TIME apps

The Best iPhone Apps of the Week

Momentum, Fresh Air, Vurb and more are our favorite iPhone apps of the week.

It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found some apps actually worth downloading.

  • Momentum

    Momentum
    Momentum

    We all know how hard it can be to develop positive habits — most people are still trying to find a way to fit flossing into their bedtime routine. Momentum uses iOS 8’s Today feature to help track your habits. You can use it to set goals for yourself and program reminders so that you can proactively work toward your goals.

    Momentum is free in the App Store

  • Fresh Air

    Fresh Air
    Fresh Air

    Fresh Air creates a handsome graph that tracks developing weather patterns, giving you a better sense of how the day will develop — just because it’s sunny when you roll out of bed doesn’t mean your suede shoes will be safe from those afternoon showers. Moreover, Fresh Air sends notifications to your phone in the mornings, which feels a lot like having a butler on your phone to help you plan accordingly.

    Fresh Air is available for $1.99 in the App Store

  • Nat Geo View

    Nat Geo View
    Nat Geo View

    National Geographic’s app breaks down the magazine’s best stories, images and video of the day with a sleek interface to make it easier to digest — ideally as you watch lions digest some prey. And because it’s all National Geographic content, the app gives you access to some of the most fascinating stories and stunning photos in the world. In short, it’s a good way to keep up with the other, oft-overlooked side of the daily news machine.

    Nat Geo View is free in the App Store

     

  • Vurb

    Vurb
    Vurb

    Vurb is sort of a preemptive Foursquare. Instead of tracking where you’ve been, you can use it to organize a list of places you’ll go on any given day — from restaurants to bars, movies, and events. Vurb’s most useful feature, though, is the ability to share your agenda with your friends. It makes the whole restaurant-to-bar-to-bar-to-bar-to-late-night-eatery debacle a whole lot easier to keep track of if someone wants to meet up with you later in the evening.

    Vurb is free in the App Store

TIME Gadgets

How to Get Bluetooth to Actually Work

sound-system
Getty Images

What to do when you just can't get your tech to connect

Back in the mid-90s when Bluetooth launched, few us would have considered someday using our portable phones to play music through a miniature speaker on the other side of a room. Nowadays, laptops, smartphones and tablets use this wireless technology to connect to a vast range of devices — from speakers, keyboards and headsets to in-car entertainment systems, smart-home devices and personal fitness gadgets.

Or at least they’re meant to connect. The last time I tried to pair my iPhone 5S to a Beacon portable speaker, my phone simply did not “discover” the speaker. On the other hand, a friend’s Samsung Galaxy S4 instantly paired, pushing out sweet, sweet music in short order.

While the most recent updates to Bluetooth technology have added better pairing, increased range and lowest-ever power usage, you may still encounter the odd obstacle when getting set up.

Troubleshoot your Bluetooth connection with these tips and let us know how they work for you in the comments.

Make sure you’re in pairing mode

Many simpler devices such as headsets or portable speakers have one button for multiple functions. For example, my portable speaker has one button that you short-press to turn on it on or off, and long-press to activate its Bluetooth discovery mode.

Make sure you’ve correctly put your device in its pairing mode by reading its manual, suggests Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which oversees the development of the Bluetooth standard.

Charge up both the devices you’re trying to pair

“Some devices have smart power management that may turn off Bluetooth if the battery level is too low,” Powell says. If your phone isn’t pairing with that Bluetooth light bulb, make sure it’s got enough juice.

Power down likely interferers

Say that faithful Bluetooth speaker usually connects to your partner’s smartphone instead of yours. If you’re having trouble pairing your phone with the speaker, it could be because the speaker is trying to activate its usual connection. “Some older devices are very simple. They just try to connect with the last thing they paired with,” Powell says. If a Bluetooth device was previously paired with something else, turn off that other gadget.

Restart the connection

The old standby for problematic Macs and PCs works with reluctant Bluetooth connections, too. Sometimes the quickest solution is simply to turn Bluetooth off for both devices, then turn it on again for the devices to re-discover each other.

Place the devices right next to each other

“Pairing works best when the devices are next to each other,” Powell says. Once you’ve got the connection, Bluetooth is robust enough to transmit between devices that may be more than 30 feet apart, but the initial pairing can sometimes use a nudge.

Get away from the Wi-Fi router

Another potential obstacle to successful pairing is interference from devices that use the same spectrum, such as your Wi-Fi router. “Wi-Fi has been designed to cope with this, but it might not be a good idea to have your devices directly on top of the router,” Powell says.

And move away from a USB 3.0 port

“Interference from USB 3.0 is also possible,” Powell says. Newer laptops, for example, often have the higher-speed USB 3.0 port, so if the connection isn’t happening, try pairing your Bluetooth gadgets away from the computer.

Download a driver

In the computer world, a driver is a piece of software that lets two pieces of hardware communicate. If your PC or Mac refuses to pair with your new wireless keyboard (or other device), you may be missing the necessary driver. Head to the manufacturer’s website and find its Support section. There’s usually an area called “Downloads” or “Drivers” that should list the latest software updates, including drivers. Alternately, do a Google search for “driver” after your device’s model name.

Use the latest version of Bluetooth

Wireless speakers and headphones that support the latest Bluetooth 4.1 standard, which launched last December, are better at pairing, Powell says. Many currently available devices support Bluetooth 3.0, which launched in 2010, and you can still buy speakers that use 2007’s Bluetooth 2.1 standard. Though Bluetooth’s backward compatibility means that these devices should still be able to connect to smartphones, for example, newer versions of Bluetooth have steadily increased abilities such as longer-range connections and quicker pairing.

If you’re in the market for a new Bluetooth gadget, look for a sticker that says it supports Bluetooth 4.0 or newer. And if you can wait a bit, Bluetooth 4.2 was announced this December, so devices that support the update – with features including more secure connections and better pairing — should be available soon.

If pairing a fitness gadget, check that your phone is Bluetooth Smart Ready

In general, Bluetooth is backwards compatible: Bluetooth devices supporting the just-announced Bluetooth 4.2 standard should still be able to pair with devices using, say, the ancient Bluetooth 2.1, launched back in 2007.

The exceptions are gadgets that use a low-energy version called Bluetooth Smart, which works on a different protocol than older, or “Classic” Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth Smart devices are not backward compatible and won’t recognize (or pair with) older devices that support Classic Bluetooth. (For example, an old Sony Ericsson phone sporting Bluetooth 3.0 won’t be able to connect to a Bluetooth Smart device.)

However, if a device supports Bluetooth 4.0, it can potentially recognize both Bluetooth Smart and Classic. If it does, it’s officially labelled Bluetooth Smart Ready.

Gadgets that commonly use Bluetooth Smart include personal health gadgets such as fitness bands or heart-rate monitors. These gadgets will only pair with a smartphone or tablet that also uses Bluetooth Smart – or are Bluetooth Smart Ready.

iPhones running iOS 7 and newer should be Bluetooth Smart Ready as should Android phones running 4.3 or newer, Windows Phone 8.1 devices, and all BlackBerry 10 devices. Ensure your phone is running the latest version of its operating system – but if your device isn’t new enough to run relatively current software, you may not be able to pair it with that fitness band.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Security

Apple, Android Browsers Vulnerable to ‘FREAK Attack’

Apple iPhone 6
Roman Vondrous—AP Apple iPhone 6

Millions of people may have suffered a "FREAK" attack

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Millions of people may have been left vulnerable to hackers while surfing the web on Apple and Google devices, thanks to a newly discovered security flaw known as “FREAK attack.”

There’s no evidence so far that any hackers have exploited the weakness, which companies are now moving to repair. Researchers blame the problem on an old government policy, abandoned over a decade ago, which required U.S. software makers to use weaker security in encryption programs sold overseas due to national security concerns.

Many popular websites and some Internet browsers continued to accept the weaker software, or can be tricked into using it, according to experts at several research institutions who reported their findings Tuesday. They said that could make it easier for hackers to break the encryption that’s supposed to prevent digital eavesdropping when a visitor types sensitive information into a website.

About a third of all encrypted websites were vulnerable as of Tuesday, including sites operated by American Express, Groupon, Kohl’s, Marriott and some government agencies, the researchers said. University of Michigan computer scientist Zakir Durumeric said the vulnerability affects Apple web browsers and the browser built into Google’s Android software, but not Google’s Chrome browser or current browsers from Microsoft or Firefox-maker Mozilla.

Apple Inc. and Google Inc. both said Tuesday they have created software updates to fix the “FREAK attack” flaw, which derives its name from an acronym of technical terms. Apple said its fix will be available next week and Google said it has provided an update to device makers and wireless carriers.

A number of commercial website operators are also taking corrective action after being notified privately in recent weeks, said Matthew Green, a computer security researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

But some experts said the problem shows the danger of government policies that require any weakening of encryption code, even to help fight crime or threats to national security. They warned those policies could inadvertently provide access to hackers.

“This was a policy decision made 20 years ago and it’s now coming back to bite us,” said Edward Felten, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton, referring to the old restrictions on exporting encryption code.

TIME Security

What’s More Secure: Gmail or Government Email?

Ministers Attend The London Conference On Libya
WPA Pool—Getty Images U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her phone at the opening of the Libyan Conference, a meeting of international allies to discuss the next steps for Libya on March 29, 2011 in London, England.

Consider this before emailing your Social Security number — or State Department business

From a lone entrepreneur in Nigeria to the U.S. Secretary of State, email security is a major issue that impacts everyone. While third-party email providers like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo claim their services are safe and secure, sometimes it seems smarter to use your work address instead.

But Hillary Clinton opted to use a personal account instead of a government account while serving as Secretary of State, according to the New York Times. That revelation is causing headaches for the potential presidential candidate because she may have violated rules requiring public officials’ correspondence to be archived.

It’s still unclear why Clinton chose to use a personal email account instead of a State Department-supplied one (or which email service she used). Some observers, however, say it was a security risk for Clinton to go off the government grid. But when it comes to hacks and brass tacks, which email service is actually more secure: Consumer services like Gmail or government email?

“Neither,” says Justin White, a former director of information security compliance for the state of Colorado, who has also worked as an information security consultant with Microsoft, Costco, Wells Fargo, and the state of Washington. When asked which service he would use to send sensitive information, White, a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, begins to answer one way, then another.

And then he pauses and says: “You’d have to torture me to force me to do it.”

There are several reasons for White’s wavering response. First, while some governmental email systems are highly secure, that’s not true for every department. For instance, he says, if you were going to send some sensitive information to another agency, if that department has poor security on its servers, your data is put at risk of being intercepted — even if the other office is located just next door.

Secondly, there’s no way of knowing which governmental agency has good email security and which doesn’t, because, for security purposes, they don’t typically reveal their protocols.

“Some people are woefully unprepared at securing their own email servers at an agency level, so for all you know, people could already be intercepting emails,” says White.

Still, the State Department probably has very good email security for classified messages — security that Clinton apparently opted out of using.

But on the other hand, consumer services like Gmail aren’t hacker-proof, either. They often tout the exact measures they use to keep messages secure as a means of marketing — but by doing so, they’re also helping hackers untangle their safety measures. From unencrypted data to servers that aren’t protected and breaches that haven’t been fixed yet, hackers catalog security deficiencies to find ways to break in.

“You could go on any forum as well, and see what other people have researched about any of the different cloud or (email) solutions,” says White.

Is email encryption a magic bullet solution? The disappointing reality is that between the senders’ and receivers’ servers, there are many opportunities for intercepting or hacking into emails. It’s enough to make a person go all Janet Napolitano (the former Secretary of Homeland Security once said she doesn’t use email).

But that’s not to say we should all revert to the digital dark ages — we just need to be conscious about how secure our email services really are. For Clinton’s part, she might have just opted for more secure methods than email for truly sensitive communications. A State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday Clinton could have used secure voice and video chats instead, or opted for something truly old fashioned: printed documents.

TIME technology

New Report Says Apple Is Now the World’s Biggest Smartphone Maker

Apple Samsung Sales
Chris McGrath—Getty Images The Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus at their launch at the Apple Omotesando Store on Sept. 19, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.

According to data from research firm Gartner

Apple is now the world’s biggest smartphone maker in terms of worldwide sales at the end of last year, according to a new estimate that puts its fourth quarter figures ahead of rival Samsung’s numbers.

While Apple reported worldwide sales of 74.8 million smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2014, a report by research firm Gartner published Tuesday estimates Samsung sold 73 million units during the same period. If accurate — Samsung doesn’t report out its smartphone sales — that would mean Apple overtook Samsung as the world’s top smartphone maker by global sales for the first time since late 2011.

The new figures come on the heels of a recent report by Strategy Analytics that said Apple tied Samsung in worldwide shipments during the fourth quarter, which includes sold and unsold smartphones.

Apple’s strongest sales tend to occur during Q4 due to its fall iPhone releases. Last year’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus offered the sales push Apple needed to beat out Samsung, per Gartner’s data:

But Apple still has a ways to go if it wants to beat Samsung in annual global smartphone sales — a goal that seems possible given how Apple’s annual sales are rising faster than Samsung’s:

Here’s a look at the history of Apple’s iPhone:

TIME Apple watch

The Apple Watch Might Actually Cost a Fortune

Apple Watch PRice Cost
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.

Some estimates are much higher than previously thought

Better start saving up if you want to buy an Apple Watch.

Investment firm Piper Jaffray estimated Monday that the entry-level Apple Watch (called “Apple Watch Sport”) might actually cost most people around $450 instead of the $349 that Apple has officially said—when you take into account customizable features like the watch case, data storage and wrist strap.

Apple hasn’t yet announced a price for the mid-range Apple Watch (called simply “Apple Watch”), which is stainless steel and features a sapphire crystal screen, but Piper Jaffray estimates it could start around $499 to $549 and go up to $650, again depending on customizable features.

The heaviest price speculation has been around the high-end, 18-karat gold Apple Watch (dubbed “Apple Watch Edition”). Analysts have previously estimated these watches could start around $4,999, but Piper Jaffray estimates they could actually cost around $7,500, taking into account luxury wrist straps made from precious metals.

Most of Apple Watch’s specifics—but not all—have remained unknown since the device was unveiled last September. More information about the gadget is expected to be revealed at Apple’s March 9 event, while the watch will go on sale in April.

 

TIME Apple watch

Tim Cook Just Revealed More Apple Watch Secrets

Tim COok Apple Watch
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.

We're getting a clearer picture of all the device might do

The full range of Apple Watch features has remained unknown since the device’s unveiling last September. Now it seems CEO Tim Cook has dished out a few additional details.

The Apple CEO briefed Apple Store employees in Berlin regarding several specific Apple Watch apps, 9to5Mac reports. Apple is working with “some of the best hotels in the world”—including Starwood Hotels, which previously announced its Apple partnership—to allow Watch users to unlock room doors. Additionally, Apple Watch users will be able to order at food chains including Panera Bread.

Cook also reportedly said that third-party fitness apps will be available on the Apple Watch, which isn’t too surprising given the device’s emphasis on health tracking.

Apple’s March 9 event is expected to focus heavily on the Watch. Cook told the employees that Apple has already invited over 100 developers to design and test out Apple Watch apps, which may suggest that the wearable’s apps could be the star of the upcoming event.

The Apple Watch will be released in April.

[9to5Mac]

Read next: This Feature Could Save the Apple Watch

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TIME Smartphones

This Is the Kind of Phone Edward Snowden Might Buy

Blackphone 2
Blackphone 2

The Blackphone 2 is all about privacy over whiz-bang features

Privacy-focused smartphone and software maker on Monday revealed the Blackphone 2, the company’s second shot at making the most secure mobile device on the market.

The Blackphone 2’s hardware is similar enough to other modern phones: A 5.5-inch screen, eight-core processor, 3GB of RAM and expandable memory. But the Blackphone 2’s true raison d’etre lies at the software level. It’s running Silent Circle’s new and improved PrivatOS 1.1 on top of Google’s Android operating system, designed from the ground up to be ultra-secure. The Blackphone 2 also packs the company’s suite of privacy apps, which are essentially more secure versions of phone, text and productivity software.

“While the rest of the market is going one way, with selfie sticks and curved screens, we’re going down another, to the heart of problems, sticking with privacy and security,” Silent Circle Executive Chairman Mike Janke said at the Blackphone 2’s launch at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Gizmodo reports.

Silent Circle’s clear aim with the second iteration of the Blackphone is to break into the Apple-dominated enterprise market. Another new feature called Spaces, for example, allows users to essentially partition their Blackphone, keeping separate profiles for work and personal use. The work profile can then be administered by employers’ IT departments.

Still, Silent Circle will have to prove just how secure the Blackphone 2 really is before corporate buyers hop on board. Silent Circle attracts plenty of attention from hackers just by advertising its devices as super-secure — security researchers made headlines last year when they were able to hack the Blackphone, though one flaw they exploited was already fixed with a software patch and the others required settings no security-minded user would enable.

The Blackphone 2 should be out by the end of the year.

TIME Video Games

The Best Thing to Happen to Xbox 360 Owners in Years

Xbox 360
Junko Kimura—Getty Images Visitors play with the XBOX 360 at the Microsoft booth during the Tokyo Game Show 2009 press and business day at Makuhari Messe on September 24, 2009 in Chiba, Japan.

Microsoft is introducing a preview program on Xbox 360

Microsoft is launching a preview program for Xbox 360 owners that allows users to test new features, a move that follows the success of the company’s Xbox One preview program.

Specially selected Xbox 360 owners will be invited to join the program through a message from Xbox Live, allowing them to sign up and enroll into the program. An initial update will add better network connectivity tests, The Verge reports.

Offering updates is a surprising move considering the age of Xbox 360, which was first released a decade ago.

Microsoft is also allowing Xbox 360 owners to build an Xbox One game library from their existing Xbox 360 console, encouraging users to switch to the latest iteration of the gaming system.

[The Verge]

TIME Gadgets

This Awesome TIE Fighter Drone Is Strong With the Dark Side of the Force

'I have you now'

Drones have given Star Wars fans a new chance to let their inner nerds take flight.

This sweet, custom-made TIE Interceptor drone uses a Prophecy 335 quadrocopter to make every fan of the Galactic Empire’s dream come true.

If you’re more of a Rebel at heart, check out this Millennium Falcon drone instead, from the same creator as the TIE:

Impressive. Most impressive.

Read next: This Startup Is Basically Making Ultimate Frisbee With Drones

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