TIME Gadgets

This Is the Best iPad Stylus You Can Buy

Pogo Stylus Ten One

The TenOne Pogo Stylus focuses on getting the little things right

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com

The best iPad stylus for people who want to sketch or take handwritten notes is the redesigned Ten One Pogo Stylus. It handles and writes more like an actual pen than any other stylus currently available. It also has an aluminum shaft with a removable clip on one side and a replaceable tip on the other. It produced the best line response of the 18 styli we evaluated and, unlike the competition, never forced us to apply more pressure than was comfortable. After going hands on with all the competitors, illustrator Dan Bransfield reached for the Pogo over models from more established companies like Wacom. And Bransfield would know a good stylus from a bad one—he’s worked for LucasArts, Electronic Arts and Rumble Entertainment.

How We Decided

We started by researching what would best fit the needs of a casual note taker and sketcher. If the idea is to replicate the experience of pen on paper, well, then the best stylus is the one that feels most like a decent pen on good quality paper. That means you want something with enough weight and glide to move freely, but with enough friction to be predictable.

Our testing included tracking the stylus through a maze, tracing the alphabet in various sizes, sketching a variety of items, and navigating through a tablet. After assessing all of them, we started all over again, testing the pens in a different order to reduce any chance that becoming acclimated to a stylus might have skewed the results.

Bransfield then spent time with each stylus, sketching random still lifes with each pen to get a feel for how it performed while being used to draw. He took notes on each stylus based on performance and comfort.

Our Pick

Some companies go overboard to create a more “touch-specific” feel, whereas the Pogo Stylus is just a well-executed riff on a normal pen. The 6mm nib is thin enough to stay out of your way, and perfectly replicates the feel of a fingertip, which makes it an exceptionally consistent performer when paired with an iPad screen. The little touches, like a removable pocket clip and replaceable tips (two for $9) that attach via magnets, reflect the thought put into designing the Pogo.

The Pogo’s metal design, heft, and balance make the pen immediately comfortable for writing and drawing. It’s a simple cylinder that doesn’t rely on design flourishes or ergonomic attributes, and we’re OK with that. During our testing, the more ergonomic styli like the Paper Pencil weren’t significantly more comfortable, and their accuracy wasn’t necessarily greater. And cheaper models, like the Wacom Bamboo Alpha and AmazonBasics, felt a bit too light and thin in comparison.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

While the Pogo’s shaft and clip are plenty sturdy, the part that surrounds the removable tip can get dented if you’re not careful since it’s only a thin piece of metal. This can then dig into and shorten the lifespan of your nibs if you’re not careful.

Runner-up

The Wacom Bamboo Stylus Alpha is a solid runner-up to our top pick. At $15, it’s $5 cheaper than the Pogo, but the Pogo is definitely $5 better. The Alpha is a bit thinner and lighter (it weighs 10 grams to the Pogo’s 18), which makes it feel less like a premium pen and more like a Bic or Paper Mate. That said, its nib response is about as good as the Pogo’s—it just doesn’t feel as good in your hand as the Pogo.

Bluetooth?

A Bluetooth stylus costs anywhere from two to 10 times as much as our top pick and offers just a few additional features. Pressure sensitivity may appeal to artists, but apps do a decent job of simulating that. Palm-rejection allows you to rest your palm on the screen while writing, but yet again, there are popular apps like GoodNotes that can do this without Bluetooth.

After testing several of the most promising models, the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus is the active stylus we would get. It performs basically just like the non-Bluetooth equipped Pogo, but with the aforementioned Bluetooth features. Unfortunately it’s since been replaced by a newer version with a thinner tip that doesn’t draw accurately. That most likely will not be our recommendation, but we plan on pitting it against other new options to see if we can find a better one.

In Closing

The TenOne Pogo Stylus is the best iPad stylus because it focuses on getting the little things right. It just feels and performs like a good pen should. That’s why it’s the best stylus for most people.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com.

TIME apps

5 iPhone Apps Your Teen Doesn’t Want You to Download

Government Participates In Safer Internet Day
A student uses an Apple iPhone smartphone at the Friedensburg Oberschule (Friedensburg high school) during the tenth annual Safer Internet Day (SID) on February 11, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Adam Berry—Getty Images

Better hide these in a “Utilities” folder, because your kid will kill you for having them.

In the ’80s, teens had only was one social app, and it was called the telephone. In the ‘90s, chat rooms were all the rage, leading to social sites like Facebook, Friendster and Myspace in the 2000s. But today’s kids, armed with smartphones, are all over the web, so good luck keeping up with them.

Of course no one wants to be a helicopter parent — but armed with these five apps, you can be a drone parent instead.

Ask.fm

Ask and ye shall receive. This global website is a place were teens ask each other anonymous questions. The service connects to Facebook and Twitter accounts — as well as 133 million users in more than 150 countries — making it easier for users to find and follow their friends. But even if you’re not connected to your kid on a social site, you can still follow them anonymously by searching for his or her Facebook/Twitter username (or even just their actual name). So what are kids asking on this site? Some of the questions are your typical teenage fare, such as, “What scares you more than anything else?” But anonymous, user-created questions like “Are you a virgin?” and other saltier submissions can be rather eye-opening. Sadly, the site’s anonymous comments were linked to a teen suicide earlier this year.

Ask.fm is available for free in the App Store.

Nutmeg

Want your kids to think you’re the coolest? Respond with a Grumpy Cat GIF when they write you saying they’re going to be out past curfew. Want to annoy your kids to no end? Respond to every text they send with a GIF, ignoring the context and not sending any verbal explanation. Nutmeg, a new app that brings these short, animated images to text messaging for the first time, is a collection of some of the funniest graphics on the web, sorted by emotion so you can convert exactly the right message without any words at all.

Nutmeg is available for free in the App Store.

Secret

It used to be that if you wanted to keep a secret, you wouldn’t tell it to anyone. Nowadays, people just post them online. This app allows people to post secrets online, where other people can comment on them. It connects to both Facebook and Twitter, so you can follow your friends, though the entire service is anonymous, meaning you don’t actually know which of your friends are on Secret (or who is making comments). While it can be a good place for people to get support for embarrassing personal issues, that’s entirely dependent on who your friends are once they don the mask of anonymity. And along those lines, the app has also been cited in cyberbullying cases, and anonymous suicide notes have appeared on the service. It’s because of apps like this that you might want to have a talk with your child about anonymous social media.

Secret is available for free in the App Store.

Whisper

Kids may say the darnedest things, but on this anonymous social sharing app, they post them online, too. Similar to Secret, this app allows users to post short messages overlaid onto pictures, which other users can like, reply to with their own graphical posts, or even send chat messages to the poster. Since it doesn’t connect to Facebook or Twitter, Whisper is much better from an anonymity perspective than Secret. But since strangers can contact users about their posts, this service opens up a whole new area of concern. Still, Whisper does categorize posts by content, so it can be good for teens grappling with complex issues like their sexuality, since (ideally) they can get support from other LGBTQ-interested users. Then again, it can also open them up to cruel, anonymous responses. So, like anything on the web, it’s a mixed bag. (Also worth noting, The Guardian recently revealed that the app uses its geolocation features to track users’ physical locations, though the company has refuted some of the newspaper’s claims.)

Whisper is available for free in the App Store.

Yik Yak

While this anonymous, location-based bulletin board sounds like a fictional web service on The Good Wife, let me assure you it is very real. Popular on college campuses and other areas dense in student population, Yik Yak is where teens go to post the wittier and more thoughtful commentary on their life. With the ability for users to up- or down-vote the “yaks” posted by their peers, Yik Yak almost seems higher brow than other anonymous online services. And upon browsing this app, don’t be surprised to find some funny, intriguing thoughts. For example, here’s the current most popular post: “Today, my math TA was waiting for someone to answer his question and after a few moments of silence he said ‘I do math for a living, I can out awkward anyone.’” Yes, but can you out-awkward a snoopy parent?

Yik Yak is available for free in the App Store.

TIME technology

7 Ways Satya Nadella’s Microsoft Is Completely Transformed

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya NadellaSpeaks At Company Event
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It’s not even nine months into the Satya Nadella era of Microsoft and the new CEO is making his mark. Notably, his Microsoft is smaller after completing this week most of the 18,000 job cuts he announced in July. Whether Nadella’s plans for Microsoft succeed, it’s clear the company is dramatically different from the Microsoft that ruled the technology industry in the 80s and 90s. The Microsoft that Nadella leads has strayed so far from its original incarnation that it seems in some ways to have become nearly its opposite. Here are seven examples of how today’s Microsoft is different from the juggernaut Bill Gates built.

1. Microsoft has a kinder, gentler CEO. Bill Gates frequently hurled verbal abuse at employees and was coldblooded about deploying predatory practices against competitors. Steve Ballmer had a reputation for hurling chairs and inspiring the rank and file in manic, sweat-soaked diatribes. Both heightened Microsoft’s image as a hard-charging software giant.

Nadella is cut from a different cloth entirely. Yes, his mansplaining about salaries revealed an ability to insert his foot in his mouth, but most accounts of his temperament describe a low-key and humble personality at odds with those of his predecessors. He communicates not in fist-pumping speeches but lengthy memos on strategy.

2. The tables have turned in the Microsoft-Apple rivalry. For decades, Apple had but a sliver of the market share for personal computers. In 2014, Apple is not onlyshipping more personal computers – counting the ones that fit in our pockets – it’s making much more money from them. Apple made $156 billion in revenue from iPhones, iPads and Macs in the last year. And Microsoft? Between Windows and Office software, Nokia phones and Surface tablets, it saw about $23 billion in revenue.

3. Microsoft isn’t a monopoly, but it competes with some. Gates never got the stranglehold he wanted on the Web, thanks to antitrust lawsuits and the Internet’s decentralized structure. And today, Microsoft is just one more company fighting for turf in a variety of markets: enterprise software, game consoles, search and, yes, personal computers.

And anyway, monopolies in the Internet era aren’t quite what they used to be. Yes, Amazon is bullying publishers but it’s pushing prices down, not up. Yes, Google dominates in search but it costs consumers nothing to find a perfectly good alternative like Bing. Neither of those companies is exactly stifling innovation but rather investing heavily in new technologies.

4. Microsoft isn’t really a Windows-driven company. And not just because PC sales have been declining for years. It’s more because Microsoft under Ballmer expanded into gaming and enterprise software markets. Under Nadella, these are becoming an even bigger part of the business. Enterprise offerings like server and storage software, cloud computing and consulting services made up 53% of revenue last quarter. Xbox made up 7%. Windows and Office were only 18%.

5. Microsoft has stopped worrying and learned to love open. Or at least it’s trying. Where Ballmer called the Linux open-source operating system a “malignant cancer,” Nadella proclaims, “Microsoft loves Linux.” All along, Nadella has said Microsoft needs to develop its own platform while playing well with others. Thefitness tracker Microsoft announced Thursday works with Windows as well as Android and iOS phones. Its Office programs work on those platforms too, even though that approach is leaving Microsoft vulnerable to upstarts.

6. It’s not exactly a growth company anymore. In the mid-90s, Microsoft’s revenue was growing by nearly 40% a year. It’s risen an average of 8.5% a year over the past two years, although that pace could increase this year under Nadella. Wall Street demands from Microsoft the kinds of hefty payouts older, slow-growth companies offer: Last year, Microsoft spent $4.9 billion on buybacks and $9.3 billion on dividends. Taken together, that’s more than Microsoft spend on R&D.

7. But it’s slowly gaining cachet among young geeks. A generation of software engineers grew up in the 80s and 90s loathing Microsoft – calling it evil, the Borg, or worse. But for those who came to know Microsoft not through Windows but the Xbox console and Halo franchise, the feelings range from indifferent to positive.

The $2.5 billion purchase of Mojang may or may not make Microsoft a cool brand. But it will wash away the hostility that the Microsoft brand inspired only a dozen years ago. Most kids who love Minecraft seem to think of Microsoft as a big corporation that won’t hurt and might even help Minecraft develop. That generational shift in sentiment may be the most dramatic evidence of how Microsoft has changed.

TIME Video Games

The 5 Best PC Games Right Now

An essential video game checklist for new PC owners

Wading into the PC games scene if you’re a new PC gamer is like coming across one of those museum-sized history wall maps where every time period’s displayed at once. Because the PC’s been more or less a continuous platform, you have a daunting number of choices. This isn’t a “best PC games of all time” list, therefore, so much as a best ones at the moment.

  • Divinity: Original Sin

    Divinity: Original Sin‘s story about a mystery energy source and murder and you eventually getting really, really powerful is just the glaze on a nostalgic banquet of classic gaming bullet points: stat-riddled character forging, a massive multi-environmental fantasy world, open-ended storytelling, tactically intricate combat in rounds, a laundry list of spells and skills and enemies and loot, cooperative multiplayer and a do-it-yourself toolkit, all rolled into an old-school-meets-new-tech isometric roleplaying package.

    Buy this game if… You have positive history with isometric party-based roleplaying games, you loved the decades-ago Ultima games, or you’ve always wanted to see what an older-school isometric RPG might look like skinned with contemporary design ideas.

    Steer clear if… You’re no fan of roleplaying games, or anything with lots of fiddly stats and systems and arcane terminology.

    What critics said: “The most creative turn-based combat seen in an RPG, combined with a dash of humor, has resulted in a fine stew of gaming” (Quarter to Three); “A potent, frustrating, demanding, amusing, tedious, exhilarating world unto itself” (RPG Fan); “Complex yet approachable, nostalgic yet modern, cliché-ridden yet strange and singular in so many ways” (Polygon).

    ESRB Rating: Mature

  • Guild Wars 2

    Guild Wars 2 isn’t something that grabs you off the block, like, say, the series premiere of Breaking Bad. It takes awhile to get rolling. But once it does, it’s hands down the best online multiplayer romp on the planet, obsessed with keeping you entertained in a way that’s constantly diverting: have snowball fights, hunt for worm eggs in ice caverns, play a barrel-tossing game, gather scraps to build snowmen, protect towns from sweeping bear horde assaults and knock out enemy portals that spawn creatures like The Avengers‘ Chitauri. It’s simply the pinball machine of MMOs.

    Buy this game if… You’re up for trying an MMO, you want an MMO you can actually dip into and out of, you don’t want to pay a monthly fee but also want freemium content that’s basically invisible, or you love games that relentlessly upend and exceed your expectations.

    Steer clear if… Sprawling fantasy funhouses aren’t your thing.

    What critics said: “…one of those rare games that knocks your life off-kilter like a meteoroid banging into a satellite” (TIME); “…what happens when a group of talented, smart, dedicated, imaginative, bold, consumer-friendly creators get together and spend years solving problems and making something wonderful” (Quarter to Three); “…rewards skill and variety rather than mindless grinding” (Polygon).

    ESRB Rating: Teen

  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

    Part of the allure of Blizzard rolling its bejeweled carriage through the hoof-tramped mud of a played-out genre (collectible card games) is the Blizzard name. But that names signifies scrupulous playtesting and elaborate design values, all of which converge here to make Hearthstone the quickest, slickest, goofiest, most lavish online CCG around.

    Buy this game if… You’ve always been curious about CCGs and want the fastest, friendliest introduction to the genre.

    Steer clear if… You’re not a competitive card gamer.

    What critics said: “…overflowing with character and imagination, feeds off and fuels a vibrant community of players” (Eurogamer); “It has, through painstaking effort, upgraded the card duel into a thoroughly modern form” (Edge); “…successfully pulled me into a genre that I didn’t care about in the least” (Polygon).

    ESRB Rating: Teen

  • Legend of Grimrock II

    Legend of Grimrock II harks back to PC gaming days when who cared that some crazy dude even more crazily turned an entire island into a flaming, monster-riddled, spike-suffused death trap–just go with it. This is a game about the game, not plot plausibility, though it tells a decent enough rip. It’s a grid-based dungeon crawler nonpareil, and just about the best one yet made.

    Buy this game if… You miss Wizardry, Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder, you want to play a modern exemplar of the whole “grid-based dungeon spelunking” thing.

    Steer clear if… Fixed first-person perspective freaks you out.

    What critics said: “…another glorious glimpse of the past, a window to a genre dead and buried and brought back to life with care and respect” (GameSpot); “…Almost Human may be looking to the past for inspiration, but it’s created one of the best pure role-playing games of the year” (Eurogamer); “…a puzzle box within which are a hundred more such boxes within which are yet more” (RPG Fan).

    ESRB Rating: Unrated

  • Shovel Knight

    The best NES game you never played sporting glorious high-definition pixel-block levels and incredible chiptunes and superlative platform-bounding gameplay? Shovel Knight is something like a crowdfunded miracle, the new archetype in gaming (or any other creative medium) for what letting developers who know exactly what they’re doing actually do it, unencumbered.

    Buy this game if… You miss the 8-bit NES aesthetic, you want to play the apotheosis of the best side-scrolling, platforming games popularized by Nintendo’s breakthrough 1980s system.

    Steer clear if… You don’t have (or care to own) a gamepad for your PC.

    What critics said: “The graphics, gameplay, and soundtrack are all pitch-perfect for an NES game… all you’re missing is the original cartridge” (USgamer); “…a game that is as bright, rich, and lovely as nostalgia would have us believe our favorite NES games always were” (Kill Screen); “…a game that handles like a brick that handles like a Maserati” (Wired).

    ESRB Rating: Everyone

TIME Apple

6 Things to Know About the iPhone 6

A new design, digital payments, better camera and more

The iPhone 6 has been one of Apple’s biggest product introductions in years. Here’s a closer look at the device’s main features.

TIME Companies

Have a Look at Tim Cook’s Time As Apple CEO

Following Tim Cook's announcement that is gay, here is a look back at the many successes of the Apple CEO.

TIME Companies

You Can Be Fired in 29 States For Doing What Tim Cook Did Today

Congressional inaction has resulted in a patchwork of state legislation that’s left big gaps across the country where being LGBT can be cause for termination

On Thursday, Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook confirmed what had long been believed: he is a gay man.

In coming out in Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook wrote, “Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.”

That last statement is accurate, not just because of the prejudice that gay individuals face in their personal lives, but because of the lack of protections against the discrimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the workplace.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, in 29 states workers can still be fired for saying exactly what Cook wrote Thursday. They include:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Florida
Georgia
Idaho
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Michigan
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Virginia
West Virginia
Wyoming

Congress has failed to pass federal legislation that bans discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and transgender identity outright. But politicians in Washington have introduced legislation known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for two decades. And, for two decades, it has failed to pass.

Congressional inaction has resulted in a patchwork of state legislation that’s left big gaps across the country where being LGBT can be cause for termination.

“When I talk about hot topics, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is front and center. The President and The White House are making incremental steps to move us in that direction because there is no federal protection,” says Selisse Berry, founder and chief executive officer of nonprofit advocacy organization Out & Equal.

In June, President Obama signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination based on employees’ sexual orientation and gender identity among federal contractors. In September, the EEOC filed its first lawsuits on behalf of transgender employees under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The business community in the U.S. is also doing its part to combat LBGT discrimination. Company by company, businesses have put sexual orientation and gender identify protections into their codes of conduct. “That way, people can come out at work and not be worried about being fired,” Berry says.

“Ninety-one percent of Fortune 500 companies include sex orientation protections. Seventeen years ago, it was 5%. People weren’t really talking it,” she says. Today, 61% of Fortune 500 companies include protection against gender identity bias.

The situation overseas, however, is significantly different. “There are 17 countries where [LGBT people] can be married,” Berry notes, “but 75 where we can be imprisoned or killed as LGBT people.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

6 Things to Know About Apple CEO Tim Cook

After he came out as gay Wednesday morning

When Tim Cook took the helm at Apple in 2011, many saw the Alabama native and former company chief operating officer as a somewhat boring Steve Jobs stand-in. Wall Street worried whether Apple could continue its remarkable growth under a new boss, while Apple fans wondered if they could expect the same astronomical advancements in consumer technology they’d grown to love.

In the intervening three years, Cook has impressed doubters with new products like the Apple Watch and the iPad Air, and wowed shareholders as Apple’s stock price continues to rise (a six-month hiccup in 2012-2013 aside).

We’ve learned things about Cook’s personality and life, too. He’s not the terrifying, volatile firecracker that Jobs was. But the instinctively private Cook has gradually revealed a more personal side as he’s accrued successes. Cook’s most personal revelation came Wednesday, with his formal acknowledgment that he is gay, an oft-rumored fact that the Apple chief had never publicly confirmed.

In the spirit of getting familiar with the CEO of one of the world’s most iconic companies, here are 6 things to know about Tim Cook:

He’s a working-class kid from the Deep South

Cook grew up in southern Alabama near the Gulf Coast, and worked at a paper mill in the state and an aluminum plant in Virginia. His father was a shipyard worker. Cook earned his degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University in his native Alabama.

He wakes up at 3:45 every morning

By all accounts, Cook is a dogged worker. He told TIME in 2012 that he wakes up every morning before 4 a.m., spends an hour on email, then goes to the gym, then Starbucks, then heads to work.

He’s a keen manager

Cook got his start managing Apple’s complex supply chains, closing warehouses and instead employing contract manufacturers. He pushed hard for stable supplies of product parts. “You kind of want to manage it like you’re in the dairy business,” he has said. “If it gets past its freshness date, you have a problem.” Cook is also able to coordinate fluidly with Apple’s different departments. After Jobs’ death, he broke down structural walls between design and software engineering segments, Bloomberg Businessweek reported last month.

He’s outdoorsy

Though Cook doesn’t often chatter about his hobbies (“I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy,” he says), Cook enjoys hiking and cycling. He included a shot of Yosemite National Park on his Twitter page, and he’s reportedly an avid cycler as well as a self-admitted “fitness nut” — a reason, perhaps, that Apple’s upcoming Apple Watch is being marketed towards the fitness-obsessed.

His sexuality hasn’t gotten in the way at Apple

Being gay has never been a problem for Cook at Apple, he said in his column for Businessweek. “Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me,” said Cook. “Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences.”

He’s a listener

Unlike his predecessor, Cook’s managerial style is markedly collaborative. When a group of investors visited Apple’s campus in 2012, Cook did what would have been unlikely for Jobs: he showed up, listened to his CFO’s presentation, and answered questions. Cook has showed that for the first time in years, not only Apple employees have the CEO’s ear, but investors do, too.

TIME Smartphones

Americans Spend Nearly 2 Days a Month Using Mobile Apps

How Much Time Americans Spend on Phones
Carlina Teteris—Getty Images/Flickr RF

That's a whole lotta Candy Crush

U.S. adults spend nearly two days per month using apps or web browsers on their phones, according to Nielsen research.

Americans age 18 and up spent an average of 43 hours and 31 minutes per month using apps or web browsers on their phones during the second quarter of 2014, a sharp rise from the 33 hours and 48 minutes per month during the same period last year, according to Nielsen’s second-quarter 2014 Cross-Platform report.

Yet for how much time Americans spend on their phones, they’re using a surprisingly low number of apps. Mobile phone users have installed on average about 42 apps, but the vast majority of them say they’re using fewer than 10 apps on a daily basis, according to Nielsen’s Mobile Apps Playbook. About half claim they’re using only one to four apps on a daily basis.

So what are those apps? According to comScore, the most popular apps in the U.S. in June 2014 were Facebook, YouTube, Google Play, Google Search and Google Maps.

TIME Tech

Why Tim Cook’s Coming Out Is the Most Meaningful to Date

His essay didn't minimize the importance of his sexuality. Instead, he acknowledged how being gay has changed his life and worldview

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has spoken publicly about his sexuality in a Bloomberg Businessweek op-ed, writing: “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” It’s the most forceful declaration of self we’ve seen by a gay person in recent memory — one that presents being gay as something legitimately different from being straight, and no worse for that. It’s an inspiring new way to come out.

To be fair, Cook’s sexuality has been such an open secret that it’s legitimate to question if this is even a coming-out. The hard lines around “coming out” — traditionally the process by which someone tells the world for the first time that one is gay — have been eroded by the openness of the press and the relaxing of stigmas around homosexuality have made it far less taboo to write about a person’s sexuality before their explicit say-so. This is the first time Cook has spoken so openly about being gay; that has hardly stopped the press from, without evident malice or homophobia, including him on an Out power list of gay celebrities, or, at the time of his appointment as Steve Jobs’ replacement, calling him “the most powerful gay man in America.” Though the mainstream press has been more reticent, with a New York Times article this May asking where the openly gay CEOs were, some segments of the press covered Cook’s sexuality as they would his race or gender, as an unremarkable fact about him.

Other coming-outs, like that of Anderson Cooper in 2012, have followed a similar script: that the public figure’s sexuality is unremarkable, neither here nor there, worthy of acknowledgment solely as a biographical detail. Cooper, a CNN anchor, wrote in a public letter to the blogger Andrew Sullivan: “In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted.” In his declaration of his sexuality, there was a strong undertone of reluctance: this shouldn’t be necessary, as it had little to do with Cooper’s identity. Even in coming out, Cooper spent far more time describing his life as a journalist, which he insisted was not colored by his life experiences, than he did acknowledging his sexuality. So, too, did Neil Patrick Harris, in 2006, express his annoyance at the “speculation and interest in my private life and relationships” even while finally discussing them with the press. In her 2013 speech at the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster acknowledged her former partner while framing any and all inquiries into her private life as forcing her into the position of “Honey Boo Boo Child,” a reality-show entertainer.

Tim Cook has set a new paradigm, describing his sexuality as not merely a small aspect of himself that he needs to get through talking about, but as central to his identity. “Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day,” writes Cook. “It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life.”

Some will likely grouse that Cook’s silence for so long dulls the impact of his coming out now, at age 53. And his own essay presents the same privacy arguments we’ve heard before, before explaining that this was, indeed, a difficult choice. Past celebrity coming-out declarations have had a certain breeziness to them, as though the stars decided they might as well finally entertain the press’s endless inquiries. Cook’s desire not to acknowledge his sexuality, he writes, stemmed from his fear that it would overtake all other aspects of his persona in the public eye. “I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things.”

But it’s a sign of how much society has changed even since 2012 that Cook is finally able to present the somewhat revolutionary idea that being gay is not just the same as being straight — that it is not a simple aspect of one’s makeup. It changes the way one views the world, as Cook writes. It also compels one forward to take part in a cause larger than oneself. As Cook writes, citing the civil rights legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy: “We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.”

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