TIME Video Games

Everything You Need to Know About Call of Duty: Black Ops III

The next massive Call of Duty game comes out in November

Will Black Ops III be the best Call of Duty yet? Will it bring female characters to warfare in a way that doesn’t feel trite? Or meaningfully differentiate itself from prior installments, gameplay-wise? What about finally escaping the scourge of witheringly negative Metacritic user reviews? Will it be fun? There are lots of questions bracketing a space filled mostly with hypotheticals (and truckloads of publicity hype). Here’s what we know so far, fresh off Activision’s worldwide reveal.

It’s coming November 6

The first/second week of November’s been a Call of Duty mainstay since Call of Duty 3 nudged the series out of late October, when it launched on November 7, 2006.

It’s no longer a single-person campaign experience

Prior Call of Duty installments swapped out characters across their campaigns, but Black Ops III will be the first in series to emphasize multiple protagonists simultaneously experiencing the game’s story-driven modes.

Meaning up to four people can play for the same team, online or local

That’s “four-player cooperative” in gamer lingo, and it means up to four players can play the game together, on the same side, from start to finish, either online or locally with a split screen.

It’s headed even further into the future

The Call of Duty series went science fiction back in 2012 with Black Ops II‘s cyber-jargon-laced near future jaunt to 2025. Last year’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bumped the year out to 2054, and now Black Ops III looks to tour a grim-sounding cyborg-ish version of the 2060s, where “bio-technology coupled with cybernetic enhancements has given rise to a new breed of Black Ops soldier.”

Think soldiers with robotic limbs, in other words.

Yes, that makes it another triple-A game with an elevator pitch plot that lags at least half a century behind the best books, movies and TV shows, but who knows—maybe developer Treyarch will surprise us with its take on the “man vs. machine” trope.

You’re neurally connected to your squadmates

Activision calls it a “Direct Neural Interface,” and says you’ll play as black ops soldiers “that are interconnected, faster, and more lethal than ever.” With any luck, that’ll translate to something more novel than Ventrillo plus d-pad communication shortcuts.

Women will be just a common on the frontlines as men

Gender equality on the battlefield sounds like as huge step in the right direction, though it may court controversy if (and I stress if, since we don’t know yet) Treyarch’s rationale for doing so involves cybernetics-as-prerequisite.

There’s a new movement system that sounds vaguely Assassin’s Creed-ish

Activision describes it as a “momentum-based, chained movement system that allows players to move fluidly through environments and maintain constant control of their weapon.”

Call of Duty parkour?

You can customize up to nine soldiers

It’s called the “Specialist” system, and it’ll let you tweak their physiques, personalities, backstories, weapons and abilities.

There’ll be a Zombies mode

A signature Treyarch component, Activision says it’ll have its own story and experience point progression system.

It’s for PC and new-gen systems only

No surprises here: make that PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, and you’ll presumably need a PC with a high-end GPU if you’re rocking a desktop or laptop.

It spent three years in the cooker

Activision CEO Eric Hirschberg says this is developer Treyarch’s first thee-year project. Longer development times don’t always yield great games, but it’s a promising metric.

Treyarch’s saying it’ll be the best Call of Duty game yet made

To be fair, they always do.

TIME Apple

Only a Fraction of Apple Watch Orders Have Shipped So Far

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

You aren't the only one constantly refreshing their order status

Only 22% of Apple Watch orders have shipped since the device officially launched on Friday, according to a new survey of shipment receipts.

An estimated 376,000 Apple Watches have shipped so far out of 1.7 million pre-orders, according to an unofficial tally of e-receipts from Slice Intelligence, a shopping analytics firm that scans for order confirmations in the inboxes of more than 2 million participating online shoppers.

An estimated 33% of Apple Watch orders are scheduled to ship in April, followed by another 28% in May, according to the study. Only 1% of orders are set to ship in June, but that share could rise as Apple sets delivery dates on the remaining 38% of orders, which still have an undefined shipment status.

Apple confirmed last week that some Apple Watch customers would get their device sooner than initially expected.

TIME technology

Why the Computer Mouse’s Inventor Isn’t the Big Cheese

First Mouse
Rue des Archives / APIC / Getty Images A prototype of the first mouse, from 1968

April 27, 1981: The computer mouse makes its debut

For an innovation meant to make it easier to use a computer, its name was surprisingly unwieldy: “X-Y position indicator for a display system.” The word “mouse” was much catchier, and that’s what the device was eventually called when it debuted as part of a personal computer station, first sold by the Xerox Corporation on this day, April 27, in 1981.

Credit for the invention itself goes to Douglas Engelbart, who first developed the computer mouse in 1963, per TIME. By the time the mouse became commercially available, however, Engelbart’s patent had expired, and he never earned royalties for his work.

The personal computer that introduced the mouse to the world — with a similarly unwieldy name, the Xerox 8010 Star Information System, and the clunky look common to early personal computers, including a keyboard about the size of a toaster — revolutionized computing in other ways, too: It was the first with a graphical user interface, navigated by clicking icons rather than typing commands, and the first to incorporate folders, file servers and email, according to WIRED.

But like Engelbart, Xerox failed to profit significantly from its innovations. Its failure was twofold, according to the lore of the technology world, as reported by the New Yorker: Its executives didn’t realize the scope of what they’d achieved in the Star workstation — and they let Steve Jobs see it.

In exchange for shares of Apple, Xerox granted Jobs access to its innovation arm, Xerox PARC (short for Palo Alto Research Center) while it was working on the Star system in 1979. Jobs returned to Apple headquarters determined to improve upon the project.

Telling an industrial designer how to build a better mouse, he explained, per the New Yorker, “[The Xerox mouse] is a mouse that cost three hundred dollars to build and it breaks within two weeks. Here’s your design spec: Our mouse needs to be manufacturable for less than fifteen bucks. It needs to not fail for a couple of years, and I want to be able to use it on Formica and my bluejeans.”

Xerox — better known for making copies than computers — ultimately dropped the PC from its portfolio, mouse and all. And in the years that followed, its profits languished while Apple’s continued to rise. In 2000, faced with billion-dollar losses, it even implied that it might put the research center up for sale.

Two years later, however, PARC incorporated as an independent subsidiary of Xerox. Its researchers continue to innovate today — motivated by the center’s immense prestige, if not its history of profit.

As TIME put it in 2000: “The PARC has a pretty good track record when it comes to radical new visions, even if its record of holding onto them has been spotty at best. The mouse, the GUI (graphical user interface, like Windows) and arguably the PC itself were all born in this hothouse of Silicon Valley R. and D.; they ended up making a lot of money for Apple and Microsoft.”

Read more about Xerox, here in the TIME archives: Team Xerox

TIME Web

Now Google Can Tell You Whether Your Fashion Sense is Trending

The company's inaugural fashion report details what styles and garments are growing in popularity, based on search queries

Google really does know everything—including how fashionable your outfit is.

A new report by the search giant claims to reveal the fashion trend du jour by tracking how often different styles or garments are entered into search queries.

This year, for example, Tulle skirts have grown in popularity according to trending Google apparel searches by 34% from January 2014 to January 2015, and jogger pants are also apparently increasingly ubiquitous, according to the report.

Google distinguishes in the report between “sustained growth” and “seasonal growth” trends, like emoji shirts and kale sweatshirts. According to the report, peplum dresses and string bikinis are on their way out for good, while skinny jeans and corset dresses are just seasonally on the down-and-out. Jumpsuits and rompers are seeing a renaissance this spring.

Google’s insight into fashion trends has allowed it to begin consulting for major retailers including Calvin Klein, which use Google search data in fashion planning.

“We’re interested in being powerful digital consultants for our brands, not just somebody they can talk to about what ads they can buy online,” said Lisa Green, who heads Google’s fashion and luxury team, told the New York Times.

You can check out the report here.

TIME Apple

Apple Bans Fart Apps From the Apple Watch

Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside Wearables
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Apple Watch is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

"We do not accept fart apps on Apple Watch"

Apple is pitching the Apple Watch as a time-saver, a fitness companion and a stylish fashion accessory. But it could also be a pretty great office prank tool, if the makers of the “Fart Watch” app had their way.

Essentially, the app turns the Apple Watch and a paired up iPhone into a whoopie cushion for the 21st century. Place the iPhone near your intended target, wait for the opportune moment, then tap the Apple Watch app to release fake flatulence at will.

But unfortunately for the Fart Watch developers, Apple doesn’t see this all as one big gas. The app has been rejected from the Apple Watch App Store, CultOfMac reports. Apple told the developers that “we noticed that your Apple Watch app is primarily a fart app. We do not accept fart apps on Apple Watch.” Clearly, Apple doesn’t want its high-end new gadget associated with such lowbrow use cases. On top of that, Apple historically has a much stricter app approval process than Google, although Google recently began moderating apps before they become available in the Google Play store.

Back to the regular old whoopie cushion it is, then. At least we still get our Burrito Button.

TIME the big picture

How Intel and Boeing Are Helping These Kids Learn STEM Skills

Intel STEM
Ken Brown A first grade class at Waggoner Elementary School in Tempe, Ariz. after completing the first-ever Intel volunteer-founded STEM and Supply Chain Outreach program.

An entire region of Arizona has made STEM education a core economic development tenant

As a tech analyst, one of the areas I’m highly interested in is STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. I have written columns in TIME about why the San Francisco 49ers and Chevron are willing to spend millions of dollars getting kids up to speed on STEM. Their central goal is to help kids prepare for a world where technology has become pervasive, one where there will be a need for millions of STEM-educated students to work for and run all types of companies around the world.

I was recently told about an entire region in Arizona that has made education — and especially STEM education — a core tenet of its economic development strategy. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to Phoenix and attending what was called the PHX East Valley THRIVE Economic Diversity Summit. It was sponsored by what is known as the PHX East Valley Partnership, which encompasses Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Queen Creek, Apache Junction and Scottsdale.

This partnership was created in 1982 as a 501(c)(6) nonpartisan coalition of civic, business, educational and political leaders dedicated to the economic development and promotion of the East Valley of Greater Phoenix. The group advocates for improvements in areas such as economic development, education, transportation and infrastructure, arts, healthcare, and other important areas.

The PHX East Valley Partnership is led by the energetic Roc Arnett, who serves as its president and CEO and is quite a visionary when it comes to leading this group of cities and helping them expand their overall economic fortunes. In my many discussions with Mr. Arnett during the event, he kept coming back to the importance that education plays in his region and how he, along with the mayors of the six cities involved, are highly dedicated to making education and STEM-related programs a fundamental emphasis of many of the companies in this area.

According to Gilbert, Arizona Mayor John Lewis: “[The] presence of firms like Intel, Orbital, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Banner MD Anderson in the Phoenix East Valley, coupled with an emerging pipeline of technologies and a specialized workforce from state universities, solidify the region’s competitiveness for rapidly growing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations. Our communities are working together with the world class companies and educational institutions in our region to ensure the most educated workforce is ready for our future.”

The first company involved in the partnership I met with was Boeing. Its facility in Mesa, Arizona produces the Apache helicopter and supports other Boeing-related projects around the world. Boeing’s STEM-related program is called “Engineering is Elementary.” According to Boeing officials, Engineering is Elementary is a professional development program for pre-K, kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers, initially developed by the Museum of Science in Boston. It’s designed to foster students’ understanding of engineering and technology, with a goal of boosting students’ problem-solving abilities in STEM. The program, supported by Boeing grants to the Mesa School District since 2012, has impacted 530 teachers and 16,875 students in 66 Mesa schools.

“Boeing has a strategic community focus to increase teacher effectiveness in math and science and to attract more students into STEM-related careers,” said Mary Baldwin, Arizona community investor for Boeing Global Corporate Citizenship. “Engineering is Elementary provides teachers and students a greater understanding of engineering, and it accomplishes that in a fun, interactive way. Our goal is to interest students in engineering at an early age and increase the number of scientists and engineers for Arizona’s future workforce.”

I also met with Intel officials at the company’s Chandler, Arizona facility to hear about their STEM efforts. Intel invests $100 million worldwide in various educational programs, many which are STEM-related. According to Jason Bagley, Government Affairs Manager for Intel’s Southwestern U.S. region, Intel’s educational charter is “to grow engineers, but it is also about helping society become more tech literate in terms of the types of issues that people need to deal with around climate change, healthcare, and understanding how to interact with all forms of digital information.”

Intel’s Chandler STEM program is unique in that its STEM focus includes helping kids understand supply chains.
Intel Employees Cheryl Dalsin and Ken Brown founded the volunteer-based program and piloted this STEM and Supply Chain Outreach out of the Chandler facility with the intent of explaining STEM through microchip technology concepts, including “sand to silicon,” wafers and photolithography. Students build simulated silicon wafers using cookies, frosting and sprinkles.

This first pilot activity inspired Cheryl Dalsin, who is a technical program manager in Intel’s supply chain group, to incorporate concepts from her professional field of supply chain into the program. She developed hands-on activities that simulate real-world supply chain principles – source, make, deliver, reuse/recycle – as well as manufacturing challenges and STEM principles. Younger students began by making lemonade – they learned what makes a good supplier, and what happens when a supplier can’t deliver on time, or at all. They go on to build LEGO cars using a bill of materials and design constraints. They use wild cards describing good or bad scenarios that add an element of the unknown that every supply chain professional must learn to handle. The program has grown to reach more than 10,000 students in five U.S. states, three Asian countries, and is under development in Ireland.

I love the way many tech companies are backing STEM, seeing it as critical for their future. But a regional focus on education and especially STEM, like the one that is organized and promoted by the PHX East Valley Partnership, should become a model for many cities and municipalities in the U.S. to make sure we have enough STEM-educated students to meet the forthcoming demands of all types of companies around the world in the near future.

TIME apps

7 Photo-Printing Apps to Save Your Memories Forever

Photo Printing
Atli Mar Hafsteinsson—Getty Images/Cultura RF Woman taking picture with smartphone of Snaefellsnes glacier, Iceland

Because some photos deserve to be printed

The digital age is a curse of overabundance. With Netflix, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of movies, but often there’s nothing to watch. In Spotify, you can listen to practically any band you want, but you’ll mostly only enjoy a few favorite artists over and over again. And when it comes to photos, people snap thousands, but only return to look at dozens.

The problem with the digital is that it abandons the physical, turning objects we once treasured into ghosts trapped inside the machine. These seven apps will help you liberate your photos from your smartphone, turning treasured memories into memorable treasures.

One Hour Photo

Even in the age of instant gratification, getting photos developed in one hour is still a pretty magical thing. The Walgreens Mobile app connects to around 8,000 locations nationwide — so, likely one near you — to produce same day 4-by-6-inch prints for less than 30 cents. Throw in the ability to refill your prescriptions, clip digital coupons, and chat with the pharmacy staff, and you’ve got a very valuable app.

Walgreens Mobile is available for free on the App Store and Google Play

Mailed to Order

Just short of having a full-sized photo printer in your pocket, PostalPix is one of the most convenient photo output solutions going. Printing on good ol’ paper, color-popping aluminum, and the obligatory mousepad and iPhone case (at an array of prices), the service is easy to use whether you’re on iOS or Android. And by shipping prints direct to friends and family, it takes the hassle out of the act of actually sharing your pictures.

PostalPix is available for free on the App Store and Google Play

Shoot Wisely

A new take on an old experience, Disposable Camera App is a throwback to the days when you had a limited number of photos, and you had to make them all count. For $13 a pop, this app will give you 27 printed photos, just like an old disposable camera. With no previews, filters, or undos, the app is 80’s style photography at its finest, even down to the 10 business days you have to wait for the prints to come in. But on the bright side, by that point, those photos will be actual memories, and not just something that happened two weeks ago.

Disposable Camera App is available for free on the App Store

Print Like a Pro

Other than by processing their own film, how do pros get prints? Photographer Tony Northrup uses MPix, which offers 29 different sizes and three different professional-grade photo papers to make images really pop. “The first time I used them, I got rid of my big, professional grade printer that I use at home,” says the author of Stunning Digital Photography and more than 30 other titles. “I just started outsourcing it all, because it’s so much easier and cheaper than trying to do your own printing.”

MPix is available for free on the App Store and Google Play

Stamps of Approval

The USPS has long offered the ability to customize your own stamps, but 20Stamps turns the government-approved novelty into a frictionless transaction with this iPhone app interface. By no means an inexpensive proposition, the service has a 20-stamp minimum, and prices vary depending on the postage you’re buying. Still, sticking your kid’s faces on an envelope and sending it off to Grandpa — if he wasn’t a stamp collector before, he will be when the mail arrives.

20Stamps is available for free on the App Store

Buy the Book

A perfect contrast to 20Stamps, Chatbooks is taking inexpensive, printed chapbook technology and bundling it into an easy to use app. The result is a 60-page photo book for just $6. Great for holiday memories or turning a vacation into an experience that lives forever, the six inch-by-six inch books come with perfect binding, 100-pound glossy photo stock and and free shipping, making them perfect as small gifts for any reason.

Chatbooks is available for free on the App Store and Google Play

What a Mug

Prints are the easiest thing to output these days. But the others — magnets, ornaments, and yes, coffee cups — typically take a little more finagling to produce. Snapfish, which has long cornered the market on these kind of photo tchotchkes, makes it simple to get these personalized gifts through their app. The easy-to-use tap-based interface can get you an insulated travel mug, framed photo, or even an iPad case emblazoned with your favorite images. And with 100 free photo prints per month for a year (shipping charges apply), there’s no reason not to give this app a download.

Snapfish is available for free on the App Store and Google Play

TIME technology

Watch This Guy Spray-Paint His Apple Watch to Make It Gold

Casey Neistat's latest video on the latest trend

The gold Apple Watch, like the one Beyoncé was recently seen wearing, probably costs more than you’re willing to spend. Casey Neistat, a filmmaker and YouTube star, had the same thought. So instead of buying one that way, he got a little creative.

Neistat found some gold spray paint, took the straps off the watch then taped off its face and back. Then, he carefully sprayed on both sides. Afterward, when he took the tape off and put the straps back on, the difference didn’t seem too noticeable from the real thing. But perhaps he shouldn’t show it off to jewelry experts; they’re likely to see something’s not quite right.

TIME Gadgets

See What’s Inside the Apple Watch

Apple's new device has a few surprises inside

What exactly is making the Apple Watch tick? The good folks over at iFixit have answered that burning question for us by taking apart one of Apple’s new devices. They discovered that the screen and battery are fairly easy to remove but the watch’s S1 integrated computer chip, which Apple has disclosed little information about, is harder to wrench loose. Below the chip, there are hints of new health features that Apple may yet implement in the watch if they receive regulatory approval. Check out the full breakdown of the Apple Watch in the pictures above.

TIME Gadgets

Watch the New Apple Watch Commercials

"Three perfectly pitched TV ads"

Apple product launches have been known to go wrong. Servers have crashed (iPhone 3G). Mobs have thrown eggs (iPhone 4S). Line squatters have spoiled the optics (iPhone 6/6+).

There was nothing wrong with the optics Friday. Whatever is happening in the space where demand overwhelms supply is happening behind factory and firewalls, well out of sight.

What we’re seeing instead are three perfectly pitched TV ads and a queue of Parisians outside Colette on a sunny April day in Paris. AppleInsider’s Daniel Eran Dilger was there.

Things could still go bad, but so far so good.

Hats off to Angela Ahrendts, her team at Apple Retail and whoever else had a hand.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

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