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

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

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

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Video Games

Everybody Is Freaking Out About What Might Happen at 3PM Today

US-IT-CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW-CES
ROBYN BECK—AFP/Getty Images Intel Corp. CEO Brian Krzanich (L) and Gabe Newell, co-founder of game-maker Valve, discuss Intel's role in Valve's gaming development, during Krzanich's keynote address at the 2014 International CES.

Third day of the third month at three pm...

Today may be an auspicious day—if Internet gamers have anything to say about it.

At the annual Game Developer’s conference, legendary game maker Valve is scheduled to talk about its future plans. Earlier, the company announced a new virtual reality headset in partnership with Taiwanese phone giant HTC, the Vive. But the timing of the company’s sessions—the third day of the third month—has some speculating (or at least hopeful) that a sequel to one of its most popular titles might be announced.

The most wished for announcement is likely Half-Life 3, the rumor follow up to 2004’s critically acclaimed and commercially blockbuster Half-Life 2. The title has reportedly been in development for more than a decade. But no one outside the company’s Bellevue, Washington-based headquarters knows for sure. Other possibilities include Portal 3, a sequel to the best-selling 2011 game Portal 2.

Expectations may have already boiled over, though. The company said it would be focusing on hardware this year. And the presentation scheduled is supposed to be focused on the use of physics in game. It isn’t slated to be helmed by Valve boss Gabe Newell. But a nerd can always dream.

TIME You Asked

You Asked: Can I Use My iPad or Other Tablet As a Second Monitor?

Duet Display for iOS and OS X
Duet Display Duet Display for iOS and OS X

Don't let your iPad sit unused

So you want a second computer monitor to help you be more efficient at work or at home, but you don’t want to shell out the money for another display. Is there a more potentially cost-effective solution to double up on displays?

You bet.

If you’ve got a tablet like an iPad or comparable Android tablet, it’s probably going unused when you’re on typing away on your desktop or laptop computer. But several apps on the market can turn your tablet into a bona-fide second monitor.

The best app for transforming your iPad or phone into a second screen is Duet Display, currently 50% off its normal price of $14.99. You’ll first need to download a free version of the app for your desktop or laptop Mac. Then download the paid version on your iPad (or nice, big iPhone 6 Plus). Once the two apps are installed on both machines, connect them with your Lightning or 30-pin cable. Next, open the app on the tablet or phone, and presto, Duet Display turns it into a second screen with minimal, if any, lag. (Another popular option for Apple users is Air Display, which recently introduced a USB connectivity option similar to Duet Display.)

For the PC and Android users out there, you can try the $9.99 Android version of Air Display — though it works over Wi-Fi, which means it comes with some lag. If that doesn’t cut it, give the $5 iDisplay a shot — but it, too, works over your wireless network. Instructions for setting up Air Display can be found here; follow these for iDisplay.

One quick note: If you’re using a tablet as a second display, your life will get much easier if you invest in a solid stand for the device to keep it upright.

TIME apps

Streaming Music Showdown: Spotify vs. Beats

Beats By Dre and Spotify logos
Emmanuel Dunand, Ethan Miller—Getty Images Beats and Spotify logos

How does Apple’s effort stack up against the most popular music service around?

It’s been almost nine months since Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats catapulted the Dr. Dre-backed streaming music service into the limelight for casual music listeners. And while Apple is reportedly working on an overhaul of the service, I spent the last nine months as a paid Beats Music subscriber, after having used Spotify exclusively for more than a year.

Beyond the music, the differences between the two services are stark. Here is what you need to know in comparing the two most prominent (with apologies to all the other players) streaming music services on the market:

Musical Selection

This is a largely subjective category, because it really depends on what you’re looking for. For instance, some tracks, such as “Jungle” by Jay-Z, appear exclusively on Beats before rolling into other services, while other artists, like Led Zeppelin, appeared on Spotify first, then elsewhere next.

Whether these exclusives will affect you is a matter of what kind of music you prefer, but it’s hard to know in advance of subscribing which artists will strike what deals with which service. And the end, most albums end up being available everywhere. Except for Taylor Swift — she pulled her latest tracks from every subscription streaming service.

Winner: Tie

User Interface

One of the biggest differences between these two services (specifically their apps) is the way users interact with them. Spotify has a menu-driven interface that requires a lot of taps to dive into an artist’s catalog from the main screen. Meanwhile, Beats has a visual-driven interface with large tiles that spring users right into the content they want to listen to.

Once a track is playing, Beats transforms into a full-screen player, with large buttons and progress meters, making it ideal for skipping songs on the fly, like when you’re driving (tsk, tsk). Spotify, meanwhile, shrinks the track down to a mini-player that takes up the smallest ribbon at the bottom of the screen. Tapping on the song’s tiny album art will expand it to a full-sized player, but that’s hardly intuitive — and pretty inconvenient, considering the image’s size.

Winner: Beats

Free Accounts

Spotify will let you listen via its mobile app without paying for an account, but that only provides you with a shuffle mode. If you want to listen to an exact song, you’ll have to upgrade to the premium service. Spotify also says “on tablet and computer, you can play any song, any time,” but I found this to be untrue. In fact, this frustration led me to resubscribe to the service. (Tricky move, Spotify.)

Meanwhile, technically, Beats Music does not have a free version. But Apple does offer iTunes Radio gratis, though it doesn’t come close to the free version of Spotify.

Winner: Spotify

Social Integration

Both Beats Music and Spotify offer social integration, letting you post your favorite songs on Twitter and Facebook for your friends to enjoy. But Spotify, which has historically used Facebook Connect to power login information for its service, gives music fans a much richer social experience by allowing you to see your friends’ listening activity.

At first, when Facebook was allowing Spotify to publish activity to the sites News Feed, Spotify seemed hyperactive, alerting every friend to every song that was played. But through some toning down and refinement, Spotify’s social feed is much calmer — you really only see it on a sidebar on the Spotify desktop app unless you dive into the “activity” menu on the service’s mobile app.

Beats, meanwhile, doesn’t show friends’ activity, which could be a selling point if you’re embarrassed by your musical taste, or don’t care to know what your friends are listening to. But it’s hard not to look at Beats’ lack of social integration and see Apple’s failures in this space. The company’s Ping social networking feature in iTunes was one of the company’s most high-visibility failures, and even Game Center, which many iPhone users have logged into (but relatively few use) isn’t very popular.

Winner: Spotify

Desktop App

Don’t spend too long looking for a desktop version of the Beats app — it doesn’t exist, not even on the Mac App Store. Instead, the service is meant to run through your web browser, though good luck with that. Personally, as hard as I push my browser (I have 14 tabs open right now, and that’s below average for me), I’d rather have a separate application chewing on the RAM-intensive music streams. And comically, early on, I couldn’t get Safari to play audio from the Beats service at all — I had to switch to Google Chrome. But that brings up an interesting point: If you really do want a Beats Music app, you can find one on the Chrome Web Store.

Spotify, meanwhile, might be the best desktop music app I’ve ever used. More than just a music player, it’s actually a platform for the service, which allows other programmers to make software that interacts with Spotify. For example, you can link your Spotify account to Last.fm to generate personalized music choices, or you can view lyrics to the song you’re listening to through MusiXmatch.

Spotify’s willingness to open itself up to these outside developers is a key difference between it and Beats Music, and (other than its great library) might be its best feature.

Winner: Spotify

Killer Feature

While most people like Spotify mostly for its music and social features, its platform-like interactivity with other services (described above) is truly its killer feature, letting the service expand and morph in new ways. For instance, if used with certain apps, Spotify’s desktop app can become a karaoke screen, or with other apps it can compete with music-suggesting services like Pandora.

Meanwhile, what made Beats unique was a pair of features. Firstly, expertly-crafted playlists created by humans, not computers, instantly gave users a trove of mixes to choose from. But this feature was quickly aped by Spotify through its ability to let people share their playlists and via expert-driven apps like Rolling Stone Recommends.

Beats’ other killer feature was a fun way to make your own mix called “The Sentence,” where users could tell the app what they are doing (“working out,” “cooking,” hanging out,” etc.) with whom (“my friends,” “my bff,” etc.) and to what kind of music they wanted to hear (“hip-hop,” “bluegrass,” “metal,” etc.). At first, it seems like a great idea, but once you realize you want to chill, party, nap, and barbecue to 90’s rock, it becomes clear that you really don’t need a suggestion engine that caters to every musical genre. The gimmick gets old, quick.

Winner: Spotify

Overall Winner

While Beats user interface is far and away more friendly, over the past nine months with the service I found myself discovering fewer new artists and listing to less music than when I used Spotify. I wanted Beats to be better than it really is, so much so that I probably kept my subscription longer than I otherwise would have. But one week back with Spotify, and I’m back in the fold with all my old playlists — which, ironically, I exported from iTunes.

Maybe Apple’s next iteration of Beats, whether it’s under that name or folded back into iTunes, will be better. But it would take a massive shift in attitude from Apple, because they’d need to embrace social networks that they don’t own and third party developers in a way they currently don’t.

Winner: Spotify

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