seasons, and a 2015 projection, giving you quality information to make your picks. And the app’s artificial intelligence works blazingly fast, which gives you more time to make your own selections, and ample opportunity to hone your draft strategies over and over.

FantasyPros Mock Draft is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MLB.com At Bat

Get a steady stream of baseball news, stats, and scores straight from the tap with Major League Baseball’s official app. While it’s free to download, the league has several different ways of getting in your wallet, all depending on how connected to the game you want to be. But to get the most breaking news of on- and off-the-field action, no other app out-pitches this ace. With scores, news, and stats aplenty, it is a must-download for fantasy fans and baseball buffs alike. And with paid subscriptions you can also listen to or watch live game broadcasts — something the saltiest of scouts do everyday, so you should, too.

MLB.com At Bat is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MLB PrePlay

For the pros and fantasy players alike, Major League Baseball’s 162-game regular season is a big commitment, if not a full-on slog. If you don’t have time to dedicate to engaging in a full-on fantasy league, this prediction-based game is a great backup. Pitting you 1-on-1 with a real-life opponent, one inning at a time, Preplay is all about predicting the next play. So if you’re the kind of fan who likes to call the action before it happens, this app is a great second-screen companion. And with weekly challenges and power-ups, there’s plenty to keep the game interesting, even if it’s moving slow on the field.

MLB PrePlay is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MiLB First Pitch

If you want to catch the next star before he’s even been given a locker with the pros, download this little brother to MLB.com At Bat. A free app that covers at least 160 minor league squads, MiLB First Pitch features a steady feed of scores, news, and stats that’s nearly identical to the big league app (in more ways than one — so be prepared to pay for access to the service’s higher-tier offerings, like video streams of live and on-demand games). Still, with intense coverage of the minors, this is the most in-depth way to follow prospects before you add them to your fantasy team.

MLB.com At Bat is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

OwnersBox

Designed specifically for fantasy sports fanatics, OwnersBox is a high-powered scout in your pocket, keeping tabs on all your players. With a highly customizable notifications system, the app can send you an alert when one of your player makes news, gets injured, or even every time he is about to dig into the batter’s box. OwnersBox also has a comprehensive list of reports that can help you find hot players and dump cold ones. These reports drill down into nearly every statistic going, ideal if you’re in a league that scores using a variety of categories. And when October comes, OwnersBox is still a keeper, because with NFL, NBA, and NHL stats, it’s a four-sport fantasy tool.

OwnersBox is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups by RotoBaller

With daily-updated analysis, RotoBaller’s app breaks down individual players not just from a historic, statistical perspective, but also by looking at the business realities and lineups around them, providing position-by-position insight on draft day sleepers. In addition, the app tells you which rounds you should consider drafting these players, because there’s nothing more amateurish than going all-in on a fringe player early in your draft. And then, once you get your team in shape, the app is great for browsing to fill out the holes in your lineup.

RotoBaller is available for free on the App Store.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit 2015

Forget your blank roster sheets, notebooks, or even those custom-made Excel spreadsheets you’ve been using for ages. This app, compatible with both smartphones and tablets, is designed to take the bulk out of your research — and better yet, it dynamically adjusts to your league settings and the players currently available. Featuring projections for 2015 statistics, but able to import the settings of your 2014 league (great for dynasty leagues), the Draft Kit provides projected dollar values for player auctions, as well as recent news and analysis. And with an improved interface over previous Rotowire Draft Kits, now you can just swipe players from your cheat sheet onto the teams that landed them — a huge draft day time saver.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit 2015 is available for $7.99 on the App Store and $4.99 on Google Play.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Assistant 2015

Compatible with both iPhones and iPads, this hub of rotisserie baseball activity will let you import your league from various services, including ESPN and Yahoo, to keep tabs on your players with stat leaderboards, daily lineups, player rankings, and more. The app’s personalized section is also a great place to follow your players’ news, or manage watch lists for players that you’re thinking of adding. And the app also comes with access to the solid RotoWire research, which is otherwise blocked off unless you have a subscription to the website.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Assistant 2015 is available for $9.99 on the App Store.

Read next: Self-Serve Craft Beer Is Coming, and It Might Even Save You Money

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TIME Tech

More Messages Are Now Sent on Apps Than Through Text

The ten most popular messaging apps have a total of more than 3 billion accounts

More messages are now sent via messaging app WhatsApp than through SMS texts, according to data from The Economist. WhatsApp handles 30 billion messages each day, compared to 20 billion sent through SMS texts.

The data hints at the growing significance of messaging apps in the tech world. The ten most popular messaging apps have a total of more than 3 billion accounts. To guarantee a large share of the market, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion last year.

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app with more than 600 million users. Facebook messenger and WeChat follow, each with more than 400 million users.

Last year, WhatsApp users sent more than 7 trillion messages.

[The Economist]

TIME apps

Twitter’s Meerkat-Killer Livestreaming App Just Went Live

Periscope has a more polished feel

Periscope, Twitter’s answer to popular livestreaming app Meerkat, went live in Apple’s App Store Thursday morning, while an Android version is still in the works.

As with Meerkat, Periscope lets you broadcast live footage of whatever your iPhone’s camera is pointing at: Your friends at a birthday party, your dinner sizzling on the stove, your view from a train window. You can also choose to share a link to your broadcasts over Twitter, a helpful feature for users with large social media followings to quickly amass sizable live audiences — and a feature also shared by Meerkat.

Periscope

Where Periscope differs from Meerkat is that it app makes it much easier to save recordings of livestreams in the app for yourself and others to view later. Meerkat has a feature intended to let you save your broadcasts to your device, but many users have reported issues with that option.

Periscope was being developed as an independent service until Twitter acquired the company back in January for what’s said to be $75 million or more. That acquisition came just weeks before Meerkat took off among early adopters and journalists, early success that was amplified as the app spread by word-of-mouth during this month’s South By Southwest Interactive technology festival. News of Twitter’s purchase of Periscope didn’t become public knowledge until after Meerkat started making the rounds.

The two services are now poised to compete with one another to become the livestreaming app of choice. Meerkat has the advantage of being first — “Meerkatting” is already a verb synonymous with instant live broadcasting over smartphones, even though similar apps have existed before. However, Periscope is a Twitter-supported app, meaning it alone will have access to Twitter’s social graph and marketing team. It’s also a more polished app; Meerkat was coded in a short amount of time and has the feel of a product made during a hackathon, even if its creators are pumping out updates at a high frequency.

It’s unlikely there’s room for two separate apps that do much the same thing. Only time will tell which app winds up a home screen staple, and which is relegated to a footnote in mobile history.

 

MONEY

You’ll Be Freaked Out to Learn How Often Your Apps Share Your Location

using smartphone at night
Alamy

Most of us are unaware of just how much location sharing is going on with our smartphones.

Even for researchers experienced at examining technology that might be invasive, this warning was alarming: “Your location has been shared 5,398 times with Facebook, Groupon, GO Launcher EX and seven other apps in the last 14 days.”

The warning was sent to a subject as scientists at Carnegie Mellon University were studying the impact of telling consumers how often their mobile phones shared their location and other personal data. Software was installed on users’ phones to better inform them of the data being sent out from their gadgets, and to offer a “privacy nudge” to see how consumers reacted. Here’s how one anonymous subject responded when informed a phone shared data 4,182 times:

“Are you kidding me?… It felt like I’m being followed by my own phone. It was scary. That number is too high.”

Mobile phone users are told about the kinds of things that might be shared when they install apps on their phones, but they have a tendency to “set and forget” the options. That means a single privacy choices, usually made in haste when clicking “install,” governs thousands of subsequent privacy transactions.

“The vast majority of people have no clue about what’s going on,” said Norman Sadeh, a professor in the School of Computer Science’s Institute for Software Research, who helped conduct the study.

But when consumers are reminded about the consequences of choices they make, “they rapidly act to limit further sharing,” the researchers found.

The study covered three weeks. During week one, app behavior data was merely collected. In week two, users were given access to permissions manager software called AppOps. In week three, they got the daily “privacy nudges” detailing the frequency at which their sensitive information was accessed by their apps.

Researchers found that the privacy managing software helped. When the participants were given access to AppOps, they collectively reviewed their app permissions 51 times and restricted 272 permissions on 76 distinct apps. Only one participant failed to review permissions. The “set and forget” mentality continued, however. Once the participants had set their preferences over the first few days, they stopped making changes.

But privacy reminders helped even more. During the third week, users went back and reviewed permissions 69 times, blocking 122 additional permissions on 47 apps.

Nudges Lead to Action

“The fact that users respond to privacy nudges indicate that they really care about privacy, but were just unaware of how much information was being collected about them,” Sadeh said. “App permission managers are better than nothing, but by themselves they aren’t sufficient … Privacy nudges can play an important role in increasing awareness and in motivating people to review and adjust their privacy settings.”

Of course, it’s hard to say if the research participants would have kept futzing with their privacy settings, even inspired by nudges, as time wore on. Sadeh suspected they would not: Privacy choices tend to wear people down. Given the new types and growing numbers of apps now in circulation, “even the most diligent smartphone user is likely to be overwhelmed by the choices for privacy controls,” the study’s authors said.

The findings will be presented at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Seoul, South Korea, next month. The research is supported by the National Science Foundation, Google, Samsung and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

For now, what can smartphone users do to better protect themselves? It’s not easy. For example: A study by IBM earlier this year found that roughly two-thirds of dating apps were vulnerable to exploitation, and in many cases, would give attackers location information. The AppOps software used in the Carnegie Mellon study used to be available to Android users, but was pulled by Google in 2013. The firm said the experimental add-on to the Android operating system had a tendency to break apps. So Android users are left to manually review app permissions one at a time — not a bad way to spend time the next time you are waiting for a bus. It’s always a good idea to turn off location sharing unless you know the software really needs it, such as map applications. IPhone users have the benefit of privacy manager software, but it doesn’t offer great detail on how data is used, and it doesn’t offer privacy nudges or any other kinds of reminders. A manual review is best for iPhone users, too.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME Money

Soon You’ll Be Able to Pay Bills Right Inside Gmail

US-TECHONOLOGY-GOOGLE
Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images Google's lead designer for "Inbox by Gmail" Jason Cornwell shows the app's functionalities on a nexus 6 android phone during a media preview in New York on October 29, 2014.

Gmail users could pay electric or telephone bills from their inbox

Google has already been experimenting with turning Gmail into a commerce platform. Now, the company may be poised to take the next step down that path by letting users pay their bills using the email service.

Re/code has viewed documents describing a new service dubbed “Pony Express” that would allow users to link up their electricity, phone and other utility bills to their Gmail account. Users would be able to pay the bills within Gmail using a credit card or a bank account withdrawal. The bills would be bundled together in a special Pony Express folder within Gmail or Google’s new email app Inbox, according to the documents.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Launching a bill-paying service would give Google more access to users’ personal and financial information. It would also keep users more tightly tethered to Google’s services. However, many utilities already offer online payment systems, so it’s not clear whether people would adopt a Google version of online billing en masse.

TIME apps

These Are the 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week

Try Instagram's new collage-making app, Layout

It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found some apps actually worth downloading.

Layout from Instagram

Some clever folks over at Instagram realized they weren’t doing enough to help users make collages or photo montages right in the app, seceding those functions to a plethora of third-party apps. Enter Layout, which lets you tinker with your photos by putting them in a collage or mirror-flipping them for a variety of clever effects. You can then share the results on Instagram or anywhere else on the web.

Layout from Instagram is free in the App Store

PICSPLAY 2

If you’re looking for a far more sophisticated photo-editing app, then PICSPLAY 2 is a necessary download. The app is packed with high-quality editing tools optimized for mobile use. That means you’ll find tools that aren’t only pared down for smaller screens, but ones that work well via swipes rather than needing super-careful fingertip placements to operate. You can completely change a way a photo looks—adjust color, burn parts of the image, eliminate elements, resize and more. It takes some getting used to, but it’s worth learning.

PICSPLAY 2 is free in the App Store

Atari Fit

It’s hard to tell which is the more appealing part of this app: that it offers you new exercises to include in your daily routine, or that it’s a gateway to the old school Atari games that you probably miss dearly. As you complete exercises, you earn experience points which then unlock different Atari games. Working out is just a small price to pay for access to the library of some of the greatest games of all time.

Atari Fit is free in the App Store

Adobe Fill & Sign

It’s total madness that in 2015 there are still moments when employers or landlords want you to fax documents — you might as well send files by carrier pigeon. Bring yourself into the digital age with Adobe Fill & Sign, which lets you scan paper documents or import files from your email inbox to fill out in the app. The files can then be sent electronically or, if you must, printed for snail mail.

Adobe Fill & Sign is free in the App Store

Star Wars™: Card Trader

It’s hard not to be excited for the next Star Wars film — but for those of us eagerly awaiting December 18, this cheesy trading card app can tide you over nicely. The app brings back Star Wars trading cards in digital form, letting you collect your favorite characters and swap with friends. It reminds me of my younger days finding Star Wars pogs in bags of Doritos, which is a level of excitement nobody should miss out on.

Star Wars™: Card Trader is free in the App Store

TIME apps

You Asked: How Can My Phone Help Me Split the Bill?

TIME.com stock photos Money Dollar Bills
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Plenty of apps can make it easier to send money from one person to another

Whether it’s splitting a tab, paying someone back for a few rounds at the bar, or negotiating six months of electricity bill back payments with your roommates, there isn’t always an easy way to square away your debts with friends. You never want to be that person who breaks out the checkbook at dinner.

But you’re in luck: There are plenty of great digital payment apps that can make your life a lot easier.

The most obvious choice for the job is the PayPal app. Once you sign in to your PayPal account, you can link your card or bank account when prompted. If you want to add a second card, you’ll find the option to do so on the app’s home page. In order to transfer funds to a friend’s account, select the option on the bottom left of the app that says “Send.” If your friend also uses PayPal, you send money using their email address.

However, PayPal knocks you with a 2.9% fee for sending money via a credit or debit card account instead of sending from a PayPal account to a PayPal account. To avoid that fee, check out Venmo, an increasing popular mobile payment app that doesn’t knock you with a fee if you link it with a debit card (using a credit card involves a 3% fee).

When you first open Venmo, you’ll be prompted to enter your bank info — stick with a debit card to avoid that fee. If you give Venmo access to your Facebook friends list, you’ll be able to select from a list of your friends already using Venmo, thanks to integration with Facebook’s social graph. You can also search for people on Venmo who aren’t already your Facebook friends by clicking the new transaction button—the upper rightmost gray button—and then typing a name.

Once you have selected your recipient, you’ll be prompted with a number pad on which you’ll be able to decide how much to transfer. Venmo also lets you request payments from people — say, that roommate who still hasn’t doled out his share of last night’s Thai delivery order. If you have somebody you really trust, like a significant other, you can let them take money from you without asking — sort of like having a joint bank account — but that’s probably not the smartest thing to do with casual friends.

Venmo keeps money you receive in a separate account; you can either hang on to that cash to use via Venmo or “cash out” and have it hit your regular bank account in 24 hours.

It’s worth noting here that Venmo recently had a security scare, but it’s taking steps to address those issues. There are other cash-sending alternatives, too: Mobile messaging app Snapchat recently added “Snapcash,” a payment feature that integrates with Square, while Facebook is rolling out a payment option in its Messenger app as well. Which app you use ultimately depends on which ones most of your friends or roommates are using and which one you feel most comfortable linking to your bank accounts.

TIME

UN Women Breaks Off Partnership with Uber

Just weeks after they announced partnership to create 1 million jobs for women

UN Women has cancelled a partnership with Uber that aimed to create jobs for women at the company after objections were raised about Uber’s safety record with women and treatment of its drivers.

On March 10th, UN Women and Uber announced a partnership to create one million Uber jobs for women by 2020, as part of their endeavor to increase economic empowerment for women around the world. But on March 12th, the International Transport Federation published a letter criticizing the partnership, noting that Uber drivers often lack basic job protections like minimum wage and health care. “Women already make up a high percentage of the precarious workforce, and increasing informal, piecemeal work contributes significantly to women’s economic dis-empowerment and marginalization across the globe,” the ITF wrote. Uber jobs, they said, would “not contribute to women’s economic empowerment and represents exactly the type of structural inequality within the labor market that the women’s movement has been fighting for decades.”

So in a speech last week, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka quietly cancelled the partnership. “Not only are we listening, we are aligned,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said. “I also want to assure you that UN Women will not accept an offer to collaborate on job creation with Uber, so you can rest assured about that.” (UN Women is the branch of the United Nations that works to empower women and girls and to end gender discrimination.)

[H/T Buzzfeed]

TIME apps

Your Smartphone Could be Tracking You Every 3 Minutes, Study Says

TIME.com stock photos Social Apps iPhone
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Your apps want to know where you are

Smartphone apps regularly collect large amounts of data on users’ locations, sometimes as often as every three minutes, new research suggests.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study where they asked 23 people to use their Android smartphones normally, and tracked location data requests from each device with specially designed software, the Wall Street Journal reports. The researchers found that many popular Android apps tracked their users an average 6,200 times per participant over a two-week period, or about every three minutes.

The WSJ writes:

Even apps that provided useful location-based services often requested the device’s location far more frequently than would be necessary to provide that service, the researchers said. The Weather Channel, for example, which provides local weather reports, requested device location an average 2,000 times, or every 10 minutes, during the study period. Groupon, which necessarily gathers location data to offer local deals, requested one participant’s coordinates 1,062 times in two weeks.

Some of the apps came pre-installed on the phone, and were not as easily deleted, the WSJ reports. The researchers were also looking at whether users would benefit or appreciate software “nudges” that would alert them when sensitive data was being collected by their apps. The researchers found that the participants often changed settings when they learned that their apps were collecting information about them or their location.

The research will be presented at the CHI 2015 conference.

[WSJ]

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