TIME Apple music

Apple Music Just Passed a Major Milestone

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Opens In San Francisco
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Jimmy Iovine announces Apple Music during Apple’s WWDC on June 8, 2015, in San Francisco, Calif.

The service has reportedly hit 10 million users

The music site Hits Daily Double reports that Apple Music has netted over 10 million users since its launch four weeks ago. The report only uses anonymous “inside sources at some of the major labels,” so the veracity of the statistic is far from sure.

But despite the sketchy sourcing, the report holds some water. During Apple’s third quarter earnings call last week, Tim Cook said “millions and millions of new customers are already experiencing the new service using a three-month trial period.” Apple Music, which offers streaming and radio services, has already signed on more than 15,000 artists — even a reluctant Taylor Swift.

If the report is true, 10 million users in one month a remarkably quick uptake: Spotify took five and a half years to reach its first 10 million paying users.

It’s worth noting, however, that free trial users are a far cry from paying subscribers. iPhone owners across 100 countries were prompted to download the service free of charge if they opened the Music app on iOS 8.4. And unlike Spotify, Apple Music does not offer free versions of the service, so it won’t have a bloated “active user” statistic to boast besides its paying base. So when a credit card prompt appears in three months time on the screens of the supposed 10 million users, that number might plummet.

TIME Mobile

Motorola’s New Phone Has 1 Huge Advantage

Moto X
Motorola Moto X

The Moto X Pure Edition was announced Tuesday

Motorola is taking a new tack with its next flagship phone by selling the device directly to consumers.

At a global press event Tuesday, the company announced the Motorola X Style, its followup to last year’s Motorola X. A version of the device called the Pure Edition, which comes unlocked and will be sold on Motorola’s website and at select retailers, will sell for $399 starting in September.

The Moto X Style will boast a 5.7-inch quad high-definition display as well as an improved 21 megapixel camera. The device also charges very quickly. In a pre-recorded demo, the phone gained about one-third of its charge back in 15 minutes. Like the previous Moto X, customization is also a key feature, with customers able to choose outer casings in a variety of colors and with materials such as metal, wood and leather.

Last year’s Motorola X was regarded as one of the best Android phones on the market. If the new one matches it, it will be a quality high-end smartphone retailing for about $200 less than the unlocked versions of the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 when they first came to market. Customers who buy the unlocked Motorola phone will also be able to sign up for wireless service from whichever carrier they choose without having software from the carrier already installed on their phone.

“We’re confident that this is the new wave of the future,” Motorola Design Chief Jim Wicks said at the event. “This strategy allows us to take out the middle man.”

Motorola also announced that its popular more affordable phone, the Moto G, is getting a refresh that launches Tuesday worldwide. The improved Moto G has a 13-megapixel camera and 4G LTE. It’s also waterproof, able to be submerged for as long as 30 minutes. The device starts at $180 for an 8GB version.

Motorola also unveiled the Moto X Play, which boasts a 5.5-inch screen and fewer customization options than the Style. The device has a longer battery life, and like the Style, Motorola says it will be considerably cheaper than high-end phones from competitors. The device will launch in select markets in August but has no scheduled release in the U.S.

TIME Algorithms

In Silicon Valley, Coders Are Making More Room for Curators

Entertainer Aubrey Drake Graham known as Drake speaks during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, June 8, 2015. Apple Inc., the maker of iPhones and iPads, will introduce software improvements for its computer and mobile devices as well as reveal new updates, including the introduction of a revamped streaming music service. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Drake
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Entertainer Aubrey Drake Graham known as Drake speaks during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, June 8, 2015.

Facebook, Apple, Netflix and others are relying on human expertise to complement automated algorithms

It’s been almost a decade since the debut of the Netflix Prize, a $1 million bounty for the person or group that could best improve the company’s movie suggestion algorithm. Netflix’s much-touted recommendation engine was, at the time, one of the driving forces of its success as a DVD-by-mail service. The idea that a computer could churn through thousands of movie cast, plots and genre and pluck out the one or two that a particular viewer might enjoy was novel and exciting. The highly publicized prize proved to be great marketing for the company.

Fast forward nine years and the phrase on the tip of Netflix executives’ tongues isn’t “smart algorithms”—it’s “original programming.” Sure, Netflix still uses software to recommend titles available on its streaming platform, but the company says what’s really driving new subscriptions are the dozen or so original it has bankrolled over the last two years, including flagship series like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. As The New Yorker’s Tim Wu points out, today Netflix’s most valuable “algorithm” might be chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who’s in charge of picking which programs the company funds.

This is just one example of human expertise and insight complimenting automated, data-driven experiences in Silicon Valley. But it represents a broader sea-change in thinking about what humans can do computers simply can’t.

Since the very first Google query in 1998, Internet denizens have been taught that ever-more-intelligent algorithms would one day be able to serve them recommendations that, if not altogether perfect, were at least much better than anything a lowly human could ever muster. Each of us was supposed to have our own personalized, pristine digital experience calculated with such exaction by computers that you’d feel uncomfortable even questioning the algorithm’s authority.

MORE: 5 Reasons to Buy a PlayStation 4 Right Now

But tech companies seem to be jutting up against the limits of what an algorithm can achieve, at least affordably. (The algorithm that won the Netflix prize was never actually implemented because it was prohibitively expensive). Now, the coders are having to make more room for the curators and the creatives across a variety of sectors.

Last month, Apple launched Apple Music, an on-demand streaming service similar to Spotify. Human curators are a core selling point. Music experts hand-select songs for oddly specific but weirdly compelling playlists to serve to users based on their favorite artists and genres. Meanwhile an Internet radio station called Beats 1 has become the centerpiece of the service, featuring live DJs, interviews with artists and songs far afield of the Billboard charts. The old-school format’s launch was followed as closely by the tech press as the inaugural fireside chat.

Even in areas where it seemed as though algorithms had decidedly won out, human input is gaining greater importance. Facebook’s News Feed is controlled by a closely guarded algorithm that sorts through the thousands of posts available to a given user each day and shows only the ones that it thinks will be most interesting to each individual person. For the last year, though, the company has been paying hundreds of people around the country to grade the News Feed’s quality and offer suggestions for improvements. Insight from these everyday users has led to algorithm improvements that a computer program seeking to boost engagement metrics could never discern, such as the need to show sad or serious posts prominently even though they may not garner a lot of “Likes.”

MORE: YouTube Is About to Look Very Different

The approach seems to be paying off. Facebook’s number of users and the average time spent on-site has continued to climb as it has made its algorithm more human. The human elements of Apple Music, such as Beats 1, have received high praise even as people have griped about the service’s confusing interface and rocky stability. Even newcomer Snapchat has gotten in on curation. It’s hard to imagine an algorithm replicating the mini-narratives that emerge in Snapchat’s “Live Stories,” the 24-hour local pastiches the burgeoning social network curates from snaps from its 100 million users. These stories now attract 20 million viewers a day, and the format has been so successful that Twitter is planning to imitate it this fall with Project Lightning, an upcoming feature that will show a human-curated feed of interesting tweets, photos and videos tied to major events.

Algorithms are here to stay, of course. They have the ability to analyze millions of pieces of data faster than a team of humans ever could. The emergence of Big Data—the vast trove of data generated by people and devices—is only likely to make them more crucial. But in the future, recommendation systems that meld human and algorithmic input may be more commonplace. Apple Music analyzes a user’s past listening activity to decide which human-curated playlists to present, for instance. Netflix uses its massive trove of data about people’s viewing habits to determine what types of shows to bankroll (though, Sarandos and other executives give the final green light).

We increasingly rely on computers to guide us in the right direction, but we may still need a living, breathing human to be that final arbiter of taste.

TIME Microsoft

Your Computer May Already Have Windows 10

Get ready for the big switch

The countdown has begun until some Windows 7 and Windows 8 users are upgraded to Windows 10 for free.

Microsoft will officially release Windows 10 Wednesday morning at 12 a.m. ET. But some users’ computers may have already downloaded the new software in the background, The Verge reports.

Microsoft will only blast out the update to some Windows users at first. The rest will be updated in waves as Microsoft fine-tunes Windows 10 and makes sure that it works on a massive scale.

Windows 10 offers a new interface, closer Xbox One integration and a new notification center. It also features Cortana, a Siri-like assistant that takes care of tasks like reminders, search and news article curation.

TIME Social Media

LinkedIn Is Making a Big Change People Have Wanted for Years

LinkedIn Corp. To File For IPO
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images In this photo illustration, the LinkedIn logo is displayed on the screen of a laptop computer on January 27, 2011 in San Anselmo, California.

You're going to love this

A quick Google search of “LinkedIn email” provides a glimpse at how users of the professional social network feel about its presence in their inboxes. The first page of search results includes “How to Stop Annoying LinkedIn Emails,” “Turn Off Annoying LinkedIn Emails,” “How to Disable all of LinkedIn Emails,” and even “Judge Allows Lawsuit Over LinkedIn Emails to Progress.”

LinkedIn is listening. In a blog post Monday, Aatif Awan, senior director of product management, said, “we get it.” And LinkedIn is cutting down the number of emails its users receive.

Now, instead of emailing a user each time he or she receives an invitation to connect, users who receive a large number of requests will only receive one weekly digest email. And LinkedIn users who are part of groups — like alumni or professional networks — will receive digests of the groups’ updates instead of minute-by-minute emails. The changes will cut emails by 40%, the company says.

“When it comes to your inbox, the message has been received: less is more,” Awan wrote.

TIME Internet

Teenagers Could Have the Right to Delete Their Online History in the U.K.

US-IT-FACEBOOK
Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images This January 30, 2014 photo taken in Washington,DC, shows the splash page for the social media internet site Facebook.

Some teenagers have lost jobs or suffered embarassment because of their pre-adult posts

A campaign backed by the U.K. government wants children to have the right to delete embarrassing pictures or information they share online by the time they reach the age of 18.

Government officials have promised to persuade technology companies to allow 18-year-olds to delete or edit all content they created when they were younger. But, there are no plans to follow California’s Erasure Law, which compels companies to give minors the option to delete user activity.

The iRights Campaign highlights the issues surrounding the way the internet permanently records errors of judgement and immature attitudes, which negatively impacts the lives of of those posting it.

Nicole Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, supports the campaign and has also set up a commission to figure out how Scotland can adopt these standards.

“We believe that every child and young person has the right to grow up in a safe environment – that principle applies to the virtual world too,” Sturgeon told the London Times.

TIME Gadgets

10 Things That Should Be In Your Emergency Kit

Severe Flood Warnings In Place For The UK
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images Ian Berry paddles a canoe through his front garden after the River Thames flooded on January 8, 2014 in Chersey, England.

Be prepared for anything with these life-saving gadgets

When the big one hits — whether it’s an earthquake dismantling the west coast, a tornado ravaging middle America, or a hurricane tearing up the eastern seaboard — the only thing that will be certain is uncertainty. There’s no way of knowing if the electrical grid will go down, the roads will be closed, or if the area will be awash in flood once disaster strikes.

On the other hand, this cache of tools, shelter, and other supplies will have you prepared for all the scary questions if devastation hits. Because as experts say, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

Big Agnes Rocky Peak 4 mtnGLO: When hikers pull together their gear, they’re typically on the lookout for a tent that’s light but sturdy. This tent, while only eight pounds, actually has lights — a comfort that you’ll want in post-disaster power outages. Sleeping up to four people, the $349, 50-square-foot shelter has a string of LEDs across the top that can be powered by three AAA batteries. According to REI, that’s enough reserve power to shine those little lights for 24 hours. The strip can also be lit using a USB power source.

Cynergy Home LifeLight: A great addition to a roadside assistance kit as well as an emergency survival setup, this crank-powered LED flashlight is a bundle of disaster preparedness tools all rolled into one 10-ounce package. Accompanied by a window breaker and a seat belt cutter, the weatherproof emergency flashlight has three LED lights and a USB port built into the body, letting the torch double as a backup battery. With magnets around the lamp head and an emergency beacon light built into the handle, you can also affix this device to the roof of your car to alert search and rescue teams. Or, if you’re able to move, a compass built into the tail cap can point you home.

Delorme inReach Explorer: In emergency situations, mobile phone networks can get flooded with traffic, making it difficult or even impossible to contact loved ones. To reach them you’ll need to send your communications through a different network. This global satellite communicator may look like a walkie-talkie, but it connects to Iridium satellites, allowing you to send text messages with GPS coordinates and SOS signals to rescue centers. You can also make a trail of digital, GPS-tagged breadcrumbs for people to find you if you head off on your own. And since it’s both water- and dust-proof, the $379 handset will weather the storm much better than your smartphone.

Eton FRX5: Radio is one technology that should survive whatever mother nature throws at it, so be sure to have a sturdy, crank-powered receiver like Eton’s FRX5 at the ready. Equipped with AM, FM, and NOAA radio bands, this multi-purpose must-have can work as a flashlight, emergency beacon, USB device charger, and alarm clock when everything else fails. Four minutes of cranking away at the handle will deliver 10-15 minutes of radio power, and after 5-6 hours in the sun, the $129 life saver’s solar panels will fully charge the 2,000Ah lithium ion battery, keeping you rocking (or glued to the news) all night long.

Flamestower: When we’re reduced to our elements — which is precisely what the worst disasters do — fire will become one of our most important tools, vital for light, cooking, and warmth. Flamestower, however, can convert fire into electricity in short order (and with little bulk), making this an important part of any survival kit. The 10-ounce, $99 contraption is small enough to slip into a pocket, but when unfolded and set against an open flame, it uses the heat energy from boiling water to replenish any USB-connected, battery-powered device, like a smartphone, camera or LED light. Averaging 40 minutes of talk time over 20 minutes of heat, it lets your meal preparation come with a side of juice. The company is also currently crowdfunding a follow-up effort, Candle Charger, which does what its name implies and starts at $65 for early backers.

Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator Kit: Going off the grid is a daydream for people who can afford to reattach to it later. Goal Zero’s portable generator, meanwhile, is a great reality for those who want to maintain power after it’s gone away. Able to be charged through AC power, your car’s DC-powered battery, or via the accompanying solar panel, the Yeti 150 has enough capacity to power a laptop twice, a tablet six times, or your smartphone 15 times — all on a single charge. And equipped with the same electrical outlet you’ll find in a wall, you can even use the Yeti to run household electrical devices like a lamp — though they’ll likely eat up the battery faster than you think.

Motorola Talkabout MT350R: A less expensive and less far-reaching alternative to the Delorme satellite communicator, these two-way radios are equally effective at reaching people in nearby areas. With up to 35 miles of reach (from mountain to valley, though only two miles of signal strength in neighborhood settings), this pair of weatherproof radios can keep in contact with one other — and put you in touch with rescue personnel. Dust and splash-proof, the radios also come with mini-USB connectors, letting them power up using a portable cell phone battery. Extra battery packs, meanwhile, make sure you don’t go radio silent.

Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Divvy: Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but large enough to envelope you in warmth, this ultra-light, 8.5-ounce emergency sleeping bag reflects your body heat back at you, while simultaneously breathing out condensation. The result: a warm and dry place to catch some rest. With a wind- and waterproof exterior (including the seams) and a drawstring hood, it has the creature comforts of a high-tech sleeping bag, but costing just $50, it won’t set you back as much as some of the more expensive gear on the market, making it an ideal throw-in for an emergency survival kit.

Survive Outdoors Longer Origin: If MacGyver had a toolkit, it would look exactly like this $40 setup. On the waterproof case’s exterior, a signal mirror, compass, one-handed sparker, and a folding knife (with LED light) keep vitals at the ready. Meanwhile on the inside, you’ll find nylon cord, Tinder-Quik frustraters, emergency sewing and fishing gear, stainless steel wire, and a manual with more than 60 survival tips sitting dry and ready to save a life. But wait — where’s the whistle? Cleverly hidden in the handle of the knife, it can be hard to miss, but it’s never out of arm’s reach.

Volcano 3 Collapsible Grill: Building a campfire in storm-ravaged terrain can be more than a hassle — it can be a life-or-death struggle. This $159 portable cooker can use a variety of fuels to keep you warm and well-fed, making it ideal for everything from tailgating to camping. With a 13-inch diameter, the collapsable stove can support a dutch oven to keep water at a boil and has a grill grate for cooking directly over the flame. But the big draw to this device is how it can use propane, charcoal, or wood to fuel your fire. Then, whether you put a wok, a fry pan, or even a smoker on top, you can prepare food just as you would if you were still in your kitchen.

TIME Video Games

5 Reasons to Buy a PlayStation 4 Right Now

Sony Corp. PlayStation 4 As Game Console Goes On Sale In U.S.
Bloomberg—Getty Images A logo sits on the front of a Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) games console, manufactured by Sony Corp., in this arranged photograph taken in London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013.

To date, it's the fastest selling game system in history

On the sales front, the PlayStation 4 rules the roost. Sony’s flagship game console pulled off a high octane launch in late 2013, and it’s since beat both Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s Xbox One in global systems sold.

It also looks nothing like a first-gen console, designed by architect Mark Cerny to resemble the sort of quiet, elegantly slimline revision we’re more likely to see three or four years into a console’s 10-or-so year lifespan. And that’s without trading down, power-wise.

Here’s a roundup of reasons to consider buying the PlayStation 4, mid-2015 edition:

It has the best versions of cross-platform games

This applies more to earlier games than recent ones, but on balance, cross-platform titles tend to look better on Sony’s hardware. That’s because third-party studios struggled out of the gate to optimize for the Xbox One’s architecture, running into performance snafus that forced them to make visual compromises. If you’re a strict videophile who pores over graphics comparisons at pixel-scrutinizing sites like Digital Foundry, the PlayStation 4 brooks little argument here.

Popularity

Everyone not tied down by a massive exclusivity deal wants to be on Sony’s hardware. It’s snowball math: the more people buy a game console, the more studios want to develop for it, the more people buy the game console. Sony’s PlayStation 4 soared past 22 million units sold in March—more than twice the Xbox One’s last reported “shipped” figure—and it’s either close behind or in lockstep with Nintendo’s original Wii for the honorific “fastest selling console of all time.” If you want the near-future-proofed game console, it’s the PlayStation 4 by a country mile.

Bloodborne

One of the finest action roleplaying games ever made lives on Sony’s system and no other. Its outrageous challenges and endless combat loops won’t resonate with everyone, but if you’re an aficionado of studio From Software’s Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls games, the PlayStation 4 is a slam dunk buy for Bloodborne alone.

Share Play

Both Sony and Microsoft let you stream video of what you’re doing through services like Twitch, but only the PlayStation 4 lets you invite viewers (who also have a PlayStation 4) to play games you own but that they don’t. Before you shrug because you and your friends are going to buy the same games, consider the “remote assistance” feature, which, if you’re stuck in whatever game, lets you turn control over to a remote player, either in an instructional capacity or to simply get you over the hump.

PlayStation Now

Sony’s game-streaming technology isn’t the same thing as true backward compatibility, and game streaming can be visually glitchy if your Internet connection hiccups. But since older PlayStation 3 games look diminished on native 1080p resolution TV screens, does it matter? For $20 a month, PlayStation Now gives you unfetteredun access to over 100 PlayStation 3 games, and the list is growing.

TIME Smartphones

Miss Your Flip Phone? LG Has Released a New One

Snag: Right now, it's only available in South Korea

The flip phone is back. On Monday, LG unveiled the Gentle—an Android-powered flip phone that evokes the svelte simplicity of the Motorola Razr, which was all the rage back in 2005.

It’s not just a stylistic emulation, apparently: Mashable reports that the Gentle’s capabilities are “terribly outdated,” with just 4 gigabytes of storage (on par with the first iPhone model, circa 2007) and a camera operating with just three meager megapixels.

Still, it’s compact, probably user-friendly, and almost certain to go for longer between charges than its more advanced peers, whose innumerable capabilities come at the cost of battery life. It’s also super affordable. According to Mashable, the phone will sell in South Korea for the equivalent of $171. The iPhone 6 goes for about $730.

[Mashable]

TIME Android

Nearly 1 Billion Phones Can Be Hacked With 1 Text

The Latest Mobile Apps At The App World Multi-Platform Developer Show
Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg / Getty Images Google's Android platform is vulnerable to the attack.

"Stagefright" is one of the worst Android vulnerabilities to date.

So listen: Can I have your number?

Can I have it? Can I? Have it?

Um…maybe not. Actually, you should think twice before giving away your cell phone number—especially if you happen to own a phone that runs on Google’s Android operating system.

That’s the only thing a hacker needs to compromise a handset.

A mobile security researcher has uncovered a flaw that leaves as many as 95% of Android devices—that’s 950 million gadgets—exposed to attack. The computer bug, nicknamed “Stagefright” after a vulnerable media library in the operating system’s open source code, may be one of the worst Android security holes discovered to date. It affects Android versions 2.2 and on.

Should a hacker learn someone’s cell phone number, all it takes is for that person to send a malware-laced Stagefright multimedia message to an affected phone in order to steal its data and photos or to hijack its microphone and camera, among other nefarious actions. Worse yet, a user might have no idea that his or her device has been compromised.

Joshua Drake, vice president of research and exploitation at the mobile security firm Zimperium zLabs, says an attacker can delete the message before a victim has any idea.

“These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited,” he writes on his company’s blog. “Unlike spear-phishing, where the victim needs to open a PDF file or a link sent by the attacker, this vulnerability can be triggered while you sleep. Before you wake up, the attacker will remove any signs of the device being compromised and you will continue your day as usual – with a trojaned phone.”

When Drake reported the severe vulnerabilities along with potential fixes to Google in April (as well as another set May), the company, he writes, “acted promptly and applied the patches to internal code branches within 48 hours.” That doesn’t mean the problem is resolved, however.

As Forbes reporter Thomas Fox-Brewster writes, device manufacturers will still need to push the updates out in order to safeguard their customers. Google’s major Android partners, which include phone-makers like LG, Lenovo, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony were not immediately available to comment. (Fortune will update this when we hear back.)

An HTC spokesperson responded: “Google informed HTC of the issue and provided the necessary patches, which HTC began rolling into projects in early July. All projects going forward contain the required fix.”

Drake praises the security firm Silent Circle, based in Geneva, Switz., which makes the Blackphone handset, for its quick response protecting users since it released PrivatOS version 1.1.7. He also praises Mozilla, maker of the Firefox web browser, for including fixes since version 38. “We applaud these vendors for prioritizing security and releasing patches for these issues quickly.”

“This is Heartbleed for mobile,” said Chris Wysopal, chief tech and information security officer at the application security firm Veracode. These vulnerabilities “are exceedingly rare and pose a serious security issue for users since they can be impacted without having clicked on a link, opened a file or opened an SMS.”

Drake plans to present his research at the Black Hat and Def Con security conferences in Las Vegas next month.

So, um, can I have your number?

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