TIME

Why GoPros Are the Only Camera Worth Buying Right Now

GoPro Inc. Cameras Ahead Of Earnings Report
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A GoPro Inc. HERO3 camera is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, April 23, 2015.

Your smartphone is fine for everything else

Apple’s latest ad campaign, “Shot on iPhone 6,” uses iPhone photographers’ gorgeous still images and video to ask one question: Do you really need a standalone camera anymore? For many, the answer is no—and that shows in camera companies’ performance. Nikon’s camera sales were down 15% in 2014, Canon’s by 7.3%.

But that pain isn’t being felt universally among camera makers. One in particular is doing just fine: GoPro, which in April posted a 54% year-over-year gain in revenue, though its stock price is floating at about half its all-time high Monday after going public last June.

GoPro is succeeding in selling cameras where its bigger, older rivals are failing because it’s taking advantage of a major shift in consumer tastes. For many people, smartphones are now good enough to replace typical compacts, like the Canon PowerShot line. There’s no reason to carry a comparatively bulky camera if your pocketable iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S6 can take snapshots of your family’s trip to the zoo just fine. That leaves Canon, Nikon and other brands catering to a far smaller crowd of hobbyist and professional photographers, hurting sales.

GoPro, meanwhile, has positioned itself as the go-to brand of choice for the so-called “action cameras” — tiny box-shaped gadgets with ultra-wide lenses that can be attached to helmets or handlebars for hikers, bikers and climbers to get rad selfies for Facebook and Instagram. Since the introduction of the entry-level GoPro HERO, the company’s cameras now start at $129.99 and go all the way up to $499.99, adding bells and whistles like 4K ultra-high resolution video, Wi-Fi communication for slicker smartphone uploading and quicker burst photography along the way. The company’s newest entry, unveiled Monday, makes the whole package even smaller.

GoPro’s cameras are great because they offer something your smartphone doesn’t. Sure, you could probably mount your precious iPhone 6 on your skateboard helmet before you go bomb that killer hill. But would you really want to? That’s why—for most people—GoPros are the only standalone cameras worth buying right now. For everything else, there’s your phone in your pocket.

TIME Internet

More Than 160,000 Sign Petition for Reddit Chief’s Ouster

Closing Arguments Made In The Discrimination Case Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC
Getty Images

Signatures add to the backlash over the removal of a popular employeee

An online petition calling for Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao to step down has gained more 160,000 signatures.

While the petition was started weeks ago, it’s gained significant traction after a popular employee, Victoria Taylor, who was Reddit’s director of talent and a facilitator of the Ask Me Anything feature, was removed from her position. The news resulted in the shut down of several popular message boards in protest. “I want to apologize to our community…” Pao told TIME last week. “We handled the transition in a way that caused some disruption, and we should have done a better job.”

The petition argues that when Pao stepped in as Reddit’s interim chief, “Reddit entered into a new age of censorship.”

Read next: Reddit’s Ellen Pao and Alexis Ohanian Explain Site Shut Down

TIME Video Games

Watch the First Trailer for the New Minecraft: Story Mode

The adventure game's all-star cast reunites two former Goonies, among others

When Minecraft developer Mojang weirdly joined hands with Telltale Games to metamorphose the sandbox blockbuster into a choose-your-own-adventure in December 2014, I wasn’t sure what to think. Okay, I suppose “Is nothing sacred?” probably went through my head once or twice. Minecraft is about our stories after all, the ones we make up as we play. Foisting a narrative structure on a sprawling toy box makes as much sense as putting Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgård on a Navy boat fighting aliens and calling it Battleship.

That’s if you’re a cynic, anyway. Better things can and do happen — like The Lego Movie, or most of Telltales Games’ oeuvre to date, notably its takes on The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Back to the Future.

So here’s our first trailer for Minecraft: Story Mode, unveiled this weekend at Minecon in London. Make of it what you will; the voice list’s pretty A-caliber. That’s Patton Oswalt playing Jesse, the game’s de facto blockhead savior, joined by Ashley Johnson (Ellie in The Last of Us). The game also stars Corey Feldman, Dave Fennoy, Martha Plimpton, Scott Porter, Brian Posehn, Paul Reubens and Billy West.

The choice-driven Minecraft yarn will unfurl over five episodes and includes locations familiar to Minecraft buffs, like the Nether, Farlands and the End. The first episode should be out later this year for PC and Mac, current and last-gen consoles (excluding Nintendo), iOS and Android.

TIME space travel

NASA Says New Horizons Pluto Probe Is Okay After a Scary Glitch

pluto new horizons
NASA

We could finally get a clear picture of Pluto on July 14

NASA said Sunday its New Horizons space probe remains on track for a historic flyby of Pluto after the mission suffered what appeared to be a nail-biting glitch.

Team scientists were on edge this Fourth of July when the New Horizons spacecraft entered “safe mode” just 10 days before its final destination, briefly cutting out communications with Earth before reconnecting, NASA said in a statement. Investigators said the anomaly was caused by an operational glitch that will not compromise the quality of the mission. New Horizons was launched in 2006 and has already traveled 3.5 billion miles.

“I’m pleased that our mission team quickly identified the problem and assured the health of the spacecraft,” said Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science. “Now — with Pluto in our sights — we’re on the verge of returning to normal operations and going for the gold.”

The New Horizons mission is expected to provide the first close-up observations and detailed measurements of the icy dwarf planet when it approaches Pluto at about 7:50 a.m. ET on July 14. To date, NASA said, only Voyager 2 has explored the far reaches of our solar system, though the spacecraft did not visit Pluto.

TIME

Here’s How McDonald’s and KFC Are Adapting in China

A KFC restaurant in a shopping mall.  KFC, McDonalds,
Zhang Peng—LightRocket via Getty Images A KFC restaurant in a shopping mall in China.

A tech upgrade is needed for speedier service

McDonald’s and Yum Brands’ KFC have each recently unveiled plans to tinker with mobile payments in China, a move to lure the nation’s hundreds of millions smartphone users that increasingly use those devices for their day-to-day needs.

Mobile payment adoption has already accelerated here in the U.S., with restaurant chains such as Starbucks aggressively adding the tech upgrade to their retail locations. Restaurant chains are now figuring out they need to employ that technology in China, too.

McDonald’s is starting mobile payments and ordering in China under a pilot program in the current quarter, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yum recently said its KFC business teamed up with Alibaba to launch a mobile-payment service for 700 of its 4,500-plus stores in the country.

Experts say that mobile payments are actually taking off faster in China than in the U.S., the Journal reported, because the Chinese don’t use credit cards as widely as American consumers. And while many home-grown retailers already use mobile payments, Wal-Mart and KFC are actually early adopters among their peers.

TIME Amazon

Amazon’s New Prime Day Will Be a Massive ‘Global Shopping Event’

Mark your calendars: It’s on July 15

Amazon is turning 20 next week, and to celebrate the online retail site is launching Prime Day, a global shopping extravaganza for Prime members.

The company has whet the appetite of shoppers around the world by announcing that on July 15 there will be “a global shopping event, with more deals than Black Friday” — the biggest shopping day of the year that happens after Thanksgiving. Much like Black Friday, deals will start at midnight, and new discounts will be offered as often as every 10 minutes, Amazon said in a statement. The event will be open to Prime members in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria.

Not a Prime member? Clearly, this is the time Amazon wants to woo you into the fold, and a 30-day free trial of Prime has been offered: “If you’re not already a Prime member, you’ll want to join so you don’t miss out on one of the biggest deals extravaganzas in the world,” said Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon Prime.

Getting shoppers to become Prime members is a push that has yielded benefits for the company. A recent ComScore report revealed that “Prime members make twice as many purchases as nonmembers, and they spend 40% more per transaction.” Last week, the company expanded its one-hour delivery service Prime Now to parts of central London, marking the company’s first expansion of its speedy service outside of the U.S.

TIME Cameras

Hands-On With the Smallest GoPro Ever Made

GoPro's latest action cam is a rad little cube

trustedreviews-logo

GoPro’s action cameras have always been dinky, almost a miniaturization of a traditional digital camera. But the company’s latest effort, the GoPro Hero 4 Session, is the smallest GoPro ever — and shaped like a near-perfect cube.

The GoPro Hero 4 Session is 50% smaller and 40% lighter than the rest of GoPro’s high-end Hero 4 range. This is important. GoPro is the go-to brand for action sport enthusiasts — think anybody who uses the words “gnarly,” “stoked,” or “rad” with reckless abandon. These thrill seekers want small and robust cameras to attach to skateboards, skis, helmets and just about anything else you can imagine. The smaller and lighter the camera, the better.

And if that’s the rule, the Session is definitely better. It’s an eight megapixel action camera with a 170-degree wide angle lens aimed at users who value compactness over all else. It’s also the first GoPro to be water-resistant without needing a separate case.

I’ve spent the last few days with the Session, dunking it in water, jumping over hills in a buggy and cycling through a busy city. I’ve been thoroughly impressed.

For its first task, I strapped the GoPro Hero 4 Session to a paddle for some white water rafting action. Being regularly submerged in the wet stuff didn’t bother the Session one bit – it can be submerged down to 33 feet – and I could hardly feel its weight on my oar. Best of all, the footage it captured is outstanding. The video is crisp and the shots of the foaming rapids look exactly as I experienced them.

It’s not just the Session’s video that looks good. GoPro has worked hard at improving its sound capture, too. Because the camera isn’t enclosed in thick, transparent plastic means its microphones aren’t muffled. Clever software decides which mic to prioritize so wind noise, for example, doesn’t drown out what you actually want to capture. What this leads to is some impressive sound quality that puts you right back in the moment. As the paddle dunks the camera underwater, the audio quietens, just like when your ears are submerged. As the paddle rises the sound explodes again in a cacophony of rolling waves.

Shots of driving a buggy over jumps are also thrilling, whether in full-HD at 60 frames per second or at the highest, 1440 pixel, 4:3 resolution at 30fps. You don’t get 4K here — that’s still limited to the top-of-the-range GoPro Hero 4 Black — but you do get 100fps slow-motion at 720p. The fisheye lens can capture almost everything in front of it, though at the cost of distortion at the edges. This is normal with action cameras, and is a small price to pay for the sheer amount the Session can fit into your shots.

Evan KypreosGoPro Hero 4 Session

Once you’ve shot your footage, you need to cut it into a compelling movie. You can use GoPro Studio for this. It’s reasonably simple to use and helps you make exciting and fun videos with a minimum of fuss.

Being so small means the GoPro Hero 4 Session doesn’t have many controls on the body. There’s a tiny LCD screen, a flap covering the microSD and microUSB slots and a main button that lets you shoot video or, with a longer press, time-lapse photos. The only other button is tiny and lets you either flag interesting moments in a movie or connect the Session to a smartphone, helpful for getting the most out of the Session.

The GoPro app has a slew of settings you can tweak to help create the perfect video as well as remotely control the Session. It’s easy to use, and connections between a phone and the Session are rock solid. Best of all, GoPro has added low-energy Bluetooth so neither device’s battery drains too fast while connected. The Session can last a full six days on standby like this. Battery life in general is impressive for such a small camera. I managed a little over two hours of video at full-HD 30fps. Gnarly.

The GoPro Hero 4 Session looks certain to be a firm favorite for adrenaline junkies. Its lightness and low-profile design make it a great complement for bikers who want a helmet-mounted action cam, or musicians looking to capture interesting angles at a gig.

For the rest of us, the Session is a luxury, particularly as it costs $399. That’s as much as the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, which has better specs, though in a bigger package. For anyone considering taking the GoPro plunge without sinking too much money into a purchase, I recommend the GoPro Hero+ LCD. Yes, it’s bigger than the Session, but it also comes with an LCD screen for viewing your shots and settings — and it’s $100 cheaper, at $299.

This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. Read Trusted Review’s full hands-on with the GoPro Hero 4 Session here.

TIME Gadgets

5 Reasons To Install a Home Webcam

Nest Cam
Nest Nest Cam

Spying isn’t one of them, because that would be wrong

This digital age we’ve found ourselves in is sure a complex one. On one hand, people are increasingly anxious about their online privacy, to the point where all of Europe is blocking Facebook’s new facial recognition photo app. On the other hand, technology is giving us great tools to stay safe, like an app that’s helping people who were abducted in the Middle East alert the police.

Web security cameras are similarly divisive. Some people feel the devices’ cloud-connected features have the potential to spill their private moments all over the web. Meanwhile, countless others who’ve been victimized by burglars, stalkers, or abusive caretakers have found these to be lifesaving devices.

But you don’t need to record your every movement within your home to be safe. Here are five ways to use web security cameras around your property to keep your home and family members safe and sound:

1. Mind the door. Whether it’s a crook or your kid’s friends, if they’re coming in the house, they’re most likely entering through the front door. Positioning a camera so it catches the comings and goings is a good way to ensure everyone who is in your house belongs there.

The $149 Simplicam makes for a good greeter because it has facial recognition features that will send an alert to the camera owner’s smartphone if a stranger enters the house. Part of a monthly or annual subscription feature, the facial recognition service also lets you save video clips in the cloud (which is key in case someone makes off with your camera). And you can set the camera to stop recording when it recognizes specific faces, like yours, because there’s no need for this setting to be active when your watchful eyes are already in the room.

2. Watch those dark corners. Blind spots, dark corners, and out-of-sight areas — every old house has them, and some new houses do too. Putting a webcam in those troublesome places will give you the ability to look in those creepy crannies without actually having to go there.

Of course, the challenge is wiring, but Arlo by Netgear, starting at $199.99, will be your hero by operating anywhere your Wi-Fi reaches. Powered by four lithium-ion camera batteries that last up to six months, the web connected camera has night vision, is designed for outdoor use including in rain and snow, and provides motion alerts. But even better is its one free gigabyte of online storage for saving clips or the past seven days of footage. Most other cameras charge a subscription fee for this kind of service.

3. Keep an eye on your garage. One of the most vulnerable places in your home, garages store lots of valuable property (like your car, for starters) but they’re often overlooked when it comes to security. Whether it’s tripping the garage door’s emergency release lever with a coat hanger or roaming your neighborhood, channel surfing with garage door openers, burglars are masters at exploiting this space.

There are things you can do to stop them, but to catch them in the act, the $199 Sengled Snap will be a must buy when it comes out in September. A 1080p HD cloud-connected camera and LED lightbulb that fits perfectly into a flood light, this innovative invention connects to Wi-Fi while installation is as simple as screwing in a lightbulb. With motion and sound detection capability, it may even help you catch the crooks before they make it inside.

4. Help mom and dad sleep like a baby. Forget all the advice and home remedies. There’s nothing that will reassure new parents like the image (and audio) of their baby sleeping soundly. And while baby monitors are hardly new, using a Wi-Fi connected camera as one is a great way to get the best technological bang for your buck.

The $219 Nest Cam is not only perfectly named for watching over a young one, but it’s well suited for the task with a 1080p high definition resolution and a great mounting system to keep the camera (and cord) out of your kid’s curious hands. But the best part of using a camera like this instead of a dedicated baby cam is that when your little one gets bigger, you can reuse the Nest Cam elsewhere on your property.

5. Cancel the house-sitter. Whether you travel for business or to satisfy wanderlust, leaving all your belongings behind can be equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. Eliminate the latter by using a web security camera as a house-sitter, keeping you connected to your home, no matter where you go.

Capturing 180 degrees of video while connecting to smart home devices, the $199 and up Piper is part camera, part security guard. Able to detect indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity, light, sound, and motion, the device can link with window and door sensors to keep track of your home as if you never even left.

TIME Internet

Reddit’s Ellen Pao and Alexis Ohanian Explain Site Shut Down

Ellen Pao
Eric Risberg—AP Ellen Pao, the current interim chief of the news and social media site Reddit, has alleged she faced gender discrimination from former employer Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers.

Protests rippled through much of the popular message board on Friday

Reddit moderators shut down hundreds of the online message board’s most popular sections on Friday. The outages were part of an apparent protest by users after the surprise removal of a popular employee, Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s director of talent and a facilitator of the Ask Me Anything feature.

The move affected nearly 300 individual discussion areas, or subreddits that focus on various topics ranging from technology to art. Subreddits are moderated by community members, not Reddit employees. The shutdowns began on Thursday evening and expanded quickly on Friday.

“I want to apologize to our community for yesterday,” Reddit’s interim CEO Ellen Pao told TIME on Friday. “We handled the transition in a way that caused some disruption, and we should have done a better job.” Pao said the company’s management should have informed moderators earlier about planned personnel changes. Pao declined to comment further on Taylor’s departure.

Alexis Ohanian, one of Reddit’s co-founders and the company’s current chairman, said the site has appointed a dedicated point of contact on staff to communicate with the site’s moderators. Kristine Fasnacht, a long-time Reddit user and current employee, will take on the role, he said.

Ohanian said the plan was to have an email alias available for moderators who needed to contact Reddit employees, but that was not widely communicated after Taylor’s departure. “Unfortunately, we did not announce the transition right after that happened,” he said.

Ask Me Anythings, or AMA for short, are the tumbling question-and-answer sessions hosted on the site that have become very popular over the past few years. They are an entirely user-created genre—any Reddit moderator can host one. In instances with famous participants, like President Barack Obama’s 2012 AMA, the site has an employee help with planning and managing the logistics. “They existed before we had anything to do with them,” said Ohanian. The company is looking into appointing an staffer to continue doing that kind of liaising in the future.

Reddit users speculated Taylor’s dismissal was connected with her moderation of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s AMA on Wednesday, which became disorganized after a flurry of questions about racial issues. “That definitely had nothing to do with it,” said Ohanian.

Ohanian, who has tight bond with the community, said he spent the last 24 hours communicating with the site’s moderators and other users, much of it over Reddit itself. He was fielding questions on the site until about 3 AM Thursday night, he said, and made about a half-dozen phone calls to users. “Some people are understandably skeptical,” he said, “but at the very least it’s a step in the right direction.”

“Now it’s on us to act,” Ohanian continued, “to use Reddit to create a dialogue to better keep our community and user base informed.” He said the discussions so far had been fruitful. “They made some very good points. The first thing we could do was get a moderator like Christine to be the point person just for moderators. So if users have a question or want someone to talk to, we’re there.”

Pao and Ohanian said the site had returned to almost normal as of Friday evening. “Of the 50 default subreddits, 48 of them are up and that’s what most people see on the front page,” said Pao. The site’s homepage—the content on which is generated by the number of up-votes on threads throughout the site, a measure of activity and popularity—contained several threads on Taylor’s dismissal. One pointed out that Google searches for “Reddit alternative” had spiked in the wake of the protests.

After years under the ownership of Advance Publications, parent of the Conde Nast magazine empire, Reddit was spun off and raised $50 million in funding last year. It is reportedly valued at about $250 million. The company is currently trying to kickstart a major expansion but has weathered a series of hiccups over the last few months including policy changes to address bullying and “involuntary pornography.”

“We have a responsibility to [users] to figure out how we can be better stewards,” Ohanian said. “There have been times when we made mistakes. The important thing is that we learn from them.”

TIME Web

Reddit Moderators Lash Out After Employee’s Unexpected Dismissal

Some of the site's most popular pages were shut down

Reddit moderators shut down hundreds of the online bulletin board’s most popular pages on Friday in response to an employee’s unexpected dismissal.

Members of the online community became outraged after Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s director of talent and chief facilitator of the popular Ask Me Anything pages (AMAs), was dismissed on Thursday without an explanation, the New York Times reports. Moderators say Taylor’s dismissal will prevent them from coordinating AMAs, as Taylor was the main point of contact for celebrities, politicians and other public figures who participated in the online Q&A sessions.

Reddit users speculated Taylor’s dismissal is connected with her moderation of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s AMA on Wednesday, which soon became disorganized after a flurry of questions about racial issues and his personal history.

[NYT]

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com