TIME Environment

Portraits of the Planet for Earth Day

Looking at the Icebergs, Near Franklin Island, Ross Sea, Antarctica in 2006.
Looking at the Icebergs, Near Franklin Island, Ross Sea, Antarctica in 2006. Camille Seaman

Google+ and TIME teamed up to find beautiful pictures of our planet. Selections made by TIME's photo editors are featured on the massive NASDAQ billboard in Times Square on Earth Day.

The NASDAQ billboard in Times Square features Google+ users' earth day photos selected by TIME's photo editors.
The NASDAQ billboard in Times Square features Google+ users’ earth day photos selected by TIME’s photo editors. Wesley Houser / Google

Mars is nice and Jupiter has a big red spot, but there’s no more gorgeous planet in the known galaxy than Earth. On a day when we tend focus on the threats to the Earth—which are many—we should also take time to celebrate the varied beauty found throughout our home. Google+ collected photos from around the world tagged with #MyBeautifulEarth, and TIME editors culled through the images to find the very best. The pictures that appear below are visual reminders of the Earth’s diversity, from fathomless oceans to glowing volcanoes to alpine glaciers. The only constants are color—and overwhelming beauty. This planet is a never-ending feast for the eyes, which is one more reason why we should try to take care of it, on Earth Day and every day.

TIME World

Get Away From There, Prince William

Prince William, Kate Duchess of Cambridge
Britain's Prince William, third left, looks over the cliff edge as he and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, left, observe abseiling and team building exercises at Narrow Neck Lookout near Katoomba, Australia, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Ryan Pierse / AP

You're making us nervous

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been hanging out Down Under and today they took a trip to Australia’s Blue Mountains to check out some cliffs. As you can see, Kate stood back at a reasonable distance, but William decided to live his life on the edge. Like, almost literally on the edge.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING PRINCE WILLIAM? YOU’RE MAKING US NERVOUS. Please, make better choices.

TIME apps

Google Updates the Android Camera App with New Features

Google Camera
Google

Your Android camera’s photos are about to get a lot more blurry, but don’t worry – that’s a very good thing. Yesterday, Google updated the official Android Camera app to include a number of new features, including a new background blur effect called Lens Blur.

“We created [Lens Blur] to give you the ability to create narrow depth-of-field photos like in your DSLR,” explains Google Product Manager Evan Rappaport on Google+. “Since we save the depth map of your image, you can even change the focal point and depth-of-field AFTER shooting.”

What’s so great about blurrier photos? Normally, when you take a shot with your phone’s camera, virtually everything is in focus – even busy, distracting backgrounds. Now, your Android photos will contain a data layer that computes the 3D positioning of the objects in your photos. You can choose to have an unimportant background fade away or choose to blur the foreground for artistic effect, even long after you’ve snapped your picture.

That’s not the only update to the Android camera app, either. There’s a new panorama mode for taking long, horizontal photos. Google has also raised the resolution of its 3D photospheres up to 50 megapixels – a sixfold increase.

You can enjoy the new Android camera features by updating your device’s Camera app. If you don’t already have Google Camera, it’s available for free download on any Android device via Google Play.

For more on the new Lens Blur feature, including the science that makes it all work, check out the Google Research Blog.

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

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TIME Social Networking

Gmail Lets Users Share Images Auto-Uploaded from Their Phones

With help from Gmail, Google+ photos finally get social.

My friends and family probably don’t know this, but I have photos of them on Google+ stretching all the way back to October 2011, when I bought a Samsung Galaxy S II and set up automatic photo backups.

These photos aren’t public, and the vast majority of them are visible to no one except me. That’s because I haven’t bothered to share them.

The reason is not complicated: Most of the people I know don’t actively use Google+, so sorting through and sharing my photos on Google’s social network would be a waste of time. Still, I auto-upload my photos anyway, using Google’s unlimited storage (for images of 2048 pixels or less) as a glorified backup service.

The recent addition of Google+ photo attachments in Gmail may be a sign that Google has recognized the fate of its own network. Instead of forcing people to share photos through Google+, Google is now letting Gmail users attach photos directly to their messages, using a new “Insert Photo” button at the bottom of the email. As a way of sharing photos I’ve snapped from my phone, it’s incredibly convenient.

Google

I will be considerably more likely to share my auto-uploaded photos over email than Google+. Sharing images via email is more private, more convenient and less proprietary. I know my recipients won’t have to visit Google+ or even have a Gmail account to view the images I send. And on my end, I’ll no longer have to wade through the Google+ interface just to find a photo, download it and re-upload it again.

There are now more ways than ever to auto-upload photos to Google+. The latest version of Android includes a new “Photos” app, separate from the main Google+ app, that can automatically upload camera images. In December, Google released an auto-backup desktop app for Windows and Mac. And in October, the Google+ iOS app gained background uploads, allowing users to back up their photos without having to periodically re-open the app.

But without a good way to share those photos, users are essentially stuffing their pictures in a dusty closet, and Google is just wasting server space. By liberating automatic photo uploads from Google+, Gmail is making those photos more social than they ever were on Google’s social network.

 

 

 

TIME Music

See Coachella Through the Eyes of Google Glass

See the famed California music fest from a new angle

Jonathan D. Woods, TIME’s Senior Editor for Photo & Interactive, spent a weekend at Coachella. Here’s an intimate firsthand look at how he saw the music festival through a unique lens: Google Glass.

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 20 Fun Photos to Jump-Start Your Weekend

TGIF! From pillow fights and elephant showers to Batkid throwing the opening pitch and a 110-year-old man kissing his wife, we're sure these photos will be a fun start to your weekend.

TIME Technologizer

With Carousel App, Dropbox Wants to Preserve All Your Photos, Forever

Gentry Underwood
Dropbox's Gentry Underwood demos the company's new Carousel app at a media event in San Francisco on April 10, 2014 Harry McCracken / TIME

The online storage kingpin is finally taking digital images seriously.

For the last few years, I’ve been dumping most of the digital images I care about — including decades-old scanned family photos — into my Dropbox account.

It was a strange decision in some respects, since Dropbox has had very few photo-specific features: My treasured pictures weren’t much more than a list of files with unintelligible names such as IMG_013.JPG. But they felt safe there, and I figured that Dropbox would eventually bring more ambition to photo management.

And now it has. At a media event in San Francisco this morning, Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston announced that the company has 275 million users and almost 700 employees. Then a bunch of those employees began unveiling a bunch of items in rapid succession, including collaborative features for people who store Microsoft Office documents in Dropbox and new versions of the company’s Mailbox email app for Android and computers. But it saved its biggest announcement until the end. It’s Carousel, a new iOS and Android app that lets you keep and share all your photos — stored, naturally, in your Dropbox account.

Both versions of the app are supposed to go live today; if you can’t find them in the iOS or Google Play store, try Carousel.com. (Dropbox acquired that domain name from a company that repairs merry-go-rounds.)

The fact that Carousel is a stand-alone app rather than a set of new features within the existing Dropbox apps is a continuation of a strategy that started becoming apparent when the company acquired Mailbox last year: It’s divvying up all the ways that people need to store important stuff into a portfolio of interlocking apps and services. The approach is also reminiscent of what Facebook is doing by creating apps such as Paper and buying WhatsApp.

Visually, at least, Carousel reminds me of Everpix, an innovative photo-sharing service that aimed to store all your photos for life, but which died when the startup behind it ran into money problems last winter. Carousel automatically groups your photos into events and lets you zip through them at a rapid clip, even though they’re stored in the cloud rather than on your device. (As you take additional snapshots with your phone, they get uploaded automatically.)

The sharing features look neat, and are a photo-specific variant of the capabilities that help make Dropbox itself so popular. You can select hundreds of photos (and videos) at a time, then push them out to other Carousel users, who can then save them at full resolution in their own Dropboxes. This will appeal to folks who are already Dropbox addicts, but I bet it’ll also bring the service to new users.

For now, Carousel doesn’t do all that much. That’s also reminiscent of Mailbox, which started out trying to bring a fresh take to the basics of email, and has been gradually adding additional features. Dropbox’s Gentry Underwood, who demoed Carousel onstage at today’s event, told me that the company has a roadmap of additional capabilities it’s working on, and that it’s also working on a version that’s usable on Windows PCs and Macs. (For now, all the photos you store in Carousel will be available from within Dropbox’s apps.)

Carousel is free, and leverages whatever Dropbox storage you have. (The company starts new users off with 2GB, doles out additional space for referrals and offers paid accounts starting at 100GB for $99 a year.) I asked Underwood whether the company had ruled out the idea of making money by targeting users with ads, and though he said that such decisions are made by others at the company, he told me that it’s not part of the plan: “Advertising is not something we’ve approached — at Dropbox, our customer is our user.”

In theory, you’d think that by 2014, some other company would have solved photo storage and sharing. But although there are an infinite number of ways to do it, from Flickr to Facebook, there’s no definitive, market-dominating contender — especially for the images you want to hold onto forever. “It’s a very hard problem to solve,” says Underwood. “There’s a lot of pieces you have to get right to get that simple, delightful experience. The sheer volume of content we’re processing is mind-boggling. It’s more of a challenge than most small teams are up for.”

As with every other photo-storing service, when I think about Carousel, I start to wonder if it’ll be around for decades, as you’d want any repository for your most important memories to be. I make no predictions. But Dropbox is in a better place to offer this sort of service than most other companies. Unlike photo-centric startups such as Everpix, it’s a well-funded, established business that’s in no danger of collapsing. And it makes money by charging users, setting it apart from advertising-dependent companies like Facebook and Google, which tend to see your digital possessions as big data they can mine.

More thoughts once I’ve used Carousel to explore all the photos that are already sitting in my Dropbox. If you try the app, I’d love to know your impressions.

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 15 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

Try not to shout "TGIF" from your desk. From wedding kisses to a kissing festival, we're sure these photos will be a great start to your weekend.

TIME celebrity

Kim Kardashian Attacked By An Elephant Mid-Selfie

Troll elephant

During her trip to Thailand, Kim Kardashian was hanging out with a giant elephant, and she did what any of us would do: she took a selfie with it. Or at least, she attempted to take a selfie with it. The elephant decided to blow air out of his massive trunk, sending Kardashian into a panicky fit.

It was awesome.

(h/t Us Weekly)

TIME

Through Don Draper’s Eyes: A Tour of the Time & Life Building of the 1960s

TIME brings to you a rare insider’s tour of the Time & Life Building in the 1960s

In anticipation of the Mad Men season 6 premiere on AMC this Sunday night, TIME brings to you a rare insider’s tour of the Time & Life Building in the 1960s—the setting of everyone’s favorite mid-century ad agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The Time & Life Building, designed by the Rockefeller family’s architects, Harrison & Abramowitz & Harris, opened in 1959, meaning that Don Draper et al. were some of its earliest (fictional) occupants. Time Inc. magazines like TIME, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated still call the building home—but it must be said that, six decades later, hardly anything seen there today can match the sleek, ambitious style that defined the place, and the people who worked there, when 1271 Avenue of the Americas first opened its doors.

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