TIME Aviation

Airbus Patented a Jet Capable of Flying 4 Times the Speed of Sound

Airbus/USPTO A perspective view of an ultra-rapid air vehicle according to the invention.

Hyperloop, schyperloop

Airbus has won a patent for an “ultra-rapid air vehicle” that the aircraft maker says could travel over four times the speed of sound, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent, which was approved last month, details a hypersonic jet twice as fast as the Concorde, a supersonic jet that had previously been in commercial service. The Concorde, which was developed partly by a company now owned by Airbus, was capable of flying at about 1,300 mph (2,100 km/h), or twice the speed of sound — a feat the new invention can beat with new turbojets and a hydrogen power system, according to the patent.

Like other lofty patents, it’s unlikely that the hypersonic jet will become a reality any time soon — at least not within the one-year term for which the patent was approved. Still, some of the ideas involved with the design could make their way to real aircraft further in the future.

TIME driverless cars

Can the Car Insurance Business Survive Driverless Cars?

Gov. Brown Signs Legislation At Google HQ That Allows Testing Of Autonomous Vehicles
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

As car safety becomes more sophisticated, fewer drivers will need coverage

As technology inevitably advances, cars are becoming much safer. It started with airbags and antilock brakes, and soon driverless cars will become commonplace. As safety features become more sophisticated, the number of accidents on the road will significantly decrease. This is, no doubt, good news, but insurance giants are nervous about what it will mean for their companies, since drivers will need less coverage. As Warren Buffett, who owns Geico, puts it: “If you could come up with anything involved in driving that cut accidents by 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent, that would be wonderful. But we would not be holding a party at our insurance company.”

Donald Light, head of the North America property and casualty practice for research firm Celent, says that in the next 15 years, as driverless cars start hitting the roads, premiums can drop as much as 60%. He tells insurers: “You have to be prepared to see that part of your business shrink, probably considerably.”

Insurance companies have already had a taste of what that will look like with the introduction of sensors that warn you if another car is too close and other similar features. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute’s 2014 study of insurance claims, bodily injury liability losses dropped by 40%, and medical payments saw a 27% drop. This will only keep getting worse for insurance companies (and better for the rest of us) as self-driving cars become the popular choice. Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2035, self-driving cars will make up about 25% of all auto sales worldwide.

Insurance companies will be forced to seek out alternate sources of revenue. Tom Wilson, CEO of Allstate, is thinking about selling coverage for other products, such as mobile phones. He’s also considering using data that the company is already collecting about its customers. For example, they track their customers’ driving behaviors so they can offer rewards for safe driving; they could also potentially use that information to send customers coupons as they drive by retailers.

Although this advancement in car safety decreases the need for driver coverage, it also opens up a market for covering the carmakers. If one of their automated features fails, they will want to be insured to cover any liability costs.

TIME Microsoft

Microsoft Is About to Make ‘Gears Of War’ Fans Very Happy

2014 China Joy Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference In Shanghai
ChinaFotoPress—ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Hint: Backward Compatibility on the new Xbox One console

If you purchased all the Gears of War titles back when Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was still the latest console, fret not, it’s all going to be okay.

On Monday, the company made a two-part announcement: first, that it’s remastering the original game for the Xbox One, its newest console; and second, that players who purchase and play the new version before the end of the year will be able to play the rest of the series on the console through the upcoming Backward Compatibility feature.

This will apply for players who purchase either Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, or the Xbox One Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Bundle, the company said.

Moreover, once they unlock the titles through Backward Compatibility, they’ll also have access to features such as Game DVR, Snap, and screenshots, and keep all their previously-saved files, game add-ons, achievements, and play with their friends regardless of which Xbox console they’re using.

TIME twitter

Twitter’s Stock Just Hit the Lowest Point Since its IPO

Squawk on the Street
CNBC—NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images Jack Dorsey, co-founder and interim CEO of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square.

Shares have plunged since company leaders said Twitter is in 'turnaround' mode

Apparently, the weekend wasn’t long enough for investors to forget about last week’s Twitter earnings call.

Shares of the social networking company plunged again on Monday, falling to their lowest point since the company went public in November 2014. Twitter’s stock was recently down roughly $2, or more than 6%, and had fallen below $30 for the first time in over a year. Twitter’s shares briefly touched a low of $28.91, which is as low as the stock has gone since pricing its IPO shares at $26 apiece (though, the company finished its first day of trading at nearly $45).

The market continues to react negatively to last week’s earnings call, where Twitter’s interim CEO, Jack Dorsey, said that Twitter has not done enough to make the platform easier to use and added that attempts to spur user growth have stalled. Chief financial officer Anthony Noto said the company is in “turnaround” and that efforts to ignite user growth could take “considerable” time.

Those remarks sent Twitter’s shares plummeting during after-hours trading last Tuesday, with the stock opening Thursday nearly $4 below where it had closed Wednesday afternoon. The drop actually followed a brief spike in Twitter’s after-hours share price that was brought about by Tuesday’s report of higher-than-expected second-quarter revenue.

Twitter reported a surprising 61% bump in second-quarter revenue last week, helped by a strong advertising business, but profitability still eludes the tech company. Meanwhile, as Fortune’s Erin Griffith pointed out last week, Twitter’s primary obstacle is sluggish user growth and the company’s leadership doesn’t sound too confident that they can wipe out that problem anytime soon.

TIME Apple

Apple Could Be Your Next Wireless Company

Apple's I Phone  : Launch at Apple Opera Store In Paris
Chesnot—Getty Images A Woman checks the iPhone 6, on the day of its launch at the Apple Store Opera on September 19, 2014, in Paris, France.

The company is reportedly in talks with carriers

Apple is reportedly in talks with telecom companies in the U.S. and Europe to let customers pay the Cupertino-based tech giant for wireless service directly, rather than going through firms like AT&T or Verizon.

The company is conducting private trials of the service in the U.S. and has engaged in discussions with European companies to offer a similar service there, Business Insider reports.

If such a deal were to materialize, Apple would pay a wireless carrier to lease access to its network, then resell that access to customers. It’s a popular model already in use by wireless providers like Republic Wireless, which relies on Sprint’s network when Wi-Fi isn’t available. There are reportedly more than 80 such wireless providers in the U.S.

Talks of Apple entering the carrier arena have persisted since 2006, when Apple filed a patent application for a such a service. The biggest benefit for Apple would be control, as it could provide Apple-branded wireless options to its iPhone and iPad customers.

The timing of this news comes after Google unveiled “Project Fi” in April, that company’s own wireless service that relies on a combination of Wi-Fi as well as Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks.

TIME Security

This Apple Computer Bug Sounds Incredibly Nasty

Chinese customers are experiencing and choosing Apple's
Zhang Peng—LightRocket via Getty Images Chinese customers are experiencing and choosing Apple's products in an Apple store beside West lake in Hangzhou, which is the biggest Apple store in Asia.

Security researchers wanted to prove Macs are vulnerable, too

If you think Apple computers are safer than their Windows-powered cousins, think again.

Security researchers say they’ve crafted a computer worm that can burrow deep inside Mac computers, beyond the scrutiny of anti-virus scanners. From there, it can spread between devices that are not networked by hitching a ride on a Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter, writing itself into a machine’s firmware and remaining undetected.

The vicious worm, dubbed Thunderstrike 2, can even evade a whole system reboot.

“For most users that’s really a throw-your-machine-away kind of situation,” said Xeno Kovah, the head of security startup LegbaCore, who discovered the vulnerabilities and helped create the proof-of-concept worm, in an interview with Wired. “Most people and organizations don’t have the wherewithal to physically open up their machine and electrically reprogram the chip.”

The research builds on work that Kovah and his associate Corey Kallenberg undertook last year. At the time, the team identified several vulnerabilities in the firmware of Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, and HP PCs.

In the latest probe, Kovah partnered with Trammell Hudson, a security engineer at investment management firm Two Sigma Investments. They found five-in-six of those previously uncovered bugs applied to Macs as well. The flaws are more pervasive than previously thought since many hardware makers share firmware code.

Unnervingly, the worm can be transmitted via unassuming computer accessories, like the aforementioned Ethernet adapter. That makes this attack a potential vector for compromising air-gapped computers, which are usually considered more secure.

“People are unaware that these small cheap devices can actually infect their firmware,” Kovah said. “If people don’t have awareness that attacks can be happening at this level then they’re going to have their guard down and an attack will be able to completely subvert their system.”

According to Wired, most of the bugs remain unfixed. Apple has “fully patched one and partially patched the other. But three of the vulnerabilities remain unpatched,” writes Wired’s Kim Zetter. Apple did not immediately respond to Fortune‘s request for comment.

The team plans to present its research at the Black Hat and Def Con security conferences in Las Vegas this week. You can watch a video preview of the attack below, or read the rest on Wired.

TIME innovations

It Just Got Way Easier to Drink Soylent

Soylent
Soylent Soylent 2.0

Soylent 2.0 goes on sale in October

Alternative food company Soylent announced on Monday the upcoming release of Soylent 2.0, which will come pre-bottled when it’s available in October at the price of $29 for a 12-pack.

Soylent says the new meal replacement product contains all the essential nutrients a human body needs. According to Soylent’s website, each ingredient plays a specific nutritional role: Soy protein keeps you full and improves digestion; algal oil provides energy and essential fatty acids; isomaltulose is a slow-metabolizing sugar that provides similar sustained energy as refined sugar without inconvenient spikes and crashes.

Soylent 2.0 is the company’s first pre-bottled product, with each bottle containing 20% of all the essential vitamins and minerals you should be consuming each day. It doesn’t require any preparation and can remain unrefrigerated for a full year.

The company’s mission is to replace less sustainable food sources like animal farms while making it easier for consumers to get the nutrition their bodies need with minimal effort. Soylent 2.0 is 100% vegan, with half of its fat energy coming from farm-free algae sources. However, the drink is controversial among health experts, many of whom have expressed skepticism over Soylent.

TIME

The Personal Computer That Beat Apple (For a While)

Tandy Radio Shack TRS 80 I personal computer, 1980.
Science & Society Picture Library—Getty Images Introduced in August 1977, the TRS 80 was the first complete, pre-assembled small computer system on the market.

On Aug. 3, 1977, the TRS-80 computer went on sale

When the TRS-80 — a personal computer from Tandy that would be sold via their RadioShack stores, hence TRS — went on sale on Aug. 3 in 1977, computers weren’t exactly new. The Apple I had been introduced the previous year and personal computers were clearly a growing market, but Tandy is often credited with pioneering the idea of mass-market personal computer.

It was just a month after the TRS-80’s release that TIME touted the new breed of cheap computers that were attracting new buyers. Of those computers, Tandy’s was one of the most attractive to buyers. “Some day soon every home will have a computer,” Byron Kirkwood, a Dallas microcomputer retailer, was quoted as saying. “It will be as standard as a toilet.”

By 1981, that prediction was on its way to coming true. TIME reported that the market for personal computers was worth about $1 billion, the vast majority of which was controlled by a few companies. One of them was Apple, which had become a well-known company. A 1980 stock offering had been a Wall Street hit; the Apple II, though it went for more than $1,400, was a hit too.

But Apple wasn’t first on TIME’s list. That place of honor went to Tandy:

The Fort Worth-based Tandy Corp. has the broadest reach of any computer manufacturer through its 8,012 Radio Shack stores. The firm introduced its first small computer, the TRS80, in 1977. A newer version of the TRS80 (popular models now cost $999) has become the largest-selling computer of all time, and Tandy now commands 40% of the small-computer market. Tandy recently introduced the first pocket computer, which shows only one line of information and sells for $249.

But, especially in the fast-moving tech market, few things last forever. Tandy eventually stopped going by that name, switching to RadioShack. RadioShack filed for bankruptcy in February.

Read more from 1977, here in the TIME Vault: Plugging in Everyman

TIME Television

AT&T Unveils Country’s First TV and Cellphone Combo Plan

AT&T
Tim Boyle/Getty Images An AT&T logo is displayed on an AT&T truck July 25, 2006 in Park Ridge, Illinois.

The company is wasting no time in rolling out new packages

AT&T has introduced what it says is the country’s first nationwide TV and wireless phone combo package, just a few days after completing its $48.5 billion acquisition of satellite TV-provider DirecTV in late June.

The giant telecom unveiled the new offering on Monday, announcing that customers will soon be able choose a plan that includes high-definion TV with DVR as well as wireless phone service with unlimited talk and text as well as 10 gigabytes of data across four phone lines. The plan will be available starting August 10 starting at a base price of $200 per month.

That price includes a basic, $50-a-month TV plan for up to four receivers as well as $160 per month for the four-phone wireless plan, plus a $10 monthly discount for customers who choose the new plan. The “All in One” bundle can be modified to include more expensive TV packages that come with more channels. An “All Included” bundle allows customers to add different high-speed Internet plans to their plans.

The new packages represent AT&T’s first attempt at convincing DirecTV customers to join AT&T’s wireless plans while the company also looks to turn its existing phone customers into DirecTV subscribers.

The bundled options are AT&T’s first new offerings since the company received regulatory approval to merge with DirecTV, a deal that involved a 14 month-long regulatory review process and makes the combined company the largest pay-TV provider in the U.S. Late last month, the Federal Communications Commission finally gave the merger the green light, though not without a list of conditions, namely a four-year agreement that includes pledges to expand AT&T’s high speed fiber Internet to 12.5 million customers while offering discounted broadband service to low-income customers.

The conditions came as little surprise to a telecom industry that has seen regulators move to block past mega-deals, such as Comcast’s thwarted $45 billion deal for Time Warner Cable as well as AT&T’s own failed acquisition of T-Mobile.

TIME Reviews

Hands-On With China’s iPhone Killer

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Trusted Reviews

The OnePlus 2 is one of the best cheap smartphones out there

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The OnePlus 2 is finally here, priced at a competitive $329 for the 16GB version and $389 for the 64GB model. But the question on everyone’s mind: Is it really the “flagship killer” as OnePlus calls it?

The short answer is yes, as this phone matches up in many ways to competitors’ models that cost twice the price. However, that’s not to say it’s better in every way. Still, on first impression the OnePlus 2 is an extraordinary phone, one that’s sure to upset the status quo even more than the original OnePlus One did last year.

Same back, new frame

The first striking aspect of the OnePlus 2 is that it looks and feels like a well-made phone that utilizes quality materials. It still feels like a OnePlus – the back sports the same rough textured plastic, which feels more like stone than the slick plastic of other phones. It means the OnePlus 2 is extremely grippy.

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The back is a lot easier to remove this time, too. The rear cover is more like the back on the Galaxy Note 4 – it just peels off the metal frame without any fuss. And it’s that frame that makes all the difference. Suddenly, the OnePlus 2 feels like a flagship, as well as performing like one.

It’s not a particularly thin phone, but it is both narrower and shorter than the iPhone 6 Plus with the same size screen. At 5.5 inches it’s still a big phone, but if you’re used to 5-inch screens then you shouldn’t find the OnePlus 2 too tricky to use.

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At 175g it’s substantial too, but not too heavy to use for prolonged periods.

The design touches don’t end there. The metal buttons are placed exactly where you want them to be and there’s a smart notification toggle that comes with three settings – on, mute and all off, for when you don’t even want it to vibrate. Useful stuff.

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The OnePlus 2 might not feel quite as classy as the Galaxy S6 Edge or iPhone 6 Plus, but it’s not far off them either. On first impressions we prefer bother the look and feel of it over the far more expensive LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z3+. Flagship killer? So far so lethal.

Anaemic screen

The 5.5-inch 1080p screen is perfectly acceptable in terms of specs – on paper it’s the same as the iPhone 6 Plus.

In reality, however, the display is a little anaemic. It’s not the lack of Quad HD resolution that’s the problem – the screen is sharp enough and has good viewing angles. The problem is the muted colours that look washed out, although top brightness is decent.

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There’s no doubt I’d rather look at LG G4 or Galaxy S6’s screen more, but the OnePlus 2’s display is still good, particularly when you compare it to similarly priced handsets.

Cool and quick

Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, 4GB DDR4 RAM (64GB version) 3GB DDR4 RAM (16GB version)

Alarm bells rang when OnePlus announced the OnePlus 2 would use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 chipset. It’s as speedy as it comes when put through its paces, but it does tend to make phones a little toasty.

In the hour or so I had with the OnePlus 2, I didn’t notice any problems at all – and I really tried to get it all hot and bothered. A few dozen photos, two minutes of 4K video, a quick bout of Hill Climb Racing and some general browsing left it barely warm.

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On first impressions it looks like the OnePlus 2 is both slick, fast and responsive without succumbing to some of the issues we’ve experienced with the Xperia Z3+ or LG G Flex 2 that also pack the Snapdragon 810 processor.

This is because the OnePlus 2 is using a revised version of the processor (although HTC reckons it’s the same as the one in the One M9) and has worked hard on the thermal regulation. It’s clearly working.

We weren’t able to put the OnePlus 2 through our range of benchmarks so we don’t know quite yet how well it stacks up to other flagships, but it should be on par, and certainly feels more than fast enough for most people.

Improved camera

13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front camera, Optical image stabilization

Cameras are one of the most hotly contested aspects of phones. There’s little to separate the iPhone 6 Plus, LG G4 and Galaxy S6 – arguably the best camera phones on the market.

The OnePlus 2 has a 13-megapixel sensor, just like its predecessor, but this time OnePlus has increased the size of the pixels to 1.3 microns. That’s bigger than the 1.1 microns of the S6 but smaller than the 1.5 microns of the iPhone 6. Why should you care? Well the larger the pixel the more light it lets in and this helps when taking photos in darker environments.

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It’s impossible to test a phone camera adequately when you can’t see the images on a big screen, but on first impression the OnePlus 2 manages to take decent shots. The one thing I noticed, however, is that the OnePlus takes an age to process photos with HDR turned on – that’s something the iPhone 6, S6 and G4 have cracked.

This could mean the OnePlus 2 won’t be snuffing out the competition when it comes to taking pictures. It may still be the best cameraphone in its price range, though – we’ll find out when we review it fully.

Breathing easy with OxygenOS

The OnePlus 2 runs OxygenOS on Android 5.0 Lollipop off the bat, unlike the OnePlus One that launched with CyanogenMod.

The experience is almost pure Android, but with a few bells and whistles thrown in. Off screen gestures and customizable buttons are all still there, and it also comes with a bunch of personalization controls. It’s not as power-user pleasing as CyanogenMod, but it is simple to use.

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Trusted ReviewsOxygenOS comes with MaxxAudio sound that lets you create a load of setting you can toggle to.

I did have some issues with the camera app, it was tricky to zoom in and flick through images. OnePlus told me this will be resolved in a software update.

The slick SwiftKey keyboard that learns as you type is also included as the OnePlus 2’s main keyboard.

Faster than Touch ID – Less reliable than Touch ID

One of the most talked about new features on the OnePlus 2 is its fingerprint sensor. This lets you unlock the phone using your digits just as you can on the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6.

It’s quick and easy to set up your fingerprints, and the phone unlocks in fractions of a second when the screen is on. OnePlus claims it unlocks faster than the iPhone 6 and based on our testing that’s right.

oneplus-2-fingerprint-sensor
Trusted ReviewsThe fingerprint sensor on the OnePlus 2 doesn’t double as a physical button.

However, I found its performance variable when the screen is turned off. It just didn’t work as consistently as I’d like for such a key feature. Hopefully software optimization will sort out a lot of these issues, as they did with the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S5.

Type C USB = No more fumbling

Fingerprint scanners are so yesterday though, what about real innovation? Well the OnePlus 2 can lay claim to being the very first smartphone to use Type C USB. That means no more guessing when you’re trying to plug in your phone.

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What’s the OnePlus 2 missing?

Not much when you compare it to the flagships it’s looking to crush. There’s no microSD slot, which plenty of Android fans crave in their phones, but it does include dual SIM slots so you can have two nano-SIMs with two different numbers working off one device.

This isn’t a feature many people in the U.K. or U.S. care about, but it’s huge elsewhere in the world and I’ve always found it handy, particularly when roaming.

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Perhaps the biggest and most interesting omission is NFC. Google Wallet requires NFC to work as a touch-and-pay device and with the growth of Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay coming soon, this is an area the OnePlus 2 will be found wanting.

Less of a problem is a lack of wireless charging, we’re sure third-party cases will come along that provide the feature. The battery isn’t removable either, but at 3,300mAh it should provide ample battery life. We’ll need a lot more time with it before we know for sure, though.

First Impressions

The OnePlus 2 looks to build on the awesome OnePlus One in all the right ways. The fingerprint scanner might not be perfect, but the OnePlus 2 trounces every other phone in its price bracket.

Would I rather have it than a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge? Not if both were offered to me as a gift and I had to choose. If I had to open my wallet, though, I’d be insane not to consider the exceptional value the OnePlus 2 brings to the table.

Of course it all comes down to being able to buy it. The OnePlus 2 is only available via invitation – does OnePlus like you enough to give you the opportunity to buy one? If yes then it’ll be hard to consider any other phone in its price range. Only the Motorola Moto X Play, announced recently, comes close to offering the same value for money at a decent specification.

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article above was originally published at TrustedReviews.com

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