TIME Google

Google’s Best App Just Got Better

Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014. Google Inc. executives are taking the stage this week to talk about a plethora of new technologies, including automobiles, home automation, digital TV, Web-connected devices and a new version of Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Sundar Pichai
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Sundar Pichai, senior vice-president of Products for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014.

Google Now is expanding its context-sensitive suggestions across multiple apps

Google is looking to expand the functionality of its sophisticated digital assistant Google Now.

A new functionality called Now on Tap, announced Thursday at Google’s annual I/O developers conference, will bring Now’s context-sensitive information and suggestions to many of the apps users commonly open on their Android devices.

Google showed off the versatility of Now on Tap in a series of demos. While listening to Skrillex in a music player, a Googler asked, “OK Google, what’s his real name?” and Now on Tap was able to use the context of the open app to immediately recognize that the user was referring to Skrillex and serve the correct answer (Sonny John Moore). In another example, when a person received a series of text messages suggesting dinner at a nearby restaurant and a request to pick up drying cleaning, Now on Tap was able to scan the contents of the messages to pull up info about the restaurant and offer to set a reminder about a dry cleaning. In a third example, as a user was reading an email that mentioned the movie Tomorrowland, they were able to bring up an info card with the movie’s trailers, review scores and cast list immediately available by simply pressing the phone’s home button.

Google Now has quickly become a large focus of the search giant, as it leverages many of the company’s strengths (trawling the web for facts and providing accurate navigation info, for instance) to create a streamlined user experience. Apple is rumored to be working on a similar service, code-named Proactive.

TIME Google

Google’s Secret to Doubling Your Phone’s Battery Life

An attendee takes a photograph prior to the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014. Google Inc. executives are taking the stage this week to talk about a plethora of new technologies, including automobiles, home automation, digital TV, Web-connected devices and a new version of Android. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP An attendee takes a photograph prior to the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 28, 2014.

New version of Android shuts down processes in certain apps to stem battery drain

Google is aiming to give your phones and tablets a little more juice to make it through the day without dying.

At its annual I/O developers conference Thursday, the company announced a new power-conservation feature in its upcoming mobile operating system Android M. Called “Doze,” the new feature uses motion sensors to detect when a device hasn’t been moved for an extended period. Android will then automatically shut down processes for certain power-hogging apps, which should significantly extend the device’s battery life.

When testing the feature, Google said a Nexus 9 tablet running Doze on Android M had a battery life twice as long as the same device using the older Android L operating system.

The new feature won’t turn your phone into a total paperweight. Users will still be alerted to alarms and high-priority messages even when the phone or tablet is dozing.

TIME Autos

Watch BMW Test Driverless Cars and Virtual Reality

With tech companies on its heel, the top premium car maker taps the Internet to try and win the next race

Automakers have never had so much in common with Silicon Valley. Car makers are increasingly relying on technology to develop, market and sell cars to consumers. In fact, most of the world’s major auto companies established research and development labs of one sort or another in the Bay Area. BMW and Volkswagen set up shop there in 1998, General Motors in 2006, Toyota and Ford in 2012, Renault-Nissan in 2013. The automotive industry spends some $100 billion globally on R&D annually, about 16% of the world’s total for all industries.

Likewise, Bay Area firms are also increasingly interested in autos. Ever since the dawn of the personal computer, Silicon Valley has been inventing or reinventing new gadgets: the music player, the phone, the computer first as a phone and, later, as a tablet. Amazon remade the mall. Netflix and YouTube remade TV. Elon Musk’s Tesla notwithstanding, the last great remaining American preoccupation that tech hasn’t widely tackled is the automobile.

MORE: See Inside BMW’s Secret Design Lab

But automakers have a significantly more difficult task integrating technology into their vehicles. Where a new version of an Android phone, for example, might be reasonably expected to last its owner two or three years, most cars are on the roads for decades. That means built-in technology has to last over a much longer time fame. Legislation, as the fights over Tesla’s dealership model and Google’s self-driving cars have shown, can be limiting. And some high-tech bells and whistles simply never take. For every innovation like GPS navigation, there’s a numeric key pad.

In this video, TIME looks at how the top-selling premium manufacturer BMW is exploring new technology ranging from self-driving vehicles to virtual reality in an effort to keep pace with the competition.

TIME Media

HBO’s New Streaming Service Is Coming to Android

San Francisco Premiere Of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - Red Carpet
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau attends the premiere of HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Season 5 at San Francisco Opera House on March 23, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Standalone streaming service will be available in Google Play store

HBO’s standalone streaming service is coming to Google devices.

The search giant announced at its annual I/O developers conference Thursday that HBO Now will soon be available for Android devices in the Google Play store.

HBO Now was originally announced as a timed exclusive for Apple TV and iOS. But it was always a given that the service would eventually expand to other devices. Now users of Android phones, tablets and set-top boxes will be able to stream shows like Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley at the same time as they are broadcast on television without the need for a cable subscription. The service costs $14.99 per month.

In other streaming news, Google revealed that its Chromecast device has sold 17 million units so far. Users have pressed the cast button to stream content onto various screens more than 1.5 billion times.

TIME Google

Google Photos Will Soon Solve All Your Storage Needs

Larry Page, Google co-founder and CEO speaks during the opening keynote at the Google I/O developers conference at the Moscone Center on May 15, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Larry Page, Google co-founder and CEO speaks during the opening keynote at the Google I/O developers conference at the Moscone Center on May 15, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif.

Includes unlimited storage

Google is ready to store your personal photo stash — and you won’t have to log into Google+ to make it happen.

Google Photos, as the new service is called, will premiere today at the tech giant’s annual developer conference in San Francisco, according to TechCrunch. The new digital photo album has been rumored for weeks.

Here’s what TechCrunch has been able to glean so far:

  • Google Photos will take over the photos.google.com address that currently directs to Google+.
  • It will have unlimited storage, though it’s unclear if there will be any exceptions to that promise. Previously, if you’ve been storing photos on Picasa or Google+, it ate up a portion of your Gmail/Drive storage limits.
  • Photo sizes will likely be capped at 16 megapixels. Video resolution can be as big as 1080p.
  • Google [fortune-stock symbol=”GOOG”] will also debut a new Photos app for Android that has better photo sorting capabilities.
TIME robotics

Watch This Drone’s Unfortunate Encounter With a Goose

Both appear to be okay

In a video posted by RTV NH, a media production company in Holland, a goose appears to smash into a drone (potentially on purpose). Thankfully, both the drone and the goose seemingly end the encounter unscathed.

In case you were wondering, the bird is an Egyptian Goose, which is known for being territorial. The drone was capturing images of Oudorperpolder, in the city of Alkmaar, according to The Daily Mail.

Unfortunately for drones and fowl alike, this could be an increasingly common occurrence, especially as the drone industry is expected to continue booming in coming years. Business Insider report commercial and civilian drone sales will grow at 19% between 2015 and 2020, while military models will see 5% growth.

The drone industry overall is expected to be worth over $8.4 billion by 2019, CNBC reports, citing ABI Research estimates.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME Uber

Uber Just Made it Easier to Be a Deaf Driver

Uber At $40 Billion Valuation Would Eclipse Twitter And Hertz
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Uber Technologies Inc. logo is displayed on the window of a vehicle after dropping off a passenger at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.

They'll get special features on the Uber app

Uber on Thursday unveiled updates to its app to better accommodate deaf drivers.

The special features, being tested in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., are flipped on by drivers. Once activated, drivers will see a flashing light—in addition to an audio notification—to indicate a new trip request. Passengers won’t be able to call deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers; they’ll only be able to relay special pick-up directions by text. Passengers will receive a notification that their driver is deaf or heard-of-hearing, and they’ll get an extra prompt to input their destination.

Thursday’s announcement could be seen as an attempt by Uber to improve its reputation or gain a competitive edge. Disabled passengers have sued Uber in the past for discrimination. One lawsuit by the National Federation of the Blind of California, for example, says an UberX driver stuffed a blind passenger’s guide dog in the trunk and refused to stop the car to let the animal out. Other drivers allegedly refused to pick up blind customers accompanied by dogs.

Uber has denied the allegations, saying that it doesn’t discriminate and can pick up blind passengers. In responding to another lawsuit, Uber argued that as a technology company, it is not subject to laws regulating public transit and other transportation providers, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Passengers have also slammed Uber’s rival Lyft with similar lawsuits, but Lyft has managed to secure a reputation as being more welcoming to disabled drivers.

TIME technology

How TIME Explained the Way Computers Work

The Computer Society
The Feb. 20, 1978, cover of TIME

You don't need a Turing Machine to understand it

When Alan Turing submitted his paper On Computable Numbers to the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society on this day, May 28, in 1936, he could not have guessed that it would lead not only to the computer as we know it today, but also nearly all of the gadgets and devices that are so crucial a part of our lives.

The paper demonstrated that a so-called Turing Machine could perform solvable computations, a proof that is commonly seen as one of the original stepping stones toward the existence of modern computers. Though Turing, who died in 1954, never got to see a smartphone, his paper remains the touchstone behind the technology.

For a 1978 cover story about “The Computer Society,” TIME broke down how computers work in easy(-ish)-to understand terms, thus explaining why Turing mattered so much:

In the decimal system, each digit of a number read from right to left is understood to be multiplied by a progressively higher power of 10. Thus the number 4,932 consists of 2 multiplied by 1, plus 3 multiplied by 10, plus 9 multiplied by 10 X 10, plus 4 multiplied by 10 X 10 X 10. In the binary system, each digit of a number, again read from right to left, is multiplied by a progressively higher power of 2. Thus the binary number 11010 equals 0 times 1, plus 1 times 2, plus 0 times 2 X 2, plus 1 times 2 X 2 X 2, plus 1 times 2 X 2 X 2 X 2–for a total of 26 (see chart).

Working with long strings of 1s and 0s would be cumbersome for humans–but it is a snap for a digital computer. Composed mostly of parts that are essentially on-off switches, the machines are perfectly suited for binary computation. When a switch is open, it corresponds to the binary digit 0; when it is closed, it stands for the digit 1. Indeed, the first modern digital computer completed by Bell Labs scientists in 1939 employed electromechanical switches called relays, which opened and closed like an old-fashioned Morse telegraph key. Vacuum tubes and transistors can also be used as switching devices and can be turned off and on at a much faster pace.

But how does the computer make sense out of the binary numbers represented by its open and closed switches? At the heart of the answer is the work of two other gifted Englishmen. One of them was the 19th century mathematician George Boole, who devised a system of algebra, or mathematical logic, that can reliably determine if a statement is true or false. The other was Alan Turing, who pointed out in the 1930s that, with Boolean algebra, only three logical functions are needed to process these “trues” and “falses”–or, in computer terms, 1s and 0s. The functions are called AND, OR and NOT, and their operation can readily be duplicated by simple electronic circuitry containing only a few transistors, resistors and capacitors. In computer parlance, they are called logic gates (because they pass on information only according to the rules built into them). Incredible as it may seem, such gates can, in the proper combinations, perform all the computer’s high-speed prestidigitations.

The simplest and most common combination of the gates is the half-adder, which is designed to add two 1s, a 1 and a 0, or two 0s. If other half-adders are linked to the circuit, producing a series of what computer designers call full adders, the additions can be carried over to other columns for tallying up ever higher numbers. Indeed, by using only addition, the computer can perform the three other arithmetic functions.

Read the full story from 1978, here in the TIME Vault: The Numbers Game

TIME Apple

Everything We Know About Apple’s New iPhone Software

Get ready for split-screen views, transit routes and lowkey shade delivered via iMessage

The next version of Apple’s mobile operating system is almost here.

The company is expected to unveil iOS 9 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. A new iOS update isn’t quite a big deal as a new iPhone, but the announcements can often be substantial–iOS 7 brought us a completely revamped mobile interface, while iOS 8 featured a health activity tracker and improved predictive keyboard.

Here’s what’s rumored to be in the works for Apple’s iOS 9:

A New Font

Apple is reportedly planning to dump the Helvetica font it’s been using since iOS 8 in favor of a San Francisco font that’s currently in use on the Apple Watch. The font was chosen for Apple Watch specifically because it’s readable on small screens.

A “Home” app for connected devices

In iOS 8 Apple added HomeKit, a framework that helps users control connected devices in their home. Now the company is working on a user-friendly app called “Home” that will let users more easily control disparate devices from a single interface. Among the features rumored to be part of the Home app are virtual rooms that let users easily detect which parts of their house have which connected devices. However, 9to5Mac warns that the featureset so far is fairly limited so the app may not be ready for a public debut in June.

Improved Apple Maps

Apple is finally planning to add subway and bus routes to its Maps app, a feature that’s been available in Google Maps for years. The initial rollout may be limited to just a handful of cities globally, including New York and San Francisco. The company is also using Roomba-sized robots to develop indoor maps of buildings and landmarks, though that feature won’t necessarily be ready for iOS 9.

Dual-app viewing for iPad

Apple wants to give iPads the ability to run two apps side-by-side. The split-screen functionality is already available in tablets by Samsung and Microsoft, so it would be a welcome addition to Apple’s device. The new mode could allow users to resize an app to take up one-third, one-half or two-thirds of the screen.

The iPhone 4S may still be supported

The iPhone 4S is close to four years old, which is an eternity in the world of mobile tech. However, Apple is expected to continue supporting the still-popular device with iOS 9. In fact, according to 9to5Mac, Apple is changing its software development process to ensure that iOS 9 runs better on old iPhones and iPads than iOS 8 did.

Contact-specific read receipts

Passive-aggressive texters, rejoice! Apple is apparently tweaking iMessage to let you choose which of your contacts you share read receipts with. Drake is probably really excited.

A Google Now Competitor

Apple may be planning to expand its digital assistant capabilities beyond Siri with a new personalized interface code-named Proactive. The menu, which would likely be located left of the main home screen, would integrate information from a user’s calendar, Passbook and other apps to provide daily itineraries. Proactive could remind you to call your mother each week for instance, or automatically pull up directions to your office each morning. The similarity is similar to Google Now, which is available for Android phones.

TIME Video Games

Xbox Controllers Are About to Get a Huge Upgrade

CHINA-US-COMPUTERS-GAMES-INVESTIGATION
Johannes Eisele—AFP/Getty Images A control of a Microsoft's Xbox One game console is pictured in a shop in Shanghai on September 29, 2014.

Hold off on buying those clunky headset adapters

The Xbox team released the specs for a new controller that will finally include a headphone jack, eliminating the need to buy a separate headset adapter.

The new controller will release after June 2015, according to a recent post on Xbox’s official support blog. The addition of a 3.5mm port will enable gamers to plug a wide range of compatible headsets directly into the controller.

That may irk owners of the current controller who spent $24.99 to connect their headphones through the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter. On the other hand, the adapter does include a few handy audio controls, which add mute and volume buttons to the bottom of the controller. Standard headsets may not be able to match those functionalities, though Xbox may offer some clarification at its E3 press event in June.

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