TIME

This 1 Extension Makes Google Chrome Even More Awesome

Inside The Google Chromebook Store
The logo of Google Inc. Chrome is displayed at a Currys and PC World 2 in 1 store, operated by Dixons Retail Plc, on Tottenham Court Road in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

One small tweak to Google Maps, one giant time-suck for mankind

The Google Maps team has just torpedoed the productivity of Chrome users with the launch of “Earth View,” a new browser extension that displays a random and beautiful satellite image of the earth’s surface each time the user opens a new tab.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking technology — in fact, it just a marries two existing technologies from Chrome and Google Earth. But the sheer variety of terrains on display, from the schematic street-view of downtown Chicago to a frozen mountain range in Antarctica, makes opening a new tab an oddly hypnotic experience and opening dozens of tabs nearly irresistible.

The app launched with little fanfare on October 14, rapidly climbing the ranks of most downloaded Chrome extensions with more than 50,000 users to date.

You can download the extension for yourself here.

TIME apps

10 Apps to Get Right Now For Your New iPad

Got a new iPad? Get these apps.

Slimmer, lighter, and not as reflective, the new iPad Air 2 is more than just a looker — under the glass there’s a beefed up processor, more powerful camera and Touch ID, to name a few upgrades.

Get the most out of your new Apple tablet with these 10 great apps.

  • 1Password

    With Touch ID sensors on the new iPads, Apple’s tablet becomes much more secure. But outside using your fingerprint to unlock the device or buy apps, your personal information is still only as safe as your passwords. 1Password stores your passwords remotely and even recommends tough-to-crack randomized ones.

    While the service isn’t new, as of iOS 8, it can be opened using the Touch ID sensor, making for one less password to remember (or forget).

    1Password is available for free in the App Store.

  • 80 Days

    80 Days App Store

    Combining the educational gaming of Carmen Sandiego with the urgency of The Amazing Race, this interactive novel-like adventure game is stylish and fun. The object? Transport Mr. Phineas Fogg across the globe in 80 days, using all manner of steampunk and conventional transport to traverse the more than 150 cities, all while solving puzzles along the way.

    While not a processor-crunching title, its chic graphics look smooth and seamless on the new Air.

    80 Days is available for $4.99 in the App Store.

  • Adobe Shape CC

    Time to put the myth that iPads are for consuming, not creating, to pasture. This whip-smart app lets users snap photos and convert the shapes in the images to vector-based objects. Once the domain of Adobe’s expensive Illustrator and Photoshop desktop programs, this app can turn anyone with an eye into a designer or graphic artist.

    Adobe Shape CC is available for free in the App Store.

  • Fancy

    Itching to get your fingers on Apple Pay? Got $250 to burn on a Scarface Action Figure? If yes to both, this social-shopping app is your soul mate. Just set up your credit card with Apple’s new Touch ID-operated payment system, and a pop-up hot dog toaster, a deck of wooden playing cards, or a wall-mounted fishbowl could be on your doorstep, with only a thumbs-up to your iPad’s home button.

    Fancy is available for free in the App Store.

  • Houzz

    Houzz App Store

    The new iPad’s autumn launch gets it in shoppers’ hands just in time for nesting season. Home design inspiration and shopping app Houzz is also Apple Pay-enabled, which means users will have an easy time snapping up everything from bar carts to bath towels. And unlike the Restoration Hardware catalog, the iPad Air is getting thinner and easier to carry, which makes this app great for snuggling up with on idea sessions.

    Houzz is available for free in the App Store.

  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

    Like the Peanuts gang itself, this app is an oldie, but a goodie. An interactive book voiced by the actor who played Linus, it’s the timeless Charles Schulz tale of the Great Pumpkin, who every year rises out of whichever pumpkin patch he thinks most sincere. Now before you think Charlie Brown has “gone commercial” with this app, stop being a blockhead and think how much fun it is to flick, spin, and fling the pop-up book-type elements. It’s a great annual read for kids and adults alike, and already set to be downloaded when your new iPad arrives.

    It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is available for $5.99 in the App Store.

  • Modern Combat 5: Blackout

    Modern Combat App Store

    Once just a blank slate where casual games spun on aimlessly, the iPad has evolved into a platform where high-powered shooters, simulators, and brawlers tear up the screen. This first-person situational shooter lets users play multiplayer or in a mission-based story mode with stunning worldwide settings.

    On the new iPad, with its A8X processor, the game — one of the earliest programmed using Apple’s graphics-maximizing Metal API — has detail and speed not available on any other Apple or Android device.

    Modern Combat 5: Blackout is available for $6.99 in the App Store.

  • Next Issue

    Next Issue App Store

    With apologies to this website, the best way to enjoy a magazine is still in well-designed page layouts, and that’s where the recently updated Next Issue app shines. A monthly subscription-based service that delivers more than 140 publications straight to your tablet, this Netflix for magazines looks better than ever on iPad Air 2’s 9.7-inch display, thanks to the tablet’s new antireflective coating.

    In addition, the Air’s screen is just one sheet of glass, unlike previous iPads, which had three layers, making the new model brighter and more vibrant—perfect for taking in fantastic magazine layouts.

    Next Issue requires a subscription, but the app is available for free in the App Store.

  • Pixelmator

    Though not yet available on the iPad, this powerful image editing app was previewed at the iPad Air 2 launch, and its jaw-dropping visuals make it worth waiting for. A layer-based photo editor, Pixelmator gives users professional level graphic abilities on a tablet, the same tools available on the desktop version of the app. With the Air’s beefier processor, it handles 4K resolution images with ease. And it can even use iOS’s Handoff feature to let users work on files either on the iPad or on a Mac desktop or laptop.

    Pixelmator will be available soon for $4.99 in the App Store soon.

  • Replay Video Editor

    Another app demonstrated at the iPad’s launch, this movie-making tool takes the pain and patience out of producing fun personal movies. Programmed using Apple’s Metal API, it hauls when running on the new iPad’s faster processor. Just select some photos and/or video clips, choose a theme with graphics, and tap. Less than a second later, all the media is stitched together, rendered and ready to be shared, making sharing vacation videos almost as fun as going on the trip itself. Almost.

    Replay Video Editor is available for free in the App Store.

MONEY apps

Don’t Want to Wait for An Inbox Invite? These Email Apps Give You Its Best Features Right Now

white glove waiter holding silver tray with place card
Gary Alvis—Getty Images

Google's new email app looks a lot like some other products that are available right now

On Wednesday, Google released Inbox, a virtual redesign of the company’s Gmail service meant to help users deal with the troves of email that floods their inboxes every day. The product looks slick: You can snooze emails for later, create reminders that will also appear in your inbox, and similar messages are grouped together to make everything easier to find.

Unfortunately, Inbox is invite only, meaning email junkies eager to get their hands on a new toy could be left refreshing their real inboxes for a while. The good news? Many of Inbox’s best features are available right now. That’s because Google’s new release isn’t quite the reinvention of email some sites are hailing it as. In reality, lesser-known companies have been putting out Inbox-like apps for a while, and they’re pretty darned good. Here are three of the best ones, all of which work on both Android and iOS.

Mailbox

Price: Free

swipesnoozes

I would certainly never call Google’s Inbox a borderline ripoff of Dropbox’s pre-existing Mailbox app, but I can’t stop other people from doing it. Mailbox was first one to bring things like email snoozing and swipeable interfaces to the mainstream. Want put off a conversation until tomorrow? Just swipe left and Mailbox will remind you the next day. The app also makes sorting and archiving mail a breeze. This one might not have the same bells and whistles as its successors, but its simplicity can be a feature in itself.

CloudMagic

Price: Free

one four

One problem with Google’s blocky app style is it feels out of place on iOS’s hyper-modern interface. CloudMagic’s award winning design doesn’t have that problem. This app offers all the email snoozing and easy swiping of Mailbox in an even better looking package. And it’s not all eye candy. CloudMagic integrates with services like Evernote, Todoist, Salesforce, Pocket, and more, through a clever card interface. That means power users get a lot functionality, like reminders and notes, while casual users don’t have to bother with extra complexity.

Boxer

Price: $5 for pro upgrade

 email app
Boxer

Boxer is the only paid download on this list, but for some people it will be worth the money. This app’s main selling point is its “actions” interface, which you can activate on one or more messages at once. Once the action panel comes up, snoozing a conversation, adding a to-do item, firing back a quick reply, or even “liking” an email is all one tap away. Even better, the action interface also integrates with other web services, meaning replying with a Dropbox attachment can also be done quickly.

TIME apps

Google’s New Email App Wants to Save You From Your Inbox

Opening an email could become a thing of the past, if 'Inbox' can get the right information up front

Google launched a new email app called “Inbox” Wednesday that strips essential information from your incoming messages, displaying it in a stream similar to a social media newsfeed.

Inbox Google

Rather than display messages by subject line, Inbox cuts straight to the body of your emails and attempts to prune out everything but the essential bits, such as flight times, event invitations and attached photos. A flight, for instance, will have your flight times clearly displayed up front without the airline’s preamble. The app can also draw pertinent information from the web, such as your flight’s status. The app also attempts to automatically populate to-do lists and calendar appointments, sparing you from copying the details, flipping to a new app and pasting the information into all of the related fields.

The question remains how well a machine can gauge “pertinent” information to a human user. Early hands-on demonstrations suggest an intuitive user experience. For now, only a select group of users will get to use Inbox by invitation only, who, in turn will be able to invite friends and collectively will decide whether this app will replace regular email for good.

TIME

Here Are The Strange Things Dudes Are Asking on Lulu’s New Messaging Service

BC9209-002
Getty Images

The once women-only app is doing some serious male outreach

Lulu — an app that allows women to rate men as if they were consumer goods, including hashtags ranging from the good (#SelfMadeMan) to the gross (#PornEducated) — has now opened up the lines of communication between female and male users. After three weeks of beta testing, the two-year-old app launched its Truth Bombs feature Wednesday, which allows men to anonymously ask women questions. This feedback just might be what they need to raise their Yelp-like score.

“This is the first time we are doing any messaging,” said Lulu co-founder Alison Schwartz. “How it works is guys can ask an anonymous question or test out a theory they want to test out with women, some sort of query, and then they get instant feedback from millions of girls.”

The new feature pointedly marks the evolving relationship Lulu has with its million-plus male users. When the app launched in Feb. 2013, it was advertised as a secret, ladies-only space to swap information about former male relations. Bros stole glances at female friends’ phones and attempted hacks to see how they were doing. After a slew of Internet backlash (and anti-Lulu petitions) deriding the app for inciting bullying and gender-based double standards, Lulu made the experience more male-friendly in 2014 by having a policy where men had to opt-in and give their full permission to be reviewed. In May, the male-outreach went a step further and Lulu allowed men to check their scores, giving them tips and affirmations. (“Girls love your kissing.”)

And now, men can go straight to the source and ask women questions. But what have the men been asking? During the beta test, these were the most popular questions verbatim (there are some pretty bad typos), some of which led to 2,500 responses, although most questions average 15 replies:

  1. How many guys have you slept with and how old are you… GO !
  2. What age did you loose your virginity?
  3. Do women like abs or arms more?
  4. How frequently do girls masterbate?
  5. Do girls find it attractive if a guy claims p***y is being thrown at him left and right?

Um, woah. Some of these misspelled questions about “loosing” virginity (“Freudian slip?” asked Scwhartz) are just the type of sophomoric musings you’d expect from a dude who gets to anonymously crowdsource information from anonymous women. But when asked how the women were responding to the questions, Schwartz said, “They are meaningfully answering what the guys are asking about. They are trying to be really helpful.”

And there are moderation protocols — “we have designed a product against bullying,” said Scwhartz — to keep things clean, relatively. Although of the 60,000 Truth Bombs that were asked during the three week beta test, averaging some 100 Truth Bombs an hour, only 800 were flagged.

For now, the messaging option is all anonymous and each thread is limited to one guy (the one who posed the question) and millions of female users. Although other men can view the threads, they can’t participate in the conversation.

“But we see on the app that there’s interested in moving to a one girl one guy dynamic,” said Schwartz. Could the next step in Lulu be one-on-one communication, perhaps enabling dating? “Anything is possible, but we would do that in a way that this is very true to Lulu.”

See Also:

This Map Shows What Guys Are Like in Each Major City

Rate The Date Online: Lulu App Lets Women Review Hookups

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone and Android Apps You Should Try This Week

From Flickr to hands-free music control

It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that stand out and are worth a shot.

 

  • Alien Blue

    There have been a series of unofficial Reddit apps available for a while now, but last week the social networking/news website that receives over a million uniques a day sanctioned the official release of a Reddit app, Alien Bue. It’s a clean, mobile-friendly version of the site, allowing users to keep up on threads and receive notifications as well as discover new subreddits. For a short while, users can also upgrade to Alien Blue Pro for free in order to access features like switching between multiple accounts.

    Alienblue is available free in the App Store.

  • Flickr for iPad

    Flickr for iPad App Store

    Although imgur has nearly replaced Flickr on many social media sites, the decade-old photo-sharing site just released an iPad app that offers extensive editing tools for mobile devices. And because of the iPad’s retina display, early reviews suggest that Flickr’s iOS app may be more efficient than using older model computers for light editing. Flickr also offers 1TB of free storage space.

    Flickr for iPad is available free in the App Store.

  • WishBeen

    Wishbeen Google Play

    When Tripadvisor fails and your outdated travel books begin to weigh down a suitcase, WishBeen offers a solution to the most complicated, time-consuming parts of planning a vacation. WishBeen, also a popular travel website, delivers an app that allows users to search, modify, and create travel itineraries, find nearby spots to visit and tailor activities to a budget. Most importantly, travel plans can be downloaded for offline use when Internet access is limited.

    WishBeen is available free in the Google Play store.

  • Hooks

    As football season stats to pick up and a different fall television show airs every night of the week, the hardest part may be keeping track of scores and when new episodes go up on Hulu. Hooks eliminates this strange, 21st century anxiety; it is a task reminder app not for obligations, but for the things you care about and actually enjoy. No more missed parties, no more delayed celebration until you check the final results of your team’s game, no more missing your favorite band next time they’re in town.

    Hooks is available free in the App Store.

     

  • Brainwave

    Brainwave Google Play

    Brainwave integrates the sleek, Minority Report technology of hands-free device operation with Android phones. Brainwave asks which music application you wish to use (it’s compatible with Spotify, Pandora and iHeart Radio, among others), and then allows you to control these various music apps by swiping a hand in different directions over the phone. Not only is it good for the moments in which you need to play DJ with greasy kitchen hands or are serving drinks at a party, but it’s precisely the kind of fascinating technology that reminds us why we’ve allowed our lives to be run by phones.

    Brainwave (beta) is available free in the Google Play store.

TIME apps

Tinder Thinks You’ll Pay to Find a Match. Swipe Right?

Does this mean there will be less bathroom mirror selfies?

Money can’t buy love, but it might be able to buy you a better Tinder date.

The free, location-based mobile dating app, which allows users to swipe right in hopes of finding a match and left to pass, will begin offering “a few premium features” come November, CEO and co-founder Sean Rad recently said at the Forbes Under 30 Summit.

Rad didn’t provide many details, Forbes reported from the event in Philadelphia, but said the new features are ones that “users have been begging us for” and “will offer so much value we think users are willing to pay for them.”

Does this mean less bathroom mirror selfies? Probably not. But Rad hinted that the pay-for-play features might focus on opening up location restrictions, allowing people to make connections while they’re traveling to new places. He also said the “premium” options will cater to areas outside of romance, like “local recommendations when traveling, trying to make friends, doing business.”

“Revenue has always been on the road map,” he added.

But don’t worry, you can still swipe for free while procrastinating at work: “The core offering will always remain free,” Rad said. “At least that’s the plan.”

Watch the full interview below:

TIME apps

Flickr Finally Made an iPad App

iPad users can ditch Flickr's mobile website

Flickr is now offering an app for iPad, parent company Yahoo announced Saturday.

Flickr on the Apple iPad Flickr/App Store

The first iPad-ready app fir the photo sharing service, it offers iPad-optimized layouts and live filters to improve photos and videos. Designed for Apple’s new iOS 8, the app also has a new search function that Flickr says makes it easier for users to search through their library.

Previously, iPad users had to use Flickr’s mobile website, which offered an often less than stellar photo-browsing experience. Flickr already has an iPhone-specific app.

The Flickr for iPad app is available for a free download in the App Store.

TIME apps

Ads Are Coming to Snapchat for the First Time

Viewing the ads will be optional

Snapchat users will see ads on the messaging app starting this weekend, the social media company announced Friday.

“Understandably, a lot of folks want to know why we’re introducing advertisements to our service. The answer is probably unsurprising—we need to make money,” the company said in a blog post. “Advertising allows us to support our service while delivering neat content to Snapchatters.”

The company promised the ads wouldn’t display in people’s messages. “That would be totally rude,” Snapchat said. Instead, users will be able to choose whether to view the ads.

TIME apps

Facebook’s New Tool Lets You Tell Your Friends You’re Safe During an Emergency

Facebook

The app instantly updates loved ones of your status

Facebook announced a new app Wednesday that asks users in the proximity of a disaster zone if they’re safe and instantly notifies anxious loved ones of the user’s response.

The new app, Safety Check, was the brainchild of Facebook’s Japanese engineers, who noticed a surge of communication across the social network after the 2011 tsunami battered coastal communities. The new app streamlines that process by taking note of the user’s home city and reaching out in the event of a natural disaster in the area with the text message, “Are you Okay?” A “yes” will be instantly communicated out to loved ones via their Facebook News Feeds.

“We hope it’s a tool that helps you stay connected to those you care about,” Facebook said in a statement announcing the new feature, “and gives you the comfort of knowing your loved ones are safe.”

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