TIME Retail

Amazon Basically Just Unveiled the Future of Shopping and It’s Awesome

No, the Dash Button is not an April Fool

Amazon.com unveiled its latest innovation Tuesday — a tiny device that allows you to order household items at the touch of a button.

The Dash Button is a Wi-Fi enabled plastic controller that connects to a customer’s smartphone through the Amazon app. The buttons can be stuck or hung anywhere around the house — like on your washing machine, say. If you run out of detergent, you just push the button and an order is automatically sent to Amazon for that particular product.

More than a dozen brands — listing about 255 of the kind of bulky products you need to replenish often — are available to order through the Dash Button program.

The device allows users to cancel their order within 30 minutes, and the order will only process once, so you won’t end up with tons of detergent being delivered to your door.

The timing of Amazon’s announcement has got many people wondering if it’s a prank for April Fool’s Day. Others see the timing as a stroke of marketing genius, because while people are trying to decide if it’s a hoax they are also doing precisely what Amazon wants them to do — which is talk about Dash and share the news.

Amazon spokesperson Kinley Pearsall confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the Dash Button is indeed real, although for now the service is only available to Amazon Prime customers by invitation only.

TIME Web

You Can Now Download Microsoft’s New Browser

'Spartan' is seen as Internet Explorer's replacement

Microsoft’s radically redesigned web browser, Project Spartan, was released to the public in “preview mode” on Tuesday, giving users an early look at the successor to Internet Explorer.

“You will see a bold new design for Project Spartan,” Microsoft vice president Joe Belfiore wrote in a statement on Tuesday, “one that is streamlined and puts the focus on the page, not the browser.”

The browser includes built-in searches via Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant that can handle spoken commands like Siri or Google Now. It also includes an intriguing note-taking feature that enables the user to type or scribble directly onto a webpage. “Inking” could encourage users to take up the Surface tablet’s digital pen, which Microsoft is eager to promote as a more natural alternative to the keyboard.

The browser is currently available for download along with the latest build of Windows 10, which will be released as a free upgrade for Windows users this summer.

 

TIME Social Media

This Is What Getting Cancer Looks Like on Social Media

If our virtual footprints are a window into even a little piece of the person we truly are, then this is the virtual story of my cancer

This story was originally published at the The Kernel, the Daily Dot’s Sunday magazine.

No one expects to get cancer. Sure, you might have the “what if” moments, but you never actually think it’s going to happen. Until it does.

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer on Aug. 8, 2012. Two days later, I had surgery to remove the tumor; less than month after that, I started chemo. I had just turned 30 years old.

So much of our lives are shared on the Internet. Mine is no different. Even before I was diagnosed, I shared my work, mundane details about my life, dating—the essentials for a man in his 20s living in New York at the time. So when cancer showed its fugly face, I had to document it.

I’ve written a lot about my cancer, but I’ve never actually showed it. If our virtual footprints are a window into even a little piece of the person we truly are, then this is the virtual story of my cancer.

Pre-diagnosis

I’ve never been one to care about age. Turning 30 was just another birthday. If anything, it marked a change in a decade and reflected the direction I wanted my life to go in, more professional—hopefully personally fulfilling.

The pain started at the end of July, shortly after my birthday. Having just arrived in Los Angeles from New York, I didn’t have a doctor. I went to my friend’s doctor, which led to another doctor, and then another. The entire time I was cracking jokes. I wasn’t taking it seriously, yet deep down I knew something wasn’t right.

I still got it! And by "it," I mean a weight problem.

A photo posted by H. Alan Scott (@halanscott) on

 

Read the rest of the story at The Kernel.

TIME innovations

This Is What Computers Look Like Now and That’s Just Awesome

Google Chromebit
Google Google Chromebit

ASUS' new Chromebit is a very big deal

Take a look at the device above. It’s a colorful USB drive, right? Maybe a very pretty streaming stick?

Nope. That’s a computer.

That’s right: The device before you is ASUS’ Chromebit, a new sub-$100 dongle you can plug into any display and turn it into a full-blown computer running Google’s Chrome OS. The Chromebit packs 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and HDMI and USB ports. The HDMI port is for connecting to external displays, while the USB helps with attaching a keyboard and mouse — and the Chromebit has Bluetooth, too, making that even easier. (Intel is working on a similar but costlier device running Windows 8.1)

The ASUS Chromebit certainly won’t run laps around a Mac Pro speed-wise when it launches this summer. But that’s not the point. The idea here is more profound.

Using the Chromebit and a decent Internet connection (Chrome OS relies heavily on web access), you could turn any aging computer into a lean, mean processing machine on the cheap. That’s going to have huge implications in places where cost is a major roadblock to better tech, like public schools or the developing world. Instead of upgrading every computer in every school, a cost-strapped district could just buy a whole bunch of Chromebits, plug them in to classrooms’ old computers (or monitors) and essentially turn them into lean terminals for running web apps like Google Docs.

How well the Chromebit performs has yet to be seen. But right off the bat, this is one of the most exciting new products to hit the market in some time.

TIME Video Games

Super Mario 64 In-Browser Game Gets Taken Down

Super Mario In-Browser Nintendo Take Down
Yoshikazu Tsuno—AFP/Getty Images Nintendo's characters Super Mario and Luigi (L) performing in Tokyo, Japan, on April 26, 2014.

Nintendo wasn't pleased with the computer-friendly remake

It’s game over for the in-browser version of Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 that took the Internet by storm this week.

Nintendo issued a takedown notice Tuesday to the server hosting the 1996 game’s browser version, created by Royston Ross, who recreated just the first level (Bomb-Omb Battlefield), TorrentFreak first reported Tuesday.

“The copyrighted work at issue is Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 video game (U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0000788138), including but not limited to the audiovisual work, computer program, music, and fictional character depictions,” the company told the server Cloudflare, which posted its correspondence with Nintendo.

While the in-browser game is no longer available, you can still get a glimpse of the remake in a video Ross posted online:

Read next: Exclusive: Inside Nintendo’s Bold Plan to Stay Vibrant for the Next 125 Years

[TorrentFreak]

TIME Video Games

Google Maps Is Now a Giant Game of Pac-Man

Google Maps Pac-Man
Google Maps Google Maps Pac-Man

Now you can finally battle those demons that plague you in your hometown

Remember when Google turned its logo into a game of Pac-Man back in 2010 and office workers collectively spent millions of hours running away from ghosts? Google is now trying to 1-Up that interactive project by turning Google Maps into a giant version of the popular arcade game.

On the desktop version of Google Maps, users can search for nearly any part of the map that has a large number of roads and immediately convert a city into a Pac-Man maze (rural areas don’t work). The signature pellets, blue walls and ravenous ghosts immediately appear in place of street names and landmarks. Users can share their high scores with others via social media and share their specific maps so others can try to top them.

Pac-Man is also available on the Google Maps mobile app, but the game the game is limited to specific locations that Google is revealing through a series of clues that seem to point to famous global locales such as Times Square in New York and the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The game is likely part of Google’s planned April Fools Day tricks for this year. Last year the company turned Maps into a giant game of Pokemon on April 1.

TIME apps

Gmail’s Android App Just Got Way Better

Gmail
Gmail Gmail

Now you can combine inboxes and view more email threads as conversations

Android users will no longer have to trawl through multiple email accounts to keep track of all their Gmail messages.

Google is introducing a new feature in the Android version of Gmail that will let users view emails from multiple accounts in a single inbox. The new “all inboxes” option will dump all messages into a single window, even if they are from non-Gmail accounts such as Yahoo or Outlook.

The Android update also includes other new features. The “conversation view,” which groups messages on the same email chain in a single thread, can now be applied to Yahoo, Outlook and other email accounts that are viewed through Gmail. The company has also improved the auto-complete search function and made it possible to save documents to Google Drive with a single button press.

TIME Gadgets

Microsoft’s New Tablet Could Be a MacBook Air Killer

The Surface 3 runs Windows 8.1 and costs $499 and up

Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled the Surface 3, the latest version of its tablet that can double as a laptop thanks to a keyboard attachment.

The Surface 3 is a slimmed down, less costly version of the the Surface Pro 3, a tablet that critics welcomed as the first two-in-one device that finally began to deliver on its promise of functioning reasonably well in both laptop and tablet mode. While Microsoft initially had trouble selling the Surface line, things improved when it began marketing the 2-in-1s as laptop replacements rather than tablets which also boast a laptop mode.

At a starting price of $499, the Surface 3 marks a steep discount on the Surface Pro 3’s $800 price tag. The Surface 3 includes a 10.8-inch display and an Intel Atom x7 processor, which gives it enough juice to run a full version of Windows 8.1 and, coming this summer, Windows 10. The low cost of entry could also attract buyers unwilling to fork up $899 or more for Apple’s cheapest offering, the $899-and-up 11-inch MacBook Air.

Previous Surface tablets ran Windows RT, a stripped-down operating system for mobile devices that could run apps but not Microsoft’s flagship Windows desktop applications. Early reviews of the device have welcomed the addition of a full-fledged Windows operating system as a welcome and necessary improvement to the non-pro Surface line.

The Surface 3 is currently available for pre-order at the Microsoft Store, and will hit retail stores by May 7.

 

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games of the Month

Lastronaut
Lastronaut Lastronaut

Play our favorite iPhone games of March

Every week, TIME rounds up our favorite iPhone games of the past few days. Here are the best of the best for March, from mind-straining puzzle games to mad-dash runners.

TouchTone

This is one of the most fascinating games for iPhone at the moment. A lot like the celebrated Papers Please, TouchTone is about cracking a code and finding patterns with an eye for red flags. The game presents you with puzzles you must break in order to find important messages pertaining to national security. It’s a true, tough challenge that feels a bit like propaganda, but if you can get over that part of it, TouchTone will keep you occupied for hours.

TouchTone is $2.99 in the App Store

Spring Ninja

Spring Ninja is an adorable runner-type game in which you control a ninja with springs beneath its feet, jumping from column to column in order to beat your high score. The challenge is to jump from one platform to the next without falling off or overshooting. Be prepared to invest lots of practice time to master the art of spotting your next landing.

Spring Ninja is free in the App Store

Heartbeats

A game that feels like a Gogol short story, Heartbeats is a puzzling little challenge that will take you plenty of time to crack. The appeal of this game is largely in the way it’s designed — as a series of scrawled, eerie doodles. The game tells a story, too: you must solve the puzzles one man left behind as his life’s legacy to learn more about him. Each level presents a unique task that will make you work hard and think differently. A strange game that should make the top of the charts in little time.

Heartbeats is free in the App Store

Lastronaut

An endless runner game with an arcade backdrop, Lastronaut tells the story of a world overrun by a mechanical army that must be destroyed. Jump, run, dodge, and attack wave after wave of enemy forces as you run through the map. Pick up robot weapons and different gear in order to last as long as you possibly can.

Lastronaut is free in the App Store

Under the Sun

In Under the Sun, the goal is to lead your character through a series of puzzle-based desert island maps. In this 3D puzzle game, try to navigate natural obstacles such as trees and rocks in order to get to reach your fire before it gets dark. But every move you make alters the map just a bit. Thankfully, you can tinker with time and go backwards if you make a mistake.

Under the Sun is free in the App Store

TIME apps

The 10 Best Free Apps for Travel Junkies

454232369
Stephen Simpson—Getty Images

These apps could make your next journey a little faster, cheaper and smarter

Odds are you use no more than two travel apps to get from point A to point B, and that’s fine — surveys show you’re not alone.

But consider for a moment these 10 travel apps, which can shave time and money off your next journey and help you sniff out a few hidden gems to boot. They’re all free and just one download away from making your next trip smooth sailing.

Hopper

Hopper predicts the optimal time to snag a flight deal by analyzing billions of airfares daily and picking out those brief moments when a price drops below its historic average. Travelers with flexible dates can use Hopper’s color-coded calendar to spot the cheapest dates in a month. Hopper’s handiest feature, “Watch a Flight,” sends a push notification when the price of a given route tends to bottom out.

Options Away

Of course, no forecast is perfect. Options Away essentially gives flyers insurance for missed deals. For a small fee, users can lock in an airfare two days to three weeks ahead of the purchase. If the airfare drops, they automatically get the cheaper ticket. If not, they pay the original price and swallow the fee ($5 to more than $50, depending on the hold time). Perfect for flyers who suffer from frequent bouts of buyer’s remorse.

TripAdvisor

Millions of travelers use TripAdvisor to rank restaurants, bars, hotels and sights on a five star system. Collectively, they’ve enabled TripAdvisor to create a handy, crowdsourced list of the city’s must see attractions. Think of it as a Cliffs Notes version of the travel guide, perfect for anyone who doesn’t have the time or patience to plod through 300 pages of advice. For more curated travel tips, TripAdvisor also offers a standalone Offline City Guides app to more than 80 destinations you can download and access later without a mobile data connection.

Localeur

Maybe you’d rather steer clear of the well-trodden sights and slip into the local scene. Localeur solicits advice from, you guessed it, locals, whose travel tips range from the eclectic — “Miami’s awesomely authentic taqueria’s” — to the bizzarre — “Portland’s 4 best photo booth bars.” For now, the quirky advice is limited to 14 major U.S. cities. But what Localeur lacks in coverage, it makes up for in personality.

Airbnb

No hotel booking site can match the sheer diversity of Airbnb‘s 1,000,000 listings and counting. Rental options range from castles to vans, yurts to watchtowers, and an ever-growing supply of apartments, rooms and sofas to accommodate just about anyone’s budget. Using the app requires a little more administrative work than the typical hotel booking — you’ll need to authenticate your identity and work out the logistics of the key hand-off with the host. On the other hand, yurts!

Postagram

For a more personal postcard, upload a vacation picture to Postagram, type in a greeting, and Postagram will print out the card and send it through snail mail for 99 cents in the U.S. and $1.99 worldwide.

Google Translate

The Google Translate team recently launched a killer feature for international travelers: “Conversation mode.” Simply open the app, hold the mobile device between two people speaking a different language, and listen as it translates a conversation live. The speakers may struggle to adjust to the lag time and a fair amount of mistranslations, but it certainly beats trying to get messages across through frantic hand waving.

TripIt

Confirmation emails for flights, hotels and rental cars can pile up fast and easily get lost in the shuffle of inbox. TripIt automatically converts those emails into a single, easy-to-read travel itinerary. The app scans the body of emails for reservation times, automatically adds events to your calendar, sorts them in chronological order and pulls in maps to help with navigation.

Skype

Cell phone carriers tend to make off like bandits when it comes to international charges. Bypass the fees with Skype, which routes calls over a Wi-Fi network for $.02 a minute. Calls placed to other Skype accounts, a user base of more than 250 million people, are free of charge.

Gas Buddy

Gas Buddy keeps a running tab of the cheapest gas stations in your area. Tap on a gas station to pull up driving directions on Google Maps. The prices are reported by users, who are incentivized to keep prices up to date by racking up points, which they can later redeem for free prizes.

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