TIME Gadgets

Pebble Time Is Long on Battery, Short on Features

Pebble Pebble Time

Pebble’s latest smartwatch offers a new look, a color screen, and an entirely new operating system, but is it enough to woo consumers?

Starting today, Pebble will begin shipping the Pebble Time to nearly 79,000 Kickstarter backers.

The smartwatch is the company’s third product, but arguably the most significant thus far. It comes weeks after Apple launched its own smartwatch, and as Google gets ready to announce enhancements for its Android Wear platform (including possible iOS compatibility) that runs on smartwatches.

The $199 Pebble Time features redesigned casing available in red, white, or black. The smartwatch has a new color e-paper display that livens up the previously black-and-white screen, and also includes improved battery life. After thoroughly testing the smartwatch, its battery life fell to 20 percent after five days, which aligns with the company’s promise that one charge could last up to seven days.

A new mechanism also makes it possible to quickly change watch straps without special tools (a time-consuming task required for both smart and traditional watches). Previous Pebble users will be happy to hear the eight-app limit is no more and users can install as many apps (or watch faces) as they like.

The new Pebble Time operating system is full of fun animations and playful icons for various apps and information. It ran smoothly, even before last-minute bugs were ironed out via updates, during the review period.

However, the new Timeline feature is arguably the most promising aspect of the smartwatch. With the push of an up or down button (found on the watch’s side), information is displayed in chronological order and divided into past, preset and future events.

For example, past events include calendars, sports scores, and check-in’s from social networking app Swarm, while the present displays current events and alerts. Meanwhile, a future agenda features weather forecasts, and alarms (just to name a few). Users can select an entry to view more detailed information, or return back to the watchface after catching a glimpse of the day’s summary.

Unlike other smartwatches, Pebble Time apps push information straight to the Timeline without sending an alert to your phone. The benefits of this functionality became apparent during my time using the ESPN Pebble Time app. Despite not having the sports app installed on my smartphone, sports scores and updates were placed into the device’s Timeline. Select a team or game you want to follow from the app on the watch, and the alerts will follow.

Pebble’s Timeline is one of those features where you begin using it, and it doesn’t quite make sense at first. But, its value starts to shine through as more information is populated. Being able to press a button and view bite-sized morsels of information is of tremendous use for smartwatch users.

It’s imperative, however, for big name developers to take advantage of the new feature in order for Pebble to maximize the potential of its Timeline. ESPN is big, but not big enough on its own. The NYT Now app comes to mind as the perfect companion for a feature like this, as does Twitter.

The smartwatch lacks certain staples (such as voice notes, stocks apps, weather watchfaces and album art) found on other competitors’ devices, but future OS updates promise to fix that.

Regardless of its soon-to-be-fixed app setbacks the biggest obstacle facing Pebble is the shift in what smartwatches are capable of and what consumers now expect from them.

The one-way features Pebble was originally built-on have morphed into a two-way highway that has become the norm in the industry. Now information races between one’s smartwatch and smartphone just as often as it does going in the opposite direction. Raise your wrist to create a voice reminder on the Apple Watch with a “Hey Siri” command and watch it later sync across all of your Apple devices. It’s a similar feature that can also be achieved with “OK Google” if you’re an Android Wear user.

Unfortunately, the Pebble Time doesn’t allow you to create content, such as a reminder or compose a text message from scratch. The device basically acts as a smaller screen to view your notifications, and not much else.

Short of using your voice to reply to a message on an Android device, any interaction you have with the watch is strictly from a consumption standpoint, meaning sending any information to your phone from your smartwatch isn’t possible.

To its credit, Pebble has stated working on a method to allow iPhone users to reply to Gmail messages using dictation, but it’s not ready quite yet.

It should be possible for a developer—or Pebble itself—to create a smartstrap (you can read more about these straps in an earlier Logged In column) that contains a speaker. Using the Pebble Time’s microphone and a speaker located in the strap, users could then give commands to create alerts and send text messages. Alas, nothing like that exists right now; perhaps one day.

What the Pebble Time lacks in features, it makes up for in battery life. It still offers the core foundation of what a smartwatch once was, and for some, what it should be. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to an Android user, thanks to the added functionality and notification management. I would hesitate, however, to give the same recommendation to iOS users, unless battery life and a budget (Apple’s smartwatches are almost twice as costly) are of the utmost importance.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

MONEY Walmart

This Is Walmart’s Amazon Prime Killer

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Location Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's called "ShippingPass."

Walmart’s Amazon Prime competitor finally has name: ShippingPass.

TechCrunch reports the world’s largest retailer accidentally leaked that and other details when a test site for the service was accidentally made public yesterday, giving customers more insight into how Walmart plans to challenge Amazon’s online dominance.

As MONEY reported earlier, ShippingPass, previously codenamed “Tahoe,” will offer unlimited three-day delivery of eligible items purchased at walmart.com and cost $50 per year—half the price of Amazon Prime.

An FAQ posted on the testing site reveals the launch will be restricted to a limited number of areas at launch. Products eligible for ShippingPass delivery will be marked on Walmart’s website with special logo, much like how Amazon identifies items eligible for Prime shipping. According to the FAQ, three-day delivery will only be guaranteed if the order is placed by noon local time.

While not all items will be eligible for three-day shipping, the leaked site revealed some items with slower delivery times—four to six days—will also ship at no cost, and ShippingPass appears to have no minimum order. Walmart currently offers free standard shipping to all customers on orders that exceed $50.

TIME Smartphones

This Is What Teens Are Really Doing on Their Phones

New report reveals all

It’s amazing how glued snake people—er, millennials—are to their palm-sized, Internet-connected rectangles. But why?

Mary Meeker, the Morgan Stanley analyst turned venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins, today released her annual report on Internet trends. One section—slides 68 through 70, in particular—digs into the mobile habits of American youth, and it reveals some interesting statistics.

Fortune senior writer Leena Rao has a breakdown of the year’s biggest overall trends here. But for the millennial scrutinizer, here’s what the 2015 slideshow has to say:

First off, 87% of young adults—or those between the ages of 18 and 34—who own smartphones report never separating from their mobile devices: “My smartphone never leaves my side, night or day.” And four-out-of-five of them report that the first thing they do upon waking “is reach for my smartphone.” Good morning, screen-glow.

Nearly as many, 78%, spend more than two hours per day using their smartphones. And three-out-of-five believe that mobile devices will somehow vaguely rule every aspect of the future: “In the next five years, I believe everything will be done on mobile devices.”

So what do teens care about now on their phones? For those who average roughly 16 years, about one third report prioritizing Instagram as the most important social network. That’s about the same as the share that reported Facebook [fortune-stock symbol=”FB”] was the most important in Spring 2013. Today, Facebook’s share of perceived importance has halved among that demographic.

While Zuck’s friend-zone still has the most penetration of any social network—about three-quarters of 12- to 24-year-olds use it—that share is in decline. It dropped from to 74% this year from 80% last year.

Other networks that lost some share include Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. Vine stayed steady at 30% in terms of usage among socially networked 12- to 24-year-olds. And those networks on the rise? Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. (WhatsApp lacks 2014 data, but clocked in at 11% this year.)

Instagram appears to be the king, for now. (Never mind that it’s a Facebook fiefdom.) Which explains why so many—44% of 18- to 24-year-olds, that is—report report using their smartphone camera at least once per day. And an overwhelming majority—about three-quarters of 18- to 34-year-olds—report that they use their cameras to post pictures to social media.

So that’s how teens are mostly using their phones. To take pictures of the world around them, and to inject those photos into and across the screens that consume their mornings, their days, their nights, and a good portion of their present lives. Not to mention the entirety their future lives, as many of them report anticipating.

Unfortunately, the report does not break its numbers out into share of selfies.

TIME Web

Here’s How Much Youtube Is Worth

Viral videos are big money

An analyst at Bank of America thinks your favorite place for cat videos is worth big money.

Analyst Justin Post wrote a note this week saying that YouTube, the popular video streaming site bought by Google in 2006, is worth about $70 billion on its own. That’s a higher value than all but 66 of the companies listed on the S&P 500, according to Bloomberg.

Post also thinks that YouTube could still grow, with a valuation of up to $90 billion possible—which would leave only 55 S&P 500 companies beating it.

The 2006 deal was for $1.65 billion.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Autos

Everything You Need to Know About Android Auto

Android Auto
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images 2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T at the 107th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on FEBRUARY 13, 2015.

Reviewers say it trounces old-school in-car navigation systems

Google’s operating system for cars has finally arrived. Android Auto, which lets drivers control popular smartphone apps through their car’s dashboard interface, is now available in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata and will be rolled out to additional vehicles in the future.

Here are the key insights from reviewers at The Verge and the Wall Street Journal who have taken Android Auto for a test drive.

Android Auto truly replaces your phone

While driving, Google wants you to put your phone away completely and rely on Android Auto to make phone calls, get directions, queue up music and even send texts. Drivers are locked out of their smartphones while the device is connected to Android Auto. Apps like Maps are as fully-featured through the car as they are on a smartphone (though you can’t look up walking or transit directions).

You’ll be doing a lot of talking

In order to increase driver safety, Android Auto encourages people to use voice commands instead of having drivers type information. You can simply speak to ask Android Auto for directions or to place a call. The app itself is pretty talky as well. For instance, it will read aloud text messages you receive and also read back texts that you dictate before you send them off to friends.

Music is at your fingertips

Listening to music is one of the most common activities in the car, and it’s a key part of Anroid Auto. Currently compatible services include Google Play Music, Spotify and iHeartRadio (Pandora isn’t currently supported). Users can use voice search to find songs or artists, though reviewers said the feature worked much better with Google Play Music than with third-party apps. There’s also a quirk that limits how far drivers can scroll through a playlist in order to prevent long periods of distraction from the road, so it would be hard to comb through a whole music library using the app.

Your car is now your personal assistant

In addition to expected features like navigation and music playback, Android Auto makes use of Google’s digital assistant Google Now to offer context-sensitive suggestions for getting through your day. The app may present navigation directions to your office when you get in the car in the morning, for example, or present the route home when you boot up the car in the evening.

Overall, reviewers tended to agree that Android Auto is a big step up from the clunky navigation systems that have become standard in many new cars. With Apple’s CarPlay also planned to roll out to more vehicles soon, expect the smartphone to soon become a standard tool for in-car navigation and communication.

TIME pubdesk

How Your Cell Phone Knows If You’ve Been Laid Off

Cell phone data reveals more than your call log

Your cell phone is pretty good at tracking your schedule. Say, you typically call your mom during lunch on Tuesday or you call you child everyday at 3:30 p.m. to make sure they got home from school. Or it’s Thursday happy hour and you’re calling to say you’ll miss dinner again this week.

So, the moment your schedule changes, your cell phone is often the first to reap the evidence. And it looks like that shift in calling patterns is a pretty good indicator if you’ve lost your job, according to new research.

A team of professors from top universities across the country looked at millions of cell-phone records from an unidentified European country from 2006 to 2007. In one city of 15,000 people, about 1,100 workers were laid off from an auto-parts manufacturing plant. The researchers identified those people and followed their call logs to compare them to those of a control group of workers still employed.

Researchers found that those who were laid off made and received 21% fewer calls after a month out of the job compared to the working group. They also didn’t move around as much. Their calls originated from 15% fewer cell-phone towers. Essentially, the workers who lost their jobs where less social and less mobile than their employed counterparts.

This may sound like more creepy big brother than helpful, but the implications could be huge. Using this kind of tracking on a large scale could better reveal the larger trends in the unemployment rate for an area, possibly even weeks before government surveys are released.

The researchers don’t have access to any U.S. data, nor do they have ongoing records from the European nation—there’s major privacy concerns even if the data could be anonymized. So, for now, the research is simply proof of concept.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Security

Silk Road Mastermind Pleads For Light Sentence

The homepage to alleged Silk Road 2.0 website is seen in a screenshot after it was closed by U.S. authorities
© Reuters Staff / Reuters—Reuters The homepage to Silk Road 2.0, allegedly an underground drug market, is seen in a screenshot after it was closed by U.S. authorities November 6, 2014. U.S. authorities said Thursday they have shut down the successor website to Silk Road, an underground online drug marketplace, and charged its alleged operator with conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering and other crimes. REUTERS/Staff (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) - RTR4D53P

He wants 20 years, but faces the possibility of life behind bars

The convicted founder of Silk Road, the shuttered online black market, is pleading for a lighter sentence.

Ross Ulbricht’s plea came in a letter to the judge who is set to make a decision Friday. Ulbricht, 31 faces the possibility of life in prison. The letter is the first time Ulbricht has spoken out for himself, according to Business Insider. He did not testify during the trial.

“When I created Silk Road I wasn’t seeking financial gain,” he wrote in the letter.. “I created Silk Road because… I believed at the time that people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren’t hurting anyone else.”

He’s hoping to receive the least amount of time in prison possible, 20 years; 97 of Ulbricht’s friends and family have written letters in his defense.

“Silk Road was supposed to be about giving people the freedom to make their own choices, to pursue their own happiness,” Ulbricht said in the letter.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Internet

Here Are the Funniest Error Pages on the Web

From 2016 presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to social networks like Reddit and Google, here are some of most creative 404 sites

TIME Video Games

How Minecraft Players Are Funding Stem Cell Research

Game Minecraft in education
Chicago Tribune—MCT via Getty Images Bobby Craig, left, and Doogy Lee create worlds in Minecraft that parallel what they have bene reading in "The Hobbit" as part of their fifth grade class studies at Quest Academy in Palatine, Ill.

They're logging 10,000 hours for the cause

Online video game streaming service Twitch is hosting a 24-hour Minecraft marathon to benefit the National Stem Cell Foundation.

The Saturday, June 6 charity marathon, called Reason2Play, is slated to feature top Minecraft players. According to a release by the NSCF, the Minecraft players said they’d log 10,000 hours on the intensely popular video game in order to help fund stem cell science. During the marathon, Twitch will promote the Reason2Play effort and ask viewers to make donations to the NSCF.

The foundation likens Minecraft’s use of blocks to create structures in-game to stem cells being the “building blocks of the human body.”

“Mastering Minecraft requires a great deal of ingenuity, creativity, and social cooperation,” said Dr. Paula Grisanti, the chair of the National Stem Cell Foundation, in a statement. “Not only that, it has proven to be a highly successful educational tool all over the world.”

“Reason2Play is a terrific opportunity to make the connection to stem cell research and treatment among gamers because they value skill, innovation, and dedication,” added Grisanti.

The company behind Minecraft was acquired by Microsoft last year for $2.5 billion. At the time, the 10-year-old daughter of Fortune’s Jennifer Reingold penned a letter to CEO Satya Nadella about the game.

TIME Video Games

Splatoon Is the Best Game Nintendo’s Made in Years

Nintendo

The iconic Japanese developer rolls out another brilliant first-party game that's unlike any other

How goofy was the elevator pitch for Nintendo’s Wii U team shooter Splatoon? Play as a head-tentacled, paintgun schlepping biped that can morph into a turbo squid? Zip around multiplex obstacle courses, squaring off against fellow ink-spuming cephalopods while spraying viscous goo to brand your turf? Grind on gloop-splashed rails like a madcap Tony Hawk/Jackson Pollock mashup?

Too weird to succeed? I hope not, because with all due respect to rethinks like last year’s Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, I haven’t played a Nintendo game this gonzo and flat out fun in years.

Here’s how it works: Two squads of four players (not platoons, though that’s what inspired the catchy portmanteau) battle in skatepark-inspired arenas, outfitted with ink-spewing gadgetry and one imperative, to cover as much of the area’s ground space with your team’s color as possible before time runs out. The controls are simple: pick up the Wii U’s tablet controller, thumbstick in the direction you want to move, and swivel the tablet in the one you want to shoot.

You can ink over already saturated areas and take out enemies by assaulting them with your weapon, but don’t look for kill counts or headshot tallies, because Splatoon is about maximum coverage, not carnage—an anti-sanguine splatter-fest, and a graffiti vandal’s dream come true. And it only sounds shambolic. There’s a deep tactical shooter lurking beneath all that polychromatic spatter.

Before you’ve so much as glimpsed the leveling and gear grind, you’ll have to grapple with Splatoon‘s funky shapeshifting tactic, either firing paint slugs as a slow-moving bipedal Inkling, or holding a button to insta-morph into a squid. In squid mode, you can dart across ink-glazed surfaces, moving twice as fast while recharging your dwindling ink supply. Swim into enemy ink, of course, and you’ll slither to a stop, opening yourself up to enemy fire.

Splatoon builds on its ink-traversal idea by letting you craft “roads” through enemy lines, or swim up otherwise unclimbable platforms. What if Tony Hawk had to lay pipe to get anywhere? It’s a smart, often pivotal incentive to fashion shortcuts, take out snipers, cut through enemy-covered terrain, or get somewhere high fast to maximize your ink-spatter-to-surface-area ratio (the further ink falls, the more area its soaks). Think an extreme sports game meets a jet ski racer meets a coloring book.

The possibilities snowball when you factor all the gear abilities (dozens of speed, damage and stealth perks associated with headwear, shirts and shoes) and special weapons (bombs, mines, ink-tornado-flinging bazookas, mongo paint-rollers) that you can buy from shops with cash earned by leveling up in online matches. But it’s also beginner-friendly: The game keeps special weapons in check by requiring you ink so much ground before they unlock, then limits how long they’re usable. And a helpful “super jump” does away with lonely re-spawns (at your base, after someone takes you out) by letting you touch a teammate’s icon on the Wii U GamePad’s screen and rocket across the map to wherever they’re currently battle-painting.

Don’t let how insane any of that sounds put you off playing. It’s not how Splatoon feels in action, whether inking some quiet corner, or in a duel with a higher level opponent. Low level players can routinely steamroll high level ones, because Splatoon‘s basic maneuvers work as a kind of competitive equalizer. I’m not talking about luck, or something like Mario Kart‘s blue shell, where there’s an ultimate rock that can crush someone else’s scissor, just that Nintendo’s designed the game so that how you play—your “play style,” as the company puts it in the manual—often trumps what you’re playing with.

I do wish Splatoon had an offline bot mode so you could practice when the matchmaking service peters out (you can “recon” levels solo, but that’s it). And the game definitely needs an option to cancel while waiting for an online match to start. As it is, once you’ve agreed to join, Nintendo locks you to a timeout while searching for matches (the clever little Doodle Jump-inspired game you can play on the Wii U GamePad is amusing but poor compensation). It’s there to help seed the game’s online pool, but having to flip the Wii U’s power switch to kill the process when real life intervenes is plain unfriendly.

I wasn’t able to try the Battle Dojo, a 1-on-1 mode where you and another player in the same room compete by shooting ink at balloons. And I’ve only dabbled with the offline story mode, though it’s so far classic Nintendo: platform through linear levels with ink-related conundrums, then battle cunningly designed bosses (think Shadow of the Colossus‘s enemy-climbing angle, only with ink). It’s as cutesy and goofball and clearly designed to fit within Nintendo’s family of future-looking franchises as you’d expect of a new IP as heavily marketed as this one’s been.

But those activities feel like distractions from Splatoon‘s triumphant team-play mode, the game’s heart and soul, and the reason a guy like me, no fan of competitive online shooters, can’t stop playing the darned thing. There’s nothing else quite like it, nor the cathartic dopamine jolt to be had when you squid-skim up a paint-smeared quarter pipe, an Inkzooka at the ready, leap over the edge, take aim with your weapon, and reduce a startled opponent to goo.

5 out of 5

Reviewed on Wii U

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