TIME Security

Uber Data Breach Put 50,000 Drivers’ Info at Risk

Berlin's Taxis As German Court Considers Uber Technologies Inc. Ban
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A passenger holds a HTC Corp. smartphone displaying the Uber Technologies Inc. car service application (app) as they sit in a taxi in this arranged photograph in Berlin, Germany, on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.

But it isn't aware of any foul play as a result

A data breach at Uber last spring put tens of thousands of drivers’ personal information at risk, the company said late Friday.

Uber said it first realized its systems may have been breached by a third party in September of last year. After an investigation, the company found an “unauthorized access” by a “third party” occurred on May 13 of last year, which resulted in the names and license numbers of 50,000 drivers being leaked.

The car-hailing company didn’t specify who the third party was. However, Uber says it has since blocked further access to the database in question as well as alerted affected drivers.

Uber isn’t yet aware of any identify theft or other foul play as a result of the breach. It’s also offering one year of fraud protection to the drivers involved.

“Uber takes seriously our responsibility to safeguard personal information, and we are sorry for any inconvenience this incident may cause,” a blog post from Uber Managing Counsel of Data Privacy Katherine Tassi said. “In addition, today we filed a lawsuit that will enable us to gather information to help identify and prosecute this unauthorized third party.”

TIME fashion

This Belt Makes It Easy to Charge Your Phone on the Go

XOO-Belts-Angle-1
XOO XOO Belts

You will still need to plug your belt in before wearing to charge the battery

According to a survey late last year, the biggest complaint people had about their smartphones was that they just wouldn’t stay charged. And even though plenty of bars, restaurants and other places people with smartphones gather have installed charging stations, no one really wants to be that person standing in the corner waiting for a little more phone juice on a Friday night. Enter XOO: a company making belts with a built-in battery so your phone is never in danger of dying.

Like seemingly every small but incredibly useful technological innovation over the last year, the XOO belt ran a successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this winter, raising almost $78,000. They also recently partnered with British design house Casely-Hayford for a more fashionable take on their wearable charging station.

The tech in the belts isn’t drastically different from other mobile charging stations or phone cases; it just looks a lot more attractive. The designers actually stitched a battery into the leather, which charges the phone. That does mean that you’ll have to remember to plug your belt in—the battery needs to be charged in order to power your phone. But just remember to do that, and it’s smooth sailing.

According to their preliminary testing, the belts take about two and half hours to charge an iPhone 6, which is similar to the time it takes if the phone is plugged into the wall. All this is good news for anyone who has ever uttered the phrase, “My phone is about to die.”

The belts are available for preorder on the XOO site right now, with an expected ship date of July 2015.

This article originally appeared on FWx.

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TIME Google

See Google’s Absolutely Stunning New Headquarters Design

Google wants to build a new Mountain View campus with sweeping glass structures

Google has unveiled its ambitious new plans for a sprawling, modern Googleplex. The new facility, being developed by architect Bjarke Ingels, features a series of glass, canopies the size of city blocks, new biking and walking paths and an emphasis on green space. Renowned designer Thomas Heatherwick is also involved in the project. Google hopes to complete the first stage of development by 2020, but the company will first have to win approval from Mountain View’s city council amid growing concern over Google’s control over the development of the community.

TIME Video Games

Nimoy’s Greatest Performance Had Nothing to Do With Star Trek

Sega

'Seaman' did not become a blockbuster, but a cult hit

The world is eulogizing the great Leonard Nimoy after the 83-year-old actor passed away Friday. To be sure, the man best known as Spock in various incarnations of Star Trek had a long and varied career. People will be remember the ways in which he influenced, moved or made them laugh for weeks to come.

To me Nimoy’s greatest performance was in what, for most, will seem a minor footnote. In the late-1990s, he provided voice-over narration for one of the strangest, most wonderful experiments in video game history: Seaman. Released for Sega’s Dreamcast console, the Japanese game put a virtual pet in the care of players who were charged with feeding, nurturing and guiding its evolution from sea to land. You could talk to the creature through a microphone accessory plugged into the Dreamcast’s controller and, eventually, he would begin talking back. It was strange.

But also delightful. The game, which Nimoy welcomed you to every time you booted up with a joke or piece of advice, did what emerging (if flawed) technology does best, giving you a sense of what might be possible. A lot of the time it didn’t work correctly, or at all. (Voice-recognition was much less sophisticated, not to mention the lackluster processing power of Sega’s ill-fated console.) But the game was a kind of equation with wonder as the chief variable. And Nimoy’s voice lent the whole thing shape and credence, turning what might have been a trifling experiment into something pretty grand.

You can see gameplay and some of Nimoy’s work here.

TIME Media

One of the Most Useful iOS Apps Is Finally Back

VLC lets you play all sorts of different media

A popular video-playing app is finally back in the App Store.

VLC, the cross-platform multimedia player that plays a variety of different file types, is once again available on iOS devices after being pulled from the App Store around the time iOS 8 released in September. The app makes it easy to play format types that aren’t easily compatible with Apple devices.

In addition to the iOS version, VLC updates are rolling out for Android, Windows Phone and desktop, CNET reports. The Android version will support Android TV, while the desktop version will automatically rotate vertical videos for easier viewing. An upcoming update plans to add Chromecast support.

[CNET]


 

TIME technology

Why This Company Wants to Stop You From Buying an iPhone

SWEDEN-ERICSSON-BUSINESS-LAYOFFS-TELECOMUNICATIONS
Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images Ericsson logo at the Ericsson headquarters in Stockholm's suburb of Kista on November 7, 2012.

A fight between heavyweights

Ericsson AB has asked US regulators to block all domestic sales of Apple products as part of an escalating patent dispute between the two tech giants.

The request came as Ericsson filed seven separate lawsuits against Apple, alleging that Apple’s highly popular devices infringed on upwards of 41 patents, Bloomberg News reports.

Apple suspended royalty payments to Ericsson in January, after the two companies failed to renew an agreement over licensing fees. Apple accused Ericsson of “abusive” pricing that attempted to skim profits off of unrelated innovations. Ericsson has countered that its licensing terms did not “extract more than the value we put on the table.”

Read more at Bloomberg News.

TIME apps

These Are the Best Weather Apps for Your iPhone

Record Snowstorm Pummels Buffalo
John Normile—Getty Images Tami Normile and Richard Brooks attempt to remove some of the five feet of snow from a roof top on November 20, 2014 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo, New York.

These apps will help you know when to grab your umbrella

Opening this story with a weather-related adage or aphorism would have been great, if Mother Nature’s approval ratings weren’t currently quite so low. Things have gotten so bad for the topic of weather in general that Game of Thrones has even stopped warning its fans that “winter is coming.”

But guess what — it’s here, and we’re all white walkers. So don’t bother making chit-chat by talking about the weather, tap about it instead. No matter the conditions, these ten apps will keep you covered, because believe it or not, it can actually get worse than this.

Dark Sky

Ideal for runners, dog walkers, and anyone who’s looking to dodge the raindrops (or snowflakes), this app uses GPS and local radar to forecast precipitation with down-to-the-minute accuracy. Arm this one up with its push notifications, and you’ll always be aware when a storm is passing through.

In addition, the $3.99 app has a widget that allows it to sit in your iPhone’s notification screen, giving you the next hour’s weather without having to dive into Dark Sky’s full interface.

Hurricane Tracker

This app has outlasted many weather reporters, having helped users stay out of the eye of the storm since 2009. Pulling official maps from the National Hurricane Center and providing push alerts, the $2.99 app is a favorite of users from South Texas to the Northeast because it provides audio and video updates, long range models, and allows you to share information with friends and family easily through email, text messaging, and Facebook.

NOAA Radar Pro

Currently on sale for $1.99, this iPhone and iPad app puts pro-level maps in your hands, giving you overlays of rain, snow, and cloud cover, as well as detailed 24-hour forecasts and 7-day outlooks. Great for storm-watchers, it not only tells you the air pressure, humidity, and wind direction, but shows you how the clouds progress with animated maps. In addition, the ability to pin multiple favorite locations makes this app a favorite for frequent travelers.

NOAA Snow Forecast

Sure, it seems almost comical to wonder if it will snow again, but this iPhone and iPad app will help you track the inches before they pile up. For $1.99, you get a great bar graph visual of hourly snowfall, worth its weight in the wet stuff when it comes to planning out your shoveling strategy. Lauded for its accuracy, it will even give you lightning strike information. But the question is, do you think you’ll enjoy thundersnow as much as this guy?

Quakefeed

When the big one hits, you’ll know it. But in the meantime, you may want to also keep track of the little and medium ones, too. This free and ad-forsaking earthquake app will notify you of rumblings worldwide, sending alerts as well as earthquake-related news from all over the world.

Pulling its its information from U.S. Geological Survey data, it plots incidents on a color-coded, worldwide map complete with fault lines. And with social media and email integration, you can keep your loved ones in the know about seismic events that may impact them.

Storm

Lots of apps are all flash and no substance, but this free iPhone and iPad app by Weather Underground dazzles while keeping you warm and dry. Its maps comes with various data layers and overlays, from radar and satellite to showing weather advisory areas and storm fronts. It even displays animations of both the jet stream and surface air movement — crucial details for knowing how the weather is churning around you.

Toss in some gorgeous single-site sweeping radar animations and hyperlocal information sourced from more than 100,000 personal weather stations, and Storm practically gives you a meteorologist in your pocket.

Storm Shield

Using location-based technology to make sure weather alerts reach you no matter where you go, this $2.99 app can keep you appraised of everything from severe thunderstorms to flash flooding, while providing severe weather forecasts, showing live video feeds, and displaying current radar and mapping info. When electricity or television goes out, this kind of information can be a life-saver, as many of its loyal users have already attested.

Tornado by American Red Cross

No one knows natural disasters like the American Red Cross, and its free twister-focused app is all about being prepared and ready when the next one touches down. With settings able to alert you in the event that storm clouds are forming, the app provides step-by-step instructions on what to do next. The app also has the ability to monitor multiple locations, and by providing information direct from NOAA, you’ll be sure to have the most up-to-date details. It also has siren and strobe functionalities to help people find you in case you get lost during the storm.

Weather Underground

A longtime favorite of weather-watchers, this free app harnesses the power of more than 100,000 personal weather stations scattered around the country, which allows it to provide hyperlocal current conditions that could even come from your own street. Paired with a trove of historical weather data, it can pump out 10-day forecasts that include snow and rain information.

But if things are off, crowd-based reporting lets people provide corrections to the conditions — or lets them report things like hazardous road conditions — making this the most user-friendly and user-based weather service out there.

Weathertron

If you’re a visual person, and you don’t waste that skill looking for animals in the clouds, Weathertron’s chart-and-graph oriented presentation of the weather is the perfect thing for you. With bold graphics and an easy to understand presentation, the $1.99 app can do everything from provide current conditions to seven-day forecasts at a glance. Currently running in 15,000 cities worldwide, the app pares down weather data to its essential information, making it perfect for people who are on-the-go but need to keep an eye out for puddles, too.

TIME Web

Google Just Made It Easier to Search for Flights Online

And you don't even have to know where you want to go

Google has updated its flight-search tool and included an array of cool features.

Much like most flight-comparison sites, Google offers a range of fares and available flight options.

Photo: Google

But for undecided travelers, the newest feature lets users plug in countries or whole regions. For example, enter “flights to Europe” and a map will appear showing varying prices for different European destinations.

And if you really have no idea where to travel, you can even hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button to generate a completely random location.

Flexible-date search options are also available so users can compare prices across multiple months, and the search engine will even suggest tips for how you can bag a cheaper deal.

Google Flights was launched in 2011, but the latest version of the site was announced on Wednesday.

Read next: 10 Google Maps Tricks You Need to Know

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Apple watch

Just Look at This Completely Ridiculous $75,000 Apple Watch

It has a lot of diamonds

Many have speculated that version of Apple’s upcoming smartwatch could retail for vastly more than the $349 entry-level price the company announced when it unveiled the device last year. In fact, by some estimates, the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant could net as much as $5 billion per quarter from sales of its highest-end gold version alone. Then there are the planned versions below, put out by reseller Brixx. Its top-of-the-line model will cost just shy of $70,000.

The company says it plans to take apart Apple’s devices and reassemble them—with extra luxury. According to a Brixx release, the company will do the following:

Each piece is disassembled inside Brikk’s state-of-the-art laboratory in Los Angeles by a team of skilled engineers. They are hand polished, then plated with five layers of diverse metals before their final plating in either two layers of gold or platinum. High quality diamonds are set with a microscope in a custom-machined bezel. Each piece is then reassembled and tested before shipping to clients.

More information about the final availability of the Apple Watch will be available in early March, when the company holds its “Spring Forward” event in California.

TIME Companies

Do This 1 Thing For a Better Google Ranking

Google Mobile Search
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.

Mobile-friendly sites will do better in search results next month

Google is once again tweaking its search algorithm with a new change that should have some benefits for users.

The company announced in a Thursday blog post that it will rank mobile-optimized sites higher in search results starting April 21. Sites that work well on a smartphone will get a “significant” boost over other sites, the company says.

The change should ensure that people conducting Google searches on their phone typically arrive on easily-readable sites rather than messy desktop-based layouts that are hard to navigate on a small screen. Google offers a form where developers can input a URL to see whether it is mobile-friendly or not.

In addition to the algorithm change, Google said starting Thursday it will begin surfacing content hidden within apps more prominently in search results. If a developer has enabled App Indexing, Google’s search bots can crawl the contents of an app just like a Web page. Information from the app can show up along with regular search results on Google.

It makes sense that Google would want to incentivize App Indexing. The search giant doesn’t have the stranglehold on information queries on phones as it does on the desktop because people often boot up more narrowly-focused apps (Amazon for shopping, Yelp for food) instead of using Google to trawl the entire World Wide Web. More indexing means more valuable information that Google can present to users and serve ads against.

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