TIME Web

Now Google Can Tell You Whether Your Fashion Sense is Trending

The company's inaugural fashion report details what styles and garments are growing in popularity, based on search queries

Google really does know everything—including how fashionable your outfit is.

A new report by the search giant claims to reveal the fashion trend du jour by tracking how often different styles or garments are entered into search queries.

This year, for example, Tulle skirts have grown in popularity according to trending Google apparel searches by 34% from January 2014 to January 2015, and jogger pants are also apparently increasingly ubiquitous, according to the report.

Google distinguishes in the report between “sustained growth” and “seasonal growth” trends, like emoji shirts and kale sweatshirts. According to the report, peplum dresses and string bikinis are on their way out for good, while skinny jeans and corset dresses are just seasonally on the down-and-out. Jumpsuits and rompers are seeing a renaissance this spring.

Google’s insight into fashion trends has allowed it to begin consulting for major retailers including Calvin Klein, which use Google search data in fashion planning.

“We’re interested in being powerful digital consultants for our brands, not just somebody they can talk to about what ads they can buy online,” said Lisa Green, who heads Google’s fashion and luxury team, told the New York Times.

You can check out the report here.

TIME Web

These Are the Best Flight Search Tools

airplane-runway
Getty Images

Try searching on different days of the week

Online flight search services are big business, as more of us turn to computers and smartphones for travel planning. Last year, 40 percent of Americans booked flights, hotels, cruises and other holidays on their phones and tablets, a statistic based on 300 million bookings worth $150 billion, while the Economist reckons that online bookings account for 43% of total travel sales.

The options are growing. Google recently overhauled its flight aggregator service, Google Flights, with the addition of money-saving features posing serious competition to established heavyweights such as Kayak and Skyscanner. Then there are newer, design-led services like Momondo or Hipmunk, which offer filters by price as well as convenience.

Are you really getting the best deals?

We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to services that search other services for the best deals — but despite the thousands of results these services manage to turn up, you may not necessarily be getting the cheapest deal or even the fare advertised.

Buyer beware: Most fares found by these flight search engines don’t include the baggage fees charged by some low-cost airlines as well as United and Delta. In some cases, they don’t include fuel taxes and other surcharges.

Nor does every airline shows up in these metasearches, says Matt van der Rohe, an online travel expert with travel concierge service Flightfox. For example, Southwest Airlines does not put its fares on metasearch sites, and UK-based budget airline Ryanair saves its cheapest fares for its own site.

We picked six of the top-rated flight aggregator services and compared prices for 10 flights over a week in June, from domestic flights including New York to Los Angeles, Seattle, Las Vegas and Austin, and international flights from New York to Toronto, Sydney, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Hong Kong.

Which flight search service is best for you?

Kayak

Available for iOS, Android, Windows and Kindle devices.

The granddaddy of flight aggregator search sites, Kayak, was recently redesigned to streamline its search interface. Kayak now offers tons of ways to filter your search, including an intuitive slider system for adjusting approximate takeoff times and options to show or hide redeye flights, view flights with Wi-Fi only and see “hacker fares,” where different legs of a journey are purchased separately. Also handy is the ability to adjust the maximum layover you’re willing to bear.

A new price trend graph offers advice on whether flight prices are likely to go up or down, giving you as much peace of mind as one might be able to expect, while the fee calculator can add credit card and check-in luggage fees to the posted fares. If you search for flight and hotel packages, Kayak can also tell you how much you’ll save by booking the two together over booking them separately.

Bottom line: Kayak almost always found cheaper fares than any the flight services in this list (or at least within a few dollars of the cheapest). On the NYC-Cancun flight, it scored the cheapest flight by far at $398 (compared to $466 and up on other sites), thanks to being the only site that accessed fares from Aeromexico. Its fee calculator for credit card and luggage fees also means you’re most likely to click through to a posted fare.

Skyscanner

Available for Android, iOS, Windows, Kindle and, BlackBerry devices.

Skyscanner is the other search giant offers similar results to Kayak in an equally straightforward interface. It provides a couple of easy tools for filtering out particular features like takeoff times and number of stops. Clicking on a particular flight shows exactly how long the layover is. However, there is little additional information given about flights; for example, there’s no obvious indicator for overly long flights (as most of the other services in this list offer), nor does Skyscanner show in-flight amenities like Wi-Fi.

Bottom line: Skyscanner tended to turn up domestic fares that were roughly the same as Kayak’s, give or take $5 to $10, for flights that cost $300 to $500. It matched the other services for rates to Paris and Sydney but missed finding the cheapest flights to Hong Kong and Rio (despite finding the same airlines).

SeatGuru

Available for Android and iOS devices.

SeatGuru is an airplane seat plan and flight search site, owned by TripAdvisor, offers many intuitive filters for your travel hunt in a simple, quick-to-use interface. Results are displayed in a clean, comprehensive style that allows you to sort based on price and direct flights, filter to “avoid early flights” and weed out pre-8 a.m. departures, and apply a “best value” selector calculated by flight time, cost and number of stops.

Each result displays various flight amenities, such as Wi-Fi, the option to purchase additional legroom and whether the seat pitch is average or good. SeatGuru uses the Expedia database for hotel packages, so you’ll see the odd, ad-like hotel suggestion pop up in the middle of your search results to show you how much you’d save by booking a stay along with your flight.

Bottom line: SeatGuru came up with comparable fares for international routes. For domestic flights, it sometimes turned up the cheapest fares found by the other services (give or take $5), but it was sometimes (Cancun, Austin) pricier by about 10 percent. Its filters for search results make choosing a flight easier than those on Kayak and Skyscanner.

Hipmunk

Available for Android and iOS devices.

The home page of Hipmunk consists of a search box asking where you want to go and when. The real design beauty of Hipmunk is its “agony” rating of the ensuing results. Whereas older sites such as Kayak and Skyscanner leave analyzing its thousands of results to you, the hunter, Hipmunk orders flights by how long they take. Layovers usually push up the agony factor. You can also order flights by price and takeoff or landing times.

When booking flights, the outgoing and return legs are chosen separately, making it much easier to pick the times you want, rather than plowing through the endless list of flight combinations employed by many other sites. Any extra cost incurred by particular flight times is displayed next to the flight, so you can easily scroll to the choices that don’t cost extra.

Bottom line: Hipmunk tended to find the cheapest international fares (that is, as cheap or cheaper than the other services in this list) and around the same prices on domestic fares.

Momondo

Available for Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices.

Momondo is a flight, hotel and car rental booking site that has a brilliantly fast search with intuitive controls. Flights can be ordered by price, speed or “best,” based on an algorithm computing flight duration and cost. There are extra checkboxes for filtering by airline, departure or arrival times and, uniquely, by frequent flier alliances, which is handy if you’re savvy about air miles. Two bar graphs show the rise and fall in price of both outgoing and return flights.

If you can’t quite decide where to go on your next vacation, hit the Trip Finder to find destinations based on what you want to do (city break, shopping, the beach), when you want to do it, a rough area to head for and, most usefully, the budget you have available.

Bottom line: Momondo has excellent coverage of online travel services and airlines and, in our test, it turned up the cheapest flights (either the same cost as the cheapest, or about 2 percent to 4 percent cheaper on both domestic and international). Choosing flights is made easy by a clever set of filters for airlines, flight times and convenience, while the bar graph fare calendar helps flexible travelers pick the cheapest dates.

Google Flights

With the world’s most-used search engine backing it, you’d expect Google Flights to clock a blistering search time, and it does. The interface is reassuringly clean, minimal and Google-y, returning results in about a second — much faster than every other service. At the top of each results list is a tip suggesting how you can fly for less; for example, we could have saved $25 on our $425 New York-LA flight by shifting the week-long trip forward by a day. This change is bookable by simply clicking on the tip. Otherwise, found flights are filtered with “best” flights first, based on flight times and flight duration balanced against cost; it doesn’t always choose the direct or cheapest routes.

Flights can be booked as separate legs with different companies. You can save your itinerary for price alerts on Google Now or share it via email with your travel buddies.

Bottom line: Google Flights scored the same fares for most domestic flights and the longest flight (NY-Sydney), but it turned up pricier flights for Paris, Rio and Hong Kong.

When travel agents come in

For straightforward flights — fly there, come back — most of us can quite easily get the best deals simply by hitting up one flight aggregator site or, in many cases, an airline that flies where we want to go.

But when it comes complex routes like a transcontinental trip in January from New York to Sydney with stops in Singapore and Bangkok, you’re unlikely to get the best price (or airline selection) by simply punching in a multi-city trip and booking it all through an aggregator site. For example, the low-cost airline Scoot that flies direct from Sydney to Singapore didn’t turn up as an option on this route (despite being listed on at least some of the other search engines).

This type of itinerary is where new-gen travel services such as Flightfox make their coin. Unlike traditional travel agents, Flightfox does not take a commission on flight sales. Instead, the company charges customers a flat fee for a human agent to hunt down the best fare for a given itinerary and then send the customer the link to book themselves.

Van der Rohe says he mostly uses the same sites as we might, as well as a few accounts that send extra information about fare availabilities. “What we have is a knowledge of routes, fare rules and loopholes that can lower the cost of itineraries beyond what you might see at first in flight search engines,” he says. (He won’t divulge what these loopholes are, exactly.) He did, however, share a few tips for searching with flight aggregator apps at home.

“There’s a lot to be said for brute force,” he says. Search as many flight combinations, airlines and routes as you can think of across many different sites.

If a flight aggregator site isn’t giving you the price you want, look up an airport’s Wikipedia page and see which airlines fly to it. Then search for fares on these airlines’ pages.

Comb forums such as FlyerTalk and MilePoint, which are bases for travelers to share flights and routes and deals.

Try searching on different days of the week. “Every day and every flight there are certain seats and certain fares, which change all the time,” van der Rohe says. (In the two days since the flights for this article was researched, some fares have dropped.)

If you’re very eager (or a travel manager),subscribe to Expert Flyer, a site aimed at frequent flyers that sends alerts when a particular seat on a flight becomes available. “Sometimes seats right next to each other are different fares,” says van der Rohe.

As for when to book to score those cheapest fares, Kayak research based on a year’s worth of search data found optimal days to leave and return and an optimal window during which to make your booking. For example, you’re likely to find the best airfares to Europe from the United States and Canada by departing on a Wednesday and returning on a Tuesday and booking six months in advance. In contrast, an Asia trip is best booked five weeks in advance, departing and returning on Wednesdays.

At the end of the day, finding the cheapest airfare is best accomplished by grunt work interspersed with anxiety over whether flights are going to get any cheaper. That’s why van der Rohe advises customers that if they see a price they’re happy with, they may as well just book it.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME Web

Google Is Making a Big Change to Its Search Results

Mobile-friendly websites will now get a big boost

Google has let the world in on a recent change to its carefully protected search algorithm. Starting Tuesday, the company is boosting the ranking for mobile-friendly websites and demoting those pages that don’t load well on smartphones.

The search giant first announced the change back in February, and the move has earned the moniker “Mobilegeddon” as anxiety over the algorithm tweak has grown in recent weeks. The end result should benefit users, who will less often be sent to hard-to-navigate websites designed for desktop computers.

The shift will also help Google, which is fiercely competing with apps dedicated to specific services (think Amazon for shopping, Yelp for restaurant reviews) that are siphoning away inquiries users could be typing into a Google search bar.

TIME Web

Twitter Cracks Down on Trolls With More Abuse Controls

The company is broadening the scope of what counts as abuse

Twitter is continuing its campaign against abusive online messages, announcing a new slate of changes to the social network Tuesday aimed at curtailing Internet trolls and bullies.

Twitter has broadened the types of threats that it can punish by changing its rules to ban “threats of violence against others” rather than “direct, specific threats of violence against others.” The social network says the previous phrasing was too narrow to deal with the different types of abuse that occur online. Twitter is also taking a more granular approach to dealing with abuse by locking offending users’ accounts and forcing them to delete certain tweets to access their accounts again. The company also says it will limit the reach of abusive messages in some cases without actually deleting them, though it doesn’t specify how the messages will be limited.

The changes come a day after Twitter announced it would begin allowing users who don’t follow each other to send each other private messages. The move prompted a vocal backlash from some Twitter users who felt the new policy might invite more online abuse.

Read next: This App Will Flag Your Offensive Tweets Before Your Future Employer Sees Them

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Web

See Everything You’ve Ever Googled in One Terrifying Place

Here's how to find your search history—and delete it

Some of your deepest, darkest secrets have probably passed through the Google search bar. Now, you can download every last query you’ve ever typed into the search engine and see them all together in their raw glory (or shame).

The feature was first rolled out as an experiment last year but is now available to all users, according to the unofficial Google blog Google Operating System. To access the data, visit your Web History page, click the gear icon in the top-right corner and click “Download.” A warning box will appear advising users to enable two-step verification and to avoid downloading their search histories to public computers.

Click “Create Archive” and a zip file featuring all the search queries will be placed in a folder called “Takeout” in your Google Drive account. The file can then be downloaded to your computer. Only searches you made while logged into your Google account are included in the file.

If you’re horrified at the idea of every fleeting thought you’ve typed into Google being gathered in a single place, you can also delete your search history. On the Web history page where you download the archive, simply click the gear icon and select “Remove items” instead. In the drop-down menu, you’ll see an option to remove items since “the beginning of time.”

Read next: You Can Now Find Your Lost Phone by Googling It

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Web

Science Says You Should Ignore Internet Trolls

Troll sign
Douglas Pearson—Getty Images Troll Road Sign, Trollstigen

A new algorithm can predict Internet irritants with 80% accuracy

Commonly found under bridges and in the reader commentary of stories about Apple, trolls have long plagued the good people of fairy tales and the Internet. While banishing them has long been the remedy of choice, new research out of Stanford and Cornell universities might help to identify these persistent pests before they even start wringing their wart-covered hands. Boasting a methodology with 80% accuracy, the study provides hope that once Skynet becomes self-aware, we can wipe this scourge off the face of the web once and for all.

So who, exactly, is a troll? Analyzing the comments on news (CNN.com), politics (Breitbart.com), and gaming (IGN.com) sites over a period of 18 months, the study examined more than 40 million posts by at least 1.7 million users, discovering not only what antisocial behavior looks like, but how it festers, grows, and is ultimately dealt with. This allowed the researchers to see how trolls typically evolve over time.

But one thing in particular helped these odious Internet users stand out from their mild-mannered counterparts. “They receive more replies than average users,” says the paper, “suggesting that they might be successful in luring others into fruitless, time-consuming discussions.”

To create the algorithm, the researchers looked at all 1.7 million users surveyed and split them into two groups: future-banned users (FBUs) and never-banned-users (NBUs). Assuming the FBUs were all trolls, they then monitored their behavior from when they signed up to when they got shut out. Some clear differences emerged between the trolls and the NBUs: FBUs wrote differently than everyone else, often going off-topic, scribbling posts that were more difficult to read, and saying more negative things. In addition, trolls made more comments per day, and posted more times on each thread. They often had the most posts in a particular thread, and made more replies to other comments.

In other words, the trolls were hyper-active.

But that alone wasn’t enough to separate trolls from your casual cranks. To do that, the researchers looked at how users’ behaviors changed over time, analyzing how many posts of theirs were deleted by site moderators. NBUs weren’t saints — they also had posts deleted — but only a small proportion got worse over the course of the study. The trolls, on the other hand, had an increasing amount of posts deleted as time wore on.

And this all makes sense, when you think about it. Trolls start off surly, are met with opposition and then get a little nutty. Then, and when their comments are deleted, they get even crazier — a cycle that gradually spins out of control, until they’re ultimately shut down. It happens online. It happens on television. It even happens in the real world.

Admittedly, the study doesn’t take sarcasm into account, a tool no doubt wielded by a mutant strain of super-trolls, users who “purposefully ask overly naive questions or state contrary viewpoints.” Imagine that . . . oh god, the horror.

But the study does give actionable insight on what to do should you ever encounter a troll. “Anti-social behavior is exacerbated when the community feedback is overly harsh,” says the report. In other words — and of course you already know this — don’t feed the trolls. Since FBUs’ behavior gets worse over time, that means don’t engage them early or often.

Currently, this research is unfortunately little more than an exercise in academics, as its algorithm for detecting trolls has yet to be rolled into a software or a service. But it’s a good first step for sites all over the web — especially on Twitter —where the formula could be used to scout out future troublesome users.

TIME Internet

Mark Zuckerberg Defends His Latest Initiative

Critics say his Internet.org project violates net neutrality principles

Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to deliver free Internet to the world has come under fire.

The Facebook CEO wrote a post on Friday defending Internet.org, an ambitious plan to bring Internet access to under-connected parts of the world. Critics say the initiative unfairly disadvantages websites that are not part of Internet.org, which offers some content for free.

“To give more people access to the Internet, it is useful to offer some service for free,” Zuckerberg said. “If someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than none at all.”

In places like India, Facebook has partnered with mobile operators to offer access to certain websites, like news sites, job boards and Facebook itself, without the need for a data plan.

The Times of India, a large media group in the country, has withdrawn its job board and some other sites from Internet.org and is urging competitors like BBC to do the same.

 

TIME Web

Google Embraces ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Sites in Search Shake-Up

Websites must load quickly on mobile devices to appear on top with the revised Google formula for smartphones and tablets

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Google is about to change the way its influential search engine recommends websites on smartphones and tablets in a shift that’s expected to sway where millions of people shop, eat and find information.

The revised formula, scheduled to be released Tuesday, will favor websites that Google defines as “mobile-friendly.” Websites that don’t fit the description will be demoted in Google’s search results on smartphones and tablets while those meeting the criteria will be more likely to appear at the top of the rankings — a prized position that can translate into more visitors and money.

Although Google’s new formula won’t affect searches on desktop and laptop computers, it will have a huge influence on how and where people spend their money, given that more people are relying on their smartphones to compare products in stores and look for restaurants. That’s why Google’s new rating system is being billed by some search experts as “Mobile-geddon.”

“Some sites are going to be in for a big surprise when they find a drastic change in the amount of people visiting them from mobile devices,” said Itai Sadan, CEO of website-building service Duda.

It’s probably the most significant change that Google Inc. has ever made to its mobile search rankings, according to Matt McGee, editor-in-chief for Search Engine Land, a trade publication that follows every tweak that the company makes to its closely guarded algorithms.

Here are a few things to know about what’s happening and why Google is doing it.

MAKING MOBILE FRIENDS

To stay in Google’s good graces, websites must be designed so they load quickly on mobile devices. Content must also be easily accessible by scrolling up and down — without having to also swipe to the left or right. It also helps if all buttons for making purchases or taking other actions on the website can be easily seen and touched on smaller screens.

If a website has been designed only with PC users in mind, the graphics take longer to load on mobile devices and the columns of text don’t all fit on the smaller screens, to the aggravation of someone trying to read it.

Google has been urging websites to cater to mobile device for years, mainly because that is where people are increasingly searching for information.

The number of mobile searches in the U.S. is rising by about 5 percent while inquiries on PCs are dipping slightly, according to research firm comScore Inc. In the final three months of last year, 29 percent of all U.S. search requests — about 18.5 billion — were made on mobile devices, comScore estimated. Google processes the bulk of searches — two-thirds in the U.S. and even more in many other countries.

BRACING FOR CHANGE

To minimize complaints, the company disclosed its plans nearly two months ago. It also created a step-by-step guide and a tool to test compliance with the new standards.

Google has faced uproar over past changes to its search formula. Two of the bigger revisions, done in 2011 and 2012, focused on an attempt to weed out misleading websites and other digital rubbish. Although that goal sounds reasonable, many websites still complained that Google’s changes unfairly demoted them in the rankings, making their content more difficult to find.

STILL CAUGHT OFF GUARD

While most major merchants and big companies already have websites likely to meet Google’s mobile standard, the new formula threatens to hurt millions of small businesses that haven’t had the money or incentive to adapt their sites for smartphones.

“A lot of small sites haven’t really had a reason to be mobile friendly until now, and it’s not going to be easy for them to make the changes,” McGee said.

BURYING HELPFUL CONTENT

Google’s search formula weighs a variety of factors to determine the rankings of its results. One of the most important considerations has always been whether a site contains the most pertinent information sought by a search request.

But new pecking order in Google’s mobile search may relegate some sites to the back pages of the search results, even if their content is more relevant to a search request than other sites that happen to be easier to access on smartphones.

That will be an unfortunate consequence, but also justifiable because a person might not even bother to look at sites that take a long time to open or difficult to read on mobile devices, Gartner analyst Whit Andrews said.

“Availability is part of relevancy,” Andrews said. “A lot of people aren’t going to think something is relevant if they can’t get it to appear on their iPhone.”

TIME Web

Why This Button Is the Most Fascinating Thing on the Web Right Now

155106992
sot—Getty Images Button

To press or not to press, that is the question

One of the things that made LOST so enthralling was that you, the viewer, could ask yourself what you might do if you found yourself in the show’s fantastic-yet-simple scenarios. Would you hoard supplies? Would you lie about your past? Would you press the button?

But even better was that you could also order a pizza and have it delivered sometime before the first commercial break — because you were located in your living room and not living off coconuts on some desert island in the middle of a mysterious magnetic vortex. In other words, you could play along with the sociological experiment, but eventually you’d be forced to walk away, because it’s not real.

Similar to LOST’s button scenario, on April 1, Reddit posted “The Button” to its website, along with a timer and only this explanation:

The timer will count down from 60 seconds. If the button is pressed the timer will reset to 60 seconds and continue counting down. Only users logged into accounts created before 2015-04-01 can press the button.

You may only press the button once.

We can’t tell you what to do from here on out. The choice is yours.

As of this writing, 751,354 people have pressed the button, and in the age of quantified everything, it’s a remarkable (though quite possibly useless) study of patience, popularity, the global reach of Reddit, crowd mentality and total irreverence. For instance, Chris Stevens, a 16-year-old student from Essex, England, has collected the statistics generated by The Button on his website, programmed using the skills he’s amassed in his high school computing class.

“I thought that creating the site would be a fantastic exercise to try and further my knowledge,” says Stevens.

And of all those button-pushers worldwide, just three people share the current (as of this writing) record time of waiting until there were 27 seconds remaining in the button’s 60-second countdown. “It is kind of a big deal, isn’t it?” says one such record-holder, David Elliott Hauschild, known as Jesusbuddy on Reddit. “I feel like I’m sitting at the top of the world’s biggest social experiment,” says the 49-year-old, Southern California-based real estate worker, who is also a father of four.

As a regular Reddit user, Hauschild was mindful to bide his time and get a low number. While it might seem many button-pushers would follow a similar strategy to get a low number, there’s no accurate stereotype to fit the phenomenon’s demographic. For instance, Erin Wiggins, a 24-year-old college student in Bowling Green, Ohio (known as swishyfeather on Reddit), watched the clock for just two minutes before pressing the button, also at :27 remaining — and even then only hit it because her favorite color is yellow.

Shortly after launching the button, Reddit introduced “flair” tags, which show up next to users’ names on the site and denote how long the user waited before pressing. Starting with gray for non-pressers and moving up the spectrum to red for the longest waiters, the flairs have turned into status symbols for users on Reddit’s discussion forums. Still, that didn’t matter to Wiggins.

“I had it in mind to just [go for the] color yellow from the beginning, because I really like that color,” she says. So when she woke up on the morning of her birthday and saw the clock dip into the :20s, she made her move.

It’s anybody’s guess — and there are plenty listed on Reddit — what will happen when the timer gets to zero. “One of my favorites is that once it reaches zero, it’ll just start doing the same, but counting up to 60,” says Stevens, a theory as good as any, considering this fascinating time-waster was introduced on April Fools’ Day.

And there’s also the question of when The Button will actually go unpressed. To press the button, you must have had a Reddit account prior to April 1, and since users can only press the button once, it can’t go on forever — assuming everyone with an account chooses to press it eventually, anyway. Stevens estimates it can last for another month or two at most, though Hauschild thinks that some tech-savvy users have tricks up their sleeves. “There’s autobots that are set to go nuclear once that thing gets to 11 seconds,” he says.

Snakehawk37, also known as Joshua Nazirbage, isn’t one of these code-armed clock snipers. A 24-year-old medical student living in the Bronx, the third 27-second record holder had little time to press the button, and even less to be interviewed for this story. “I also have no clue why ‘The Button’ has taken off the way it has,” he said in a quick email.

As for Reddit administrators themselves, they aren’t revealing anything about The Button, other than what’s listed on the diversion’s page. And though they declined to comment when pressed for further details, they did send along this GIF:

WYQee

I wonder if it’s some sort of clue.

TIME Companies

See Which Cities Might Get Faster, Cheaper Internet Soon

Google's high-speed Internet is causing other ISPs to offer faster, cheaper service

Time Warner Cable customers in Charlotte, N.C., are getting an unexpected boost in Internet speeds this summer, the Internet Service Provider announced last week.

At first, TWC’s move looks like an unprompted upgrade. But a closer inspection reveals it’s likely a response to competition from Google, which confirmed earlier this year its ultra-fast Google Fiber Internet service is coming to Charlotte in the near future.

Google Fiber has already hit three U.S. cities (Kansas City, Mo.; Provo, Utah; Austin, Texas) and is scheduled to launch in a handful more, sending existing ISPs scrambling to match Google’s high-speed offerings and affordable prices. In early April, Comcast Atlanta unveiled plans for fiber Internet service reportedly twice as fast as Google’s after the search giant announced its plans to enter to the Georgia capital. Months before, AT&T slashed its existing fiber package prices to match Google Fiber’s prices in Kansas City, Mo., where Google Fiber first launched in 2012.

All this newfound competition in high-speed broadband is surely appreciated by Internet customers, who often aren’t very happy with their ISPs. Above, have a look at where Google Fiber is headed next — and whether you might be getting some faster, cheaper Internet just because Google is coming to town.

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