TIME Smartphones

How You’ll Be Able to Use Your iPhone 6 as a Wallet

A guide to the mobile-payment system Apple is expected to unveil on Sept. 9

Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 on Sept. 9, and rumors about some possible features have been years in the making. One of those features is expected to be Apple’s big foray into a mobile-payment system, which would allow users to make purchases on the go with just their iPhones instead of their wallet. But if ditching cash and debit cards for one device sounds like a nightmare from the future, don’t be alarmed. Here’s what you need to know about what Apple might be planning and what the system could eventually look like.

How would I use my iPhone to pay for something?
The way you pay for anything else while shopping — visit a store, walk up to the register, present your method of payment (cash, credit card or, in this case, your phone) and make a transaction. The exact specifics of how these transactions will work is unclear, but it’s likely to function like an expanded version of the iPhone’s Passbook app, which allows users to store tickets, boarding passes and coupons with bar codes that can be scanned.

What technology would allow mobile payments to happen?
Wired, which reports that mobile payments “will be one of the hallmark features of the [new iPhone] when it’s unveiled,” says that near field communication (NFC) will be a major part of the feature. NFC is a way for devices to wirelessly exchange small amounts of data over very short distances, usually within a few centimeters, often by tapping one smart object against another. While devices using Bluetooth technology have to be set up to work together, the presence of a NFC chip in the new iPhone would allow for secure transactions quickly and easily.

Would it work the same for every store?
One patent discovered by AppleInsider in 2013 “describes an e-wallet system that would provide users with “smart menus” based on the context of a transaction.” That would suggest that Apple’s mobile-payments system will eventually be equipped to offer different payment options depending on the store or retailer — so, for example, it might determine which store you’re in based on your location, and charge money to the same card you used last time you were there, or take advantage of rewards programs linked to a particular card.

How might it process payments?
Through iTunes. One patent Apple was granted in 2012 “shows us that the credit card companies will be sending statements directly to your iTunes account,” according to the blog Patently Apple, which tracks the company’s intellectual property news. Apple has 800 million iTunes accounts on file, most of which are linked to credit cards — that’s believed to be larger than the number of accounts on file at either Amazon or PayPal.

What credit-card companies are on board?
Bloomberg has reported that Apple has made agreements with Visa, American Express and MasterCard. The American Express news was reported earlier Sunday morning by Re/code. The Information previously reported that Apple and Visa had reached an agreement.

How do we know Apple is interested in this?
Apple has been pursuing iWallet-related patents for a few years now. Earlier this year, Apple was also looking to hire a few executives with experience in the payments industry to build “a business around the hundreds of millions of credit cards it already has on file,” according to Re/code. Apple CEO Tim Cook also said that there is “a lot of opportunity” with mobile payments during an earnings call in January:

“We’re seeing that people love being able to buy content, whether it’s music or movies or books, from their iPhone, using Touch ID. It’s incredibly simple and easy and elegant. And it’s clear that there’s a lot of opportunity there … The mobile payments area in general is one that we’ve been intrigued with and that was one of the thoughts behind the Touch ID. But we’re not limiting ourselves just to that.”

Who else has tried this?
The Google Wallet system allows users to store information from all kinds of cards (credit, debit, gift, loyalty) and pay stores and friends using NFC technology. PayPal also allows users to pay retailers, restaurants and more through its mobile app. In terms of hardware, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 have had NFC services. But mobile payments like these haven’t exactly become widespread. That may change as Apple’s large contingent of devoted iPhone users make a mobile-payments system more attractive to a greater number of merchants. And the fact that Apple already also has so many iTunes accounts on file means users may be more inclined to try out the service, as they may not have to go through all the steps a new service would require.

TIME

The Most Exciting Feature About the Next iPhone Is Unexpected

Here's what an iPhone screen made of sapphire would mean
Artur Debat—Moment Editorial/Getty Images

A huge change could be coming on Sept. 9

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

It’s not official, but good journalists at Wired and the Financial Times reported Thursday that Apple’s next generation of consumer devices — iPhones for sure, wearable devices maybe — will come equipped with a NFC (near field communication) chip for making mobile payments.

This is big news, in part because Apple is so late to the NFC party.

The rest of the world switched to the technology years ago. Google, Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Blackberry, Visa, MasterCard. It’s the way credit cards talk to banks and retailers in most of the countries of Europe and Asia.

But not in the U.S.

That’s about to change. Visa and MasterCard have set an October 2015 deadline for U.S. retailers to switch from magnetic strips to embedded chips. If Apple wants in on the game, now’s the time.

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Apple

Why The Bar for Apple’s Sept. 9 Event Is Incredibly High

DOUNIAMAG-US-IT-INTERNET-APPLE-ITUNES RADIO
AFP/Getty Images

Can Apple make innovative new products without Steve Jobs at the helm? This event may answer that question once and for all

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

The invitations went out at noon on Aug. 28, confirming month-old leaks, eliminating one uncertainty and giving the stock a little boost.

Now it’s up to Apple to deliver.

The bar is high — as it always is for this company — but this time Apple’s executive team may have been hoist on its own rhetoric.

In May, senior vice president Eddy Cue described what’s coming this fall as “the best product pipeline” he has seen in 25 years, words he may regret if that pipeline is found lacking.

Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook promised that Apple would break into new categories — in other words, something beyond iPhones, iPads and Macs. Pressed by the Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayishi, Cook begged for patience in a way that only raised the bar higher:

“You want to take the time to get it right. Our objective has never been to be first. It’s to be the best. To do things really well, it takes time. You can see a lot of products that have been brought to market where the thinking isn’t really deep and, as a consequence, these things don’t do very well. We don’t do very many things so we spend a lot of time on every detail and that part of Apple isn’t changing. It’s the way we’ve operated for years and it’s the way we still operate. I feel great about what we’ve got coming. Really great and it’s closer than it’s ever been.”

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Video Games

Firewatch Is One of the Most Gorgeous Games You’ll See All Year

Looks like 2015 can't come around fast enough

Firewatch, the first, much-anticipated game from Camp Santo, unveiled its first trailer this week. The video the plight of the game’s main character as well as his companion, a voice on the distant end of a radio. Campo Santo is a new studio that includes designers Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman, both of Telltale Games’ acclaimed Walking Dead series. The group also includes Nels Anderson who worked on Mark of the Ninja and graphic designer Olly Moss. The game is planned for release on Linux, Mac and Windows sometime in 2015. You can watch the entire trailer here, or check out some of the most beautiful bits below.

[Campo Santo]

Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions
firewatch_5
Campo Santo Productions
Campo Santo Productions
TIME Gaming

The One Reason the New Nintendo 3DS Is Going to Crush Competitors

Nintendo New 3DS Nintendo

Doubling down on what tablets and phones simply can't do

Nintendo unveiled an updated design for its popular handheld system, the 3DS, on August 29. The sleek new version is more powerful and packs a number of incremental improvements like better cameras and screens. As competition for consumers’ attention with phones and tablets increases, the Japanese gaming giant is also doubling down on something Apple iPads and devices powered by Google’s Android system typically don’t have: buttons. The New Nintendo 3DS features a new analog control stick as well as two new buttons.

Buttons matter because, no matter how much more powerful phones and tablets get or how much more sophisticated the software that runs on them, manipulating many games without them is still cumbersome. The best mobile games have devised unique control methods for touch interfaces, but titles with traditional setups—guiding a character across 3D space, for instance—still suffer. Nintendo’s trio of new buttons amounts to a keen doubling down on what a gaming-dedicated device like the 3DS still does best, namely playing console-like games.

On Nintendo’s new device, the right analog knob is located above the right-hand face buttons. In addition to the new controller, the gadget has third and fourth back trigger buttons, dubbed ZR and ZL buttons, located for use in conjunction with the new stick. The New 3DS will be available in both regular and XL-sized models with dimensions similar to current hardware.

In a presentation, the company promised a wider 3D viewing angle than previous models. Additional features include an automatic brightness adjustment sensor, Micro SD card slot, camera improvements, and colorful face buttons. The New 3DS will be available in Japan in October 2014. A U.S. release date has not been set yet.

 New 3DS
Nintendo
 New 3DS
Nintendo
 New 3DS
Nintendo
TIME Crowdfunding

This Smart Cooler is Now the Most Successful Kickstarter Project Ever

Coolest Cooler

Ice bucket meets challenge

Experts say wearable technology is the next big thing, but now the people have spoken. And the people don’t want smartwatches — they want a cooler that will make margaritas and charge their phones while blasting the latest Pitbull song.

The Coolest Cooler, which has a built-in blender, waterproof speakers, USB chargers, LED lights and other features, become the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever on Tuesday, the crowdfunding site announced. The project raised $13,285,226 from more than 60,000 backers in 52 days, beating previous record-holder the Pebble smartwatch, which raised more than $10 million in 2012.

The historic Kickstarter campaign marks the second attempt by creator Ryan Grepper to fund the cooler of the future. In 2013, his design failed to meet its $125,000 funding goal in time, so this year, he opted for a more modest $50,000 goal — that ended up raising $2 million in 24 hours.

Alas, the Coolest Cooler won’t be ready for any Labor Day bashes (Grepper is still finalizing the design and choosing a factory), but it is still coming to a pool party near you: backers who donated $165 or more are expected to receive the cooler in February 2015, and the item will likely retail for $299.

TIME

The Is the Best Wi-Fi Router You Can Buy

header

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter. Read the original full article below at TheWirecutter.com

By David Murphy

If your laptop, smartphone, or tablet uses the latest wireless-AC networking technology and you’re shopping for a new router, you should get the Netgear R6250. The benefits of wireless-ac are great: super-fast performance that can be stronger at longer distances than wireless-n routers. More than 100 hours of combined testing and research led us to the $150 R6250, which boasts the best combination of speed, price, and features of any router in its price range, and unlike more expensive and newer routers, has technology your most modern gear can actually take advantage of.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.06.50 PM

How we decided on the R6250

Our pick supports two data streams for wireless-n and three for wireless-ac. Our research indicates that two-stream wireless-N and -AC technology are the most common connection types for laptops, tablets, and smartphones, while three-stream wireless-ac is what you’ll find on new top-of-the-line laptops like the latest MacBook Pro.

How did we pick this price point? Basically, a $200 router can be faster than our main pick, but only if your devices can take advantage of it—most things we own today can’t. On the other hand, paying less than $100 for a wireless-ac router means sacrificing speed and/or range, and you might also lose a number of useful features, like media streaming, parental controls, and remote access.

Our router finalists for speed and features, based on a lot of research and interviewing with the best wireless gear testers, were the Netgear R6250 ($150), Asus RT-AC56U ($112), Asus RT-AC66U ($170), and TP-Link Archer C7 ($99). We tested them by running performance benchmarks at four different testing stations inside a 2,700 square-foot, one-story house.

Our pick

In our tests, Netgear’s R6250 delivered great performance for its price. Its features are comprehensive, it’s reliable, and it looks good. It’s easy to set up, with both a basic mode and an advanced mode to give networking gurus extra control. Wireless networking expert Tim Higgins, of SmallNetBuilder, also puts the R6250 ahead of its peers.

The Runner Up

If for some reason the R6250 is unavailable, or too expensive, we recommend the Asus RT-AC56U. It’s as good as the R6250 in terms of speed and range and was a strong runner up. But we, and some people who bought it, encountered occasional stability issues when connecting to its 2.4GHz wireless band. Asus hasn’t updated the router since we tested it, and some Amazon reviewers are still seeing performance issues on the latest firmware. Caveat emptor.

If you have a $100 limit

If you prefer to spend less than $100, get the $94 TP-Link Archer C7. It has excellent speed and range, but its interface is harder to use. Some features, like parental controls and USB file sharing, are implemented poorly. Others, like Quality of Service settings, are missing entirely. The C7 also ignores wireless coexistence rules, so it may interfere with your neighbors’ Wi-Fi. The Netgear R6250 is better for most people because its interface is more comprehensive and intuitive. There’s more you can do, and it’s easier to do it.

Even better, but not worth it for most

There are many routers around $200 with more features and faster performance, but they’re not worth it for most people. The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 ($192) is among the most popular. It has features our main pick doesn’t, like support for Time Machine, VPN and iTunes, and advanced Quality of Service (QoS) settings. It supports a new technology called TurboQAM that can give your wireless devices more bandwidth, but to use TurboQAM right now, you’d need a $100 Wi-Fi adapter that only works in desktop PCs, so it’s not yet worth paying extra for. The R7000’s three-stream wireless-ac speeds are significantly faster than the R6250’s, so if you have lots of three-stream devices, like a room full of new MacBook Pros, the R7000 is a good upgrade. But most people don’t, so there’s little reason to spend this much money on a router.

In closing

We think the $150 R6250 is the best all-around wireless-ac router for most people, but you’re going to want to make sure it’s the best router for your home or apartment setup.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com

TIME Smartphones

5 Awesome Things Apple’s New iPhone 6 Is Rumored to Have

Apple Introduces iPhone 5
The new iPhone 5 is displayed during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on September 12, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

It’s Apple devotees’ favorite time of the year again.

Apple appears set to roll out its new iPhone this month, with a planned Sept. 9 event likely to mark the unveiling of the fabled iPhone 6. Just like unicorns or Tupac, we can’t be absolutely sure what features the new iPhone 6 will have. But the rumors have been flying thick and fast, and expectations are high.

Here are some of features strongly rumored to be on the new iPhone 6.

A Model With a Bigger Screen.

Some Apple critics have compared the iPhone 5’s puny 4-in. screen unfavorably with Samsung’s flagship phones, like the Galaxy S5, which has a 5.1-in. screen. The iPhone 6 is expected to silence the complainers, with one iPhone 6 model rumored to have a 5.5-in. screen, which is quite a big jump in size. A second model may have a 4.7-in. display, which is also a pretty big increase, and certainly much larger than the comparatively minuscule iPhone 4 display, which was a mere 3.5 in.

Near Field Communication (NFC).

Near Field Communication is essentially a way to wirelessly connect devices over a very short range. The Financial Times reported Friday that Apple is working with a Dutch chipmaker to add NFC capabilities to the new iPhone, opening up the possibility of mobile, pay-by-touch payments and open other potential applications.

Mobile Payments.

The iPhone 6’s purported NFC capabilities will mean Apple could turn the iPhone into a mobile wallet, allowing users to pay for goods and services with a swipe of the phone. Apple is reportedly holding talks with credit-card companies and banks on the effort, and thanks to Apple’s massive database of financial data it’s collected through the App Store and iTunes, this could be push mobile payments into the mainstream.

Sapphire Glass.

One of the biggest complaints with the iPhone and other smartphones is that they’re pretty fragile devices, considering how often we use them and how expensive they can be — and there are few things uglier than a cracked iPhone display. Well, Apple is developing synthetic sapphire at its new facility in Arizona, the Wall Street Journal reports, a harder and more expensive material that can replace glass. And if this can be believed, sapphire is remarkably resilient. Plus, Apple already used sapphire in smart parts of the iPhone 5 (over the camera lens) and in the iPhone 5S (for the home button/fingerprint scanner).

iOS 8.

Apple’s new operating system is one of the few things we do know a lot about, and it’s official information from Apple this time. For instance, we know that Apple is rolling out a new HealthKit app as part of iOS 8 that allows users to keep track of their personal health and fitness data, which also pulls in data from other sources like Nike+ apps and health institutions. We also know that iOS 8 allows you to share apps, music and books purchased with the same credit card with your family, as well as save photos, video and documents to iCloud. The camera software will have a shot timer and other improvements, and group messaging will be more versatile: you can now add or drop someone from a conversation, finally.

TIME

This Is the Best Budget Printer Money Can Buy

A cheap printer isn't that hard to find. But a good cheap printer? That's another story

header

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter. Read the original full article below at TheWirecutter.com

By Liam McCabe

Color is swell, but for most documents, black and white look just fine. There are countless cheap black and white printers out there, but after 75 hours of researching the best reviews and doing our own testing, we decided the Samsung Xpress M2835DW is the best way to make great looking hard copies of term papers, tax forms, or any other documents in grayscale, for under $150.


Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.02.32 PM

Our pick

The Samsung Xpress M2835DW’s print quality and speed are the best in its class.

As with any laser printer, text is where the M2835DW shines. In our tests, large typefaces had crisp edges and dark centers. Consumer Reports wrote that the M2835DW has “excellent text quality.” Small text was perfectly legible down to three-point font, sometimes two-point. Talking about the M2825DW (an older but basically identical version of the same printer), M. David Stone at PCMag wrote: “Text was easily good enough for any business needs, with scores falling in the middle of a fairly tight range that includes the vast majority of mono laser printers.” At Computer Shopper, Barry Brenesal said, “The M2825DW does an outstanding job with text. Letters at all font sizes look exceptionally clear, with firm letter edges and dark, even centers at 600dpi.”

Samsung M2825DW text crops at 400%. Helvetica 14 point (left) and four point (right). Remember, these crops are blown way up, text is much smaller (and sharper) printed on paper.

Compared to others we tested, the M2835DW had the best contrast on edges of graphs and tables and filled their gray backgrounds the most evenly and consistently. Clip art even looked okay.

If you’re desperate to print a full-size photo or image, the M2835DW can come through in a pinch, but it’s nothing you’d want to hang on your fridge or present to a client.

Speed is an asset for all mono lasers, and the M2835DW is even speedier than its rivals. Samsung advertises 29 pages per minute, though we actually measured close to 31. In duplex mode, it cranked out a respectable 13.5 pages per minute. Even when we maxed out the print quality, the M2835DW stayed as fast as ever.

Operating costs for the M2835DW are below average compared to other mono-laser and inkjet printers below $150. A typical mono laser in this price range uses somewhere in the range of 3.5 to 5 cents of consumables per page. The M2835DW’s cost per page, factoring in the paper and toner, is under 3 cents per page. (Note that another printer we tried, by Brother, was slightly cheaper to operate.)

In addition to basic performance, the crucial features are here, including wireless networking, support for a handful of mobile printing standards, and auto-duplexing. And best of all, wireless setup is, uh, less horrible than with other low-end laser printers.

Little flaws (but not dealbreakers)

At this point, there’s no good reason why you shouldn’t be able to easily set this up without a cable or CD, and yet here we are needing both to set up this printer. Another minor gripe is that the print options are scattered across a few different menus and control panels.

A budget printer that is almost as great as our favorite

If the price of the Samsung M2835DW suddenly skyrockets to above $120 or goes out of stock when you need to buy a printer immediately, the Brother HL-2270DW is a good budget printer as long as the price stays low. The Brother is our favorite printer from last year and very popular with buyers on Amazon.com according to this printer’s user reviews.

A cheap printer with a scanner that we like

The Brother HL-2280DW is basically the HL-2270DW with a scanner/copier and an LCD screen, all for only $130. That’s a very good deal.

In closing

In this day and age, you probably don’t need to use a printer very often and if that’s the case, it makes sense to get something simple and inexpensive, like one of these three picks we found after much research and testing.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation, please go to The Wirecutter.com

TIME Web

See Every Single Device Connected to the Internet

Internet Map
A map showing every device connected to the Internet. John Matherly /@achillean

Bright spots and blackouts trace wide disparities in global connectivity

A map of every device connected to the Internet shows the wealthiest parts of the world flush with connections, while poor and sparsely populated parts of the world are blacked out — as well as a few head scratchers in between.

The map was created by John Matherly, founder of Shodan, a search engine that probes the Internet’s backend for connections to all sorts of devices from routers to refrigerators. Matherly said it took about five hours to ping every IP address on the Internet and store every positive response. It took another 12 hours to plot the responses on a heat map which glows bright orange in densely connected areas and blue and black in sparsely connected areas.

The U.S. and Western Europe are, not surprisingly, awash in connectivity. Africa and central Asia have islands of connectivity centered on urban areas. Then there are head-scratchers like Greenland, which has a single isolated dot smack in the island’s center. A Reddit user speculated it was an NOAA observatory on the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

“Oh my f***ing God!! You’re the guy!!!,” wrote another Reddit commentator, ForceBlade, who detected a mysterious ping request around the time of Matherly’s project. “You touched my heart, and my server.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46,371 other followers