TIME People

Silicon Valley CEO David Goldberg Mourned by Friends and Colleagues

Mark Zuckerberg, Arianna Huffington and others have posted on social media about the beloved CEO

People are taking to social media to express their shock and condolences over the sudden death of David Goldberg, SurveyMonkey CEO and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted on the social networking site, saying Goldberg “was an amazing person and I’m glad I got to know him.”

Arianna Huffington said she was “blessed to get to know him through his beloved wife Sheryl and to see firsthand what an amazing father, son, innovator, and caring friend he was.”

Others tweeted their remembrances as well:

And many more are putting their thoughts and photos on Goldberg’s Facebook page, which is what his brother Robert requested when he confirmed news of Goldberg’s death.

TIME People

Silicon Valley CEO David Goldberg, Husband of Sheryl Sandberg, Dies Suddenly

He is survived by his wife, Sheryl Sandberg, and their two children

David Goldberg, Silicon Valley CEO and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, died suddenly Friday night.

The 47-year-old CEO of SurveyMonkey died of undetermined causes, according to reports. Goldberg’s brother, Robert Goldberg, shared the news on Facebook.

“It’s with incredible shock and sadness that I’m letting our friends and family know that my amazing brother, Dave Goldberg, beloved husband of Sheryl Sandberg, father of two wonderful children, and son of Paula Goldberg, passed away suddenly last night,” Robert Goldberg wrote Saturday afternoon.

The post details how the family would like fans and friends of Goldberg to honor him: “In lieu of donations, we want to celebrate his life in a manner that respects the family’s privacy as they cope with this tragic, life changing event: Sheryl, their children, and our family would be grateful if people would post their memories and pictures of Dave to his Facebook profile.”

TIME Smartphones

HTC’s Lead Designer Explains How Smartphones Get Made

htc-one-m9-global-phone-listing
HTC HTC One M9

"You can make the wildest predictions, but it will always surpass your imagination"

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TrustedReviews sat down with Daniel Hundt, HTC’s passionate Creative Director and now Lead Designer, to ask him about the design of HTC’s latest flagship – the HTC One M9. He explains honest design, how materials affect the process and why the world isn’t yet ready for modular phones.

Trusted Reviews: What’s changed on the One M9 and why?

Hundt: A common question we get is: “Why does it look similar to the One M8 and M7?” It’s really important for us that we keep the lineage. We’ve built a strong brand with the One and we want to continue that strong DNA. I tell my team all the time that we need discipline – we can’t get bored of what we’re doing, we have to stay true to who we are what we feel is HTC. We have to keep what’s good and improve on what’s not working.

We’re always striving to make the perfect product. Sometimes we’re pretty close, other times we’re further away, but we always seek greatness combined with consistency.

What we did with the M8 was shrink down the size to make it more pocketable and feel better in your hand. We made the M8 rounder than the M7 to attract more female customers, but also to make it more ergonomic. One interesting thing that we learned from making it round was that, as you use it, the texture changes, so it becomes more slippery. People said, “Hey, it’s really hard to hold, can you guys go back to something that has a little more of an edge feel?”. We ended up with something in between the M7 and M8 because that’s what people want.

How do you decide what materials to make a phone out of?

Craftsmanship is really important to us. When we talk about our products, we talk about our inspiration. We think of ourselves as makers – like shoemakers, watchmakers, instrument makers – and get inspired by attention to detail. That’s the level of perfection that we try to apply.

The HTC One M9 is a premium phone, a premium device, with premium materials. We invested heavily in making a phone with a metal unibody and bringing that to life, and over the last three years we’ve been looking to improve that.

On the M7 we had a metal unibody with some plastic on the sides. We improved the design on the M8 where we had 95% metal content. As competitors started to catch up it was important that we push ourselves again and bring the metal finish, and the way we work with metal, to another level. That’s why we introduced not just the dual tone, but also the dual finish – two processes in one phone.

First we machine the back from one block of aluminum – 95% of the aluminum gets machined away, but of course we recycle that into new blocks. Then we anodize it and then machine it again, treat the edge and put another really fine hairline and anodize it again. It’s a pretty crazy process and one of the reasons I love working for HTC is that we’re doing those things.

We sit down with our CEO and present ideas we feel have a consumer benefit and people really love. If we present an opportunity that can make a real emotional connection with the user, then we go for it, and I really think as a company we have our heart in the right place. We think about the consumer before the bottom line.

You use metal for the One M9, but do other materials provide more design benefits?

Whenever you deal with a conductive material like metal, you have to deal with the antennas so the phone almost designs itself. There’s a beauty in that. As a designer you sort of guide the process rather than trying to shape it into what you want. You’re almost not designing it as a designer, you’re there to guide the process rather than to try to steer it. You have to let go of control and let the material and technology do its thing, and you just make sure it stays on track. It’s a fascinating process.

Can a flagship phone made of plastic ever compete with the likes of the metal One M9?

No. You’ve seen other brands play in that space before [with phones] that were completely made out of plastic and tricked people into thinking they had a metal frame. Obviously the market has shown that you can be successful if you put enough marketing knowledge behind it, but I fundamentally believe that’s the wrong thing to do. When we use a material, we want to be honest about it. We try not to fake things; we’re totally against that.

So the problem isn’t plastic, the problem is making plastic look like another material?

Yes. That’s bottom-line thinking. You take the cheapest available material and then you try to make it look like something else. Fundamentally I don’t agree with that. When you show a person a product in a picture you’re giving them a promise, and I think you have to be true to yourself. If you tell them that you’re going to give them metal, you give them metal. If you want to give them a different material then you have to be honest about that as well. Plastic can be beautiful, it’s a matter of how you use a moulding technology to bring it to a new level, like we’ve done with the Desire Eye and Desire 820.

Do you think some manufacturers compromise battery life too much in the pursuit of thinness?

Yes, but we don’t look at what other people do and how they make trade-offs. For us it’s about finding the right balance. We study that a lot. You wouldn’t believe how many mock-ups of the HTC One M9 we have with different batteries in. We put everything on the table and think about battery life and see what effect it will have on the form factor and make those smart tradeoffs. We don’t just say “this is the battery it has to have.” We do tons of mockups and put ourselves in the role of the consumer and decide what will really benefit them.

It’s very tempting to play the spec game, but we try not to get ourselves caught up in that. What’s the user benefit to have a phone 0.1 or 0.2mm thinner? It’s a strong statement to say you have the thinnest phone available, but we try not to get caught up in that.

What will the phone of 2020 look like?

I stopped making predictions so far out. Just looking back in the history of mobile phones, technology exceeds your imagination. You can make the wildest predictions, but it will always surpass your imagination.

What about modular phones then? Will they ever be as successful or be as good as a well-designed all-in-one phone?

It might be as technology advances. It’s about tradeoffs. If you have something modular you have wall thicknesses to consider. Once technology reaches a certain size why wouldn’t it be successful?

I don’t think it’s marketable yet, though. I think the tradeoffs on an everyday level for a product like that, because of its size, mean it’s not justifiable yet. It’s more for novelty’s sake. It’s very interesting and it will happen, but technology has to adapt.

[Making a modular phone] is similar to choosing a material for a phone. You will have to guide the process. Technology will set the rules, the outline, and our job as designers is to create a function by which those rules are applied. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in that space. I’m not clawing onto the fact that this [One M9] has to be in this package or sit in this form. If there’s a consumer benefit then we’ll look at it.

How are bezel-free designs and curved and flexible screens going to change the design of phones going forward?

Well, the bezel-free design we’re all driving for has a clear consumer benefit, which is size. You have maximum screen-to-form ratio and that’s something I’m really excited about.

Curved displays always take me back to the question of consumer benefit. Is it just for novelty’s sake, is it to be interesting, have something to talk about, or does it have a long-lasting benefit to the user?

At the moment where do you think curved displays sit?

I haven’t seen an application yet where it’s for true user benefit. So far, curved screens are for novelty’s sake.

What makes a design stand the test of time and can another truly iconic phone ever be made with annual refresh cycles?

I don’t see this as a limit. It’s important for us to have discipline. We felt like we had something special when we were working on the HTC One M7 three years ago, the first completely unibody phone with the strong iconic look. As a design team we felt we’d found something. This is HTC moving on. We want to maintain that.

It’s important for us to have the discipline and not react to the marketing team saying, “Hey, we need something new, we need to be the thinnest.” We want to keep what’s good and what’s recognizable for us and work on the elements that don’t work so well for us.

If you have an icon and create something good, you should hone it and refine it rather than doing something revolutionary.

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

TIME Software

See How Presidents Age in the White House, According to Microsoft

Perhaps no job can add gray hairs and wrinkles like serving as President of the United States. While Presidents do live longer than their fellow citizens (“Even in the 19th century, when the average man died at age 47, U.S. Presidents lived an average of 69 years,” according to Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy), their looks show the weight of the office famously quickly. But how fast? By using Microsoft’s new age-guessing tool how-old.net, released Thursday, we might be able to get an idea. While Barack Obama’s only been in office six years, judging by a photograph from 2009 and 2015, the wizards at Microsoft claim Obama’s looks have aged 13 years. George W. Bush, according to these two images, added nine years to his face during his eight years working in the Oval Office. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush worked in the White House for four years–and his face grew four years older too. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both served for 8 years. Clinton’s features clocked 15 years while Reagan added a mere 2 years onto his looks during the same stretch.

 

 

TIME Companies

Microsoft’s Crazy New Tech Totally Explains Why It Bought Minecraft

Key Speakers At The Microsoft Build Developer 2015 Conference
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Microsoft Corp. HoloLens augmented reality headset is demonstrated during a keynote session at the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

The $2.5 billion acquisition makes more sense given the HoloLens

Microsoft’s whopping $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang, the game maker behind Minecraft, left a few analysts scratching their heads last year, but that was before they had laid eyes on — or in — Microsoft’s HoloLens, an augmented reality headset can transform Minecraft’s virtual worlds into eye-popping 3-D holograms.

Microsoft offered a second demonstration of the game in holographic form at its annual Build developer’s conference this week. It revealed how easily players can take a landscape or a building they’ve already designed in the the game and convert it instantly into a 3-D floating hologram. Microsoft employees showed how one such design, a replica of Seattle’s Space Needle, made the leap to 3-D without a hitch, enabling them to scale the hologram to any size, turn it in the air and rest it on a real-world shelf, Business Insider reports.

The demonstration showed how Microsoft could convert Minecraft’s die hard fan base into HoloLens addicts. With more than 100 million active users, each with their own pre-fabricated designs, that’s a mighty big pool of potential customers for the new platform. Little by little, Microsoft’s vision for the $2.5 billion Minecraft acquisition is snapping into focus.

TIME Media

This Free Music Site Is Shutting Down Forever

Grooveshark folds following legal pressure from record labels

In the heyday of too-good-to-be-true free music streaming services, Grooveshark was one of the most popular. But on Thursday, the company said it was shutting down completely.

In a post on Grooveshark’s website, the streaming platform’s leaders apologized “without reservation” for offering free access to songs without securing licenses for the music from rights holders. The company is shuttering its site and deleting all music from its servers as part of a settlement reached with the major record labels.

Grooveshark users uploaded millions of songs to the website over the years and were able to stream them on-demand. The company’s business model drew the immediate ire of the music industry. A group of major record labels sued Grooveshark for copyright infringement back in 2011, and last week a New York federal judge ruled that the streaming service could be liable for more than $700 million in damages.

Grooveshark had tried to argue that its service mimicked YouTube, a platform where users upload unlicensed songs constantly. But YouTube has protocols in place to flag copyright-infringing content. Meanwhile, courts found Grooveshark was compelling its employees to upload popular songs to fill out the service’s catalog.

The death of Grooveshark illustrates how much the digital music landscape has changed this decade. Piracy has been tamped down considerably, while the most popular on-demand streaming service, Spotify, is owned in part by the record labels themselves. But with megastars like Taylor Swift and record label executives questioning the value of Spotify’s free, ad-supported tier, the days of easily accessible (and legal) free music could be numbered.

TIME Video Games

Watch the End of Fast & Furious 7 Recreated in Grand Theft Auto 5

The biggest game meets the biggest movie

Dramatic street races are already a key ingredient of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, so it’s a natural fit to see the game’s engine being used to recreate scenes from Fast & Furious 7.

An enterprising fan has re-imagined the Paul Walker tribute in Furious 7 within the world of GTA, complete with look-alike models of Walker and Vin Diesel (admittedly, though, Vin looks a bit too much like Lex Luthor).

Perhaps these two franchises should have an official crossover, given their huge blockbuster statuses. Furious 7 just passed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 to become the fourth highest-grossing movie ever globally, while GTA5 is one of the best-selling games of all time, having sold more than 45 million copies.

TIME innovations

Are Smartphone-Controlled Locks Worth Putting On Your House?

Kwikset Kevo
Kwikset Kwikset Kevo

It should be easier to unlock the full potential of Kwikset's Kevo smart lock

I’m no handyman, and I’m certainly not a locksmith. But as a newish homeowner — and one who delights in tinkering with smart home gear of all stripes — I’ve gotten pretty adept at some things around the house. One of which is changing out locks.

In fact, the first thing I did when the previous owners handed us the keys was toss them in the trash. Then I pulled out a Phillips head screwdriver and installed some Kwikset SmartKey locks, so one key would open all my various entries.

The Kwikset Kevo smart door lock also has SmartKey cylinders (it would be pretty dumb if it didn’t), but the Bluetooth-connected device goes a step further, eliminating keys altogether in favor of smartphone connectivity. I Installed the Kevo and gave it a whirl, and while I was initially excited about the product, in the end, it turned out to be less of a turnkey solution than I would have liked.

Design Challenges

I installed the Kevo on my side door, a deliberate choice based on a couple of factors. First, that’s the door I use the most. Second, Kevo makes sounds when used and has a bright LED ring around the keyhole. I didn’t want these obvious signals to broadcast my lock’s status to the sidewalk and beyond. Later, however, I discovered that disabling these indicators is as easy as flipping a switch. I only wish the rest of my experience with this lock went this easily.

While other connected door lock solutions are retrofits that slip on over the existing lock hardware (and admittedly, I have not reviewed them yet), Kwikset Kevo replaces the lock entirely, all the way down to the deadbolt. On one hand, you’d think that would make for a much more sturdy piece of hardware — and where it comes to the actual lock mechanism, it’s as smooth as anything on the market — but the overall casing is bulky, unwieldy, and has to be affixed to the door with a bracket.

In some ways, this is to be expected. But in others, it’s very disappointing. From the outside (other than the glowing LED ring) the lock looks like an everyday deadbolt. But on the interior side, the casing is tall and bulky because it has to accommodate not only the mechanisms to detect a Bluetooth-connected phone (or a fob, for use by those without smartphones) but also a battery pack big enough to hold four AA batteries. But in addition to that, there’s a lot of air in the device’s chassis. And in that air sits two wires. And in those two wires, I discovered one problem.

Installation Woes

Typically when reviewing a product, I don’t mention if the device brakes, so long as the manufacturer provides a replacement that works. Gadgets break all the time, and stores exchange the busted products just as affably as publicists do. But Kevo’s problems are the result of a design flaw, in my opinion, and as a result, I have to mention the fact that it took me two Kevos to make this lock work.

The problem begins with the fact that my side door has a nine-panel window, a common fixture for an entrance. This is worth noting because the Kevo’s large footprint on the door’s interior size made the lock extremely difficult to install. In particular, the lock is so wide that it ran into the molding around my window. And the device is constructed such that you have to slide a cover on and off in a very rough fashion to change the battery, pair the lock with new phone, or change the alert settings. The best comparison I can make is that sliding this cover on or off is like opening the battery panel on a children’s toy. With grooves on each side, the cover is designed to slide into place, but it’s not an inviting piece of hardware to open up.

In addition, the bracket that holds the lock hardware and battery casing to the door has a surprising amount of give. So much so that the entire device can swivel five degrees in either direction, even though its installed and working properly. This astounded me for a lock made by Kwikset, though I don’t believe it affected the overall security of the bolt or cylinder.

And finally, the biggest problem has to do with the two wires referenced above. Stretching from the lock’s exterior piece, into the door hole, through the bracket, and connecting to the battery and brain of the device, these wires are more-or-less loose, and installers (consumers, basically) should be very careful around them. Despite the installation instructions showing otherwise, one wire is taped down. I un-taped the wire on the first lock I had (thinking that I should because the instructions don’t show it to be fastened down), and it quickly and easily became detached from the lock’s circuitry. That’s why I had to send it back. The second time around, I was much more careful with this wire, and ultimately successful in installing the Kevo unit.

Everyday Use

Once I got Kevo up and running, everything operated without a hitch. The device connected with my iPhone 6 and my wife’s iPhone 5 perfectly. The only complaint that I had was going to be about Kevo’s pay-per-key eKey program, but it turns out I was wrong. A July 2014 update to the app and the lock’s firmware made the feature available to Kevo owners for free — a smart move because competing smart locks were also offering free keys for houseguests.

But I also made sure to physically set up my home’s house key with the SmartKey lock, just in case it managed to fail me sometime. And truth be told, I refuse to leave home without my keys, though arriving home and simply touching the lock with my phone in my pocket was a glorious convenience, especially with a baby in my arms or a leashed dog tugging me in all directions.

Still, something to note is that Kevo will not improve your home’s security. Crooks can still kick in your door, pick your deadbolt, or break your window. Actually they’ll be much less likely to hack your Bluetooth-connected lock than do any of these things, because its simply easier to use brute force than technological know-how to enter into a home. And not to be alarmist, but there’s no lock — connected or otherwise — that’s going to make you safer. These products don’t change the fundamental truth that locks only keep honest people out.

TIME Innovation

Meet the Inventor Behind Tech’s Weirdest New Product

Satya Nadella Launches Microsoft Build Conference
Stephen Lam—Getty Images Alex Kipman, technical fellow, operating system group at Microsoft, speaks on stage during the 2015 Microsoft Build Conference on April 29, 2015 at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.

Microsoft's HoloLens is an impressive augmented reality headset

Alex Kipman, Microsoft’s chief evangelist for the HoloLens, once again stole the show at Microsoft’s Build conference on Wednesday, urging developers to “move beyond devices, to move beyond screens and pixels and to move beyond today’s digital borders.” In a word: move to holograms already.

Hardly 100 days have passed since Kipman first emerged from a windowless lab beneath Microsoft’s Visitor Center and unveiled a new virtual reality headset to a stunned press corps. The HoloLens effectively projects 3-D holograms directly in front of the user in a seamless blend of fantasy and reality.

“We’ve worked on this program for years,” Kipman said at the time, “hiding in plain sight in the Microsoft visitor’s center.” In an instant, Kipman was vaulted from relative obscurity to one of Microsoft’s single most interesting employees.

The Brazilian-born software engineer joined Microsoft shortly after graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2001. He bounced from division to division before landing a career-defining role as “director of incubation” for the company’s Xbox department. There, he oversaw the development of Xbox Kinect, a motion-sensing device that turns the gamer’s body into a controller. It was an instant success, selling 1 million units in the first 10 days of its release in 2010. Kipman, barely past the age of 30, earned an honored place in TIME’s “Top 25 Nerds of the Year.”

Kinect cemented Kipman’s reputation as one of Microsoft’s resident fantasists, perpetually dissatisfied with the current state of computing. “Alex has a certain naiveté about what’s not possible,” said long-time colleague Peter Loforte in an interview on Microsoft’s official blog.

With his shoulder-length hair and penchant for graphic t-shirts, Kipman bears a passing resemblance to a new age guru. He calls programmers “dreamers” and draws inspiration from the Burning Man festival, “as cleansing creatively as you can get,” he told Fast Company. But in that same interview, he revealed an unrelenting work day, beginning at 7:00 am, bookended by several hours of “create” time and finishing anywhere between “10:00 pm to done.”

Kipman has railed against the way users interact with screens. “They have started to disappear into their devices,” he said in 2012, “real life is passing them by and they don’t even know it!” At that moment he was also overseeing a secret program at Microsoft to develop a holographic headset, codenamed “Project Baraboo.”

It was five years in the making, Kipman told Wired, and he summed up the effort as a very elaborate trick of the eye. “You essentially hallucinate the world,” he said to Wired, “or you see what your mind wants you to see.”

For more on Microsoft’s HoloLens, watch the video below:

TIME viral

Microsoft’s New Website Tries to Guess Your Age

Don't worry if it's a bit off

If you’ve ever wondered how old you look in pictures, Microsoft has just developed an addictive new website that offers the answer. The site, how-old.net, takes data from an uploaded image to determine the subject’s age and gender.

According to Microsoft’s Machine Learning blog, the project started as a simple experiment among Microsoft engineers. They were “playing around” with new face detection software and decided to ask a couple hundred people to try it out and tell them what they thought. Within hours, the experiment had reached 30,000 people curious about whether a simple Internet site could accurately read their face.

Using existing Microsoft APIs, or application program interfaces, the engineers combined a program that detects information about faces in a photograph with tools that embed search results and location data.

Don’t sweat it if the site gets your age wrong—different pictures elicit different results, so you can always try again.

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