TIME portfolio

Meet America’s First Video Game Varsity Athletes

The newest route to college is through a video game

Parents who think that video games are an academic distraction, take heart: pounding on the controller can now help pay for college.

Last fall, Robert Morris University in Chicago became the first college in the US to make competitive gaming ­ or “e-sports” ­ a varsity sport, and offer athletic scholarships for players. “My parents were always telling me to get off the Xbox,” says Jonathan Lindahl, a freshman e-sports player at Robert Morris. “So I’m really rubbing it in their faces.”

At Robert Morris, video game scholarships can be worth up to half of tuition and housing, or $19,000. What’s more, since the NCAA doesn’t regulate e-sports, they’re not bound by the rules of amateurism. A couple of Robert Morris players, for example, recently played in a semi-pro tournament and each earned around $1,000. Want to get paid as a college athlete? Stay on the Xbox.

Robert Morris spent $100,000 ­and received help from video game sponsors ­ to retrofit a classroom into a full-fledged gaming hub with hi-tech monitors, headsets, and chairs. The players look a bit like fighter pilots, and play League of Legends, a five-on-five battle game popular among college students. The top Robert Morris team has qualified for Sweet 16 of the North American Collegiate Championship (NACC), which starts on March 28: traditional sports powers like Michigan, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M are also in the mix. The “Final Four” will be held in Los Angeles in early May. Each member of the winning team will receive $30,000 in scholarship money.

A sure sign that college video games are like traditional sports: one member of the Robert Morris squad, freshman Adrian Ma, 18. left the school in November to join a pro team. “The opportunity was too good to pass up,” says Ma. A second school, the University of Pikeville in Kentucky, will offer e-sports scholarships this fall. For gamers, March Madness has indeed arrived.

TIME Television

The Winklevoss Twins Will Have a Cameo in the New Season of Silicon Valley

Winklevoss Twins Facebook Settlement Appeal Begins
Noah Berger—Bloomberg/Getty Images Cameron Winklevoss, right, and his twin brother Tyler leave a federal appeals court in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011.

The Bitcoin investors who once accused Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea for Facebook will play themselves

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have already been portrayed onscreen once, but this time around they will be playing themselves.

The twin brothers, famous for suing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over claims that the social network was their idea, will have a cameo in the second season of HBO comedy Silicon Valley, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The Winklevoss twins, now big investors in Internet crypto-currency Bitcoin, and were portrayed as characters in 2010 film The Social Network where they were both played by Armie Hammer.

In Silicon Valley, however, they will be appearing as themselves, although it is unclear how they will intersect with the show’s fictional tech start-up Pied Piper and its five founders, who are the central characters.

The show has incorporated several celebrities from the technology sphere, with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, Re/code editor-in-chief Kara Swisher and even Google chairman Eric Schmidt making appearances in its inaugural season.

HBO recently said Evan Spiegel, creator of the photo-sharing app Snapchat, will also have a cameo in the second season.

[THR]

TIME Companies

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook Has Plans to Give Away All His Wealth

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook smiles after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. announced the new MacBook as well as more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment as well (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Stephen Lam—2015 Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook attends an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, on March 9, 2015

“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change”

After paying for his 10-year-old nephew’s college tuition, Apple CEO Tim Cook says, he plans on leaving all his wealth — which today amounts to $120 million — to good causes.

But he won’t simply be writing checks. In an in-depth profile piece featured in the April 1 issue of Fortune magazine, Cook says he wants to approach philanthropy with a coherent, thoughtful, game plan.

“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change,” he told Fortune.

To read the entire profile of Tim Cook, click here.

TIME Smartphones

Review: The S6 Edge Is One Of Samsung’s Best-Looking Phones Ever

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But the two curved edges may not be worth the extra money

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This post is in partnership with Trusted Reviews. The article below was originally published at TrustedReviews.com.

When I picked the S6 Edge up a few weeks ago at Samsung’s launch event in Barcelona I was divided by the smartphone with the two curved screen edges. This is one of the best looking phones Samsung has built and it’s something the Korean company should be truly proud of.

From a practicality point of view and knowing how expensive the S6 Edge is going to be, I remain unconvinced two curved edges is really worth the extra money you’ll have to pay over the Galaxy S6.

My initial reaction on the design hasn’t really changed. The Gorilla Glass 4 back marries well with the screen and doesn’t have any of the slippery issues I’ve encountered with Sony’s flagship. It’s slim at 7mm thick and weighs just 132g so it’s lighter than the S6 and just ever so slightly thicker than Samsung’s other flagship, but not enough for you to notice. The buttons are well positioned and easy to reach while the improved Touch-ID style fingerprint technology packed into the home button are all welcome changes.

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Did Samsung have to make such a radical change with the design? I’m not so sure. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy A5 has since proved that small changes can make the world of difference and I would have been happy with something in the mould of Samsung’s most recent phones.

It’s holding the handset where I take issue with the S6 Edge. Everyone will inevitably experience the initial awkwardness gripping the Edge, especially when we are so used to feeling the smooth metal trim of an iPhone or One M8. Unlike the Note Edge, the curved screen is now on both sides and is less prominent curving inwards into the body. It feels strange to hold and not as comfortable as the curved body on the LG G Flex 2, which sits more naturally in my hand. Some will inevitably grow accustomed to it, but I’m not the biggest fan.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs S6 Edge: What’s different?

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I have less of an issue with the decision to abandon a removable back and removable 2,800mAh battery to accommodate a sleeker, slimmer design but it’s the missing microSD card support that’s surprising. Samsung has decided to take the Apple approach by offering three storage options. However, there’s only a 64GB and 12GB models for the S6 Edge where the S6 has a cheaper 32GB option.

Something Samsung is really nailing is its smartphone screens. The Note 4 is one of the best phone screens I’ve seen and the S6 Edge builds on that with its 5.1-inch ‘2K’ QHD AMOLED screen. That sees a move from 1080p Full HD resolution to a 1,440 x 2,560 resolution with an impressive 577 PPI pixel density. It’s a gorgeous screen with great vibrancy, sharpness and delivers those deep blacks for movie watching. Compared to the HTC One M9’s screen, it’s certainly brighter and colors are more vivid. Both phone have great displays but the S6 Edge edges it for opting to include something more innovative. As a bonus, Samsung is also introducing a Gear VR headset that’s compatible with the S6 Edge and the S6, which should be launching some time this year.

Read more: Samsung Gear VR headset for S6 and S6 Edge hands-on

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Away from the main screen are those curved edges. This builds on the design featured on the Galaxy Note Edge only this time you can assign features to either edge. Samsung has pared back some of the modes featured on the Note Edge for a simpler integration with the operating system, but has kept elements like the Information Stream. I’ve gone into detail about the uses of the curved screen on the S6 Edge and while some of the uses are clearly very gimmicking and likely to be untouched by most, there’s some that do add nice touches. Like the Lighting and the People Edge modes which can be combined to uses different colors to indicate when assigned contacts are trying to get in touch. The night clock mode is handy as well but the swiping gesture required to view notifications and information streams is temperamental.

Samsung has made some positive changes to its software. The S6 Edge runs on the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop with TouchWiz on top and the bloatware has finally been stripped back. Kid Mode, S Health, S Voice, and S Planner are there as well as, oddly, a Microsoft Apps folder. You can still swipe all the way to the left for the Magazine UX, but that’s about it. Samsung is also adding its Samsung Pay platform powered by the acquisition of LoopPay. Most importantly, Samsung has listened and kept bloatware to a bare minimum. Finally.

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One of the big talking points with Samsung’s flagship phone launch is the decision to move from the Snapdragon-based processing power used on the S5 for the Korean company’s own custom built 64-bit Exynos octo-core chipset to sit alongside 3GB of RAM and a Mali-T760 GPU. The cores are not all utilized at the same time, but dedicated to different tasks to offer a more power-efficient performance. The big difference here with the Snapdragon 810 is the 14nm manufacturing process, compared to 20nm for the 810. In theory this makes the chip more efficient, though it bears closer inspection in real world use.

Read more: Octa core vs Quad core: What’s the difference?

General navigation is very positive. There’s no signs of lag, which is helped by the more streamlined TouchWiz UI and gaming holds up as well. Running the Geekbench 3 scores against the S5 and the One M9, you can get an idea of the kind of upgrade this is on last year’s flagship and how it compares to HTC’s flagship running on the new Snapdragon 810 chipset.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge benchmark scores
Geekbench 3 multi-core score: 4,152
Ice Storm Unlimited score: 21,829

Samsung Galaxy S5 benchmark scores
Geekbench 3 multi-core score: 3,029
Ice Storm Unlimited score: 19, 523

HTC One M9 benchmark scores
Geekbench 3 multi-core score: 3,800
Ice Storm Unlimited score: 21,625

What the numbers suggest is that the S6 Edge is great deal more powerful than its predecessor and also comfortably outscores the One M9 at least in the multi-core benchmark tests. In the Ice Storm tests, which analyses graphical rendering and how well the phone copes when the CPU is overloaded, there’s not as much between them. Ultimately, the S6 Edge is a powerful phone and should be one and the decision to abandon Qualcomm might not be a bad decision after all.

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Moving to the camera and the S5 has arguably one of the best all-round cameras out of the 2014 flagships and the same can similarly be said of the Note 4, which inherited the same optical image stabilization. The S6 Edge matches the S6 for camera features with a 16-megapixel main camera and five-megapixel front-facing camera both with f/1.9 lenses to improve low light shooting. That’s aided by the inclusion of optical image stabilization and a new real-time HDR mode. For video, you can shoot at a maximum 4K resolution, but like the HTC One M9 and the LG G Flex 2, you can only shoot for five minutes at a time.

I’ve had some time to take a few sample shots up close and from a distance against the S5 in good lighting conditions to give you an idea of how it compares. As the images show below, there doesn’t appear to be a significant upgrade in image quality. You still get good levels of sharpness, vibrant, accurate colours and not too much noise. The real improvements should be more apparent in low-light shooting, which will be covered more extensively in the full review.

S5 vs S6 Edge: Close-up image samples

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S5 vs S6 Edge: Landscape image samples

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Read more: Where can I buy the Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 Edge?

Early Verdict

The S6 Edge is undeniably going to be the more memorable of Samsung’s two flagships. While one looks like an iPhone imitator, the other is trying to offer something radically different. The curved edged screen from a design and practicality perspective is still very unconvincing and I don’t think everyone will like how it feels to hold and use. Dropping micro SD card support is disappointing as well while I’m intrigued to see what the battery life is made of and hope it performs better than the One M9 in general day-to-day use.

What’s more concerning is the price of the S6 Edge. It’s going to be one of the most expensive phones on the market whether you buy it SIM-free or on a monthly contract. It’s going to be a hard sell justifying paying significantly more than it costs to buy an S6 or pretty much any other flagship phone currently available for a nicer-looking curved screen. Where the 32GB S6 cost $679.92 from T-Mobile, the 64GB S6 Edge costs a massive $779.76. If Samsung decides to introduce a 32GB model then it this could be the more desirable of the Samsung flagships, but right now, it’s going to be an expensive investment.

For the original article, please go to TrustedReviews.com.

Read next: You’ll Be Freaked Out to Learn How Often Your Apps Share Your Location

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TIME Companies

See What Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls ‘The Mother of All Products’

Apple Campus 2 Tim Cook
City of Cupertino Concept art of the main building of Apple's new Cupertino campus.

It's literally groundbreaking

“The mother of all products,” according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, isn’t a new device — but it is high-tech.

The “Apple Campus 2,” the working name for Apple’s under-construction new corporate campus, will unite all of Apple’s technology and artistic capabilities, Cook told Fortune in an exclusive interview published Thursday.

The Cupertino campus — “I hate the word ‘headquarters’ … It isn’t overhead, and we’re not bureaucrats,” says Cook — brings cutting-edge technology to even the most basic tasks. Parking, for example, will be facilitated by sensors and apps so employees don’t have to waste time or gas finding a spot.

Meanwhile, Apple is settling only for a perfect design, including mocking up entire parts of the campus, then tearing them down if they’re not satisfactory — a luxury of being a $700 billion company. Other elements of Apple Campus 2 include an underground, 1,000-seat auditorium so the company’s popular product announcements can be on Apple’s own turf and schedule.

The project’s existence has been known for years — the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs spent much of his last two years planning the campus — but never ceases to amaze Apple followers. Many people have even flown drones to get a bird’s eye view of the construction, set to be completed by the end of 2016.

Here’s what Apple Campus 2 looked like earlier this month:

Click here to read the rest of Fortune’s profile of Tim Cook, whom Fortune named No. 1 on its list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.”

TIME Careers & Workplace

This Surprising Trait Can Get You Fired at Apple

Apple Tim Cook Cultural Fit Fired
Stephen Lam—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook waves from stage after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, Calif.

CEO Tim Cook explains why he lets some people go

There’s one thing that will make or break you at Apple: cultural fit.

In an exclusive interview with Fortune published Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook says that it took him some time to learn the importance of cultural fit after he fired John Browett in 2013 just one month after the European electronics exec had been appointed Apple’s head of retail.

Browett, according to Apple execs, didn’t fit in at Apple, and frequently angered store employees by changing their schedules. After being fired from Apple, Browett said in a speech that he was shocked that he was let go due to not fitting in with company culture, even though he was qualified for the position.

As Cook explained to Fortune, it’s all about people skills:

That was a reminder to me of the critical importance of cultural fit, and that it takes some time to learn that. [As CEO], you’re engaged in so many things that each particular thing gets a little less attention. You need to be able to operate on shorter cycles, less data points, less knowledge, less facts. When you’re an engineer, you want to analyze things a lot. But if you believe that the most important data points are people, then you have to make conclusions in relatively short order. Because you want to push the people who are doing great. And you want to either develop the people who are not or, in a worst case, they need to be somewhere else.

Of course, that isn’t the only way to get fired at Apple. Tim Cook hasn’t been afraid to toss even high-ranking employees if they make mistakes. When Apple Maps flopped, for example, Cook fired Scott Forstall, the head of mobile software.

Read the rest of Fortune’s profile of Tim Cook here.

TIME Management

6 Charts Showing Tech’s Gender Gap Is More Complicated Than You Think

See why it's so hard to break the glass ceiling in Silicon Valley

 

Several of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have released a series of diversity reports revealing how few women held the companies’ top jobs — or jobs in general. Now a recent string of lawsuits is suggesting that the fix isn’t simply to recruit more women — what about the women who are already employed? Are they being held back from rising up?

That’s the key question in investing partner-turned-Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s ongoing lawsuit against her former employer, Kleiner Perkins, a highly-established venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California. The jury in Pao’s case began hearing closing arguments this week, and will soon decide whether it was gender bias that prevented Pao from being promoted to a higher-ranking partner, or, as Kleiner Perkins’ lawyer argued, whether Pao is simply “[blaming] others for her own failures.”

Adding to the scrutiny of Silicon Valley’s treatment of women are two other high-profile gender discrimination lawsuits against Twitter and Facebook, both recently filed by former female employees.

A gender gap in the workplace, particularly in Silicon Valley, is old news. But Kleiner Perkins isn’t kind of Silicon Valley company we’re used to hearing about. By suing a venture capital firm, Pao raises a important point — the gender gap could be a problem at the firms that are often funding Valley companies, too. (In addressing this claim, Kleiner Perkins said in a trial brief last month it has “long been a supporter of women entrepreneurs.”)

According to a report by Babson College in 2013, gender bias reveals itself in the patterns of venture capital investments. (The study was sponsored by Ernst & Young and the Diana Project, both of which prioritize workforce diversity.) Upon analyzing these patterns, the study found that businesses with all-male leadership teams are four times as likely to receive venture capital funding as teams with even one woman.

That apparent gender bias might explain why only 3% of venture-funded businesses are led by women, according to Babson College’s report, which surveyed 6,517 of these businesses. About one-third of all U.S. businesses are led by women, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration:

 

Curiously, the percentage of female venture capital investors (11%) is almost equal to the percentage of female executives among Silicon Valley’s Top 150 companies (10.8%) — though this is merely a correlation. (These data points come respectively from the latest Venture Census and a 2014 report by Fenwick & West LLP, a global law firm with clients including Facebook and Google.)

Even if these two gender gaps are wholly unrelated, it’s still worth noting that Silicon Valley appears to have an especially pronounced gender diversity problem when compared to the S&P 100. The S&P 100 is a non-industry specific stock index comprised of companies with the 100 leading U.S. stocks, many of which are outside Silicon Valley:

 

So it’s an undeniable truth that Silicon Valley has a gender diversity problem. But the question of whether the gap has started to close is a bit trickier.

Take, for example, the following chart from Fenwick’s report. It shows the percentage of women in the highest-ranking positions in Valley’s top 150 companies (“SV 150″) between 1996 and 2014. By looking at the upward trends, you could say that gender diversity in Silicon Valley has improved:

But don’t jump to any conclusions. Once again, when you compare the SV 150 to the S&P 100 benchmark, gender diversity in the Valley appears to be problematic. Take a look at the following chart, which shows the top Valley companies had lower percentages of women than the S&P 100 in every single leadership position except President/COO and General Counsel in 2014:

There’s yet another caveat: If you examine only the very top Valley companies, the gender diversity problem is cast in a much better light. After all, Google just named a female CFO this week, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman are proof of change among tech titans.

The chart below shows gender diversity in the Valley’s top 15 companies (“SV15″), like Google and HP, has rapidly improved. Female representation was remarkably strong in a several positions in 2014, including President/COO and CFO. But other positions, like Chair, were still entirely male in 2014 — just like in 1996:

These mixed messages regarding the depth of Silicon Valley’s gender problem are surfacing on both sides of Pao’s trial. Kleiner Perkins’ lawyers, for example, argued that 20% of its partners are women. That’s much higher than the average of 6%, according to Babson College’s report, which surveyed 139 venture capital firms’ partners in 2013. Kleiner Perkins’ top ranking female partner, Mary Meeker, even testified against Pao, arguing the company promoted women based on their merits.

But Pao, too, had an arsenal of numbers at the ready. In addition to qualitative evidence of gender bias — like claims of all-male dinner parties — Pao’s legal team also cited the superior performance of investments made by the company’s female investors, including Pao. A female partner at Kleiner Perkins once reportedly even constructed a matrix comparing women’s and men’s investments to drive this point home.

The jury in Pao’s trial will soon put an end to these arguments — but the gender gap debate will surely continue outside the courtroom. Even if the jury sides with Kleiner Perkins, Pao’s closely watched trial remains a warning for the larger, male-dominated business industry to reevaluate the treatment of women in their companies. There’s a business incentive at play here, too: Companies with female leaders appear to be performing unusually well, according to a recent study of women-led companies by Karen Rubin, director of product management at the algorithm development site Quantopian. In her study, Rubin showed how the women-led Fortune 1000 companies — there are only 27 currently — posted greater cumulative returns than those of SPY, a tracker of the S&P 500 stock index, which Rubin used as a benchmark:

Women Leader Fortune 1000

In fact, it seems that these female-run companies have outperformed the male-dominated benchmark even more often since the financial crisis of 2008-09. That’s a gender gap to be proud of — and one that can’t be ignored.

Read next: 5 Best Ways Men Can #LeanInTogether to Help Women Get Ahead

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TIME Music

This Is Apple’s Plan to Kill Spotify

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Michael Buckner—WireImage Producer Dr. Dre (L) and Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records Jimmy Iovine attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival VIP After Party held at Gold Lounge on Sept. 23, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Apple is planning a new music service following the Beats acquisition

Spotify’s biggest battle is no longer with Taylor Swift.

Apple is working with headphone maker Beats to launch a new subscription-based music service to rival the highly popular Spotify, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing people briefed on the company’s plans. Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion last May,

The new streaming service will overhaul Apple’s iTunes Radio, which failed to achieve mainstream success, and Beats Music, Beats’ streaming service that has challenged Spotify in service quality, but not in subscription numbers. Heavily involved in the project are Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails frontman and former Beats exec, in addition to Beats’ cofounders, hip hop producer Dr. Dre and record label exec Jimmy Iovine.

Unlike Spotify, Apple will not offer a free tier in its streaming service. The paid-only nature will likely ease music executives’ concerns that free music discourages users from purchasing subscriptions. The decision may also appeal to artists who have voiced their opposition to free streaming, including Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and The Black Keys, all of whom are not on Spotify.

Sources also told the Times that Apple, once considered the undisputed leader in music sales with iTunes, had recently failed to convince record labels to agree to a subscription cost of $8 per month, which would be $2 less than the price of Spotify’s paid tier.

Apple has kept its plans for Beats secret since the acquisition, though music industry experts have long speculated that CEO Tim Cook planned to use Beats’ talent to revamp Apple’s music platform offerings. Though TechCrunch reported in September that Beats would be discontinued and folded into Apple, Apple soon denied the claims, but provided no further information.

[NYT]

Read next: Streaming Music Showdown: Spotify vs. Beats

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TIME Amazon

Why Amazon Is Hosting a $25,000 Robot Showdown

Amazon Opens Fulfillment Center In DuPont, Washington
Stephen Brashear—Getty Images Amazon Kiva robots, which help fill orders by bringing shelves of merchandise to Amazon Associates, navigate an Amazon Fulfillment Center on February 13, 2015 in DuPont, Washington.

One small step for robots, one giant leap for warehouse automation

Some 25 teams will compete in Amazon’s upcoming robot throwdown, a competition that will test the outer limits of what a robot can see, grasp and pack into a cardboard box.

The e-commerce giant recently awarded travel grants to 25 robot team finalists who will be flown to Seattle this May to compete in Amazon’s Picking Challenge. Each team’s robot will be confronted with a shelf of 25 common household items. It will have to accurately identify, grasp and package the items with care.

Points will be awarded for computer vision — the ability to tell apart a box of Oreo cookies, for instance, from a box of Cheez-It crackers — as well as dexterity. Dropping or damaging an item will result in points deducted, MIT Technology Review reports. The winner will receive $25,000 in prize money.

Robots already play an instrumental role in Amazon’s packaging centers, ferrying 700-pound inventory shelves in and out of storage, but the challenges of handling individual objects with care has posed a persistent challenge for researchers. Amazon says it hopes the contest will “strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities and promote shared and open solutions.”

TIME apps

Crush Your Fantasy Draft With These 9 Baseball Apps

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Seven
Jamie Squire—Getty Images The San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tap into some Moneyball-level sabermetrics with only your smartphone

It might not look like baseball season yet depending on where you live, but Spring Training is about to wrap up, which means the boys of summer will soon be headed north.That means fans are hunkering down in their basements for their fantasy baseball draft.

But rather than lugging a laptop and piles of rotisserie guides to the big event, download some of these apps to your tablet or smartphone instead. Designed from the ground up to help you build a powerhouse fantasy franchise, they’re all you need to dominate your league this year.

DraftValet

Behind every great manager, there’s a great bench coach, whispering sage advice into their ear. But if you don’t have a real-world guru to turn to, this app offers a network of experts to tap for advice. DraftValet starts off by asking for details about your league and team, and then lets you ask anything you please, like which starter would be better in a head-to-head matchup, or what position players would DraftValet’s experts stick with in a keeper league. You can also browse other users’ questions and keep an eye out for trending topics — an important feature for sniffing out up-and-coming players and sleeper picks.

DraftValet is available for free on the App Store.

FantasyPros Mock Draft

Practice makes perfect, and with this simulator you’ll be plenty ready to pick a winner come draft day. Simply plug in your league’s variables, including the amount of teams, draft position, and roster settings (which includes the default modes for CBS, ESPN, and National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues), and the app breaks down likely scenarios.

An easy-to-access cheat sheet pulls up players’ numbers from last year, their average stats from the previous three seasons, and a 2015 projection, giving you quality information to make your picks. And the app’s artificial intelligence works blazingly fast, which gives you more time to make your own selections, and ample opportunity to hone your draft strategies over and over.

FantasyPros Mock Draft is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MLB.com At Bat

Get a steady stream of baseball news, stats, and scores straight from the tap with Major League Baseball’s official app. While it’s free to download, the league has several different ways of getting in your wallet, all depending on how connected to the game you want to be. But to get the most breaking news of on- and off-the-field action, no other app out-pitches this ace. With scores, news, and stats aplenty, it is a must-download for fantasy fans and baseball buffs alike. And with paid subscriptions you can also listen to or watch live game broadcasts — something the saltiest of scouts do everyday, so you should, too.

MLB.com At Bat is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MLB PrePlay

For the pros and fantasy players alike, Major League Baseball’s 162-game regular season is a big commitment, if not a full-on slog. If you don’t have time to dedicate to engaging in a full-on fantasy league, this prediction-based game is a great backup. Pitting you 1-on-1 with a real-life opponent, one inning at a time, Preplay is all about predicting the next play. So if you’re the kind of fan who likes to call the action before it happens, this app is a great second-screen companion. And with weekly challenges and power-ups, there’s plenty to keep the game interesting, even if it’s moving slow on the field.

MLB PrePlay is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MiLB First Pitch

If you want to catch the next star before he’s even been given a locker with the pros, download this little brother to MLB.com At Bat. A free app that covers at least 160 minor league squads, MiLB First Pitch features a steady feed of scores, news, and stats that’s nearly identical to the big league app (in more ways than one — so be prepared to pay for access to the service’s higher-tier offerings, like video streams of live and on-demand games). Still, with intense coverage of the minors, this is the most in-depth way to follow prospects before you add them to your fantasy team.

MLB.com At Bat is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

OwnersBox

Designed specifically for fantasy sports fanatics, OwnersBox is a high-powered scout in your pocket, keeping tabs on all your players. With a highly customizable notifications system, the app can send you an alert when one of your player makes news, gets injured, or even every time he is about to dig into the batter’s box. OwnersBox also has a comprehensive list of reports that can help you find hot players and dump cold ones. These reports drill down into nearly every statistic going, ideal if you’re in a league that scores using a variety of categories. And when October comes, OwnersBox is still a keeper, because with NFL, NBA, and NHL stats, it’s a four-sport fantasy tool.

OwnersBox is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups by RotoBaller

With daily-updated analysis, RotoBaller’s app breaks down individual players not just from a historic, statistical perspective, but also by looking at the business realities and lineups around them, providing position-by-position insight on draft day sleepers. In addition, the app tells you which rounds you should consider drafting these players, because there’s nothing more amateurish than going all-in on a fringe player early in your draft. And then, once you get your team in shape, the app is great for browsing to fill out the holes in your lineup.

RotoBaller is available for free on the App Store.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit 2015

Forget your blank roster sheets, notebooks, or even those custom-made Excel spreadsheets you’ve been using for ages. This app, compatible with both smartphones and tablets, is designed to take the bulk out of your research — and better yet, it dynamically adjusts to your league settings and the players currently available. Featuring projections for 2015 statistics, but able to import the settings of your 2014 league (great for dynasty leagues), the Draft Kit provides projected dollar values for player auctions, as well as recent news and analysis. And with an improved interface over previous Rotowire Draft Kits, now you can just swipe players from your cheat sheet onto the teams that landed them — a huge draft day time saver.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit 2015 is available for $7.99 on the App Store and $4.99 on Google Play.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Assistant 2015

Compatible with both iPhones and iPads, this hub of rotisserie baseball activity will let you import your league from various services, including ESPN and Yahoo, to keep tabs on your players with stat leaderboards, daily lineups, player rankings, and more. The app’s personalized section is also a great place to follow your players’ news, or manage watch lists for players that you’re thinking of adding. And the app also comes with access to the solid RotoWire research, which is otherwise blocked off unless you have a subscription to the website.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Assistant 2015 is available for $9.99 on the App Store.

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