TIME Autos

Google Wants To Make Android-Powered Cars

Google Car
A Google Inc. map is displayed on a screen in a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S sedan electric vehicle (EV) parked in the area of Cyberport in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, July 5, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

More tech giants are eyeing the "connected car"

Not content to control your life on your PC and your mobile phone, Google is now going after your car.

The search giant is planning to build the next version of its Android operating system, dubbed Android M, directly into automobiles, according to Reuters. That would allow drivers to access the Internet and use Android apps without the synching their car with a smartphone.

Google already has a foothold in automobiles through Android Auto, its operating system tailored for cars, and the Open Automotive Alliance, a partnership through which several large automakers like Hyundai and General Motors have pledged to bring Android functionality to their vehicles. But the company is now eyeing making Android central to the driving experience rather than a supplement, according to the Reuters report. Such tight integration could give Google more vital user data, which it uses to power its business.

But Google is hardly alone in trying to bring tech to automobiles. Apple is rolling out an iOS-powered car operating system called CarPlay, while some automakers are also building their own proprietary Internet-enabled interfaces.

[Reuters]

TIME Media

You Can Visit The Colbert Report’s Set on Google Maps

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert hosts Comedy Central's "Indecision 2008: America's Choice" at Comedy Central Studios on November 4, 2008 in New York City. Brad Barket—Getty Images

Check out the set on Street View

Even though The Colbert Report is ending its run Thursday, the show’s set will live on through Google Maps.

The entire iconic stage is rendered in 3D through Google’s service (though sadly, Colbert himself isn’t present). You can get a close-up look at some of the show’s famous gags, like the portrait of Stephen Colbert standing in front of a portrait of Stephen Colbert standing in front of a portrait of Stephen Colbert.

There are also plenty of goodies on Colbert’s bookshelf that you may have never noticed before, like a Captain America shield, a Rock’em Sock’em Robots game and a solemn photograph of Hugh Laurie.

Check out the set in all its glory here.

TIME russia

Google Is Now Worth More Than the Entire Russian Stock Market

Google joins an elite list of companies, including Exxon Mobile, Microsoft and Apple

Google is now more valuable than the entire Russian stock market. Russia’s stock market is now worth $325 billion while Google is valued at more than $340 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The news comes as Russia’s currency, the ruble, continues to stumble under pressure from declining oil prices and western sanctions. Russia’s gold reserves have also declined to their lowest point since 2009.

Google joins an elite list of companies, including Exxon Mobile, Microsoft and Apple, worth more than the entire Russian market.

Read next: Leaked Sony Emails Reveal How Much Movie Studios Hate Google

TIME motherhood

YouTube CEO: America Needs Paid Maternity Leave

Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 2
Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki speak onstage during "Who Owns Your Screen?" at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on October 9, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Kimberly White--Getty Images for Vanity Fair) Kimberly White—Getty Images for Vanity Fair

It's not just good for women, it's good for business

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday reminding everyone that paid maternity leave isn’t just good for women, it’s good for business.

She cited a 2011 survey from California’s Center for Economic and Policy Research that found that, after California implemented paid leave, 91% of businesses said the policy had either a positive effect on profitability, or no effect at all. Wojcicki, who was the first Google employee to go on maternity leave and now runs YouTube, which is owned by Google, says she’s seen this firsthand:

That last point is one we’ve seen at Google. When we increased paid maternity leave to 18 from 12 weeks in 2007, the rate at which new moms left Google fell by 50%. (We also increased paternity leave to 12 weeks from seven, as we know that also has a positive effect on families and our business.) Mothers were able to take the time they needed to bond with their babies and return to their jobs feeling confident and ready. And it’s much better for Google’s bottom line—to avoid costly turnover, and to retain the valued expertise, skills and perspective of our employees who are mothers.

Best of all, mothers come back to the workforce with new insights. I know from experience that being a mother gave me a broader sense of purpose, more compassion and a better ability to prioritize and get things done efficiently. It also helped me understand the specific needs and concerns of mothers, who make most household spending decisions and control more than $2 trillion of purchasing power in the U.S.

As Wojcicki notes, paid maternity leave can reduce risk of post-partum depression, keep babies healthy, and encourage mothers to stay in the workplace, yet only 12% of private workers and 5% of low-income workers in the U.S. have access to these benefits. Every other developed nation in the world has government-mandated paid maternity leave, and when the UN‘s International Labor Organization surveyed the maternity leave policies of 185 nations, the U.S. was one of two countries that don’t guarantee paid maternity leave. Papua New Guinea is the other.

She wants America to get cracking on paid maternity leave, stat.

[WSJ]

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 17

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Independent and third party candidates could break D.C. gridlock — if they can get to Washington.

By Tom Squitieri in the Hill

2. A new software project has surgeons keeping score as a way to improve performance and save lives.

By James Somers in Medium

3. The New American Workforce: In Miami, local business are helping legal immigrants take the final steps to citizenship.

By Wendy Kallergis in Miami Herald

4. Policies exist to avoid the worst results of head injuries in sports. We must follow them to save athletes’ lives.

By Christine Baugh in the Chronicle of Higher Education

5. Sal Khan: Use portfolios instead of transcripts to reflect student achievement.

By Gregory Ferenstein at VentureBeat

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME apps

Google Drive Just Got a Whole Lot Better

Google Drive
Google Drive Google

You can now send Drive files as Gmail attachments

Google is rolling out a series of updates for its cloud-based storage service Google Drive.

Gmail users will now be able to share Drive documents as attachments that are sent as part of email files. That’s useful in case the person receiving the document doesn’t have permission to view the file in Google Drive or if you delete the file from Drive at a later time.

On Android, Drive users will also be able to search for files using voice commands within the Google search app. A user could say, “OK, Google — search for holiday letter on Drive,” for instance, to automatically pull up the relevant documents without opening Drive. On iOS, users will also be able to start uploading files to drive from non-Google apps.

Both iOS and Android versions of Drive are getting an update to allow users to access and share custom maps developed with Google My Maps.

The Google Drive Android updates will launch during the next week, while the iOS tweaks are already available.

MONEY Shopping

New Moves by 3 Tech Giants Aim to Get a Bigger Piece of Your Wallet

Apple Pay
Bryan Thomas—Getty Images

Google, Amazon, and Apple are all pushing new tools—and often, encroaching on the turf of competitors—with the hopes of snagging a larger cut of everyday consumer purchases.

Several of the world’s tech giants are squaring off, thanks to new strategies and tools that have one common goal: to bring their respective companies a bigger slice of the enormous consumer spending pie.

Google vs. Amazon

This week the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is working on a “Buy” button that would allow online shoppers to make quick one-click purchases—a feature that’s most often associated with Amazon, the world’s largest e-retailer. Google wouldn’t run factories full of merchandise, nor would it sell and ship goods like Amazon does. Instead, in theory (none of this is settled, or even confirmed by Google), consumers would be able to buy goods in a single click directly from partner retailers that show up in Google Shopping search results. Google is reportedly also considering an expedited shipping subscription service along the lines of Amazon Prime or ShopRunner, which would store the customer’s billing info and shipping address.

Google dominates search in general. Yet when people are searching specifically for things to buy, far more start their online shopping expeditions at Amazon. Naturally, Google would love to have more consumers browsing for goods with its search tools. What’s more, it would love to keep them within the Google sphere when actually making purchases. Right now, consumers who start shopping searches at Google are typically sent to other sites—including Amazon—when the time comes to buy. Google would much rather keep a tight hold of the eyeballs and wallets of shoppers.

Amazon vs. Ebay

Amazon recently announced the introduction of a new “Make an Offer” feature that allows customers to bid and negotiate on the price of certain merchandise—options that are in the wheelhouse of eBay, which was born as an auction site and has evolved into more of a general marketplace for sellers big and small.

For now at least, Amazon is essentially just the host site for sellers who are willing to haggle with customers. Only items falling under a few sales categories, including Fine Art and Sport and Entertainment Collectibles, are available on the “Make an Offer” basis, and it’s always a third-party vendor (not Amazon) that does all the negotiating and selling. After a customer views the suggested price of an item and makes an offer, “The seller will receive the customer’s lower price offer through email, at which point the seller can accept, reject or counter the offer,” an Amazon.com press release explained. “The seller and customer can continue to negotiate through email until the negotiation is complete.”

Consumer Reports noted of Amazon’s new tool, “By adding a haggling element to its traditional fixed-price model, Amazon broadens its appeal to a wider audience of consumers motivated not simply by low prices, but by the thrill of the hunt and scoring a deal.” Note that there are no open auctions, and that all haggling takes place privately between the two parties involved—not unlike the negotiations that take place between buyer and seller in a car dealership, or perhaps via a connection made on Craigslist or Priceline. Customers can “Make an Offer” on roughly 150,000 items right now at Amazon, and the e-retail giant plans on expanding the bidding option to hundreds of thousands more items in 2015.

Apple Pay vs. All Other Forms of Payment

When Apple Pay debuted in October, the mobile payment tool—allowing customers to pay for goods with a tap of an iPhone—could be used at Macy’s, McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and several other major chains, but overall less than 3% of U.S. merchants that take credit cards were ready to accept Apple Pay. As the New York Times reported this week, however, dozens more banks, retailers, and at least one NBA Arena (Amway Center in Orlando) have since started accepting Apple Pay, and experts increasingly are of the mind that Apple has the best chances of making smartphone payments commonplace:

“Retailers and payment companies see Apple Pay as the implementation that has the best chance at mass consumer adoption, which has eluded prior attempts,” said Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, a research firm. “They believe it will solve many of the problems they had before with electronic payments.”

Still, there’s a very long way to go before a critical mass of consumers are paying for purchases regularly with iPhones, or any smartphones. Many big-name retailers, including Best Buy, Walmart, and Gap, aren’t accepting Apple Pay because they’re trying to create their own smartphone payment system—which may or may not be easier and more convenient to use than Apple Pay. More importantly, consumers generally still see old-fashioned debit and credit cards as a more convenient and certainly a more comfortable way to pay for stuff. For smartphone payments to be a true success, Apple Pay or other services will have to convince the masses otherwise.

 

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: December 16

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Scores Killed in Taliban Attack

A Pakistani official says that more than 126 people have been killed, mostly schoolchildren, in a Taliban attack on a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Witnesses said gunmen stormed the school and started shooting at random

Who Was Man Haron Monis?

The Sydney hostage taker who died in a shootout has been identified as Man Haron Monis. The 50-year-old was being investigated for murder and sexual assault

Camille Cosby Defends Bill

The actor’s wife fiercely defended her husband in a statement Monday as outrage mounts over allegations he drugged and raped multiple women

29 Instagram Photos That Defined the World in 2014

TIME, in association with the photo-sharing app, takes a look back at the key moments of 2014: From the toll of war in Gaza to the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and from the border between Mexico and the U.S. all the way to Mongolia, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone

U.S. Surgeon General Confirmed Despite Gun-Control Support

The Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General on Monday despite concerns he was underqualified and too outspoken on gun control to be the top spokesman on public-health matters. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is the only Republican to confirm Murthy

Robin Williams Was Google’s Top Trending Search of 2014

The comedian and actor, who died in August, led the list of the people, places and things that got the biggest boost in search traffic this year compared to 2013. Williams topped a list that also included the World Cup, Ebola, ISIS and Flappy Bird

Tattooing Your Pet Is Now Illegal in N.Y.

Body art like tattoos and piercings on pet animals will soon be a crime across the state following a law passed on Monday. The law does make exceptions for markings made for identification or medical reasons, but those only include preapproved letters and numbers

Mother of Tamir Rice: He Had No Chance Against Police

Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police who believed he was carrying a gun, said Monday that he was never given a chance to follow officers’ orders when they pulled up next to him on a Cleveland playground

Adrian Peterson, NFL Exec Suspension Discussion Leaked

The NFL’s executive vice president for football operations Troy Vincent appeared to tell Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson that he would only be suspended for two games, according to recordings of their conversation that surfaced on Monday

Ebola Coverage Has Been Dubbed ‘Lie of the Year’

Guess what spawned a “dangerous and incorrect narrative” in 2014? Fact-checking website PolitiFact says erroneous statements about the Ebola epidemic edged the U.S. “toward panic,” and led to misinformation and fear toward people thousands of miles away

London Crawling: Scientists Name Snail After Clash Singer

A new genus of snail has been named after Joe Strummer, leader of iconic British rock band The Clash, “because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment,” said researcher Shannon Johnson

66 Journalists Killed in 2014: Report

At least 66 journalists were killed across the globe this year while another 178 media workers were imprisoned, according to monitoring outlet Reporters Without Borders. The watchdog organization noted that attacks on journalists are becoming increasingly barbaric

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TIME Web

The One Celebrity We Couldn’t Stop Googling in 2014

Thanks to a pair of blockbuster movies, a Golden Globe and a photo hack

Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence tops Google’s list of the top trending searches of people in the U.S. in 2014, the search giant announced Tuesday.

The 24-year-old star was in the news — and, inevitably, the Google search bar — for a lot of reasons this year. She starred in two blockbuster sequels, X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, and picked up a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Hustle. Lawrence was also at the center of the celebrity iCloud hack, in which dozens of famous women had their nude photos stolen and posted online.

Following Lawrence on the list was Kim Kardashian, who tried (and failed) to “#BreaktheInternet” by appearing nude on the cover of Paper in November and released a hit mobile game this year. In third place was 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan, who was involved in a serious bus wreck over the summer, while NFL running back Ray Rice, who was suspended from the league after punching his fiancée-turned-wife on camera, ranked fourth. Rounding out the top 5 was Tony Stewart, the NASCAR driver involved in the on-track death of fellow driver Kevin Ward in August.

The list is not necessarily the most-searched people of the year, but rather the people that had searches for their name spike the most compared to 2013. Here’s the entire top 10:

Top 10 Trending People in the U.S.

  1. Jennifer Lawrence
  2. Kim Kardashian
  3. Tracy Morgan
  4. Ray Rice
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. Iggy Azalea
  7. Donald Sterling
  8. Adrian Peterson
  9. Renee Zellweger
  10. Jared Leto


Read next: The Top 10 Everything of 2014

TIME Web

Robin Williams Was Google’s Top Trending Search of 2014

Robin Williams
Art Streiber—CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Robin Williams topped a list that also included the World Cup, Ebola, ISIS and Flappy Bird

Robin Williams topped Google’s list of the top trending searches in 2014.

The comedian and actor, who died in August, led the list of the people, places and things that got the biggest boost in search traffic this year compared to 2013. The list of actual “most searched” terms is actually pretty boring, Google says, because it includes generic terms like “weather” and website names like “Google.”

Overall, the list reflects the way global crises co-mingle with pop culture phenomena on the Internet. Second to Robin Williams was the World Cup, which sparked widespread discussion across the Web. Third was Ebola, the viral epidemic that sparked scares in West Africa and elsewhere around the world as it emerged in different locales. Fourth was Malaysia Airlines, which was in the news first for a plane that mysteriously disappeared in March and later for a second plane that was shot down over Ukraine in July. Rounding out the top five was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people recorded themselves being doused in cold water to raise money for charity.

Check out the full Top 10 below:

  1. Robin Williams
  2. World Cup
  3. Ebola
  4. Malaysia Airlines
  5. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  6. Flappy Bird
  7. Conchita Wurst
  8. ISIS
  9. Frozen
  10. Sochi Olympics

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