TIME Google

Here’s the Best Feature in Google’s New Photos App

Anil Sabharwal
Jeff Chiu—AP Anil Sabharwal, director of Google Photos, speaks during the Google I/O 2015 keynote presentation in San Francisco, Thursday, May 28, 2015.

Here's the best feature in Google's new photos app

Google’s new photos app for iOS and Android has one truly standout new feature: It offers users suggestions to delete similar photos, potentially freeing up tons of space in the process, as Business Insider highlights.

A Google employee demoing the new product this week called it a “free-up space ability.” During the demo, the app reportedly suggested that he delete over three gigabytes of duplicate photos, illustrating how useful the feature could be to users looking to get more space on their mobile devices.

The new app, which allows users to backup an unlimited number of photos and videos to the cloud, also comes with a powerful search function. Photos uploaded to Google Photos for free, which was taken from Google’s semi-defunct Google Plus social network, will be capped at 16 megapixels, while users can upload videos with resolution up to 1080p.

TIME Apple

Apple Is Getting an Unexpected Huge New Customer

New York City Exteriors And Landmarks
Ben Hider—Getty Images A general view of the IBM The International Business Machines Corporation offices on Madison Avenue on March 11, 2014 in New York City.

Big Macs for Big Blue

As its newfound partnership with Apple ramps up, IBM has announced that it’ll be offering its employees Mac computers, 9to5Mac reports.

A memo to employees said that IBM workers would be able to select from a MacBook Pro, a MacBook Air, or a PC when a new workstation is set up. The company reportedly plans to have around 50,000 MacBooks in use by the year’s end.

The move is another step in a stunning reversal of Apple and IBM’s longstanding rivalry. Last year, IBM and Apple announced a partnership to launch “made-for-business apps” for iPhones and iPads. That historical deal came as IBM is doubling down on the enterprise and service offerings, rather than personal computers. IBM sold its PC unit to Chinese technology company Lenovo in 2005.

TIME Apple

Here’s Apple’s Fix for a Catastrophic iPhone Bug

Apple Starts iPhone 6 Sales In Germany
Sean Gallup—Getty Images A shopper ltries out the new Apple iPhone 6 at the Apple Store on the first day of sales of the new phone in Germany on September 19, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

A more permanent solution is on the way

Calling all iPhone users: you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Thursday night, Apple published a temporary fix to a strange bug that causes a user’s messaging app to unexpectedly quit after receiving a “specific series of unicode characters,” that appear to be a combination of symbols and arabic-language characters. If this happens to you, just follow these simple steps. (Yes, you’ll have to get Siri involved):

  1. Ask Siri to “read unread messages.”
  2. Use Siri to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you’ll be able to open Messages again.
  3. In Messages, swipe left to delete the entire thread. Or tap and hold the malicious message, tap More, and delete the message from the thread.

Apple plans to permanently fix the bug in an upcoming software update.

TIME Startups

How the Cloud Is Helping Startups Grow Lightning-Fast

This company is teaching the cloud to see while using it to grow

In business, success is often about seeing the future. For instance, CamFind co-founders Brad Folkens and Dominic Mazur caught a glimpse of it in 2011, when they noticed search engine traffic on desktop computers was declining. Fewer people were using their PCs to look things up because they were running queries on their mobile devices instead.

As Folkens and Mazur looked deeper, they also saw how search habits differed on smartphones and tablets versus desktops. On desktops, people mostly use Google for whatever they’re looking for. But on mobilde devices, if people want to find a restaurant, they’ll search with the Yelp app. If they’re looking for a work contact, they’ll use LinkedIn. For news, the New York Times app might be their go-to. And if they wanted to find out what spider just bit them, well, they were in some trouble.

“We found Google Goggles (a search engine that ran queries against photos) only answered queries correctly one in twenty times or at best one in ten times,” says Folkens, the CamFind’s CTO. “We looked at creating an image recognition platform that would output answers 100% of the time, with a varying degree of detail.”

Camfind’s image recognition platform works much differently than the kinds of search engines that came before it. Previously, when a search was run, the computer would show exact results, or nothing at all. But with some of the deep learning going on in cloud connected computing, CamFind can gradually come up with the right answer — in an instant.

For example, let’s return to the spider. Imagine you quickly snap a picture of the bug and use the image to search on CamFind. In the short time it takes to return the search result, the spider query spins out across the web. CamFind’s image recognition platform, a collection of code hosted on rented cloud servers, sends the query across other servers, also hosted in the cloud. The image file passes through a variety of computer vision algorithms: some specialize in two-dimensional images, others utilize deep learning technologies. If the image recognition platform still hasn’t figured out what kind of spider it is by then, the platform will send the picture off to a human in order to determine an answer. That person then enters the result back into the system, helping the platform learn the answer for a future query.

“Essentially what we have is like a brain that constantly learns as people take pictures with the app and as images are fed into our system,” says Folkens.

Most times, CamFind will identify the correct species of spider in the photo. (Spiders are actually one of CamFind’s specialties, probably because they freak people out so much.) “Then you can find out information about it, whether or not it is poisonous, and if should you go to a hospital,” says Folkens. Or, if the app is totally stumped, it will show the user enough results so they can recognize the spider in a related images.

But without cloud computing, CamFind would have arachnophobia just like the rest of us. The company would not only need a bunch of enormous computers in its offices to run these platforms and algorithms, but they’d also have to lease a massive space to house all that equipment. Through the capabilities provided by the cloud, CamFind can lease all the necessary computing power instead. This is a huge cost savings, and it’s at the heart of our current technological boom.

It used to be that when goods or services became popular overnight, they’d be victimized by their own success, unable to reach customers fast or inexpensively enough. They couldn’t get the tools they needed, build products quickly, or deliver their the goods in a timely manner to keep up with demand. But with the cloud, software startups can add (or subtract) computing might at the push of a button.

“The cloud makes that physical layer disappear,” says Folkens. “I can just say, ‘Give me five machines to run our computer vision algorithms over; give me 10 machines; give me a 100 machines all with powerful GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) . . . and we only pay for what we use.”

As a result, within two weeks of reaching a million app downloads in late 2013, CamFind had more than 20 different companies looking to use the company’s technology in their own products. Today, they have more than 700 such customers using CamFind. This cool little app that was teaching the cloud to see has opened everyone’s eyes. The future is looking good, indeed.

TIME legal

At Least 20 Years in Prison Awaits Silk Road Founder

This Feb 4, 2015, file courtroom sketch, shows defendant Ross William Ulbricht as the deputy recites the word “guilty” multiple times during Ubricht’s trial in New York.
Elizabeth Williams—AP This Feb 4, 2015 courtroom sketch shows defendant Ross William Ulbricht as the deputy recites the word “guilty” multiple times during Ubricht'’s trial in New York.

Ross William Ulbricht regrets his "very naive and costly idea"

(NEW YORK) — Prosecutors are asking a Manhattan judge to sentence a San Francisco man who created the online drug-peddling site Silk Road to decades in prison, while the defendant is asking to be freed soon enough to show he’s a changed man.

Ross William Ulbricht, 31, is set to be sentenced Friday following his February conviction in federal court.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, Ulbricht said he regrets what he calls a “very naive and costly idea.”

He said he ruined his life and destroyed his future by what he now calls his “terrible mistake,” and he promised to no longer be the “rebellious risk taker” he was if he is given less than the life sentence recommended by the Probation Department.

“Please leave a small light at the end of the tunnel, an excuse to stay healthy, an excuse to dream of better days ahead, and a chance to redeem myself in the free world before I meet my maker,” he wrote.

Prosecutors, though, asked for a sentence substantially longer than the 20-year mandatory minimum, saying Ulbricht “developed a blueprint for a new way to use the Internet to undermine the law and facilitate criminal transactions” before he was nabbed in a San Francisco library in 2013, two years after launching Silk Road.

He was convicted of seven drug and conspiracy counts by a jury that deliberated only three hours.

Prosecutors said Ulbricht collected over $18 million in bitcoin commissions operating a website with thousands of listings under categories like “Cannabis,” ”Psychedelics” and “Stimulants.” They said he brokered more than 1 million drug deals worth $213 million.

To support a lengthy sentence, prosecutors said in a legal brief that Ulbricht’s massive narcotics-trafficking enterprise had resulted in at least six drug-related deaths, including a 27-year-old Microsoft employee and a 16-year-old boy in Perth, Australia. They also said he solicited multiple murders for hire in attempts to eliminate perceived threats, though authorities found no evidence anyone was killed.

“The site enabled thousands of drug dealers to expand their markets from the sidewalk to cyberspace, and thereby reach countless customers whom they never could have found on the street. The consequence was to vastly expand access to illegal drugs,” prosecutors said.

TIME Soccer

Women’s Teams Now Feature in Soccer Game FIFA 16 but in Real Life Have Second-Class Status

What happens on screen is a far cry from real life

For the first time, EA Sports will feature women soccer players in its hugely popular FIFA video-game series.

FIFA 16, which launches in September, includes 12 of the top women’s international teams — USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Sweden.

The video game has only featured men’s teams since it was first released in 1993.

However, as welcome as EA Sports’ announcement is, Mashable points out that while the women’s teams are “in the game” on screen, in real life they fall far behind the men’s teams in the way they are treated by soccer’s governing body.

In the upcoming Women’s World Cup, beginning June 6 in Canada, the women’s teams will have to play on artificial turf fields, instead of actual grass.

No men’s World Cup has ever been played on synthetic surfaces and many of the women’s teams feel it is gender discrimination. Playing on the fake turf puts them at a higher risk of injury.

A group of the sport’s top female players filed legal action against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association last year but had to end their challenge in January because FIFA stalled for so long that it was too late to potentially change the pitches in time for the championship.

“This being the pinnacle of our sport, we feel like we should be treated just like the men,” U.S. forward Abby Wambach told the New York Times last year.

EA Sports’ announcement comes as FIFA finds itself snared in a huge corruption scandal that has seen 14 senior officials arrested on charges of bribery, fraud, and money laundering.

TIME Transportation

Setback for Uber as South Korea Bans Private Taxis

The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

It's the first country to introduce a nationwide prohibition

In a largely symbolic move that appears to be aimed directly at Uber’s cheap UberX service, South Korea passed legislation on Friday banning unlicensed drivers from providing taxi services — becoming the first country to institute a nationwide prohibition of the practice.

According to Reuters, the bill is a blanket ban on private taxi services but lawmakers who pushed the bill did so citing UberX, a service that matches commuters with individuals using their personal cars as a taxi.

Uber already pulled UberX out of Seoul in March because of backlash from the taxi industry and local authorities. But the company still maintains a presence via UberTaxi (matching passengers with licensed drivers) and UberBLACK (which can be used by the disabled, elderly and foreigners).

[Reuters]

TIME Google

Google Is Testing Hands-free Payments With McDonald’s and Papa Johns

The tech giant is testing an app that will let you pay at the store without pulling out your wallet or phone

Google is testing a futuristic way for shoppers to pay for what they buy without having to take out their wallet — or even their phones.

The technology, known as hands-free payments, is supposed to make paying in stores that much easier. All a customer has to do is download an app onto their phone. When checking out at a store, all they have to do is stand in front of the cash register and say their name to the cashier. A blue tooth sensor automatically detects whether they have the app and then bills them.

Google revealed the test Thursday at its annual developers conference in San Francisco. Fast food giant McDonald’s and pizza chain Papa John’s have partnered with Google to experiment with the technology in the Bay Area.

Details about Google’s payment system are still fuzzy. The company emphasized that it is an experiment. It may rely on Bluetooth technology to sense that your mobile phone is nearby. Shoppers who make a purchase receive a notification on their phone about being billed.

The technology is just one of many ideas involving mobile payments, a particularly hot space in the tech industry. A number of companies like Apple are experimenting with different ways for consumers to pay using their phones under the theory that paying digitally is more convenient than using cash or credit cards.

Google isn’t the first company to tackle hands-free payments. Payments company Square introduced hands-free payments in 2011, but has since retired its consumer-facing app that included the feature. In 2013, PayPal premiered a similar technology using Beacon, a Bluetooth device retailers placed in their stores.

In addition to discussing hands-free payments, Google unveiled a new mobile payments wallet and platform on Thursday called Android Pay.

TIME Amazon

You May Soon Be Able to Buy Amazon-Branded Milk, Cereal and Baby Food

Inside The UPS Worldport Facility Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A package shipped from Amazon.com moves down a conveyor belt during the afternoon sort at the United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) Worldport facility in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

The e-commerce leader is planning to add food to its fledgling line up of house labels, a move that seeks to capitalize on customers' growing acceptance of store brands and its grocery delivery service.

Amazon.com is getting ready to take its fight with the likes of Costco Wholesale, Target and Walmart deeper into the grocery aisles.

The online retailer is planning to expand its private label lineup into groceries like milk, cereal, and baby food, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The newspaper also reported that Amazon filed for trademark protection in early May for more than two dozen categories under its existing Elements brand including coffee, soup, pasta as well as household products like razor blades and cleaning products.

Amazon has approached some private-label food manufacturers to partner including TreeHouse Foods, a major player, according to the Journal’s report. Amazon did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.

The foray into private-label grocery comes as food is becoming ever-bigger business for major retailers. Groceries can bring higher profit margins despite the lower retail prices some retailers charge because the companies save on the marketing costs.

Such in-house brands are also finding more acceptance with customers, many of whom are increasingly looking for bargains and are more open to buying store brands. A case in point is Costco’s Kirkland brand, which generates $15 billion in sales from coffee, chicken breasts, and cleaning products.

Amazon’s Elements portfolio began last year with diapers, which it has since dropped, and baby wipes that are sold exclusively to members of its Prime subscription service. Among other things, Prime offers unlimited same-day delivery in certain markets and two-day shipping — all for a $99 annual fee.

This would be Amazon’s first try at selling its own line of food, a far more complex business than some of its other private label products because of food safety issues. And Amazon would be going up against experienced competitors that have plans to improve their own brands. Target’s Archer Farms, for one, will undergo an overhaul in the next year.

Still, the move makes sense for Amazon as it looks to capitalize on and built out its Fresh grocery delivery.

TIME technology

Steve Wozniak Is Getting a Wax Figure at Madame Tussauds

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, speaks onstage during the National Geographic Channel's 'American Genius' panel at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on Jan. 7, 2015 in Pasadena, California.
Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, speaks onstage during the National Geographic Channel's 'American Genius' panel at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on Jan. 7, 2015 in Pasadena, California.

And it'll be right next to Steve Jobs'

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is getting immortalized in wax. Madame Tussauds in San Francisco announced this week the inventor will be the next techie to get the wax treatment, joining the likes of Apple’s Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

In a statement, Wozniak said he is “incredibly excited” to be added to the San Francisco location and equally thrilled that he’ll be placed next to his former partner.

“I remember visiting the London Museum as a kid,” Wozniak said. “I can’t wait to see my figure next to Jobs—it’ll be just like old times.”

According to Madame Tussauds, now the fun part begins. Wozniak will have to sit for 2 to 3 hours and have 250 measurements taken to ensure his figure’s accuracy. It takes about three to four months to complete the process, after which Wozniak will appear at his sculpture’s release for a side-by-side comparison.

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