Why Facebook Is Opening An Office In Africa

Views of The Facebook Inc. Logo Ahead of Earnings
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook is to open a new office in Africa, a region with more than one billion people but only 120 million Facebook users.

To lead the new office, located in Johannesburg, South Africa, Facebook has hired Nunu Ntshingila, the chairman of Ogilvy South Africa, according to Bloomberg. The new office will focus on sales and improving Facebook’s ability to attract local businesses to advertise on the social network.

Facebook has been increasing its efforts to win over Africa in the last couple of years, especially through its Internet.org initiative and its new Facebook Lite app, a stripped down version of the app that works better with lower-end phones. One of Internet.org’s projects is a free app the company has released in several countries in the developing world that lets people use certain websites and apps–without paying for data–to provide access to basic information and online services. The plan is to entice these users to purchase data plans (Facebook’s partner telecom companies foot the bill for the data used).

Facebook also launched what it called “missed call ads” in Africa and India last year. When links for an ad on Facebook are clicked, the advertiser calls the user’s phone and plays a audio ad and takes on the costs of that call. The new office will likely explore various such ways to better connect businesses to consumers.

The company plans to hire 25 employees in its new office, according to Recode.

TIME Apple

Another Big Hardware Company Will Get Apple Music Support

Sonos And Blue Note Records Celebrate 75 Years Of Jazz Music And The Launch Of The Blue Note Limited Edition Sonos Speaker At The Iconic Capitol Records Tower In Hollywood
Jesse Grant—2015 Getty Images Sonos and Blue Note Records celebrate 75 years of jazz music and the launch of the Blue Note Limited Edition Sonos Speaker at The Iconic Capitol Records Tower on February 4, 2015 in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, California.

Get ready to stream all the Taylor Swift you want, Sonos users

If you’ve got yourself a sweet set of Sonos speakers, and you’re looking forward to Apple Music, good news! — the new music streaming service from the Cupertino giant will be available on Sonos hardware soon enough.

Apple and Sonos are working together to get Apple Music streaming on the connected speakers by the end of 2015, Apple confirmed to BuzzFeed’s John Paczkowski. There had previously been some fear that third-party hardware makers wouldn’t get the same support from Apple that its own Beats brand would receive, but this news should alleviate some of that apprehension.

Apple Music will launch June 30.

TIME Media

Everything You Need to Know About Apple Music

Apple's foray into music streaming launches Tuesday

Apple’s answer to the fast-changing digital music landscape is finally upon us. Apple Music, which launches Tuesday, is the tech giant’s most ambitious music project since the original iTunes Store launched in 2003.

But unlike the company’s famous digital storefront, Apple Music won’t be selling users individual songs or albums. Instead, customers will pay a monthly subscription fee of about $10 per month for access to tens of millions of songs.

It’s a way of listening to music that’s fast becoming the norm thanks to similar offerings by competitors such as Spotify and Google. Though Apple is years late to the party, the company’s arrival signals that streaming is here to stay.

Here’s a quick primer on Apple Music and how it differs from the other streaming services on the market.

What does Apple Music offer?

Apple Music lets users stream songs from Apple’s massive library whenever they want. Users can make playlists or listen to playlists curated by music experts. Tracks can also be downloaded for offline listening.

While these are all standard features of most subscription services, Apple is also trying to make it easier for users to seamlessly switch between music in their personal libraries and songs on Apple’s service. Apple Music will automatically upload any tracks in a user’s library that aren’t available on the service to an iCloud account, so they can be streamed from any device — meaning users won’t have to use up lots of space on their phones. Users will be initially be able to store up to 25,000 of their own songs in the cloud; Apple has plans to increase that limit to 100,000 this fall.

How much will it cost?

A single membership is $9.99 per month, the standard rate for a paid streaming service. Users can also pay $15 per month for a family plan for up to six users. The service is launching with a three-month free trial available to all users.

Which devices does Apple Music support?

At launch Apple Music will support PC, Mac, Apple Watch and iOS devices that can run iOS 8 or newer. An Android version is coming in the fall.

How do I download Apple Music?

For iPhone users, simply download the iOS 8.4 update, expected to appear around 11 a.m. ET Tuesday.

What features make Apple Music stand out?

Apple is launching a live radio station called Beats 1 that will broadcast 24 hours a day. Helmed by former BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe, the free station will feature shows by stars such as Drake and Elton John, as well as interviews with celebrities like Eminem.

Apple Music will also have a feature called Connect that lets artists post behind-the-scenes content and communicate directly with fans.

What about exclusive music?

It’s likely Apple will try to leverage its considerable clout and deep pockets to line up many exclusive releases for its music service. Already Taylor Swift has said her hit album 1989 will be available for streaming for the first time ever through Apple Music. Dr. Dre’s The Chronic will also make its streaming debut on Apple’s service (Dre began working for Apple after the company bought his company Beats Electronics for $3 billion last year). Expect similar deals in the future.

Which features is Apple Music missing?

Spotify remains the best service for making music-listening social thanks to its collaborative playlists and tight integration with Facebook. Apple hasn’t mentioned either feature being part of Apple Music. Apple’s service will also reportedly stream at a maximum bitrate of 256 kbps, which is below the 320 kbps that Spotify, Google Play Music, Tidal and Rdio all offer. Whether or not average users will notice or care about that difference remains to be seen.

What if I don’t want to pay for a subscription service?

Apple Music offers the live station, as well as artist and genre-specific Internet radio stations similar to Pandora, for free. Google Play Music and Rdio also have free tiers that offer Internet radio rather than on-demand streaming. Spotify remains the most fully-featured free ad-supported service as desktop users can play any song on demand for free while mobile users can build playlists to be enjoyed in random order.

TIME Video Games

Don’t Expect Batman: Arkham Knight To Work Well on PC Any Time Soon

The game was yanked from store shelves last week, and won't return until sometime this fall

Don’t expect the crippled PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight to run as smoothly as its console brethren for some time.

Game publisher Warner Bros. released the first of presumably several patches to come over the weekend, addressing several crucial issues. But the game’s community manager admits the work ahead is “significant,” writing:

[Developer] Rocksteady is leading our team of developers and partners as we work on the PC performance issues that players have been encountering. The work is significant and while we are making good progress on improving performance, it will take some time to ensure that we get the right fixes in place.

The PC version of Rocksteady’s sprawling Arkham finale arrived in tandem with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions last week. But while the game works near flawlessly on both consoles, it was so catastrophically broken on the PC that Warner Bros. yanked the game from online and retail shelves altogether—an all but unheard of move in the triple-A gaming space.

Read more: 5 Things I Absolutely Love in Batman: Arkham Knight

The game remains unavailable for purchase on digital download service Steam, with a message stating that “Batman: Arkham Knight will be available on SteamOS, Linux and Mac in Fall 2015.” For all those who managed to buy a copy before sales were suspended (and thus still able to play the game), the first patch rectifies a design oversight that prevented players from upping a frame rate cap, fixes various bugs and crashes, and smooths out performance-related issues. You can read the complete fix list here.

The community spokesperson adds that Rocksteady will “continue to make interim patches available to address issues for those still playing the game on PC.”

TIME Smartphones

Here’s How Many Americans Sleep With Their Smartphones

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Smartphone reliance is growing

Nearly three-quarters of Americans (71%) who own smartphones sleep with them — either by putting their phone on a nightstand, in their bed, or, for 3% of people, holding it in their hands.

A new mobile consumer report from Bank of America found that not only do Americans sleep with their smartphones, but the devices are also the first thing on people’s minds when they wake up: 35% of respondents said their first thought in the morning is about their smartphone; 10% said it was for their significant other.

The new report underscores an increasing trend of smartphone reliance among owners of the device, especially Millennials.

Throughout the day, more than half of Americans, about 57%, say they use their phone at least once an hour. In New York, that statistic jumps to 96%. In California, it’s 88%.

This constant interaction with smartphones means that Americans are increasingly using their phones for banking. More than half of the survey’s respondents said they use either an app, or a web browser as their primary form of banking. In California, 57% of residents are actively using a mobile banking app, mainly for banking notifications and alerts, checking balances, and mobile check deposits. By comparison, 53% of New Yorkers and Texans actively use banking apps.

Not crazy about smartphones? You might want to move to Denver. The city’s respondents are the most likely to survive without their smartphones: 49% said they would choose phone calls if they could only keep one feature of their phones (that’s 10% above the national average); and 27% of Denver respondents said they could refrain from using their phones indefinitely.

But even in Denver, the trend is inescapable: 63% of Denver residents sleep with their phones.

The Bank of America study surveyed 1,000 people who own smartphones and have banking relationships across the United States, plus 300 people in key markets such as New York, Denver, and California.

TIME Reviews

Apple’s HomeKit Is Promising, But It Needs More Work

The tech company’s new smart home system isn’t reliable yet

One year after Apple announced plans to launch its home automation platform HomeKit, the company’s first certified products are now being shipped to customers around the world.

HomeKit puts Apple in the middle of an ever-growing, and increasingly competitive home automation market. Tech rival Google is in the midst of building its own platform called Brillo, while Belkin’s WeMo system has created smart household appliances ranging from air conditioners to crock pots.

HomeKit works by using Siri (Apple’s digital assistant) to control and monitor homes using third-party gadgets, and in the past has been plagued by delays, rumors, and criticism from vendors.

However, that’s all changed now with manufacturers Insteon and Lutron ready to ship their HomeKit-certified products, and smart gadgets from Ecobee and Phillips Hue set to hit retail shelves in the near future.

Unlike other home automation services, Apple requires companies create products that are compatible with its mobile operating system in order to ensure compatibility and provide end-to-end encryption, which prevents the system from being hacked.

Over the past week, I’ve tested out Lutron’s $230 Caseta Wireless HomeKit system. The bundle includes a Smart Bridge, which acts as a wireless hub to connect the system to the Internet, along with two plug-in lamp dimmers and two stand-alone remotes for the dimmers. Although Lutron already makes smart devices for the home, users who want to use Siri to manage those products will have to purchase a new Smart Bridge.

The initial setup process for the system was simple and consisted of installing the Lutron app on my iPhone, plugging the Smart Bridge into my wireless router, and following a series of prompts within the app.

HomeKit is activated using the “Siri Integration” option in the app’s menu. Within the app’s setting page, you simply label your home, rooms and identify which items you’d like to control. A few minutes after you’ve saved the new settings, you can then start controlling your home through a series of commands.

Users simply have to push a small button on their iPhone, give an order, and watch as the request is immediately fulfilled. Automation solutions have long made it possible to turn lights off or on with other apps, but this will be the first time consumers will be able to wirelessly communicate with appliances using Apple’s iOS

In order to control appliances from outside the home, consumers will need to own a Apple TV (3rd generation or later) that shares the same iCloud account as their other iOS devices. For those without an Apple TV, users can still rely on the Lutron app (at least, that’s what I found, with my setup).

In its current state, HomeKit is far from the polished product one would expect to see from Apple. For instance, you need to follow a very specific HomeKit voice command protocol, laid out by Apple, in order for Siri to understand verbal requests.

A simple command of “turn off my lights” is recognized without issue. However, “control my lights” or any similar variations will result in an Internet search, because Siri can’t understand the instruction, which is disappointing.

If you’re already deeply invested in Apple’s other products, buying HomeKit accessories won’t hurt your bank account. The service’s functionality is a bit limited with iOS 8, but the release of iOS 9 this fall will bring more advanced commands and support for more accessories, such as motion sensors. For example, later in the year consumers will be able to use their Apple Watch to communicate with HomeKit devices, instead of relying solely on an iPhone (or iPad). Additionally, you’ll be able to trigger your thermostat based on multiple variables such as time and location, instead of just one variable as it is now.

HomeKit was meant to improve the user experience and offer a secure method for managing accessories and smartphone apps, but needs more work if it’s to successfully compete with other companies in the market.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com


How Steely Dan and the National Hockey League Revolutionized Music

Stephen Witt worked for hedge funds in Chicago and New York before getting his graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University in 2011. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The rock band and hockey fans played surprising roles in technological developments that determined how you listen to music now

In the spring of 1995, with their state funding running out, the Germany-based Fraunhofer team traveled to industry trade shows across Europe and America to promote the mp3 standard. They had a customized booth, with brochures and demonstrations of the technology, but there wasn’t much interest. Struggling to attract potential customers, they kept hearing the same thing: the mp3 was “too complicated.” Meanwhile, across the trade show floor, the mp2 booth was three times the size of their own, and mobbed. Philips had done its job well, dumping promotional money into its own product while undermining the competition.

In head‑to‑head listening tests the mp3 remained superior. Only Fraunhofer couldn’t get anyone to participate in such tests anymore—MPEG had run those competitions, and everyone knew the results. Standardization of computer hardware had made team member Harald Popp’s expertise less relevant, so Karlheinz Brandenburg, the head of audio research, reassigned him to sales. In his pitch, Popp told potential customers about the mythology of the “complexity problem” and about the “political” nature of the MPEG decision, but some of his explanations sounded more like excuses.

They were saved in the end by a guy named Steve Church. Bernhard Grill, a programmer, had first met him at a trade show in Las Vegas the previous year. The CEO of a start‑up called Telos Systems, Church was a former radio talk show host and studio engineer who saw a market for improving the quality of audio broadcasting. Like Brandenburg and Grill, he didn’t trust MPEG, as he had seen these “impartial” standards committees make biased decisions before. He agreed to an independently refereed head‑to‑head listening test between the mp2 and mp3, and was startled by the results.

The mp3 was way better! Shortly after the demonstration, Church called back to the home office in Cleveland and arranged to repeat the experiment over a newly installed digital telephone line. The demonstration material was an encoding of Steely Dan, a band as beloved in Ohio as it was in Bavaria. Telos became the mp3’s first—and for some time, only—enterprise‑scale customer. Church commissioned several hundred mp3 conversion boxes called Zephyrs, the size of VCRs, capable of streaming mp3 audio in real time. He then turned around and licensed these to his biggest customer: the National Hockey League.

Here, finally, was a stroke of good fortune. One of the key reference materials in Bernhard Grill’s menagerie of exotic sounds was a recording of a German‑league professional hockey game. The sound of scattered clapping had always been a challenge for the encoder, particularly when set against a dynamic soundscape of scraping skates and brutal, bone‑crushing checks. The sample was a small snippet of on‑ice action, followed by a few seconds of indifferent applause. Grill had listened to it hundreds of times, isolating the encoding errors and working with Brandenburg to implement fixes. The NHL was the perfect customer: the mp3 had been specifically calibrated to the sound of the game.

But the league had certain technical requirements, and these took months to meet. By the time the units finally shipped in late 1994, the hockey players had gone on strike. That year’s shortened season didn’t officially begin until January 20, 1995—the official start date of the mp3 revolution in North America. The fastest game on ice was not widely understood to be a pioneer in digital acoustics, but as the first puck dropped on center ice that year, fans of the Blackhawks and the Red Wings were an unwitting audience on the cutting edge.

It wasn’t until after the 1995 decision in Erlangen that income from the sales finally began making its way to Fraunhofer, arriving just in time to save the mp3 team. The Zephyr racks allowed radio broadcasters to save thousands of dollars an hour on satellite trans‑ mission costs, and were installed in every pro ice arena in North America. Telos’ revenues quadrupled, and Steve Church became a zealous advocate for the technology. Soon he was in talks with every major North American sports league. But Fraunhofer received only a small cut. The licensing agreement they’d negotiated with Church charged on a per‑unit basis, and there were only a few hundred stadiums to sell to. The mp3 was alive, but on life support; to earn substantial profits, the technology would need many more licensees.

For Brandenburg, that meant a continued push for the home consumer. Earlier in the year, he had directed Grill to write a PC application that could encode and play back mp3 files. Finished within a few months, Grill dubbed it the “Level 3 encoder,” or “L3Enc” for short. The program fit on a single 3.5‑inch floppy disk. L3Enc represented a new paradigm of distribution, one in which consumers would create their own mp3 files, then play them from their home PCs. For the home audio enthusiast, the requisite technology was just arriving. Introduced in late 1993, Intel’s powerful new Pentium chips were the first processors capable of playing back an mp3 without stalling. Plus, the new generation of hard drives was enormous: with storage capacity of nearly a gigabyte, they could store almost 200 songs. The biggest limitation was still the encoding process. Due to MPEG’s forced inclusion of the cumbersome MUSICAM filter bank, even a top‑of‑ the‑line Pentium processor would take about six hours to rip an album from a compact disc.

No one at Fraunhofer quite knew what to do with L3Enc. It was a miraculous piece of software, the culmination of a decade of research, capable of taking 12 compact discs and shrinking them to the size of one, unencumbered by any digital rights management. On the other hand, the speed limitations of encoding made it cumbersome. After some internal discussion, Brandenburg made an executive decision: to promote the mp3 standard, Fraunhofer would simply give L3Enc away. Thousands of floppy disks were made, and these were distributed at trade shows through late 1994 and early 1995. Brandenburg encouraged his team members to distribute the disks to friends, family, colleagues, and even competitors.

Meanwhile, Popp continued to make scattered sales of the encoding racks, mostly to curious academics and broadcasting professionals. But the door was open to anyone who called, and that summer they met with another struggling entrepreneur, a former fiber‑optic cable technician turned music impresario named Ricky Adar. Like Seitzer, Adar had hit on the idea for a “digital jukebox.”

Adar believed that in a few years you’d be able to download music directly over the Internet and dispense with the compact disc entirely. The hitch was that audio files were large, and would have to be compressed considerably for the approach to scale. Fraunhofer, of course, had spent years working on exactly this problem. Even so, when Adar arrived at their offices, he wasn’t hoping for much. Given his past experience with audio compression, he expected the mp3 to be a tinny and unusable bust.

Instead, it reproduced CD music with near perfect fidelity at one‑twelfth the size. Adar was astonished. The mp3 seemed a marvel beyond technical comprehension. An entire album at only 40 megabytes! Forget planning for the future—you could implement the digital jukebox right now!

“Do you realize what you’ve done?” Adar asked Brandenburg after their first meeting. “You’ve killed the music industry!”

From How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt, published on June 16, 2015 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright by Stephen Witt, 2015.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Elon Musk

Tesla’s Elon Musk Just Had the Worst Birthday Ever

Tesla Elon Musk
Noah Berger—AP Tesla's CEO Elon Musk.

A disastrous weekend for both Tesla and SpaceX

Elon Musk turned 44 on Sunday, but the entrepreneur probably wished he could just crawl back into bed and forget the day ever happened.

It was, to be frank, a disastrous weekend for both Tesla and SpaceX, the two companies Musk leads.

First, the biggie: an unmanned SpaceX rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station exploded after it was launched. No one was hurt, and the astronauts on board the Space Station have enough supplies to last until October, but the Falcon 9 rocket that was destroyed represents a lot of lost capital, and it’s always embarrassing for an aerospace company when a craft just, well, explodes.

In news that was slightly less spectacular, but still troubling, reports say Musk said Tesla owners weren’t using the battery swap technology he debuted in 2013. While this doesn’t have quite the visual impact of an exploding rocket, it’s still not good news for a service that Musk and other Tesla execs hoped would help show consumers that electric cars, like Teslas, can be taken on longer trips with minimal wait time.

Musk himself admitted to having a bad day:

We hope your Independence Day weekend is better, Elon.

TIME Transportation

Apple Maps Is Getting 1 Huge Advantage Over Google Maps

More good news for those who use public transportation

City dwellers will have a new reason to try out Apple Maps when Apple releases iOS 9 this fall.

Apple Maps will add a feature that tells users which exit they should take when leaving the subway or train station, Business Insider reports. It’s a subtle feature, but it could help travelers avoid getting off the subway on the wrong side of the street. It’s also a feature that’s not available on rival service Google Maps, which Apple users are forgoing more and more for the native Apple Maps.

Google Maps has long boasted a robust public transit guide, but it’s clear that Apple Maps is now trying catch up with its competition. Other features coming to Apple Maps on iOS 9 include Siri and Apple Watch functionality.

[Business Insider]


Yelp Study Says Google Is Cheating in Search

Study finds Google is promoting its own content

New research claims that Google is gaming its search results in its own favor to the detriment of competitors.

Google has “increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites,” according to the report co-authored by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, Tim Wu and the Yelp Data Science team.

And yes, Yelp, which lists reviews of businesses, is a competitor that has cried foul over Google search results in the past. Perhaps more to the point, Tim Wu is a former advisor to the Federal Trade Commission, which settled a suit with Google in 2013. In January 2013, Wu defended the FTC’s decision to settle, writing that Google won search results because it was a better search engine, not because of its wealth and influence in Silicon Valley and Washington D.C. power corridors, according to Re/Code.

Wu, has changed his mind about that, citing changes in how Google search works.

He told Re/Code:

“The main surprising and shocking realization is that Google is not presenting its best product. In fact, it’s presenting a version of the product that’s degraded and intentionally worse for consumers … “This is the closest I’ve seen Google come to [being] the Microsoft case.”

Those are very strong words. In 2001, a federal judge ruled that Microsoft acted in anti-competitive ways by parlaying its monopoly power in Windows into other areas of computing, namely web browsers. This judgement was thrown out on appeal, in part because the judge talked to the media while still hearing the case.

This research comes at a touchy time for Google which faces an antitrust investigation by the European Union.

Fortune reached out to Google for comment and will update this story as needed.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

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