TIME Companies

Google Inks $542 Million Venture Deal to Fund Mysterious Startup

2013 Google Developer Conference Continues In San Francisco
An attendee tries Google Glass during the Google I/O developer conference on May 17, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The four-year-old firm Magic Leap aspires to blend computer generated images into the physical world

Google and several other leading tech firms have pooled $542 million in venture capital funding for Magic Leap, a secretive, Florida-based startup that is rumored to be working on virtual reality eyewear.

The deal, one of the largest venture capital fundraisers to date, would value the company at nearly $2 billion, two sources close to the negotiations told the Wall Street Journal. Two senior Google executives will join Magic Leap’s board of directors.

Little is known about Magic Leap beyond an eye-popping video of what the company hopes to achieve with its technology: a projection of life-like imagery that seamlessly blends with the physical surroundings. This deal echoes Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that immerses users in graphically rendered 3-D worlds.

Both technologies point to a gamble within the tech industry that interfaces will ultimately break free from the confines of 2-D screens and form more immersive user experiences.

[WSJ]

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone and Android Apps to Try This Week

From Flickr to hands-free music control

It seems like hundreds of new smartphone apps pop up every day, but which ones should you bother trying? Here, TIME offers a look at five apps for iPhone, iPad and Android that stand out and are worth a shot.

 

  • Alien Blue

    There have been a series of unofficial Reddit apps available for a while now, but last week the social networking/news website that receives over a million uniques a day sanctioned the official release of a Reddit app, Alien Bue. It’s a clean, mobile-friendly version of the site, allowing users to keep up on threads and receive notifications as well as discover new subreddits. For a short while, users can also upgrade to Alien Blue Pro for free in order to access features like switching between multiple accounts.

    Alienblue is available free in the App Store.

  • Flickr for iPad

    Flickr for iPad App Store

    Although imgur has nearly replaced Flickr on many social media sites, the decade-old photo-sharing site just released an iPad app that offers extensive editing tools for mobile devices. And because of the iPad’s retina display, early reviews suggest that Flickr’s iOS app may be more efficient than using older model computers for light editing. Flickr also offers 1TB of free storage space.

    Flickr for iPad is available free in the App Store.

  • WishBeen

    Wishbeen Google Play

    When Tripadvisor fails and your outdated travel books begin to weigh down a suitcase, WishBeen offers a solution to the most complicated, time-consuming parts of planning a vacation. WishBeen, also a popular travel website, delivers an app that allows users to search, modify, and create travel itineraries, find nearby spots to visit and tailor activities to a budget. Most importantly, travel plans can be downloaded for offline use when Internet access is limited.

    WishBeen is available free in the Google Play store.

  • Hooks

    As football season stats to pick up and a different fall television show airs every night of the week, the hardest part may be keeping track of scores and when new episodes go up on Hulu. Hooks eliminates this strange, 21st century anxiety; it is a task reminder app not for obligations, but for the things you care about and actually enjoy. No more missed parties, no more delayed celebration until you check the final results of your team’s game, no more missing your favorite band next time they’re in town.

    Hooks is available free in the App Store.

     

  • Brainwave

    Brainwave Google Play

    Brainwave integrates the sleek, Minority Report technology of hands-free device operation with Android phones. Brainwave asks which music application you wish to use (it’s compatible with Spotify, Pandora and iHeart Radio, among others), and then allows you to control these various music apps by swiping a hand in different directions over the phone. Not only is it good for the moments in which you need to play DJ with greasy kitchen hands or are serving drinks at a party, but it’s precisely the kind of fascinating technology that reminds us why we’ve allowed our lives to be run by phones.

    Brainwave (beta) is available free in the Google Play store.

TIME Ask TIME Tech

Ask TIME Tech: Best iPad for the Money Right Now?

iPads
The iPad Mini 3 (left) and the iPad Air 2 (right) Asahi Shimbun / Getty Images

A rundown of all the available models, highlighting the differences in search of the best value

Question: I need a new iPad, but I’m not sure which one I should get. Is the iPad Air 2 worth it or is one of the other models a better deal? I don’t really care if it’s a full-size iPad or one of the smaller ones. And I’m okay with spending $500, but if I don’t have to, obviously I would like to save some money. What are the main differences between all of them?

Short Answer: Last year’s iPad Mini 2 is a good deal at $299.

Long Answer: Someone who says “I need a new iPad” is apparently a rarity nowadays, with Apple having trouble convincing people to upgrade their tablets regularly. I’m part of the problem: I’ve been using an iPad 3 for the past million years and it still suits me fine.

Here’s a video comparison of all the currently-available iPads, which contains much of the advice you’ll otherwise read below:

iPad Air 2 ($499+)

If you have $500 to spend on an iPad, the new iPad Air 2 won’t disappoint. Of all the available models — there are now five: the iPad Air 2, the iPad Air, the iPad Mini 3, the iPad Mini 2 and the iPad Mini — the iPad Air 2 has the newest processor, which might help you squeeze an extra year out of it over one of the other models.

Don’t get too distracted by the iPad Air 2’s other specs, though. It’s thinner than the first iPad Air, yes, but we’re talking half of a tenth of an inch. It’s lighter, sure, but we’re talking 0.04 pounds for the Wi-Fi model. The big news here is the processor. The iPad Air 2 is also rumored to sport two gigabytes of RAM versus one gigabyte for all the other models, which should increase performance.

The iPad Air 2 has the fingerprint sensor that debuted with the iPhone 5S, which makes unlocking your iPad quick (assuming you lock it with a passcode) and lets you buy stuff from iTunes without typing in your password. You’ll also be able to log into certain third-party apps with your fingerprint as well.

Finally, the iPad Air 2 uses newer, thinner screen technology that makes colors pop a bit more. Apple added an anti-reflective coating as well. The front-facing camera is a little better than the previous model’s, and the Wi-Fi chip uses newer technology that allows it to connect to certain networks faster. Oh, and you can get it in gold (gold is best) and in a 128-gigabyte storage configuration.

iPad Air 2 ($499+) vs iPad Air ($399+)

iPad Air 2 v iPad Air
Apple

Step “down” to last year’s iPad Air, and you lose the gold option. You get a less efficient processor. The screen is still the same resolution, but there’s no antireflective coating. It’s marginally, marginally, marginally less thin and light. The front-facing camera is five megapixels instead of eight. There’s no fingerprint sensor. It doesn’t connect to certain superfast Wi-Fi networks as fast as the iPad Air 2 does. It might not have as much RAM.

On paper, Apple makes a somewhat convincing case for going with the iPad Air 2 over the iPad Air. In reality, what you’re giving up in order to save $100 might not be all that important. The iPad Air is still plenty fast, plenty thin and plenty light.

iPad Air ($399+) vs iPad Mini 3 ($399+)

iPad Air v iPad Mini 3
Apple

Now we’re going to basically step laterally to the iPad Mini 3, Apple’s newest iPad Mini model. Aside from it being smaller than the iPad Air models, under the hood, the iPad Mini 3 is almost identical to the iPad Air — all the way down to the $399 starting price. You do get the fingerprint sensor with the iPad Mini 3, the gold color option and the 128-gigabyte storage option. The processor, cameras, connections and just about everything else are the same.

iPad Mini 3 ($399+) vs iPad Mini 2 ($299+)

iPad Mini 3 v iPad Mini 2
Apple

Here’s where things get interesting. The iPad Mini 3 and the iPad Mini 2 share pretty much the exact same innards, except that the iPad Mini 3 has the fingerprint reader, the gold color option and the 128-gigabyte storage option. For $299, the iPad Mini 2 is on par with both the iPad Mini 3 and the iPad Air, which makes the iPad Mini 2 a great deal relative to the other available iPads. As long as you don’t care about the fingerprint reader, you’re okay with the space gray or silver options, and you don’t have enormous storage requirements, the iPad Mini 2 is arguably the best bang for your buck.

iPad Mini 2 ($299+) vs iPad Mini ($249+)

iPad Mini 2 v iPad Mini
Apple

Don’t fall for this one. You might save $50 by going with the original iPad Mini, but it’s got a much slower processor than all the other iPads and its screen is much lower-resolution. If ever you had a reason to cough up an extra $50, this is it. The iPad Mini at $250 allows Apple to offer an iPad that can kinda-sorta compete with low-cost Android tablets, except that any $250 Android tablet would almost certainly feature much more potent specs. This is half a marketing play by Apple (“iPad starts at $250!”) and half a chance to clear out leftover inventory of a two-year-old tablet.

If you’re looking for even more info, Apple has a handy iPad comparison page for your perusal.

Related:

 

TIME Retail

Staples Investigates Reports of Possible Credit Card Data Breach

Staples To Close 225 Stores
A Staples store is seen on March 6, 2014 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Potentially the latest in a string of high-profile data thefts

The world’s biggest office-supply retailer is investigating reports of a possible data breach of Staples customers’ credit cards after banks detected a pattern of unusual charges concentrating on a group of shoppers.

Staples acknowledged on Tuesday that it had launched an investigation and requested assistance from law enforcement officials, Bloomberg reports.

Reports of fraudulent charges recently surfaced on an independent security blog, which noted that the bulk of the card data appeared to come from a group of stores clustered in the northeast, including seven in Pennsylvania, three in New York and one in New Jersey.

The security concerns come amid a wave of breaches in the past two years against retailers like Home Depot, Kmart and Target. The latter said in August that its breach was expected to cost some $148 million.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Companies

Amazon and Simon & Schuster Reach Deal Over E-Book Prices

The deal follows an impasse between Amazon and Hachette

Amazon and Simon & Schuster have reached a multi-year agreement over the sale and pricing of print and digital books following the online retail giant’s falling out with the Hachette Book Group.

The publisher will set its own prices for e-books, while Amazon will promote Simon & Schuster titles on the site and be able to set discounts in certain situations as well, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers,” Amazon said in a statement. The deal arrived two months before its contact with Simon & Schuster was set to expire.

Carolyn Reidy, the head of Simon & Schuster, wrote in a letter to authors and agents that the deal was “economically advantageous” for both the publisher and the retailer and that it “maintains the author’s share of income generated from e-book sales.”

Earlier this year, Amazon and Hachette had a much-publicized dispute over the price of e-books. Customers as a result can no longer pre-order Hachette titles on Amazon. Amazon will at some point renegotiate contracts withe other publishers Macmillan, Penguin Random House and HarperCollins.

[WSJ]

TIME Companies

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Says Company Pays Men and Women Equally

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya NadellaSpeaks At Company Event
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks to students during the Microsoft Talent India conference in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Graham Crouch—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Verifying the lack of a pay gap is difficult, however

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who was criticized earlier this month for saying women should not ask for raises, said Monday that his company pays men and women equally.

“I checked that it is something that we are enforcing,” said Nadella, who has apologized for the earlier remarks, at a presentation in San Francisco, Reuters reports. “We are in fact in good shape. Men and women get paid equally at Microsoft.”

Nadella’s statement is difficult to verify, as Microsoft does not make its pay structure public. Nadella’s comments also seem to contradict data from the site Glassdoor, which reported — based on a very small sample of employees who voluntarily shared their salaries — that men seem to earn more than woman doing the same job. According to its figures, male senior software development engineers earn around $137,000 a year, while women with that title earn around $129,000 a year.

“We have made some progress,” Nadella said during the presentation. “We have a lot more to do.”

[Reuters]

TIME Companies

Apple’s Growth Stays Strong in Latest Quarter

People walk past the Apple logo at the Apple Store at Grand Central Terminal in New York.
People walk past the Apple logo at the Apple Store at Grand Central Terminal in New York City Timothy A. Clary—AFP/Getty Images

Tech-giant reports beat analyst expectations with strong sales of iPhones and Mac computers. Sales of iPads fell, however

Apple on Monday reported a 12.7% bump in fourth-quarter profit, sending shares up nearly 1% in after-hours trading to just above the $100 mark. Here are the most important points from the tech giant’s latest earnings report.

What you need to know: Apple crushed analyst predictions by posting sales of $42.1 billion in the fourth quarter, which was more than a 12% increase over the same period last year. The company reported $8.5 billion in profits, or $1.43 per share, which is an improvement of $1 billion year-over-year. Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt recently polled a few dozen analysts for their Apple quarterly predictions and every last one said to expect a record quarter for the company, including average sales and earnings bumps of at least 7.1% and 11.9%, respectively.

In July, Apple’s revenues grew by 6%, but came in just below analysts’ expectations despite a 12.6% bump in Q3 iPhone sales.

The big number: Apple said it sold 39.3 million iPhones during the fourth quarter, which beat analysts’ estimates and represents an 11.6% increase over the 35.2 million sold during the same quarter last year. The fourth quarter included September’s unveiling of Apple’s new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and the company said in a press release announcing the fourth-quarter results that strong iPhone and Mac sales helped drive a record month of September.

Mac sales jumped 25% year-over-year, to 5.5 million, while iPad sales declined for the third quarter in a row. Apple, which just revealed its new iPad Air 2 last week at a product-launch event, said Monday that its iPad sales were down more than 7%, to 12.3 million, in the fourth quarter.

What you might have missed: Apple’s strong fourth-quarter results came after the company’s mobile-payments system, Apple Pay, went live on Monday along with an update to its mobile operating system, now known as iOS 8.1. The launch came on the heels of Apple announcing it had signed up another 500 banks to support the Apple Pay platform. Apple Pay is expected to compete with PayPal and other online systems. The entire mobile-payments market had more than 11 million users last year and could grow to have more than 36 million users in 2016, according to eMarketer.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME legal

Facebook Suing Attorneys Who Pushed Allegedly Fraudulent Case

Though an old lawsuit against it was dismissed, Facebook is going after the lawyers behind it

Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are suing the lawyers of man who claimed in 2010 that he and Zuckerberg had an agreement that granted him a major stake in the company.

Though a judge previously dismissed the claims of Paul Ceglia, a lawsuit filed in the New York State Supreme Court on Monday alleges that Ceglia’s lawyers continued their lawsuit in order to win a settlement despite knowing that Ceglia’s claims were false, the New York Times reports.

“We said from the beginning that Paul Ceglia’s claim was a fraud and that we would seek to hold those responsible accountable,” said Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, in a statement. “DLA Piper and the other named law firms knew the case was based on forged documents yet they pursued it anyway, and they should be held to account.”

Peter Pantaleo, general counsel for DLA Piper, one of the firms named in the suit, denied the allegations.

“This is an entirely baseless lawsuit that has been filed as a tactic to intimidate lawyers from bringing litigation against Facebook,” he said in a statement.

[NYT]

TIME Video Games

Anyone Claiming There’s a Grand Theft Auto V Beta Is Still Lying

It's not clear when or where the scams are occurring, but they're scams, each and every one.

For once, I’ve learned about a bizarre scam from the object of the scam instead of the scammers: Rockstar would like you to know that if you happen upon a site or person or email claiming there’s a Grand Theft Auto V beta, you risk being duped.

“Please note,” writes Rockstar in an undated web notice, “there is no pre-release ‘beta’ test for Grand Theft Auto V. If you see ads or solicitations to join a beta program, beware as this is likely some type of online phishing scam.”

If that parses a little weirdly to you, it’s because you’re probably thinking, “But Grand Theft Auto V’s already out, isn’t it?” Indeed, the game arrived last September for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This presumably relates to the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions due on November 18, followed by a Windows version on January 27, 2015. I’ll say again: presumably.

I’m assuming it’s not some kind of bizarre prerelease viral marketing thing, though it is a little odd-looking, poking around the echo chamber and finding no paper trails. No one seems to have evidence of the scam itself, and sites writing about supposed fake Steam betas and 19GB of virus-choked malware all seem to be linking to a site called Xboxer360, which hasn’t posted a news update in 10 months, and whose story about a Grand Theft Auto V beta scam is over a year old. Search on the phrase “GTA V PC torrent” and you’ll find a variety of links to obvious (well, obvious to me) shysters, but whose fake listings are pretty old.

I’ve asked my contact at Rockstar to verify this beta notice is indeed new. In any event, now that I’ve expended over 300 words writing about it, whether the scams are fresh or you’re a time traveler about to embark in your TARDIS on a trip to visit the nefarious corners of the interwebs circa late 2013, beware Grand Theft Auto V beta claims: they’re phony bologna.

[Update: I knew it. My Rockstar contact just confirmed the link up top is to an old 2013 warning. So consider yourself warned. Again.]

TIME Ask TIME Tech

Amazon’s Kindles Compared: Voyage vs Paperwhite vs Standard

Kindles
Amazon's new Kindle Voyage e-book reader sits atop last year's Kindle Paperwhite Doug Aamoth / TIME

Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers are generally hot holiday items, so let’s explore the various differences between the three available models.

There’s the new $199+ Kindle Voyage, the $119+ Kindle Paperwhite and the $79+ standard Kindle to choose from. Here’s a closer look at what you’re getting.

Screen

Size

Choosing by screen size is easy since they’re all six inches diagonally. Things change once we dig into resolutions and lighting technology.

Resolution

The Kindle Voyage has the best screen, with a 300 pixels-per-inch resolution. The more pixels smooshed into an inch of screen, the better everything looks. The Kindle Paperwhite smooshes 212 pixels into an inch; the standard Kindle smooshes 167 pixels into an inch.

The big question is whether your eyes can discern the differences. I can tell you that when looking at the Paperwhite and the Voyage side by side, the difference is noticeable when looking at graphics and slightly less noticeable when looking at text. The standard Kindle looks… I wouldn’t say “the worst” because it doesn’t look bad. It just looks least good; let’s say that. I’d say the $40 jump from the standard Kindle to the Kindle Paperwhite is a much better value than the $80 jump from the Paperwhite to the Voyage, though.

Reading Light

The standard Kindle has no light; the Paperwhite and Voyage both have built-in lights. They both max out at nearly the same brightness, although the Voyage looks a little cleaner and whiter, and can automatically adjust its screen brightness to match your environment.

Touchscreen

All three devices feature touchscreens, though the Kindle Voyage features squeeze-able side bezels that allow you to turn pages back and forth as well. There’s a nice little vibration feedback with each press when using the Voyage.

Video: Kindle Paperwhite vs Kindle Voyage

Here’s a closer look at the $119 Paperwhite up against the $199 Voyage, with some analysis of all three models at the end:

Storage

Wondering which Kindle can hold the most books? The answer is yes. Yes to any of them: They all have four gigabytes of storage, good for over a thousand books.

Size

The Kindle Voyage is the smallest, measuring 6.4″ long by 4.5″ wide by 0.3″ thick and starting at 6.3 ounces (the 3G version weighs 6.6 ounces).

The Kindle Paperwhite measures 6.7″ long by 4.5″ wide by 0.36″ thick and starts at 7.3 ounces (the 3G version weighs 7.6 ounces). The standard Kindle measures 6.7″ long by 4.7″ wide by 0.4″ thick and weighs 6.7 ounces (there’s no 3G version).

They’re all incredibly portable. I’m not sure buying one over the other based on a tenth of an inch here or an ounce there makes a whole lot of sense, but those are the measurements.

Battery Life

The standard Kindle lasts up to four weeks on a single charge, assuming a half hour of reading each day with the wireless connection turned off. It fully charges within four hours.

The Kindle Voyage lasts up to six weeks on a single charge, assuming a half hour of reading each day with the wireless connection turned off and the light set at 10 (the max is 24). It fully charges within three hours.

The Kindle Paperwhite lasts up to eight weeks on a single charge, assuming a half hour of reading each day with the wireless connection turned off and the light set at 10 (the max is 24). It fully charges within four hours.

So as we see here, the Paperwhite actually has the best battery life. That’s probably a factor of its screen not having to push as many pixels around as the Voyage’s screen. The Paperwhite being ever so slightly thicker than the Voyage might make for a slightly higher-capacity battery as well.

3G or Not 3G?

That is the question. Adding a 3G cellular connection to your Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Voyage adds $70 to the price tag, but results in being able to download books anywhere you have an AT&T signal — over 100 countries and territories are covered (see this map). There are no monthly service charges for downloading books, though you might incur added charges for downloading magazines and other periodicals.

If you read a lot of books and want to be able to download new ones frequently — especially while you’re on the move — the 3G version of whichever Kindle you’re considering is a no-brainer. If you’re going to be using the Kindle at home a lot or you’ll be around accessible Wi-Fi networks, save the $70.

Best Bet

To be clear, the new Kindle Voyage is an amazing e-book reader. It’s super portable, its screen is gorgeous and the added haptic-feedback page turns are a nice touch. However, the $119 Kindle Paperwhite is still a dynamite e-book reader and is a very worthy upgrade for $40 over the standard Kindle because of its higher-resolution screen and its built-in light. Making the $80 jump from the $119 Paperwhite to the $199 Voyage is simply a much tougher sell.

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