TIME legal

Jawbone: Fitbit Employees Stole Company Secrets

Day Two Of Mobile World Congress 2014
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Fitbit Flex wearable electronic fitness devices sit on display at the Fitbit Inc. pavilion on day two of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.

New lawsuit comes as Fitbit readies IPO

Fitbit is prepping for its upcoming market debut, but its road to going public just got a lot bumpier.

Jawbone, Fitbit’s biggest competitor in the wearable health-tracking industry, alleges in a new lawsuit that Fitbit has “systematically” plundered confidential information by luring employees who brought along sensitive materials. Jawbone says Fitbit put into place “clandestine efforts” in order “to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property,” according to the complaint, filed Wednesday in California State Court.

Fitbit is the leader in health tracking devices. According to its initial public offering prospectus filed this month, Fitbit’s market share is nearly 85%. Jawbone, Apple and Nike are all competing for the No. 2 spot.

Jawbone’s complaint says that a number of former employees downloaded company information, like business plans and strategy documents, and took that data with them to a new position within Fitbit using thumb drives. It quotes an unnamed executive search consultant saying, “Fitbit’s objective is to decimate Jawbone.”

Jawbone is asking for both financial damages and the court’s intervention to prevent former employees from using any more information they may take.

TIME Apple

Why the Apple Watch Will Get Way Better in the Fall

Customers look at Apple Watches on display at an Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2015. From London to Beijing, Apple stores saw few customers lined up before opening Friday as pre-orders started. The first new gadget under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is selling in eight countries and Hong Kong, with shipments scheduled to start April 24. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Customers look at Apple Watches on display at an Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2015.

According to an Apple exec

A key Apple exec has made it clear that Apple’s newest product will get better once autumn rolls around.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, said at the Code Conference Wednesday that consumers should expect a surge of higher quality third-party apps for the Apple Watch in the fall, according to 9to5Mac. That’s because developers will have the opportunity to make apps that run natively on the Apple Watch.

Williams added there will be more games and other Apple Watch features coming out in preview mode in the fall as well.

Customer service will also be boosted in the coming months. “Later this year, we’ll have 45,000 people answering the phone to give AppleCare support during the holiday season,” said Williams, according to 9to5Mac.

TIME apps

Google Is Finally Making Apps for the Apple Watch

Apple Debuts New Watch
Stephen Lam—Getty Images The new Apple Watch is seen on display after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

A news app shows the company won't ignore Apple's device completely

The Apple Watch has added a big new addition to its app developer ranks.

Google released its first app for Apple’s new wearable on Tuesday. Google News & Weather, which was previously available for smartphones, will now allow users to get a quick summary of news headlines from the Apple Watch screen. According a TechCrunch hands-on, the app presents about a dozen headlines with an accompanying photo for each, organized around topics like sports and fashion.

However, users can’t click through to read the entire or article or easily send the content to their phones. There’s also no weather functionality as of yet.

Despite the barebones approach, the app is a signal that Google may eventually roll out some of its more robust apps on Apple’s new device. Google has its own smartwatch platform, Android Wear, that predates Apple Watch. But with the Apple Watch having sold more units on its first day available for pre-order than Android Wear watches sold in all of 2014, according to one estimate, Google may be willing to go where the users are, even if it’s not their own device.

The search giant implements a similar strategy in areas like phones and set-top boxes, where it has well-supported apps for the iPhone and Apple TV.

TIME Gadgets

You’d Never Guess the Wearable Device President Obama Uses

Sorry, Apple

Though he’s still attached to his BlackBerry, Barack Obama is hopping on the wearable device bandwagon as well.

The President was spotted wearing a Fitbit Surge during a Wall Street Journal interview this week:

The newly released Surge, which includes a built-in GPS and call and text alerts, is a direct competitor to the Apple Watch. Seems President Obama is continuing to show love to lots of gadgets outside of Apple’s product line. We’ll have to keep an eye out for the Surge next time the President is on the basketball court.

Read more: Review: The Surge Is the Most Powerful Fitbit Ever

TIME Apple

The 1 Big Thing Holding Back the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Goes On Sale At Handful Of Boutiques Around The World
Chris McGrath—Getty Images Hajime Shimada shows off his newly purchased Apple Watch outside boutique store, Dover Street Market Ginza on April 24, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.

Third-party apps aren't as good as they could be (yet)

The Apple Watch, Apple’s first foray in into the wearable world, is already one of the best smartwatches on the market. But there’s one big thing holding it back.

When you get the Apple Watch, you’ll find it preloaded with a suite of full-powered, Apple-made apps — Messages, Mail, Calendar and more. If those aren’t enough for you, there’s also an Apple Watch app store, already packed with third-party apps from companies like Foursquare, Uber and JetBlue.

However, those third-party Apple Watch apps have a big drawback: They aren’t “native” apps running on the Watch itself. Instead, they’re basically extensions of their iPhone counterparts, with all the code running on your iPhone while the Apple Watch displays their user interface. They also can’t actively utilize some of the Apple Watch’s hardware, like the heart rate monitor.

Read more: Behold the Glory of Unboxing a Brand New Apple Watch

What this means for you as a user is the third-party Apple Watch apps just aren’t as powerful as they could be. That’s a shame, because so much of our digital devices’ functionality comes from full-fledged third-party apps — think about how often you use Facebook or Google Maps on your iPhone.

Still, some of today’s Apple Watch apps make do with the limitations. And Apple has said developers can start making truly native apps sometime later this year.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Apple Watch developers can use the time between now and then to experiment and learn about how people use their Apple Watch. Plenty of today’s Apple Watch apps say “we’re here,” but they don’t offer a compelling use case for a smartwatch app (You have to cut developers some slack, though: Many haven’t gotten much, if any, time with the actual device they were coding for). With lots of Apple Watches out in the wild, developers will learn more about how people respond to them and make their apps better down the road. Some developers, however, will learn a painful lesson: What makes a great smartphone app does not necessarily make a great smartwatch app.

TIME apps

TIME Launches Apple Watch App for News

Flick through 12 of the day's biggest headlines and tap for a faster look at the news

TIME is on the Apple Watch. TIME’s new mobile app brings the latest headlines right to your wrist. An intuitive user interface allows readers to swipe through The Brief, TIME’s up-to-the-minute collection of the most important stories of the moment.

Tap a headline to open the full article on your phone within the TIME Mobile App or play the audio version of The Brief to have the news read aloud while you’re on the go. Users of the app—developed by Time Inc.’s Seattle-based mobile engineering team—can adjust the volume using audio controls on the watch, the phone or a car via the dashboard.

The Brief has more than 850,000 subscribers. Now they can get it with just a glance at the wrist. Download it here.

Don’t have the Apple Watch yet? Sign up for The Brief below.

TIME devices

Get Ready To Turn Your Thumb Into a Miniature Trackpad

You could soon use your phone while your hands are full

Next up in wearable tech: a device that turns your thumb into a miniature wireless trackpad.

MIT researchers are developing a device that could have a host of benefits for users juggling smart phones and regular life. Users could answer the phone while cooking, control their cell phones even when they hands are full or discreetly send a text, according to a press release.

But the researchers aren’t forgetting about style, either. Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a graduate student in media arts and sciences and lead author on a new paper on the device, said the thumb track pad was inspired by colorful nail decals. To that end, it will come with detachable covers in different colors so users can match their pad with their outfits.

In the end, the benefits of the thumb track pad will be in its size and ease. “It’s very unobtrusive,” Kao said. “When I put this on, it becomes part of my body. I have the power to take it off, so it still gives you control over it. But it allows this very close connection to your body.”

Researchers will present the prototype this weekend in as a conference in Seoul, but it’s unclear when, and if–, it will be available for retailers.

TIME the big picture

Why This Apple Watch Rival Is Very Important

Pebble Pebble Time

The Pebble Time offers an important alternative

The day the Pebble smartwatch went up on Kickstarter a couple of years back, I pitched in enough money that I got the device when it was finally made. The good news was the early version worked mostly as advertised. But Pebble’s early software was basic, hard to learn and unstable. Still, Pebble quickly addressed those issues, and to date the company has sold 1.1 million smartwatches — the startup was second only to Samsung in terms of smartwatch sales over the recent holiday quarter.

Not long after the first Pebble smartwatch came out, however, devices powered by Google’s Android Wear operating system hit the scene. I decided to retire my Pebble in favor of an Android smartwatch, but I kept my eye on Pebble, hoping it would continue to improve on its design. Indeed, like all good technology companies, Pebble’s team has kept making the company’s watches smarter and better. The company recently headed back to Kickstarter to raise a record $20 million for a brand new smartwatch sporting a completely new operating system with a cleaner user interface and streamlined app installation process.

That new watch, the Pebble Time, especially intrigues me. In designing it, Pebble execs looked hard at how people were using their devices and noticed a key trend — people used it in what Pebble now calls “timelines.” Built around this metaphor, the new Pebble Time will have 3 buttons connected to people’s timelines. One button is for the past and gives you things like a sleep score, calories burned, steps walked, and so on. The second button is for the present, like controlling music or checking texts. And the third button is for future items, such as a list of flight reservations coming up or dinner reservations. Pebble has also introduced smart straps that add functionality to its watches — for example, a strap with built-in GPS could add location services to the Pebble. I really like this approach, which should help Pebble stay competitive against the upcoming Apple Watch and the various Android Wear devices out there.

The new Pebble Time will be important for the smartwatch market for two reasons. First, the Android Wear operating system isn’t well designed, and most Android Wear devices have a long way to go in the style department. If you’ve got an Android device, you won’t be able to use the Apple Watch — but Pebble’s offerings give you an important alternative.

At $199 retail, the Pebble Time also offers a cheaper option for iPhone owners not ready to invest $349 or more in the Apple Watch. Those who have been using the Apple Watch tell me that it’s very intuitive and extremely powerful — but it may be more than some people need. The Pebble Time may appeal to plenty of iPhone owners who may never want or need what the Apple Watch provides (The Pebble connects with both iPhone and Android devices).

The good news for people in the market for a smartwatch is that most of them will soon have at least two platform options — Apple Watch and Pebble for iPhone owners, Android Wear and Pebble for Android users. While Apple and Android may get the lion’s share of the smartwatch market, the new Pebble Time offers a solid alternative and increases consumer choice.

 

TIME Apple

See What It’s Actually Like to Use the Apple Watch

An animated look at the Apple Watch's various function

  • The digital crown lets you open the homepage and select an app:

    Video By Jason Cipriani for Fortune; Gif by Josh Raab & Joseph Lin for TIME
  • You can then swipe between apps like Weather, Apple Maps, and Instagram:

    Video By Jason Cipriani for Fortune; Gif by Josh Raab & Joseph Lin for TIME
  • You can use the digital crown to scroll through a list of your friends and send them a message:

    Video By Jason Cipriani for Fortune; Gif by Josh Raab & Joseph Lin for TIME
  • A fitness app lets you choose a workout and set activity goals for the day:

    Video By Jason Cipriani for Fortune; Gif by Josh Raab & Joseph Lin for TIME
  • You can control your iPhone’s camera from the Apple Watch:

    Video By Jason Cipriani for Fortune; Gif by Josh Raab & Joseph Lin for TIME
  • You can customize your Apple Watch using an app on the iPhone:

    Video By Jason Cipriani for Fortune; Gif by Josh Raab & Joseph Lin for TIME

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