TIME Video Games

Watch the Trailer for the Most Anticipated Star Wars Game in Years

Star Wars: Battlefront is due out this November

Star Wars: Battlefront, an upcoming large-scale multiplayer battle game set in the Star Wars universe, is due out for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on November 17.

Savvy Star Wars fans will notice that’s just about a month before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next installment in the saga’s film franchise. That isn’t an accident — according to Battlefront’s design director, the game will help bridge the story gap between Return of the Jedi and Awakens.

Watch the new trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront above. You can read more about the game here.

Read more: See the 5 Most Important Scenes in the New Star Wars Trailer

 

TIME Innovation

This Is How Tech Will Totally Change Our Lives by 2025

Get ready to sell your own data and use algorithms on the job

The ever-increasing hunger for data will fundamentally change the way we live our lives over the next decade. That’s according to a new report by the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit think tank that has released a set of five predictions for the ways tech will change the future.

Personal data will continue to be shared, bought and sold at an ever-quickening pace, perhaps with more benefits to consumers. In the future, people might be able to personally sell info about their shopping habits or health activities to retailers or pharmaceutical companies, according the report. The Internet of Things is also expected to continue to expand, with predictions that everything from cars to coffee cups will be connected to the Internet by 2025.

Increasingly sophisticated algorithms will help workers in knowledge fields such as law and medicine navigate large bundles of information. Automation could either enhance these jobs or replace them outright, depending on how different professional fields advance.

Multisensory digital communications will also become more common in the future. The Apple Watch, which sends notifications via a wrist tap and allows users to transfer the rhythm of their heartbeat to other watches, offers a peek at the way senses aside from sight and sound may be used to communicate.

Finally, privacy tools and technology will likely improve in response to the vast amounts of data that users are constantly sending and receiving from the cloud. Striking a balance between leveraging data to increase efficiency and protecting the privacy rights of individual users will be an ongoing tension in the coming years.

TIME Media

Forget TV — This Is the Best Streaming Service for Movies

HBO vs. Netflix vs. Amazon Prime vs. Hulu Plus

In the ongoing hubbub about online streaming services replacing traditional television, it’s easy to forget that these digital platforms are also home to a massive number of movies. Netflix, after all, began as an alternative to Blockbuster for renting DVDs, and HBO was known for showing recently released films before it became the home of gangsters and dragons.

For the movie buffs out there, we’ve combed the offerings of HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus to see which has the best film library. We’re trying to assess quality rather than quantity, so we’ve ranked the four services in three different categories: recent blockbusters, all-time classics and independent films.

These stats only reflect a snapshot of the different platofrms’ offerings as they stood on April 14, 2015. Streaming services are constantly swapping movies in and out as licensing contracts expire and new ones are struck. However, the data provides a good general perspective on which services are best for different types of films.

Recent Hits

HBO has a clear advantage when it comes to showing recent, popular films. Almost a quarter of the 50 top-grossing movies of 2013 and 2014 are currently available on its streaming services HBO Go and HBO Now, including The Lego Movie and X-Men: Days of Future Past. The standings are even more lopsided if you only consider 2014—HBO has 12 of the 50 highest-grossing movies from that year currently streaming, while Netflix has two and the other services have none.

HBO is trouncing its competitors here because it has several long-term deals with movie studios for the right to show films during the so-called “pay-TV window.” That’s a period of around eight months after a film’s theatrical release when it hits premium cable channels but isn’t yet being played on broadcast TV or basic cable. Netflix’s first major pay-TV window deal with Disney begins in 2016, at which point the streaming service’s movie library should improve significantly. However, HBO still has deals with sister company Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures.

All-Time Classics

Some people use movie streaming services as a way to rewatch old favorites or view culturally important films they’ve never seen. On this front, Netflix is the best service available, if we use the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 American films of all time as a proxy.

Thanks to the vastness of its library (and the affordability of nabbing licensing rights to old movies compared to newer ones), Netflix is a pretty good place to watch classic films. Hulu Plus is also a solid option thanks to its licensing deal to host the entire Criterion Collection, a selection of more than 800 classic films including Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and The Gold Rush. You’ll have to be patient to watch old movies on HBO, which has a limited selection and focuses mostly on newly released films.

Independent Films

Again, the vastness of Netflix’s library gives it an advantage here. The service has almost a third of the 30 highest-grossing independent movies of 2013 and 2014. Still, the other services have some notable exclusives, with HBO carrying Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is the highest-grossing film of the lot, and Amazon featuring both The Bling Ring and Spring Breakers.

TIME apps

This Is Microsoft’s Trick to Make Office Way Better on Smartphones

Microsoft

The next generation of Word, Excel and PowerPoint are more thumb-friendly

Microsoft has a theory that your workday splits precisely into two categories: Those moments when you’re sitting still in front of a screen 10.2 inches or above, and those moments when you’re on the go, holding a screen 10.1 inches or below. One-tenth of an inch, Microsoft says, has a profound impact on the way you work.

Microsoft has kept that dividing line in mind when designing the next generation of Office apps for Windows 10, which launches this summer. TIME got an early look at the new Windows Phone apps this week, which will be released in preview mode for Windows Phone Insiders by the end of the month. The company hopes the software’s new interfaces will let workers switch seamlessly from desktops to tablets to smartphones without straining their eyes, fingers or thumbs.

In practice, the redesigns bring design tweaks that are subtle but deeply effective. For example, that ribbon of menu options in Word, typically entrenched at the top of the screen, flips to the bottom of the screen on smartphones. And why not? That’s where your thumbs are, after all.

The menus themselves pack a surprising number of features into the smartphone’s limited screen space. Flick up the menu in Word, for instance, and it displays a few of the formatting menu’s greatest hits – Italicize, Bold, and so on. One more flick of the thumb reveals a deeper list of all of those nit-picky buttons you might have waited to use at the desktop. Now they glide underneath your thumb for easy picking.

Excel, too, makes the leap to smartphones with hardly a loss in functionality. The 400 or so functions familiar to power users have been repackaged into larger groupings (Statistical, Engineering, etc.). Tap on any one grouping and nerd out at the mathematical possibilities.

PowerPoint slides are editable from the title bar down to table cells. One of the few functions that won’t be available on smartphones are precise manipulations of borders and objects — a thumb can only do so much on a touchscreen.

The question remains whether Office users pine for so many functionalities while on the go. Microsoft Office General Manager Jared Spataro said that many of the designs were self-evident to the team. “It’s almost a gut feeling in some cases,” he said, but each idea was carefully vetted by focus groups. Researchers traced their eye and finger movements across various screen sizes.

Still, there are more radical ways to redesign apps beyond thumb-centric designs. Microsoft offered a hint of how its apps could begin to anticipate users’ needs with the introduction of a new search bar in Microsoft Word. Type in a keyword, such as “strikethrough,” and the button appears automatically below the search bar, sparing users the trouble of finding it themselves. Even pushier apps like Sway can format an entire slide presentation automatically, changing fonts and backgrounds in one tap of a button. For now, though, Microsoft seems intent on porting familiar functionalities from the desktop to the tablet and smartphone, rather than overwhelm users with new tricks. It’s a fitting early step into the mobile era.

TIME Video Games

You Can Play Halo on Your iPhone Now

Halo: Spartan Strike is a new top-down shooter

Microsoft released the latest addition to its Halo series with a surprise announcement: the game is available for download not only on Windows devices, but also for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Halo: Spartan Strike popped up in the iTunes store on Thursday, offering Apple fans the opportunity to take on 30 new missions in the Halo universe. The top-down shooter follows a spin-off story from Halo 2, and is available for digital download for $5.99.

If 30 missions isn’t enough, gamers can also purchase Halo: Spartan Bundle, which adds a second historic campaign from the Halo series for $9.99.

TIME Internet

Mark Zuckerberg Defends His Latest Initiative

Critics say his Internet.org project violates net neutrality principles

Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to deliver free Internet to the world has come under fire.

The Facebook CEO wrote a post on Friday defending Internet.org, an ambitious plan to bring Internet access to under-connected parts of the world. Critics say the initiative unfairly disadvantages websites that are not part of Internet.org, which offers some content for free.

“To give more people access to the Internet, it is useful to offer some service for free,” Zuckerberg said. “If someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than none at all.”

In places like India, Facebook has partnered with mobile operators to offer access to certain websites, like news sites, job boards and Facebook itself, without the need for a data plan.

The Times of India, a large media group in the country, has withdrawn its job board and some other sites from Internet.org and is urging competitors like BBC to do the same.

 

TIME devices

Get Ready To Turn Your Thumb Into a Miniature Trackpad

You could soon use your phone while your hands are full

Next up in wearable tech: a device that turns your thumb into a miniature wireless trackpad.

MIT researchers are developing a device that could have a host of benefits for users juggling smart phones and regular life. Users could answer the phone while cooking, control their cell phones even when they hands are full or discreetly send a text, according to a press release.

But the researchers aren’t forgetting about style, either. Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, a graduate student in media arts and sciences and lead author on a new paper on the device, said the thumb track pad was inspired by colorful nail decals. To that end, it will come with detachable covers in different colors so users can match their pad with their outfits.

In the end, the benefits of the thumb track pad will be in its size and ease. “It’s very unobtrusive,” Kao said. “When I put this on, it becomes part of my body. I have the power to take it off, so it still gives you control over it. But it allows this very close connection to your body.”

Researchers will present the prototype this weekend in as a conference in Seoul, but it’s unclear when, and if–, it will be available for retailers.

TIME Gadgets

These High-Tech High Heels Change Color With the Click of an App

Hello, instant customization gratification

Close your eyes, tap your app three times and think to yourself, “There are no heels like these.” Because, honey, there aren’t. Not yet.

Remember last year, when “smart” ballet slippers pirouetted into our hearts (and headlines)? Well, now a high-tech pair of smart high-heels is strutting onto the wearable fashion scene and, Toto, we’re not in blandsville anymore.

They’re called Volvorii Timeless smart shoes and what’s so special about them is that they change color in the click of a smartphone app (iOS and Android versions to come). Hello, instant customization gratification. Not sure which heels to wear with that little black dress? Need to morph from business casual to night club slick, but no time to shift shoes? No stress. Leave it to the Internet of Stilettos.

Related: These ‘Smart’ Ballet Shoes Digitally Paint Dancers’ Fancy Footwork

Created by a seven-person Lithuanian startup called iShüu Tech, and originally the brainchild of display technology research scientist Wallen Mphepö, these high-tech pumps are digital chameleons for your fancy feet. They’re made of leather and rubber and outfitted with hidden circuitboard, Bluetooth and battery components. And, here’s the kicker, they’re pimped out with electronic (e-ink) “paper” that you control with a companion app, altering the look of the flexible digital panel that spans from the top of the toes on up the sides of the pumps.

Depending on what your outfit calls for, or your mood, you can switch the Volvorii’s smart display panel from black to white to a chic Louis Vuitton-inspired black and white pattern. Its ambitious makers, who think they “just might be on the verge of creating a new micro industry for the world,” plan to add more cool pattern choices in the future.

Available in black or white, soft leather-lined Volvorii also come in two tall heel heights, 3.5 inches and 4.5 inches. The battery that powers the display recharges via an included USB wireless charger and takes about two hours to fully juice from zero.

Related: A ‘Smart’ Pair of Shoes With a Noble Purpose

The platform-style pumps launched on Indiegogo on March 12. So far the media darling of a campaign has raised $19,700 of a $50,000 goal, with 20 days to go. If you want a futuristic pair of your own, you’ll have to shell out $249. The $149 and $199 Indiegogo perk packages are already history. The first Volvorri are expected to ship this December, just in time for all those dressy holiday parties.

To see the snazzy stilettos switch colors, and the tech tricks that make them strut their special stuff, inside and out, watch the video below:

Related: This Startup Is Bringing 3-D Printed Insoles to the NBA and the Everyday Consumer

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

TIME Apple

Apple Is Offering Classes to Learn How the Apple Watch Works

Apple Watch Goes On Display At Apple Inc. Stores Ahead Of Sales Launch
ChinaFotoPress—ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images A customer touches an Apple Watch smartwatch at an Apple Store at Lujiazui in Pudong District on April 11, 2015 in Shanghai, China.

It's time for school

Some Apple Store locations will be offering workshops to teach new and prospective Apple Watch owners how their new device works.

The classes, first spotted by MacRumors, are being offered at some Apple Store locations in the U.S. and elsewhere beginning April 24, the day the Apple Watch first becomes available.

It’s unclear, however, how many customers will get an Apple Watch on April 24. Preorders for the device started April 10, and many shoppers received shipping dates in May, June and beyond for their device. A recent memo to Apple Store employees from Apple’s head of retail operations suggested Apple Stores won’t be stocked with Apple Watches until June at the earliest. Meanwhile, a page on Apple’s website listing the Apple Watch as available on April 24 has since been changed to remove that exact date.

TIME Web

Google Embraces ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Sites in Search Shake-Up

Websites must load quickly on mobile devices to appear on top with the revised Google formula for smartphones and tablets

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Google is about to change the way its influential search engine recommends websites on smartphones and tablets in a shift that’s expected to sway where millions of people shop, eat and find information.

The revised formula, scheduled to be released Tuesday, will favor websites that Google defines as “mobile-friendly.” Websites that don’t fit the description will be demoted in Google’s search results on smartphones and tablets while those meeting the criteria will be more likely to appear at the top of the rankings — a prized position that can translate into more visitors and money.

Although Google’s new formula won’t affect searches on desktop and laptop computers, it will have a huge influence on how and where people spend their money, given that more people are relying on their smartphones to compare products in stores and look for restaurants. That’s why Google’s new rating system is being billed by some search experts as “Mobile-geddon.”

“Some sites are going to be in for a big surprise when they find a drastic change in the amount of people visiting them from mobile devices,” said Itai Sadan, CEO of website-building service Duda.

It’s probably the most significant change that Google Inc. has ever made to its mobile search rankings, according to Matt McGee, editor-in-chief for Search Engine Land, a trade publication that follows every tweak that the company makes to its closely guarded algorithms.

Here are a few things to know about what’s happening and why Google is doing it.

MAKING MOBILE FRIENDS

To stay in Google’s good graces, websites must be designed so they load quickly on mobile devices. Content must also be easily accessible by scrolling up and down — without having to also swipe to the left or right. It also helps if all buttons for making purchases or taking other actions on the website can be easily seen and touched on smaller screens.

If a website has been designed only with PC users in mind, the graphics take longer to load on mobile devices and the columns of text don’t all fit on the smaller screens, to the aggravation of someone trying to read it.

Google has been urging websites to cater to mobile device for years, mainly because that is where people are increasingly searching for information.

The number of mobile searches in the U.S. is rising by about 5 percent while inquiries on PCs are dipping slightly, according to research firm comScore Inc. In the final three months of last year, 29 percent of all U.S. search requests — about 18.5 billion — were made on mobile devices, comScore estimated. Google processes the bulk of searches — two-thirds in the U.S. and even more in many other countries.

BRACING FOR CHANGE

To minimize complaints, the company disclosed its plans nearly two months ago. It also created a step-by-step guide and a tool to test compliance with the new standards.

Google has faced uproar over past changes to its search formula. Two of the bigger revisions, done in 2011 and 2012, focused on an attempt to weed out misleading websites and other digital rubbish. Although that goal sounds reasonable, many websites still complained that Google’s changes unfairly demoted them in the rankings, making their content more difficult to find.

STILL CAUGHT OFF GUARD

While most major merchants and big companies already have websites likely to meet Google’s mobile standard, the new formula threatens to hurt millions of small businesses that haven’t had the money or incentive to adapt their sites for smartphones.

“A lot of small sites haven’t really had a reason to be mobile friendly until now, and it’s not going to be easy for them to make the changes,” McGee said.

BURYING HELPFUL CONTENT

Google’s search formula weighs a variety of factors to determine the rankings of its results. One of the most important considerations has always been whether a site contains the most pertinent information sought by a search request.

But new pecking order in Google’s mobile search may relegate some sites to the back pages of the search results, even if their content is more relevant to a search request than other sites that happen to be easier to access on smartphones.

That will be an unfortunate consequence, but also justifiable because a person might not even bother to look at sites that take a long time to open or difficult to read on mobile devices, Gartner analyst Whit Andrews said.

“Availability is part of relevancy,” Andrews said. “A lot of people aren’t going to think something is relevant if they can’t get it to appear on their iPhone.”

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com