TIME

Apple’s Most Revolutionary New Product: Itself

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Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote Monday is sure to have pleased some and disappointed others. At the annual confab of software developers for Macs and iDevices, CEO Tim Cook and other executives presented new versions of Mac OS X for computers and iOS for iPhones and iPads. Both systems appear to borrow from one another liberally, evolving to work in tandem much more elegantly.

But there was another, arguably more radical product on display: Apple itself. There was no slick marketing video extolling its virtues. And there was no explicit mention of its “magical” changes by any of the executives that padded into the spotlight. But it was there, center stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. This is clearly a different (and perhaps more interesting) company than the one Steve Jobs left behind when he died three years ago. It seems a company that, increasingly, reflects the ideas, taste and sensibility of a group, rather than an individual.

Jobs architected and oversaw the greatest corporate turnaround in the history of capitalism. It was only natural that, in the wake of his death, the question of whether Apple could really sustain its momentum would persist. It’s a doubt that’s lingered like a bad smell at many of the firms that survive near-death episodes, from IBM to Chrysler.

Apple observers even got a sense of what the company’s employees think of the question last year when it introduced a Lilliputian new desktop, the Mac Pro. Unveiling the machine, marketing boss Phil Schiller said curtly, “Can’t innovate my ass.” And last month when Internet Software and Services chief Eddy Cue said “We’ve got the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple,” it was a not-so-subtle-nod to investors and fanboys not to worry—some cool stuff is on the way. Still, the fact that the company’s last all-new product, the iPad, came out in 2010 is going to be catnip for doubters until the world finds out what those products actually are.

But where many people have been looking for a major new product—an iWatch, say, or an Apple-branded television set—the real innovation may have been in who runs the company and how. Under Jobs, Apple was a firm that largely brought in executives from less well known or glamorous outfits and grew them internally. Bob Mansfield, the technology guru, came from Raycer Graphics. Scott Forstall and Craig Federighi, the software guys, came with Jobs from Next. Designers like Tony Fadell and Jonathan Ive were essentially consultants from smaller firms who were convinced to sign on full time. And current CEO Tim Cook came from Compaq. (The only exception that comes to mind: Ron Johnson, who had a well-covered career at Target before helping create the Apple Stores.)

But consider Apple’s executive bench today. Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry CEO, is planning an overhaul to Apple’s juggernaut retail division. Paul Deneve, the one-time CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, is likely helping with the company’s wearable devices. And there are Apple’s two newest recruits, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre,who are coming on as part of the company’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics. These are all executives who, by virtue of their star power, are likely to have a higher profile of their own.

There are a lot of obvious reasons this is the case, not least of which that Apple is a much stronger, richer, more attractive company to work for than it was in the late 1990s. Then, Wired ran its famous “Pray” cover; now, it’s number 5 on the brand-new Fortune 500 list. And yet, even during the presentation this morning you could sense the shift. Keynotes have always had special guests and humorous asides, but today they seemed a little looser, a little more relaxed. Software head Craig Federighi called from backstage with a somewhat ham-handed hair and makeup malfunction, for instance.

A company with thousands of employees is never going to only reflect the vision of an individual, even a legend like Jobs. In fact he often ended public presentations with heartfelt praise of the company’s employees and their families, as Cook did again today. But as far as Apple’s next big thing goes, it’s already here.

TIME Innovation

Feds Might Allow Drones For Filmmakers

Drone Manufacture At Steadidrone Plant As Companies Explore Commercial Usage
Technicians look on as a SteadiDrone EI8GHT Octocopter hovers during a test flight in a field outside the headquarters of Mensuro Ltd., a distributor for SteadiDrone Ltd. products, in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg /Getty Images

Seven aerial cinematography companies have petitioned for the right to mount cameras to drones and make movie magic

The Federal Aviation Administration is considering lifting a nationwide ban on using drones for commercial purposes—so long as the purpose is to make movie magic.

Seven companies represented by the Motion Picture Association of America have asked for permission to shoot film and TV productions using unmanned aerial vehicles. The FAA said Monday that it would consider exemptions on a case-by-case basis, acknowledging “there could be tangible economic benefits as the agency begins to address the demand.”

A growing list of companies have requested permission to fly drones over farmland, power lines, pipelines and oil and gas flare stacks, among other commercial uses. The FAA says the firms must prove that exemptions to the rules will not pose a hazard to public safety.

Congress ordered the agency to set a framework allowing for commercial use of drones by 2015. The FAA will test drones at six sites.

TIME Innovation

Google Unveils Driverless Car Complete With…No Steering Wheel

Driverless cars are coming, whether we want them or not

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People have been predicting a driverless future in everything from science fiction to pop culture to corporate PR. But now it looks like that future is finally upon us.

Google announced back in 2010 that it logged more than 140,000 miles in a self-driving car as part of a secret project. It’s also shown off modified versions of automakers’ cars altered to be driverless. But now, Google is finally showing off a prototype driverless car of its own. Built in-house, this computer on wheels doesn’t have a steering wheel or brake pedals.

As Google further develops its driverless car technology, the company, drivers and regulators will have to face many technical and legal questions. How will robots determine how to best react to an impending collision? Who’s responsible for a driverless car crash for insurance purposes? It won’t be long until we begin finding answers to these questions and others.

MORE: How Does Google’s Driverless Cars Work?

Ever wonder how Google’s driverless car actually works? Watch this TIME video documenting the journey of this technology up until now.

TIME Innovation

This Smartphone Nose Sniffs Out Meat Spoilage

peres-smartphone-meat-sniffing-gadget-510px
PERES

Is that slightly outdated package of meat in your fridge still good? The average human nose might not be able to accurately predict its freshness by smell alone, but modern technology can. That’s the claim behind PERES, a handheld smartphone accessory for your kitchen that sniffs meat to detect spoilage.

Specifically, PERES measures four things: Temperature, humidity, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds VOCs. It uses this data to detect whether meat is fresh and safe to eat. The device connects to your Android or iOS smartphone via Bluetooth, and works with most common types of meat – beef, poultry, pork and fish.

PERES is being offered through crowd-funding site IndieGogo, where it has already surpassed its $50,000 goal. The device is scheduled to enter mass production in October 2014 with an expected retail price of $150.

You can learn more about PERES by watching the promotional video below or visiting its IndieGogo page. For more cool kitchen tech, visit the Techlicious Kitchen page.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Innovation

Skype Translator Will Be Able to Interpret Calls in Real Time

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has been showing off a development version of the software, translating between German and English. Windows 8 users will be able to try a beta version by year's end

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella showed off Skype Translator on Tuesday, an upcoming feature aiming at real-time interpretation of voice calls within two years.

The development version of the software was demonstrated at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., where it interpreted between German and English in a conversation, Verge reports. There are plans to add several languages, including Chinese.

Windows 8 users will be able to use a beta version of Skype Translator by the end of the year, said Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft’s vice president of Skype and Lync.

Microsoft has been working on machine translation for more than a decade, but doing so with Skype only seemed like a possibility very recently, the company said on the Microsoft Research site.

Unlike Skype, the Skype Translator feature is not expected to be free.

[Verge]

TIME Innovation

Google’s New Car Doesn’t Have a Steering Wheel

Instead of relying on modified versions of existing marques, Google unveils its own prototype of a car that lacks brakes, pedals and steering wheel

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Google popped the hood on what its much anticipated driverless car might look like on Tuesday, unveiling a prototype and taking volunteers for a ride in a vehicle without brakes, pedals — or a steering wheel.

The two-seat prototype was built with the assistance of car-parts suppliers from across the globe, and around a hundred will be manufactured. The speed of the vehicle is capped at 25 m.p.h. (40 km/h), and the spartan interior simply features seats, seatbelts, a screen to show the route and stop and start buttons. Onboard sensors can detect objects in any direction at a distance of more than two football fields away.

“Just imagine: you can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking,” writes Chris Urmson, director of the Self-Driving Car Project, on Google’s official blog. “Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.”

Urmson said Google plans to run a pilot program in California within the next two years, if these prototypes perform well.

Google has been extensively testing autonomous vehicles in recent years, using modified Audi, Toyota Prius and Lexus models. In April, it announced that its autonomous vehicles had clocked up almost 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) in tests.

MORE: How Does Google’s Driverless Cars Work?

TIME Innovation

TIME/Qualcomm Panel Discussion: The Future of Invention from Singapore

Jeffrey Kluger, Editor-at-Large, TIME (l) and Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore Chrisppics+

TIME’s Global Invention Poll, in cooperation with Qualcomm, surveyed 10,197 people in 17 countries around the world about the subject of Invention. The poll, which accompanied TIME’s annual list of the 25 Best Inventions, revealed a wide range of opinions about the subject of inventiveness. In the poll, and in the article “The Spark of Invention” by Jeffrey Kluger, TIME explored the questions sparked by the subject: who are inventors, how do they do their work, and what is the relationship between countries, culture and inventiveness?

TIME continued the conversation with a special panel discussion, The Future of Invention, on 28 May, 2014 at the Studio Theatre, School of the Arts, Singapore. Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore sat down with TIME Editor-at-Large Jeffrey Kluger to discuss the inter-connectedness of Inventing Globally. Hannah Beech, East Asia Correspondent and China Bureau Chief moderated a session, Inventing By Design which explored the lessons and ingredients which influence success in the inventing process with leading inventors and thought leaders from around Asia, including Susmita Mohanty, CEO-India of Earth2Orbit; Raj Thampuran, Managing Director, A*STAR and Wong Meng Weng, Co-Founder and Chairman, JFDI.Asia. Kluger then sat down with Edward Jung, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Intellectual Ventures to explore the idea of Inventing Ecosystems and the best-in-class models that fuel invention and offer insights into where those ecosystems could lead the future of invention.

Watch highlights from the panel discussions below.

TIME Innovation

Why Your Phone Is Suddenly Making Clearer Calls

VoLTE may be coming to a market near you soon. Here's an explainer to help you make sense of what it means, as well as what it doesn't.

VoLTE: It sounds like “volt,” and it stands for “Voice over LTE.” T-Mobile just announced it was rolling out VoLTE technology out in Seattle, and AT&T’s set to follow with a similar rollout today for areas in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Verizon’s due to roll the technology out “later this year.” And MetroPCS launched the technology way back in 2012.

But what exactly is VoLTE?

Today’s LTE networks use something called packet-switching, as opposed to the circuit-switching used by older, slower networks. Think of circuit-switching as a highway reserved for a single vehicle from start to endpoint, whereas packet-switching’s more like a giant highway shared by all kinds of vehicles. Without getting into the weeds, LTE networks can’t do voice and data simultaneously: LTE conveys data no problem, but your voice calls actually have to run over the old circuit-switched technology.

VoLTE is thus about bringing voice and data together on the same radio stratum. That’s important for several reasons, one of the most important being the ability, belatedly, for LTE users to do voice and data transactions simultaneously. If you’re an LTE user and you’ve ever tried to talk to someone while sending or receiving emails (technically impossible, unless the data portion’s being sent over Wi-Fi), or you finished a lengthy call only to find dozens of emails simultaneously attacking your mailbox, this probably matters to you.

But VoLTE’s being touted above all else for its ability to enhance the quality of voice calls with what the marketing departments have dubbed “HD Voice.” That’s in part because it’s similar to another acronym you’ve probably heard for years: VoIP, or “voice over IP.” VoIP is what you’re using when you make Skype or FaceTime calls. If you’ve ever made a Skype or FaceTime call and wondered why — when the connection’s solid on both ends, anyway — the audio quality’s so much more nuanced than in a regular voice call, you already have a sense for what’s coming with VoLTE.

The difference between VoLTE and VoIP is that VoLTE employs newer technology designed to guarantee if not infallible voice service, at least better voice service than any we’ve experienced to date.

The hangup — and this is true anytime you’re facing a costly technology overhaul that involves upgrades to your core infrastructure as well as the devices that access it — is that it’s going to take a while before we’re all enjoying VoLTE’s benefits, because older devices aren’t compatible with it. At launch, only T-Mobile users with LG’s G Flex, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 or Samsung’s Galaxy Light can access the service (after a software update). On AT&T’s side of the fence, only users with Samsung’s Galaxy S4 mini will enjoy VoLTE for now.

Furthermore, hypothetical VoLTE benefits, like video calls, voicemails and language translation in real-time, are likely a ways down the road. For all the buzz around VoLTE, and I agree wholeheartedly with FierceWireless’ Mike Dano here, it’s more in these initial stages about the carriers playing catchup (while, of course, trying to pass off what they’re doing as more than that) than revolutionizing voice-data tech.

Don’t confuse VoLTE with XLTE, by the way, another term that’s making headlines. XLTE is just the marketing buzz-cronym for a speed upgrade Verizon rolled out a few days ago to several hundred congested markets that lets newer devices hop between spectrums. The new spectrum’s like a brand new highway for those new devices. Devices that can’t use the new highway, meanwhile, enjoy faster speeds by virtue of all those newer devices being redirected to another road.

TIME Video Games

Samsung Reportedly Making Its Own Virtual Reality Headset

Samsung Electronics may reveal its 'gear glass' — a competitor to Google glasses.
Kim Hong-Ji—Reuters

The Samsung headset would join the race to mass produce virtual reality headsets and immerse millions of gamers in incredible worlds

Samsung is reportedly set to announce a virtual reality headset later this year that would compete with the forthcoming Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus.

The Korean consumer electronics giant has already developed early versions of the headset, which wraps around users’ faces, giving users peripheral and forward views, anonymous sources told Engadget. The virtual reality headset would be compatible with Android games.

The finished product is intended to target a lower price, undercutting potential competitors, and could be the first mass market virtual reality headset released. Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion earlier this year and Sony is working on its own Morpheus virtual reality headset, but those devices won’t become available for at least another year.

Samsung did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation..

[Engadget]

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