TIME Companies

You Can Now Search Every Tweet Ever

The Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device.
Bethany Clarke—Getty Images The Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device.

Archive of 500 billion tweets are now searchable

Time to start deleting your embarrassing old tweets—Twitter just made it easy to search every public tweet ever sent.

The social network announced Tuesday that it has completed indexing of every public tweet since 2006, which amounts to about half a trillion messages. A new, more powerful search function will let users search for specific words used by specific users, hashtags used between a set of given dates and other variables. In the past, these types of searches only yielded a portion of the tweets that fit the criteria.

“Our search engine excelled at surfacing breaking news and events in real time, and our search index infrastructure reflected this strong emphasis on recency,” Twitter wrote in a blog post that explains the indexing process for tweets in extreme detail. “But our long-standing goal has been to let people search through every Tweet ever published.”

The more robust archive will eventually affect the basic searches that Twitter users conduct from the site’s homepage. While basic searches currently surface tweets from the last several hours or days as “Top” tweets, the company will soon begin showing older tweets that may also be relevant. Getting people conducting Twitter searches more regularly could boost the company’s revenue, as Twitter already sells ads against keyword searches.

TIME Smartphones

People Are Already Talking About the iPhone 7

Apple iPhone 7 Rumors
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images An Apple logo is seen on the back on a smartphone on August 6, 2014 in London, England.

Here's what's already being speculated about for the next version

The iPhone 6 is only two months old, but iPhone 7 rumors are already getting traction.

Among devoted Apple followers, there’s a general consensus that the iPhone 7—if it’s not released as the iPhone 6S, following previous convention—will feature at least a 4.7-in. screen size, which is the size of Apple’s iPhone 6, according to MacWorld.

There’s also the possibility that several features already available on the Apple Watch may make their way to the next iPhone. These include sapphire glass, a highly durable screen material that was rumored for the iPhone 6, and wireless charging, which is also known as “inductive charging.”

Another rumor is that Apple could introduce “sidewall displays,” which allow the screen to curve onto the phone’s edges. The speculation is supported by Apple’s filing of a patent that describes smartphones with flexible displays that can be bent over the edges.

In accordance with how Apple usually upgrades its iPhones, users can likely expect improved cameras, performance and battery life. It’s also probable the iPhone 7 will arrive next September, the month Apple usually announces its newest iPhone.

Of course, new iPhone rumors don’t come without their fair share of somewhat outlandish features. There’s speculation that the iPhone 7 could have face-scanning technology, and even a rumor that it could have holographic screens.

Prices are rumored to be between $650 and $850 without a contract, which would make it the most expensive iPhone to date, according to Inquisitr.

[Mac World]

TIME Security

WhatsApp Is Making Your Messages Way More Secure

New feature makes it harder for law enforcement to access contents

The latest update to the WhatsApp messaging service announced Tuesday includes end-to-end encryption by default, which means the content of a message is only decrypted and readable when it reaches its recipient. Encrypted texts via the TextSecure protocol will now be nearly impossible for law enforcement officials or WhatsApp to access.

The new feature was created using open-source code created by the development community at Open Whisper Systems. For now the feature is only available on Android devices, but in a blog post Open Whisper Systems says it plans to expand to other mobile platforms. The encryption only applies to basic texts right now, and group messages and photo messages don’t get the extra security boost.

The new encryption protocol backs up WhatsApp’s longstanding mantra of valuing people’s security over access to users’ data. CEO Jan Koum famously wrote a missive against using data mining to serve ads on social networks years before selling the company to Facebook for about $22 billion.

TIME Companies

Apple’s iOS 8.1.1 Update Should Make Your iPhone 4S and iPad 2 Useable Again

Apple iOS 8.1.1
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The components of a smartphone sold as an Apple Inc. iPhone 4S are arranged around the company's logo for a photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014.

Upgrade will improve performance of two legacy devices that were slowed down after installing iOS 8.1

Did your iPhone 4S or iPad 2 cease to function normally after you installed iOS 8? Apple is finally out with a fix.

Apple released iOS 8.1.1 on Tuesday, an upgrade promising performance improvements on older iPhone 4S and iPad 2 devices that experienced major slowdowns after installing iOS 8, according to Apple. The new upgrade also includes bug fixes and increased stability alongside the speeding up of the two legacy devices.

iOS 8.1.1 can be downloaded for free through the Software Update section on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

 

 

TIME Gadgets

Intel Thinks ‘Stylish’ Women Will Love This $495 Bracelet

It'll be available at Opening Ceremony and Barney's

Intel has unveiled a new smartwatch aimed at fashion-conscious women. The My Intelligent Communication Accessory (MICA), developed in conjunction with fashion company Opening Ceremony, sports 18-karat gold, snakeskin bands and pearls from China, along with a curved 1.6-inch OLED screen.

Unlike products such as the Apple Watch, MICA doesn’t need to sync with a phone to function fully. The device comes with two years of wireless service to AT&T’s mobile data network and its own phone number—that means users can give their MICA number to select contacts so their wrists aren’t vibrating all day.

Users can respond to texts and emails directly from the screen, as well as see Google and Facebook events. The watch also has access to restaurant reviews and appointment reminders thanks to partnerships with Yelp and TomTom. Intel claims it can get two days worth of battery life, a sticking point with other smartwatches.

The MICA will go on sale for $495 exclusively at Opening Ceremony and Barneys before the holiday season.

TIME Innovation

New York Is Transforming Its Old Payphones into Wi-Fi Hotspots

NYC Plans To Replace Pay Phones With Wifi Hotspots
Spencer Platt—Getty Images A man stands in a public phone booth on a Manhattan street on May 2, 2014 in New York City.

10,000 kiosks will provide Internet access

The humble payphone is getting a 21st century upgrade. New York City will convert its thousands of rarely used payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots that provide free Internet access to city residents, by 2015.

The 10,000 new kiosks will each have a connectivity range of about 150 feet and and provide Internet speeds about 20 times as fast as the typical home connection, according to city officials. Up to 250 devices will be able to connect to each Wi-Fi network at a given time. The hotspots will also feature free domestic calls for cell phone users, mobile charging stations and city directions.

The venture is being developed by a group of companies including Qualcomm and Titan. It will cost more than $200 million and be funded by advertising displays on the kiosks.

[New York Times]

TIME Tablets

Nokia’s New Tablet Looks Exactly Like an iPad Mini

The surprise new tablet pits Nokia against Microsoft

Nokia is returning to consumer electronics with an Android-powered tablet that looks an awful lot like Apple’s iPad mini.

The Finnish company’s N1 has the same 7.9-inch screen size and the same 2048 x 1536 resolution as the iPad mini, as well as nearly identical placement of the camera, buttons and headphone jack, the Verge reports. It has made some improvements, too: at 318 grams and 6.9mm thin, the N1 is thinner and lighter than the Apple equivalent.

The tablet will go on sale at the beginning of 2015 in China, ahead of other countries, the BBC reports.

Other N1 specs include a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It has a 5-megapixel version at the front, and an 8-megapixel camera at the rear.

Microsoft completed its takeover of Nokia’s former mobile-devices business in April. Nokia’s entry into the tablet space pits the two companies against each other. Microsoft sells its own Nokia-labelled kit, including the Lumia 2520 Windows RT-powered tablet.

Nokia licensed its design and brand to Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn in order to make the product, effectively outsourcing production and supply chain management.

TIME Social Media

5 Trends That Will Change How You Use Social Media in 2015

Facebook
Dado Ruvic—Reuters

Big changes are afoot for the likes of Twitter, Facebook and others

This year started with a death sentence for Facebook. In January, a research company called Global Web Index published a study showing that Facebook had lost nearly one-third of its U.S. teen users in the last year. Headlines pronounced the network “dead and buried.”

Fast forward to the present and Facebook is reporting record growth. The company earned $2.96 billion in ad revenue in the third quarter of 2013, up 64 percent from just a year ago. More impressively, the network has added more than 100 million monthly active users in the last year.

All of which goes to show how difficult it can be to predict the future of social media. With that caveat in mind, here’s a look into the crystal ball at five ways social media will (likely) evolve in 2015.

Your social network wants to be your wallet

Hacks released in October show a hidden payment feature deep inside Facebook’s popular Messenger app. If activated by the company, it will allow the app’s 200 million users to send money to each other using just debit card information, free of charge. Meanwhile, the network has also already rolled out a new Autofill feature (a kind of Facebook Connect for credit cards), which allows users who save their credit card info on Facebook to check out with 450,000 e-commerce merchants across the web.

So why does Facebook want to handle your money in 2015? Right now, some of tech’s biggest players are battling it out in the mobile payments space, including Apple with its new Apple Pay app, upstarts like Square and Stripe and even online payments veterans like PayPal. The endgame at this stage isn’t exactly clear. Facebook may eventually charge for its money transfer services, leverage customer purchasing data to pull in more advertisers or even try to rival traditional credit cards like Visa and Mastercard (which make billions on fees). One thing’s for sure: You can expect to see major social networks jockeying more aggressively to handle your transactions in 2015.

New networks proliferate, but will they last?

2014 saw the rise of a number of niche social networks, many built specifically in response to the perceived failings of the big boys: the lack of privacy, the collection of demographic and psychographic data, the increasingly pervasive advertising. Newcomers range from Ello, which launched in March with promises to never sell user data, to Yik Yak, which allows users to exchange fully anonymous posts with people who are physically nearby, and tsu, which has promised to share ad revenue with users based on the popularity of their posts.

Will these networks grow and stick around? New social platforms that try to replicate the Facebook experience while promising, for instance, fewer ads or more privacy, have the odds seriously stacked against them. The biggest challenge – one that even Google+ has struggled with – is attracting a sufficient userbase so the network doesn’t feel like a ghost town compared to Facebook’s thriving 1.3-billion-user global community.

On the other hand, new networks that map onto strong existing communities or interests (interest-based networks, as opposed to Facebook-style people-based networks) have a much better chance. In fact, thousands of these networks are already thriving below the radar, from dedicated sites for cooks and chefs like Foodie to sites for fitness junkies like Fitocracy.

Shopping finally comes to social media

Earlier this year, both Twitter and Facebook began beta-testing “buy” buttons, which appear alongside certain tweets and posts and allows users to make purchases with just a click or two, without ever leaving the network. Expect e-commerce and social media integrations to deepen in 2015. In fact, it’s a little surprising it’s taken so long.

For starters, this approach eliminates one key dilemma all merchants face – how to get customers in the door (or to your website). On Facebook and Twitter, you’ve already got a receptive audience, happily chatting with friends, browsing the latest trends, sharing photos and videos, etc. Once their payment details are on file, purchases are a tap or two away. Then it’s back to cat GIFs and updates on weekend plans.

In addition, since Facebook and especially Twitter are real-time media, they’re perfect for short-term deals tied in with fleeting trends. With time-sensitive offers literally streaming by, consumers may well be inclined to act quickly and seal the deal, forgoing the obsessive comparison shopping that characterizes lots of Internet transactions.

Finally, there are major benefits to advertisers. Connecting individual Tweets and Facebook posts with actual purchases has thus far proved a huge analytical challenge. But with the advent of buy buttons, concrete revenue figures can be attached to specific social media messages in a way that hasn’t been possible until now.

Smart devices get more social

Cheap sensors have led to an explosion of smart devices. Everything from home appliances like thermostats, bathroom scales and refrigerators to wearables like fitness bracelets and smart watches are now collecting data and zapping it off wirelessly to the Internet. Lots of these devices are also pushing notifications to Facebook, Twitter and other networks, a trend that will continue in 2015. The question is: Is that a good thing? The prospect of growing legions of washing machines, smoke alarms and Nike FuelBands spitting out Facebook posts isn’t exactly something to get excited about.

The challenge in 2015 becomes how to more intelligently integrate the fast-growing Internet of Things with social media. In short, smart devices need to improve their social intelligence. This might start with tapping users’ social graph – their unique network of friends and followers – in better ways. A very simple example: a smart fridge that tracks your Facebook Events, sees you’re planning a party and how many people have RSVP’d and alerts you to make a beer run. By listening to social media in more sophisticated ways – tracking users’ activities and interactions with friends and followers, then responding accordingly – smart devices stand to get even smarter in the year ahead.

The illusion of social media privacy gives way to the real thing

2014 saw a number of anonymous and ephemeral social networks – Snapchat, Secret, Whisper, Yik Yak and Telegram, to name a few – surge in popularity. Not everyone wants every conversation over social media broadcast to the world, after all. At the same time, savvy users are increasingly aware – and concerned – about ways personal data is being collected and later sold to advertisers, manipulated in tests or accessed by government agencies.

The problem is that few of these “private” networks fulfill their mandates. Snapchat has been hacked, repeatedly, with hundreds of thousands of sensitive – supposedly disappearing – user photos posted on the Internet. And in October, it was revealed that the anonymous network Whisper was actually saving users’ posts and locations and compiling this information in a searchable database. As Venture Beat points out, real anonymity and privacy on the Internet is extremely difficult to achieve. While it’s easy to make promises, it’s nearly impossible to deliver.

But demand for anonymous social media will only get bigger in 2015. In fact, there are signs that even the major players are beginning to acknowledge the issue. In October, Facebook rolled out its new chat app Rooms, which allows users to create chat rooms around shared interests, with no requirement to reveal name or location. Meanwhile in November, Facebook became the first Silicon Valley tech giant to provide official support for Tor, the powerful, open-source anonymizing service – popular among journalists, political dissidents and law enforcement – that allows users to conceal their identity, location and browsing history.

Ryan Holmes is CEO of Hootsuite. Follow him @invoker

Read next: 9 Super Simple Ways to Make Facebook Less Annoying

TIME technology

Uber Rides into New PR Storm Over Digging Dirt on Hostile Press

Senior VP told celebrity guests the company should hire investigators to expose details of critics’ private lives

Ride-sharing app firm Uber has just ridden into another major PR storm after one of its senior executives suggesting the company should dig dirt on hostile journalists.

The comments, made by Emil Michael, the company’s senior vice-president for business, give further ammunition to critics who accuse the company of being arrogant and unethical.

Michael made the remarks at a dinner Friday at Manhattan’s Waverly Inn attended by luminaries such as actor Ed Norton and publisher Arianna Huffington. While he obviously thought he was talking off the record, a Buzzfeed editor who was invited to the dinner by journalist Michael Wolff says that that wasn’t communicated to him. And he promptly spilled the beans.

According to Buzzfeed, Michael “outlined the notion of spending ‘a million dollars’ to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into ‘your personal lives, your families,’ and give the media a taste of its own medicine.”

Buzzfeed has been aggressive in covering what it sees as Uber’s cultural shortcomings, recently highlighting an apparent initiative by Uber in Lyon, France, to partner with an escort agency.

That episode had prompted the PandoDaily blogger Sarah Lucy to accuse the company of “sexism and misogyny” and announce publicly that she would boycott the service. Buzzfeed reported that Lucy was top among the targets of Michael’s anger, saying that she “should be held ‘personally responsible’ for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted” by a driver from a different taxi service.

The company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment by Fortune, but the BF article carried the following statement from Michael:

“The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for — do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.”

Buzzfeed also quoted Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian as saying that “the company does not do “oppo research” of any sort on journalists, and has never considered doing it.”

She also distanced herself from Michael’s comments about Lacy specifically.

The partnering initiative with the escort agency in Lyon, meanwhile, has quietly died a death.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

 

TIME Video Games

Far Cry 4 Review: The Best Far Cry Yet

Ubisoft

Ubisoft's latest offers gorgeous Himalayan views, immaculately well-balanced gameplay and cathartic pandemonium

This is how crazy Far Cry 4 can get: I’m droning just above the treetops in a ramshackle gyrocopter, scouting for macaques, when I spy a trio of the pale-furred primates loping near the edge of a precipice. I descend slowly through stands of firs, my rotors audibly clipping branches, preparing to leap out, when I hear the telltale tattoo of machine guns talking—the country’s militia trading gunfire with insurgents.

Bullets suddenly smack into my body, thump-thump-thump. My vision narrows. I jab a greenish syringe into my arm and bail out of the copter—still hovering at the lip of the cliff—spreading my arms and legs and arcing in a wingsuit toward the terrain below like a fired missile. With seconds to land, I deploy my parachute and tumble into more trees, rocks, snarled undergrowth…and the sights of one pissed honey badger, which growls like it definitely cares, then leaps at me, cobra-like, to eat my face off.

Surviving Far Cry 4 often feels like that, abrupt and slightly mad and sequentially unhinged. It’s you in a jam band, an improvisatory celebration of net-less oneupmanship (versus your own best performances) as you vector from mission to mission. The experience is somewhat like being a pinball, lured off course by too-cool-to-ignore distractions, bounding into bedlam with the fleet-footedness of a huntsman by way of an exuberant toddler.

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And lo, what distractions in this brave new world of drivable elephants, scalable summits, sartorial safaris and literal B-movie stunt quests. As named, the Far Cry games are about hurling you into slight caricatures of otherworldly milieus full of both serious and utterly frivolous things to do. The first and third entries in the series were staged in sultry equatorial spaces (the former eventually turning full-on Island of Dr. Moreau), while the second channeled Kurtzian jungles and savannah through a lens Anton Chigurah. Think part first-person shooter, part Lonely Planet, part Tarantino abattoir.

Far Cry 4 sculpts its vamp on that equation out of Nepalese remoteness and Himalayan verticality, and the results are predictably head-turning. Look out from any point in Kyrat, Ubisoft’s fictional Nepal, and you’ll note the sunlight glinting naturally off ornate bronze prayer wheels, throngs of thousand-leafed autumnal trees and undulating highways of calligraphic prayer flags fluttering in the wind.

Look further and you’ll spy plumes of distant smoke drifting stratospherically, blinking radio towers on miles-away hilltops and the intricately scalloped terraces of far-flung vertical farms. Then look up to where the horizon line should be to find the Himalayas towering like upthrust fangs, each snowy crag or escarpment crisply articulated, every draped and drifting cloud bank ethereal. There’s a sense of visual continuity here that seems only matched, in hindsight, in Bethesda’s 2011 hit Skyrim.

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Set the game’s new look aside, and you could argue Far Cry 4 hasn’t changed much since players strained to salvage Jason Brody’s Pacific vacation. Kyrati-American Ajay Ghale wages a parallel, accidental campaign against a maniacal (but endlessly amusing) despot. He’s returned to scatter his mother’s ashes but then, whoops, he’s wrestling tigers, scaling mountains and squaring off with a megalomaniacal fashionista! But that’s an oversimplification. This is both the game Far Cry 3 was and wasn’t.

Ubisoft

You still play a stereotypically displaced Westerner (Kyrati-American or no) in a freely explorable danger-scape, leveling up superhuman abilities and weapons as you fight to liberate thug-filled outposts. And you still do so by glassing enemies with binoculars, mulling over different attack approaches, hypothesizing ideal takedown scenarios and tripping auxiliary triggers like freeing lethal animals in cages, or lobbing “bait” to summon others.

Those animals still haunt regions of the world map, and you still hunt them to craft upgrades that pad out your ability to schlep stuff. And overlying that, you’ll still have to scale and sabotage nearly two dozen towers (here broadcasting propaganda) to de-fog swathes of the map and spotlight new activities. These are what Ubisoft’s taken to calling “pillars” in its primary franchises, and you’re either into the idea or not.

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But Far Cry 4 also builds gainfully on what Ubisoft’s learned about crafting freeform microcosms. Take your guides through the game’s main story: two parental sides of a Kyrati rebel force (after Nepal’s maoist insurgency) calling itself The Golden Path. The friction between their prosecutorial styles unlocks unique missions and rival story paths, some of which culminate in extremely discomfiting moments as you’re dressed down by the game’s incisive writers and get-under-your-skin voice actors, the strategist you shunned arguing the other’s illogic witheringly. As usual, there are no right or wrong choices here, only more or less relatable ones.

Ubisoft

The rest comes down to well-executed fan service. You can zip to almost anywhere now in the handy gyrocopter, or survive impossible falls and cobble together breathtaking impromptu maneuvers with the wingsuit. The new “hunter” class enemy basically has thousand-yard x-ray vision, can nail you from as far off and, in a bit of inspired insidiousness, turns animals against you. All of this adds delightful emergent wrinkles to combat scrums.

The most difficult outposts are now called fortresses, and they’re so brutally and brilliantly difficult the game actually recommends performing other tasks to “weaken” them before you muster and assault (but you’re always welcome to try sooner). Vehicles now have an auto-drive feature that turns control over to the A.I. so you can focus on shooting, solving an ages-old problem. (Expect this one to be emulated in other games.) And cooperative play now happens in the main world, not adjunct to it, so while friends can’t co-play story missions, they can drop in or out at will to tackle anything else in your version of Kyrat, or vice versa.

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That the war’s progress still comes to a standstill as you gallivant around the countryside is no more a problem here than any of the game’s other non sequiturs: hundreds of loot chests that lie in the open waiting just for you; that you groan with disgust as you gut animals but make not a sound when head-popping thousands of enemy soldiers; your ability to wield non-metaphorical superpowers for goodness sake; and the idea that everyone else prattles on while you say almost nothing. (Though, it’s perhaps the better compromise if you’re not a manic quipster.) You could pretentiously call any of that ludonarrative dissonance, or just settle for “game design circa 2014.”

Ubisoft

But my favorite parts of Far Cry 4 lie in its quieter, unscripted moments, ones where I’d notice an inconspicuous grapple point glinting at me from high above, only to climb thousands of feet and find myself swinging between precarious protrusions toward terra incognita, inching up or down my grapple rope and angling to land just so on a silver of ledge-space.

There’s another kind of game that lives inside Far Cry 4, one that’s not about the hails of bullets or checking off victory points or slicing open a stockade’s worth of wildlife. You can play that game for hours here if you like, exploring Ubisoft’s Kyrat in trancelike quietude, but the gameplay rewards are marginal–exploration for its own sake has to suffice. How much longer before someone offers a viably nonviolent parallel path through one of these games? One that involves playing not as the guns-a-blazin’ savior, but a character more like the war correspondent in David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks—the person whose perilous job it is to chronicle the war instead of waging it, and perhaps bring a sense of accountability to the chaos and madness.

5 out of 5

Reviewed using the PlayStation 4 version of the game.

Read next: Everything You Need to Know About World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

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