TIME Mobile

Google Fixed the Worst Part About Grocery Shopping

New search feature shows when stores have long lines

No one likes waiting in lines, but there’s little way to avoid them besides trying to ballpark when a business will be extremely busy.

Now, Google is rolling out a new feature in its search results that shows hourly foot traffic at millions of different businesses around the world. The feature works by using anonymized location data from people’s mobile phones, much in the same way Google measures traffic congestion data.

Google has gotten scarily good at predicting when a traffic jam is going to slow drivers down, so it will likely get equally skilled at predicting peak waiting times in stores eventually.

The feature is available across mobile phones and will begin rolling out in the next few days.

TIME Mobile

Motorola’s New Phone Has 1 Huge Advantage

Moto X
Motorola Moto X

The Moto X Pure Edition was announced Tuesday

Motorola is taking a new tack with its next flagship phone by selling the device directly to consumers.

At a global press event Tuesday, the company announced the Motorola X Style, its followup to last year’s Motorola X. A version of the device called the Pure Edition, which comes unlocked and will be sold on Motorola’s website and at select retailers, will sell for $399 starting in September.

The Moto X Style will boast a 5.7-inch quad high-definition display as well as an improved 21 megapixel camera. The device also charges very quickly. In a pre-recorded demo, the phone gained about one-third of its charge back in 15 minutes. Like the previous Moto X, customization is also a key feature, with customers able to choose outer casings in a variety of colors and with materials such as metal, wood and leather.

Last year’s Motorola X was regarded as one of the best Android phones on the market. If the new one matches it, it will be a quality high-end smartphone retailing for about $200 less than the unlocked versions of the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 when they first came to market. Customers who buy the unlocked Motorola phone will also be able to sign up for wireless service from whichever carrier they choose without having software from the carrier already installed on their phone.

“We’re confident that this is the new wave of the future,” Motorola Design Chief Jim Wicks said at the event. “This strategy allows us to take out the middle man.”

Motorola also announced that its popular more affordable phone, the Moto G, is getting a refresh that launches Tuesday worldwide. The improved Moto G has a 13-megapixel camera and 4G LTE. It’s also waterproof, able to be submerged for as long as 30 minutes. The device starts at $180 for an 8GB version.

Motorola also unveiled the Moto X Play, which boasts a 5.5-inch screen and fewer customization options than the Style. The device has a longer battery life, and like the Style, Motorola says it will be considerably cheaper than high-end phones from competitors. The device will launch in select markets in August but has no scheduled release in the U.S.

TIME apps

YouTube Is About to Look Very Different

Google Holds Event For Creators At YouTube Tokyo Space
Kiyoshi Ota—Bloomberg/Getty Images An employee holding recording equipment walks past Google Inc.'s YouTube logo displayed at the company's YouTube Space studio in Tokyo, Japan, on March 30, 2013.

On your cellphone, at least

The horror of watching a vertical YouTube video on your cellphone marred by enormous black borders will soon be behind us.

The video site announced Thursday that its redesigned mobile app features a vertical video mode that will better display such content, CNN Money reports. Vertical videos have long been the scourge of the Internet, but they better fit the aspect ratio of smartphones and have become popular among young users thanks to Snapchat, which encourages them.

In addition to improving video playback, the new app features a subscriptions tab that allows users to see a stream of new videos from channels they follow, as well as improved editing tools for shooting video directly within the app. The updated app is available now on Android and coming soon to iOS.

More than half of YouTube’s views now come from mobile devices. The Google-owned brand, which is facing ever-increasing pressure from competitors like Facebook, also revealed that its total watch time is up 60% year-over-year.

[CNN Money]

TIME Smartphones

These Were The Top 10 Selling Smartphones in June

Man 94 iPhones Smuggled China
Bloomberg via Getty Images Boxes of iPhone 6 smartphones sit stacked on a counter during the sales launch at the Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, Calif., on Sept. 19, 2014.

The iPhone is still king.

The Apple iPhone 6 continues to top the list for best selling smartphone globally, maintaining its leadership for 10 straight months.

After declining sales in March and April, Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sells have gained since May, topping the most sold lists in the U.S., China and the global market for two months, according to Counterpoint Research. The iPhone 6 maintains dominance in the U.S., while the 6 Plus tops the list in China.

Meanwhile, Samsung has been struggling to keep up. Typically, Apple iPhone will top the list in the first and fourth quarters each year, and Samsung will take the lead in the second and third quarters. This year, that isn’t the case. The iPhone 6 has topped the global charts since September 2014.

Here are the top 10 selling smartphones globally in June:

  1. Apple iPhone 6
  2. Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  3. Samsung Galaxy S6
  4. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
  5. Apple iPhone 5S
  6. Xiaomi Mi Note
  7. Samsung Galaxy S5
  8. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  9. Xiaomi Redmi 2
  10. LG G4

Read More: Apple’s bizarro earnings report.

TIME Video Games

An Angry Birds Sequel Is Officially Happening

Angry Birds
Rovio Angry Birds

And developer Rovio desperately needs it

Despite the spinoffs, merchandise and a television show, there’s never actually been a sequel to the wildly successful mobile game Angry Birds. That changes later this month.

On Thursday, game developer Rovio announced that Angry Birds 2 will launch on July 30. The company didn’t reveal any details about the new title, but it’s likely it will involve flinging birds at large edifices in order to destroy pigs — you know, the classic stuff.

Angry Birds 2 could be a lifeline for the struggling Rovio, which has seen its franchise usurped by freemium games packed with in-app purchases like King’s Candy Crush Saga. The Finland-based Rovio generated just $170 million in revenue and $11 million in operating profit in 2014, down from the year before. The company was forced to cut more than 100 jobs last year as well.

TIME facebook

Facebook Is Testing a Way to Make You Watch More Video

Facebook's Influence In Consumer Consumption Of News Growing
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

It's another stab at what YouTube does best

Facebook wants you to watch even more videos when you log on to the social media site, which is why it’s testing a “Watch Later” button on its videos for the desktop version of the site.

The function will let users save a video to view at a later time with the hope that you’ll watch even more content (and boost ad revenue). The social media service is taking another stab at YouTube with the added function, too. The video-viewing website has a “Watch Later” button of its own.

As TechCrunch notes, the move comes about a year after Facebook launched Save, which allows users to review article links and other media at a later time.

The new “Watch Later” button also comes as Facebook has been bolstering its video ad capabilities in recent weeks and as the number of video views per day has risen to 4 billion in the last quarter.

For an in-depth look at the social media giant’s video capabilities, check out this Fortune feature from June.

TIME Retail

Google Is Making Shopping on a Smartphone Much Easier

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.

A new "buy button" is coming to search results

Google is finally rolling out a ‘Buy’ button in its search results. The new feature, first reported back in May, is an effort to get users comfortable thinking of Google as a shopping destination, not just a conduit to other sites.

At a press event on Wednesday, the company announced “Purchase with Google,” which will turn the ads that appear at the top of search results into cards that let users buy products from directly within Google’s interface. After clicking an ad marked with “Buy on Google,” a user will be taken to a special, Google-built page that shows information about the product and a checkout button to pay for the item using the credit card stored in a Google account.

Google isn’t actually selling these products itself, but instead partnering with retailers who will handle order fulfillment. Google makes money on these ads using the same cost-per-click ad auctions that power its traditional search ads.

With its new buttons, Google is aiming to make it easier for users to buy products on mobile phones’ screens. “There is too much friction when we try to make transactions on a phone,” says Jonathan Alferness, Google’s vice president of product management for Google Shopping. He notes that conversations rates to purchase items are still twice as high on desktop as they are on mobile.

Google is rolling out the buy button as a small test with about a dozen retailers in the coming weeks, with plans for a larger U.S. expansion by the end of the year.

At its event, Google also outlined some other recent tweaks to the mobile shopping experience. These include improved voice search that will provide users more detailed information when they ask questions about products, info cards that prominently show product reviews and improved “deep linking” capabilities that will let users open a purchase page within a retailer’s app directly from clicking a link in a Google ad.

TIME Apple

How to Get The Next Big iPhone Upgrade Months Ahead of Time

Apple iPhone 6/6 Plus Launch in Japan
Chris McGrath—Getty Images A member of the press compares the new iPhone models at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus at the Apple Omotesando store on September 19, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.

Apple has opened a public beta for the latest iPhone operating system

Apple is giving a sneak peak of iOS 9 to anyone that wants it.

On Thursday, the company released a public beta of its upcoming iPhone and iPad software. It’s an uncommon move for the company, which usually only makes iOS betas available to developers.

Users can sign up to access the iOS 9 beta by visiting Apple’s website. The early version of the software comes with a Feedback Assistant app, which will allow users to send Apple information about how the new OS is performing.

iOS 9, expected to be released in September, will feature a revamped News app, transit directions in Apple Maps and a more robust version of the Siri digital assistant, among other improvements. However, downloaders beware: since this is a beta version of the software, it will likely be full of bugs. Apple suggests users only download it onto a secondary phone and back up their devices before getting the new version.

TIME Mobile

How Apple’s New Emoji Could Anger China

A simple flag can be a big political statement

Apple is adding a new emoji to its iPhone operating system that could anger leaders in one of its most important markets.

The Taiwanese flag will be available on Apple keyboards for the first time when iOS 9 launches in the fall, according to Emojipedia, a website that tracks emoji updates. The sovereign status of Taiwan is a hotly contested issue in Asia, as China has identified the independently run state as a “renegade province” that needs to be reunified with the mainland. China openly opposes any references to Taiwanese independence.

The new flag could strain relations between Apple and China, which has in the past used its state broadcaster to call the iPhone a security threat. China is also well-known for its strict censorship policies on digital communications.

Apple generated nearly $17 billion in sales in Greater China (which includes Taiwan) in the first three months of 2015, making it the company’s second most important region by revenue generation after the Americas.

TIME Wireless

T-Mobile Will Let You Upgrade Your Phone Whenever You Want

T-Mobile
Steve Sands John Legere CEO of T-Mobile announces the company's new plans on March 18, 2015 in New York City.

New plan grants customers three upgrades a year with no additional cost

T-Mobile has been wreaking havoc on the wireless industry for two years with disruptive customer deals that upset the tradition of binding two-year contracts. Now the company has another new initiative that its larger competitors may be forced to respond to.

On Thursday, T-Mobile announced Jump! On Demand, a new initiative that will let users upgrade their smartphones up to three times a year without having to pay any additional fees. Customers can get their first phone on the plan for $0 down, then pay a monthly fee toward the purchase of the new phone. When ready for a new phone, a customer can trade in their current device for another one at no cost.

Rates for the monthly payment plan vary, but an initial promotion will let customers get an iPhone 6 with a payment plan of $15 per month when they trade in their old smartphone. These phone payment rates are in addition to the cost of the wireless plan.

There is some fine print. T-Mobile has an older Jump! plan that charges a $10 per month fee but includes perks such as phone insurance. This new plan has no fee, but no insurance. The payment plan also is part of an 18-month lease, and after a year and a half, customers must either upgrade to a new phone or pay the balance on their current phone to purchase the device outright.

Still, for people who are constantly eager to upgrade, the offering is an affordable way to always have the latest and greatest device. It’s also more flexible than offerings by T-Mobile’s competitors aimed at frequent upgraders.

Jump! Unlimited kicks off on June 28 at participating physical T-Mobile stores.

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