TIME Video Games

The Luigi ‘Death Stare’ Is Now Nintendo Canon, Apparently

It's also probably not a good idea to say his name three times while standing in front of a mirror.

Remember the Luigi “death stare” meme that surfaced after Mario Kart 8 shipped? The thing where Luigi (green-capped brother of Mario) stares down his victims on the raceway like the Wrath of God in a go-kart?

Nintendo tipped its hat to the meme during its E3 2014 Digital Event, and now it’s identifying that steely, spleenful gaze with the character in Japanese ads for Mario Kart 8. Check it out.

How’ll we know it’s really canon in years to come? How else: Have Luigi whip out his flashlight and shine it from under his chin while doing his pitiless thing in the next Luigi’s Mansion game. Make it a special move even.

TIME Video Games

The Destiny Beta Is Back a Day Early for Both PlayStation and Xbox

Bungie says the Destiny beta is back early because it managed to finish maintenance ahead of schedule.

You know all that stuff about the Destiny beta being down for maintenance and offline until Wednesday, July 23 at 10:00 a.m. PT?

Pish-posh, apparently, because the beta is back as I’m typing this, and I mean for everyone — PlayStation and Xbox players alike. Bungie made the announcement on its Destiny blog just a few hours ago:

We know you’ve been waiting, so we busted our asses to finish our chores up early. You can download and play the Beta right now. This is a great moment for the entire Bungie Community to share in this adventure, and we couldn’t be more excited. Get in there. Break it. Tell us what you think. Share your experiences online.

If you have a code, redeem it already, says Bungie, and if you don’t, here’s how you can still get one. Bungie adds that it has “some surprises in store,” and says that if you play this Saturday, July 26, starting at 2:00 p.m. PT, you’ll get a permanent reward to celebrate your participation. The beta runs until July 27 at 11:59 p.m. PT, and the launch version of the game arrives for Xbox and PlayStation platforms on September 9.

TIME Microsoft

Nokia Drags Down Microsoft Profits

Microsoft logo outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash.
Ted S. Warren—AP

The software firm took over of the fledgling cell-phone maker in April

Quarterly profits at Microsoft fell 7.1% even as revenues rose, due to the company’s April acquisition of cellphone maker Nokia, the software giant said in a quarterly financial report Tuesday.

Microsoft’s core software products—like Windows and Office—continue to sell well to other businesses; revenue on commercial sales rose 11% in the last quarter. That strong performance wasn’t enough to make up for operating losses at Nokia, which totaled $692 million.

The report comes on the heels of Microsoft announcing it will slash up to 18,000 jobs over the coming year. Most of those cuts, the company said, will come from Nokia. The workforce drawdown is the largest in the company’s 39-year history.

The report covers the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended June 30. Revenue for the period is up 18% year over year.

“Our solid execution and expense discipline allowed us to deliver a strong finish to the fiscal year,” said Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Microsoft.

 

 

 

TIME

Apple Sees Surging iPhone Sales, but iPad Sluggish

Apple Unveils New Versions Of Popular iPad
An attendee looks at the new iPad Mini during an Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 22, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

As tablets face competition from big phones

Updated July 22 at 6:20 p.m. ET

Apple topped analysts’ projections in the third quarter of its fiscal year with profits of $7.7 billion, the company disclosed in its quarterly earnings report Tuesday. That figure amounted to earnings per share of $1.28, beating analysts’ projections of $1.23 per share. Apple’s revenue for the quarter was $37.4 billion, below analysts’ expectations of $38 billion.

Apple’s profits were again driven by the iPhone, which moved 35.2 million units during the quarter, up from 31.2 million during the same quarter in 2013. At $19.8 billion in sales, the iPhone comprised nearly 53 percent of Apple’s total revenue. iPhone sales were down compared to to the second quarter, when the device sold 43.7 million units. The period between April and June has historically been a weak time for iPhone sales as consumers anticipate the launch of the latest device in the line, which typically occurs in September.

While the iPhone’s business continues to grow, the iPad is showing signs of slowing. The tablet sold 13.3 million units in the quarter, down 9 percent year-over-year and down 19 percent from the period between January and March of this year. This was the second straight quarter the iPad slipped in year-over-year sales—in the second fiscal quarter the device line was down 16 percent. In fact, the entire tablet market was down in the U.S. early this year because of increased competition from large-screen smartphones.

In a conference call with investors, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the iPad’s performance, saying that the device still has a promising future. “IPad sales met our expectations but we realize that they didn’t meet many of yours,” he said. “What’s most important to us is that customers are enjoying their iPads and using them heavily.”

Cook pointed to a recently-announced partnership with IBM to push Apple devices and services to enterprise customers as an avenue for iPad sales growth. Currently only about 20 percent of tablet owners use the devices for work-related activities, according to an April survey by JD Power. “I honestly believe the opportunity is huge,” Cook said. He also noted that the device’s sales are still growing quickly in less-developed markets such as China and the Middle East.

Though Apple had to defend the iPad, the company noted iTunes software as another area of strong growth. Revenue in the sector, which is comprised mostly of sales in the iTunes and App Stores, grew 12 percent year-over-year to $4.5 billion.

Apple’s line of Macintosh desktops and laptops grew 18 percent year-over-year to 4.4 million units in sales. The iPod line sold 2.9 million units in the quarter, down 36 percent from the same period last year.

Overall the earnings report did little to move Apple stock, which inched up less than 1 percent in after-hours trading. Both investors and Apple fans are currently awaiting the newest generation of iPhone, which will reportedly boast at least one model with a 5.5-inch screen and is expected to launch sometime this fall.

“iPhone 6 is clearly what people are pointing to,” says Bill Kreher, an Apple analyst at Edward Jones. “The company faces heightened execution risk as it increasingly relies on new products to boost growth.”

TIME facebook

Here’s What William Shatner Thinks of Facebook’s New Celebs-Only App

William Shatner Reviews Facebook Mentions
William Shatner performs during his one-man show, "Shatner's World: We Just Live In It," in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller—Getty Images

And he isn't too amused with it

Actor William Shatner, an outspoken Twitter rights activist, took to Tumblr Tuesday to review Facebook Mentions, the new celebrities-only app meant to boost public figures’ interactions with their fans. And he isn’t too amused.

The Star Trek alum compared the older Pages App to Mentions, the new app that “most of [us] don’t have access to.” Shatner’s review contains five chapters for five comparable features between Pages and Mentions, stamping them each with the Shatner seal of approval or disapproval. He likes that Mentions allows him to track trends, mentions (of course) and notifications, but what didn’t float his boat were certain features that weren’t seamlessly integrated across Mentions and Pages, or ones that seemed to him like they were carelessly lumped in the app.

“The Fifth and final section of each app [Pages' Feed and Mentions' Photos, Events and Settings] seems like they are afterthoughts – where can we put these items,” Shatner wrote.

At times Shatner is a harsh critic, writing that both Pages and Mention “clearly both fail” with regards to posting options. Not only that, but he also seemed creeped out by the strange marketing strategy—a banner ad featuring a graphic of his face pasted onto an iPhone—and annoyed that he’d been forced to follow a celebrity to begin using the app. Of course, Facebook suggested that he follow Star Trek‘s George Takei, though the two aren’t exactly on good terms. In the end, Shatner remained skeptical of the new app’s usefulness.

“I’m not quite sure why Facebook released this app for ‘celebrities,’” Shatner wrote. “It seems to be ill conceived. I will probably use it to post to my Facebook when I’m on my phone but it doesn’t allow for mail or groups. I will continue to use my regular Facebook App as well as the Pages app.”

 

TIME Gadgets

How to Build a Better Game Boy with Raspberry Pi

Note that if you're so inclined, you'll need to be handy with a soldering iron, hot glue gun, dremel and a bunch of other things.

+ READ ARTICLE

You know how we like to remember things, as Bill Pullman’s character says in David Lynch’s Lost Highway, in our own way? When I think about Nintendo’s original Game Boy, released over two decades ago, it’s of a tiny handheld with sharp graphics and a screen like a pocket-sized poster.

Except looking at pictures of it now, the Game Boy resembles more the brick it probably was, and that eensy-teensy screen is a postage stamp dipped in pea soup. How did we ever game on that thing?

What if you could build a better Game Boy, or at least one with a better, bigger screen and a vastly more flexible backend?

Right, Nintendo already checked the bigger, better screen box with its Light and Color and Advance models. But I’m talking about a Game Boy that still looks like the original XL-sized model, with the same cerise-colored face buttons and off-white ABS plastic housing, only under the hood it’s a Raspberry Pi.

In the spirit of mods that require soldering irons and hot glue guns and bucket-loads of patience, meet the “Super Mega Ultra Pi Boy 64,” a Game Boy shell with a Raspberry Pi soul.

Raspberry Pi, in case you don’t know, is a computer on a single circuit board. It’s tiny (about the size of a credit card), relatively powerful (on par with an older Android phone or iPhone) and extremely cheap (in the $20 to $30 range). It runs a medley of operating systems, including Linux, RISC OS and Windows CE, and was designed for educational as well as enthusiast purposes, the idea being that kids (or anyone, really) could tinker with it to make who knows what.

Fair warning: the process whereby modder Microbyter put together his “Super Pi Boy” looks arduous, but what the heck — it’s a great read. This fellow picked up a damaged Game Boy for $5, dremeled out the battery compartment, converted a 3.5-inch LCD from 12v to 5v (to make it work with the battery), soldered in the original Game Boy controller PCB, rejiggered the audio to work with an amplifier, loaded an emulator called Retropie, then dropped in the Pi board itself and wired everything together.

And it works, which is some kind of miracle, and has me wishing I had one so I could play through this twitchy grayscale gem all over again.

TIME Security

Facebook and Twitter Users: Don’t Fall for MH17 ‘Actual Footage’ Scams

Be very careful which MH17 news stories you click on, especially on Facebook and Twitter, where scammers are exploiting the tragedy to spam you.

If you run across Facebook pages touting pictures of Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash victims, or tweets linking to reports on the disaster, warning: they may be fakes, harbor malware or redirect you to pornographic websites.

The BBC reports that fraudsters are exploiting the tragic destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, ostensibly shot down by a ground to air missile on July 17, by bait-and-switching users with promises of shocking video footage or tribute pages to victims that instead link viewers to spam or other offensive content.

In one instance, a Facebook page was created the day the plane crashed that purported to have video footage of the crash itself, says the Daily Mail. Clicking the link promising the video redirected viewers to a spam site, which of course contained no such video. The Facebook page has since been removed, but security expert TrendMicro, which blogged about some of this cybercriminal activity on July 18, expects MH17 exploitation to continue.

In other instances, as noted by TrendMicro, people may be using the tragedy to boost web traffic, posting suspicious tweets with links to malicious sites harboring malware, but also seemingly legitimate ones in hopes of “gaining hits/page views on their sites or ads.”

So beware and think before you click, especially if you see claims like “Video Camera Caught the moment plane MH17 Crash over Ukraine” (as noted by the BBC). There is no such video, and the chances are all but certain you’re being gamed based on someone’s perverse attempt to mine an unspeakable calamity. What you can do, on the other hand, is report such suspicious activity to Twitter or Facebook.

TIME Big Picture

Tablet Growth Hasn’t Peaked

tablet growth
Getty Images

In its recent quarterly results, Apple surprised people when it reported a dip in iPad sales. This was followed by a lot of hand-wringing by some industry observers and analysts, who suggested that overall tablet growth has slowed or even plateaued.

I don’t dispute that tablet growth has slowed, but I’m not at all as concerned as other analysts about the industry going forward. In fact, I think tablet sales will accelerate again soon.

We are at an inflection point with tablets. In many developed markets, PC penetration is high and smartphone penetration is high. The role of the tablet in between these two screens is not yet clear in the minds of many consumers. For example, today in most U.S. homes, the tablet is a communal device that members of a family access and share.

According to recent data we (Creative Strategies) gathered, over 50% of tablet owners indicate that they share the device with at least one other person. This dynamic has added to the tablet sales slowdown, along with a refresh cycle that’s closer to that of a PC than that of a smartphone. People don’t buy new tablets as often as they buy new phones.

Another interesting observation is that the bulk of tablet purchases in 2013 were in the seven- to eight-inch screen size. When you look at the growing size of smartphone screens, ranging all the way from four to six-and-a-half inches, then it begs the question as to why a small-screen tablet is better than a big-screen phone. My gut tells me that the growing screen sizes of smartphones have also played a role in slowing tablet sales.

But I don’t believe this will be the case for long. In reality, it’s hard to look at a one- or two-quarter slowdown and claim it as the new norm or a long-term trend. There are many dynamics at play with regard to tablets that look to set them up for more prime growth.

Bigger Is Better

One is the trend of larger-screen phones I mentioned above. We believe that larger tablets, meaning those closer to 10 inches or larger, are primed to be a growth area. Since a great deal of smaller-screen tablets represent a large portion of the install base, it seems reasonable that larger screen tablets become more attractive, especially if someone already has a large-screen phone.

Look for this trend to play out on the business and enterprise side as well. From salespeople making both impromptu and formal one-on-one presentations, to managers working with documents and spreadsheets, bigger screens offer more value.

If this happens, we believe more consumers will see the value of the tablet as a legitimate PC replacement. Tablets have been largely supplemental to PCs up to this point, part of the reason being because smaller tablets are not viable PC replacements. However, data point after data point suggests to us that once consumers get their hands on larger tablets, they begin seeing their value as a primary computing devices.

Great Deals

The other dynamic that could bring tablet growth back is connectivity. To date, most tablets purchased are W-Fi-only models. However, we believe this may all be about to change. Carriers are looking to make tablets a growth area for themselves, and we hear that there’s interest to either heavily subsidize tablets or even move to an installment plan model.

What this means is that for very little to no upfront cost, consumers will be able to get a connected tablet from their carrier and just pay a small fee per month for the hardware and the data plan. Carriers looking to do aggressive bundles with hardware tied to their services is a major trend we see coming.

For IT managers, this could mean even more consumers wanting to bring their tablets to work. More importantly, these tablets that would be connected at all times, not just while on Wi-Fi.

If we are right and there is a trend moving toward larger, connected tablets, then a new opportunity for hardware and software companies may be shaping up, along with new use cases for enterprise users.

Tablet sales may be leveling off in the short term, but to say their growth has peaked is way off target.

Bajarin is a principal at Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to the Big Picture opinion column that appears here every week.

TIME Video Games

Nintendo’s ‘Wii U to Wii U’ Transfer Feature Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Nintendo adds a system-to-system transfer option, but Wii U owners still can't backup save files or move data around conveniently.

I’m not sure it’s the feature that’ll motivate fence-sitters off their palisades to buy one, but if you already own a Wii U — or better still, two — the latest system update finally adds the option to run a full system transfer, Wii U to Wii U.

To be clear, you’re already able to transfer data off the Wii U, you just can’t back it up. Does that sound oxymoronic? Let me explain.

Wii U data can only exist in one place, so you either have it on the Wii U’s internal flash or an external USB storage device, but never in both places at once. If you brick your Wii U and your save files live on an external storage device, then you buy or receive a replacement Wii U, you’ve had no way of recovering those files. Making matters worse, Nintendo doesn’t offer cloud saves, so you could argue the Wii U is inferior to the original Nintendo Entertainment System (which in some cases allowed you to save straight to the cartridge) as well as most systems that’ve come after it.

Nintendo’s latest Wii U system update, out yesterday, goes some way toward rectifying this deficit, but the restrictions are pretty onerous. For starters, you’ll need the source Wii U alive and kicking and running the same system software version as the destination Wii U. From there, you’re in essence running an all-or-nothing clone operation: the source Wii U transfers “any users, Nintendo Network IDs, save data, and digital content” to the target Wii U, then wipes the source Wii U clean.

That’s helpful if you own a vanilla Wii U, say, and want to transition to the annual custom-painted limited edition. But we’re probably talking about a handful of hardcore Nintendophiles. Who wants to own two otherwise identical Wii Us? And even then, you’re not backing anything up, you’re just moving it from one system to another.

It’s a shame, because what I’d wager Wii U owners really want — or at least what I do — is a way to back up those Wii U save files, be it to the cloud or an external storage device. Microsoft and Sony have supported save file duplication to external storage as well as cloud save-file backups for years. Nintendo’s system update is arguably helpful for a tiny fraction of Nintendo’s audience, in other words, but not the backup/transfer feature Wii U owners have long deserved.

TIME Smartphones

OnePlus One Review: Phone of Dreams

Jared Newman for TIME

It's hard to imagine a better phone for Android geeks. Too bad you can't get one.

As I walked around Google’s I/O conference last month, my phone seemed to have a mythical status among the Android faithful.

“Is that the OnePlus One?” they’d ask. “How’d you get it? Can I see?” But it wasn’t the phone’s capabilities that made them so curious. It was the fact that the OnePlus One is nearly impossible to buy.

Right now, the only way to purchase a OnePlus One is through an invitation from another owner. And because OnePlus only seeded the phone to a small batch of original owners through a contest, there aren’t a lot of Ones to go around. (Mine came direct from the OnePlus PR department, with no invites attached.)

It’s easy to see why Android geeks are clamoring for the OnePlus One. It has all the hallmarks of a high-end Android phone, including a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor, 3 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera.

But at $350 unlocked, it’s roughly half the price of an unlocked iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy S5. While you can get subsidized phones for cheaper, an unsubsidized plan from AT&T or T-Mobile would save a lot of money in the long run when paired with a OnePlus One.

Besides, the OnePlus One is a standout phone even without the cost savings.

The funny thing is that when I show this phone to regular people, it draws an entirely different reaction. There’s nothing outwardly impressive or even noteworthy about it, save for the black backing that’s as grippy as ultra-fine sandpaper. (A 16 GB white model has a ground cashew backing that’s supposed to feel like baby skin. I found someone at I/O with this version, and while it felt pretty smooth, I didn’t have my test baby on hand for comparison.)

Still, much of the OnePlus One’s appeal comes from what it doesn’t do. In contrast to so many other Android phones, the One is devoid of questionable gimmicks and flare for flare’s sake. The front of the phone is unadorned with tacky brand names or logos, and there are no dual-lens cameras, finicky fingerprint readers or problematic curved glass. When the screen is off, it’s nothing but a thin silver frame surrounding a panel of black glass. The simplicity is striking.

Jared Newman for TIME

Start it up, and you’ll find something very close to stock Android 4.4, with hardly any unnecessary bloatware. The handful of tweaks that do exist come courtesy of CyanogenMod, a modification of stock Android that many enthusiasts install on their phones anyway. There’s a quick settings bar that appears above your notifications, a set of audio equalizer controls and a store for themes that alter the phone’s look and feel. But none of these additions feel intrusive, and most of them can be modified or removed.

Because the system is unburdened by junk and excessive visual flourishes, the OnePlus One always feels fast. The phone never left me hanging as I switched apps, swiped through homescreens and opened the camera. That’s not always the case with the latest mainstream Android phones.

The camera also lacks frilly features, but it’s dependable all around. Its f/2.0 aperture means it can handle low-light photography about as well as the HTC One (no relation), and while it’s not quite as good as HTC’s phone at fending off shaky hands, it’s capable of snapping much more detailed photos. I had no major issues with responsiveness either, as the phone takes about a second to establish focus and snaps photos instantly thereafter. My sole complaint is that you can’t hold the shutter button down for burst mode like you can on the HTC One and iPhone 5s. (There is a separate burst mode option, but that defeats the purpose when you’re trying to capture the perfect moment.)

Jared Newman for TIME

The other thing you only appreciate with time is the OnePlus One’s battery. I tend to charge my phone every night, but after most days I had well over 50 percent battery life in the tank. That includes days when I was constantly using the phone’s mobile hotspot or watching lots of video. It was nice having a phone where battery life was not a concern at all.

My only problems with the OnePlus One tended not to rise above nitpick status. The display, while clear and crisp enough at 1080p, can be a bit hard to read outdoors on sunny days, and its auto-brightness setting doesn’t always hit the appropriate level. I could also do without some of the software tweaks that OnePlus has added, such as the settings shortcuts that are redundant with Android’s own quick settings panel, and the gesture-based shortcuts that I always seemed to enter accidentally. But as I said above, OnePlus allows you to switch these off.

Most of the time, the OnePlus One just did what it was supposed to do. And outside the geekier climes of Google I/O, it never drew attention to itself by causing headaches or getting in the way, and never felt like it was anything less than a high-end handset.

That’s exactly how a smartphone should be, and it’s sad that so many Android vendors feel the need to distract with flips and cartwheels instead. If OnePlus can actually distribute this phone more broadly–and I’m told an actual pre-order system is coming eventually–its ability to excite people without glitz and gimmickry will be its greatest trick.

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