TIME Gadgets

Amazon Hints at Mysterious New Device in Teaser Video

With the device always just out of eyesight, we don't really know what it is, but speculation is abound.

Amazon posted a video Wednesday showing customers trying the company’s mysterious new product. And while we don’t truly know what’s being teased just out of view, all signs point to it being the long-rumored eye-tracking Amazon smartphone.

Back in April, BGR published a long report on the long-rumored device, saying that it will have a 4.7-inch scree, 2GB RAM, Snapdragon processor and a customized version of Google’s Android operating system.

The product will be unveiled June 18.

 

TIME Gadgets

Aereo Arrives for Chromecast As Supreme Court Decision Looms

Google Chromecast
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Delayed by a week, Aereo's TV-streaming service is finally available for Google Chromecast players.

Aereo, the Internet television streaming upstart currently embroiled in a historic Supreme Court showdown with broadcast companies, is finally available for Google Chromecast. Its arrival on Google’s streaming media dongle Thursday comes one week after its intended debut.

Aereo wrote on Twitter last week that it was delaying Chromecast support until June 4 “to work out a few kinks.” Make that June 5 then: the Aereo app is live now on the Google Play store. The move adds another significant Aereo player to a lineup that includes browsers for Windows PCs, Linux PCs and Macs, iOS devices, Apple TV and Roku set-top boxes.

If you have a Chromecast dongle, you live in an Aereo coverage area and you’re willing to pay the company’s monthly subscription fee ($8 for 20 hours of DVR space, $12 for 60 hours and the option to record two shows at once), you can connect online to Aereo’s local antenna bank to receive and record live broadcast TV. There’s no additional subscription fee — Aereo handles all storage of recordings on its end and you don’t need to have an existing cable subscription to view the antennae-captured shows.

The catch — and this is why signing up today isn’t risk-free — is that Aereo is smack in the midst of a momentous Supreme Court battle, squaring off with indignant broadcast companies for its right to exist. Since Aereo streams over-the-air content it intercepts via antennas — each the size of a dime and leased to one user — it claims it’s doing nothing you couldn’t yourself, and thus it owes broadcast companies nothing.

The broadcast companies (naturally) disagree. They claim Aereo is in violation of federal copyright law. At issue is whether Aereo’s service qualifies as a public or private performance: if SCOTUS deems it public, Aereo’s in trouble, whereas if it’s deemed a series of private transmissions, the company may be able to continue unperturbed.

A ruling is expected any day now.

TIME Hoaxes

The Most Dangerous Website in America Is Also the Easiest to Use

Designer Alexander Griffioen has created a weapon of mass delusion. His site, dubbed ShrtURL, lets users input any web address on the Internet and renders a version that can be customized with their own text and images. Thing is, the design, fonts and general style of the page remain identical. The site is making headlines because it was used to create this fake TechCrunch post claiming venture firm Andreesseen Horowitz is buying Y Combinator for $266 billion. The pages created at Shrturl last for 48 hours before expiring.

The site has already been used for evil, as the screenshots below show. Use at your own peril.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 3.22.33 PM
Nope, not true.
Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 3.22.41 PM
Ew.
Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 3.22.54 PM
Not even close.
Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 3.22.59 PM
iMacs aren’t on sale.
TIME technology

Obama Will Take Student Debt Questions on Tumblr Town Hall

US President Obama Visits Berlin
US President Barack Obama speaks to the media after his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery on June 19, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Thomas Trutschel—Photothek/Getty Images

President Barack Obama will log on to Tumblr next Tuesday to answer students’ questions about the cost of college and student debt.

The live Q&A event is the latest example of Obama using live social media events to reach young audiences — he’s previously used Twitter, Google+ and even Reddit to reach out to voters on various issues. Nearly half of Tumblr’s users are between the ages of 18 and 34—including the discussion’s moderator, 27-year-old Tumblr founder David Karp—a demographic likely pondering the issues of college costs and student loan repayment.

This year’s college graduating class will enter professional life with an average of $33,000 in student loan debt, nearly double that of students who graduated in 2000, according to government data. Overall student loan debt has topped $1 trillion and is the fastest-growing debt category, the Wall Street Journal reported in May.

Obama’s Tumblr town hall was announced by Yahoo!, which acquired Tumblr last May for about $1.1 billion.

TIME Security

Another Serious Security Breach Revealed Weeks After Heartbleed

It may not be as serious as Heartbleed, but new OpenSSL bug could allow attackers to strip web connections of encryption.

A new security bug in OpenSSL encryption was revealed and patched Thursday, just a few months after Heartbleed threatened hundreds of thousands of secure web servers. The new bug is the most serious of several security breaches revealed by the OpenSSL group in a formal advisory today.

According to the group, the new bug, deemed an “SSL/TLS MITM” vulnerability, could allow a crafty attacker to fiddle with the “handshake” process that occurs between a client and server when an encrypted connection is being established. The hacker could then force the client and server to use weak keys, which would in turn allow a “man-in-the-middle” attacker to decrypt and modify traffic between the two.

In other words: it allows someone snooping your connection to neutralize your web encryption process.

Furthermore, the bug is present in all versions of OpenSSL, and according to Google software engineer Adam Langley, who’s thrown up a technically elaborate analysis of the bug here, it may have been in existence for the last 15 (or more) years.

OpenSSL is an open source encryption tool, developed by the volunteer-based OpenSSL Group, and used by a majority of online servers to facilitate the secure exchange of information, like usernames and passwords. It’s been under the gun since the Heartbleed bug prompted a worldwide security panic.

What does the bug mean for you? While all servers using OpenSSL are at risk until they’ve been upgraded, the bug only affects clients that use the OpenSSL protocol. Thus most major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari) aren’t at risk, though browsers that do use OpenSSL, like Chrome on Android, may be affected.

If you’re up for a bit of technical reading, the person who discovered the bug, Masashi Kikuchi, explains how he found and patched it here. And the good news is that the bug’s revelation goes hand-in-glove with an official OpenSSL fix (based in part on Masashi’s patch). The most important next step in thwarting the bug is for anyone running an OpenSSL-based server to apply the OpenSSL Group’s recommended updates.

TIME Advertising

Pinterest Ads Are About to Become a Way Bigger Business

Online scrapbooking website Pinterest is planning an aggressive expansion of its ad business this summer.

The company will begin offering self-service ads through online auctions in this month, operations head Don Faul told the Wall Street Journal Thursday. The ad units, targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, will allow marketers to bid to have their ads served against specific categories on Pinterest, such as fashion and home decor, and pay on a cost-per-click basis. Previous Pinterest ads targeted large, deep-pocketed brands and had rates set based on a cost per 1,000 views.

The new ads will put Pinterest in more direct competition with other social networks that use an auction system, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as search engines like Google.

Pinterest has recently been trying to reposition itself as a curated search engine, rather than a social media site. The company unveiled in April a more robust search engine that helps guide users toward specific experiences and products when they input broad search terms. The new engine also presents a great opportunity to show off more ads, which appear as promoted pins at the top of search results.

Pinterest closed a $200 million round of venture funding in May, valuing the company at $5 billion.

TIME Video Games

You Can Finally Plug Your Xbox One Controller Into Your PC

Microsoft

Xbox One gamepad drivers for Windows PCs are available today, with Windows Update integration to follow.

Rejoice, Xbox One owners: You can finally use your controller to play games on your PC.

Why it’s taken a company as vast and PC-centered as Microsoft nearly seven months since the Xbox One debuted last November to make this possible I couldn’t tell you, but the day has finally come.

Starting Thursday, says Microsoft, you can download PC drivers for the Xbox One controller from Microsoft spokesperson Larry (“Major Nelson”) Hryb’s website. The company says it plans to slip the drivers into the Windows Update process down the road, but in the meantime, Major Nelson’s website is your go-to for x86 or x64 driver access.

According to Microsoft, the PC drivers will let you use the Xbox One controller “with any game that featured gamepad support for the Xbox 360 controller.” You need only download and install the drivers, then plug your Xbox One controller into the computer using its micro-USB cable.

TIME App

Tinder’s New Photo Feature Is A Lot Like Snapchat

Tinder

The dating app added a "Moments" feature that allows users to share photos with matches that will disappear in 24 hours

Updated 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday

In a continued attempt to move away from its “just a hookup app” stereotype, Tinder added a new feature Thursday that turns it into more of a social sharing platform. “Moments” allows users to show their matches photos taken throughout the day that will disappear after 24 hours — longer than your average Tinder relationship.

“We’ve done a really good job of helping people form new relationships, so good in fact that we just reached 2 billion matches this week, but making the connection is just the start,” founder and CEO Sean Rad told TIME. “We wanted to give our users a better way to get to know their matches and communicate with them. And that’s what led to Moments.”

A user can click on a camera icon at the top of their “Matches” tab to take a photo that will be shared with all potential suitors and then get erased from existence in 24 hours. (But keep your pants on—literally—users can easily report and block inappropriate photo sharers).

While the “Moments feature certainly has some Snapchat-esque elements—people can draw, caption, and put filters on the ephemeral photos—it still stays true to the Tinder user experience.

“I think Tinder is different [from Snapchat],” Rad said. “Of course we’ve taken inspiration from other experiences out there, but the core user experience with moments is very Unique and familiar to our users in the way we present the content. The action of swiping is very unique to Tinder.”

Users have the ability to swipe through their potential suitors’ Moments, found on top of their “Matches” tab. A swipe right alerts the photo taker that you “Liked” their Moment, creating new opportunities for communication.

Rad said that Tinder decided to make the pictures self-destruct in a day to “take away that pressure of wanting to make it perfect and allow you to be more yourself.”

Tinder claims to produce 800 million swipes and 10 million matches a day. And the founders promise that it is adding more features that will expand on the dating functionality.

As Josh Stein, a partner at VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, told Bloomberg,”Tinder might end up competing with Snapchat or Facebook.”

This could be seen as the next step to making Tinder—which Rad says “is already about more than just dating”—a social platform.

“I think you could look at it as an evolution,” he said. “To us social means meeting new people and strengthening the bonds that you have with existing relationships. We’ve done the meeting people well, now it’s about giving unique and fun tools to people to connect with those matches.”

TIME Apple

Apple Execs Ranked by Their Keynote Performances

Apple’s keynotes have always had a certain mystique, complete with seamless product demos, smooth promotional videos, and a class-of-the-industry organizational flow. While a great product can sometimes speak for itself, it’s the people behind the performances that really sell these events, from Phil Schiller to Tim Cook to Craig Federighi.

With that said, not every Apple exec can sell a $600 device like Steve Jobs. We watched Apple keynotes over the last seven years with an eye for style, strengths and weaknesses.

Here’s what we found:

Apple’s Best Keynote Speakers

6. Tim Cook

Likes: memorizing lines, rehearsing

Dislikes: improvisation

 

Cook’s never been especially engaging as a speaker, with a slow and steady demeanor that borders on over-rehearsed. It doesn’t help that he tends to cover the least interesting content, whether that’s how fast tickets sold out or why Apple just built an Apple Store in Berlin.

Like the iPhone itself, however, Cook has improved incrementally over the years, sounding less memorized and more relaxed, particularly during Monday’s WWDC keynote. He’s also learned to hand the stage over quickly, which has allowed Cook to play the snappy tour guide instead of the dawdling storyteller.

Finest moment: The beginning of the 2014 WWDC keynote

5. Scott Forstall

Likes: being smarter than you

Dislikes: acknowledging mistakes

 

The former Apple executive used to be a keynote staple, serving as Jobs’ #2 presenter in the years following the launch of the iPhone. Forstall was never bad, but he carried a certain smugness on stage, a tendency made worse by controversial releases like Siri and Apple Maps. He had a habit of pointing to the scoreboard (ex: sales, overall satisfaction) in the face of legitimate customer grievances (ex: Game Center, directions).

To be fair, his iOS expertise and raw intelligence always made Forstall a competent presenter, but the attitude behind the words carries a lasting legacy.

In sports, commentators often say that underdog teams in big games are “just happy to be there.” For Forstall, it was the opposite. Of course he should be there. He was the best.

Finest moment: Forstall’s 2011 presentation on iOS 5

4. Phil Schiller

Likes: geeky stats

Dislikes: basic but necessary information

 

Schiller is a fine presenter: knowledgeable, well-rehearsed, properly-paced—you know, the sort of guy Microsoft would kill to have on hand for its next Surface announcement. Still, Schiller’s routine is predictable. He winds up slowly, hits peak enthusiasm when covering the geekiest details (ex: breaking down a MacBook’s internals), then lands with a bit of a thud when he finally gets around to summary details (ex: pricing, release date).

That said, Schiller’s sensible, everyman demeanor works to great comic effect when he’s forced to do a funny FaceTime chat or physical stunt. Though the most absurd routines have tapered off in recent years, he was once Steve Jobs’ most trusted comedic sidekick. Crucially, Schiller’s play acting always comes off as more reluctant than showy, making him the one Apple presenter whose jokes never seem the least bit arrogant.

Finest moment: Schiller’s “death dive” gag in 1999

3. Jony Ive

Likes: high-minded, philosophical musing

Dislikes: physical stages

 

With phrases like “crystalline diamonds,” “unapologetically plastic,” and “highly-polished chamfered edge,” it’s a miracle Ive can get through Apple’s product videos with a straight face. But Jony’s magic always comes along about halfway through each video, where, despite all the platitudes, Jimmy Kimmel jokes and YouTube spoof videos, you find yourself nodding along. As a matter of fact, I do want a phone with a “bespoke assembly” and “a clear lacquer hard coat.”

Only Ive would describe electronic gadgets in such lofty, ludicrous terms…and yet, only Ive could pull it all off. While he doesn’t do keynotes, Ive has become such a staple in Apple product videos that he deserves mention on this list.

Finest moment: Selling a plastic, year-old phone (iPhone 5c) as “the distillation of what people love about the iPhone 5.”

2. Craig Federighi

Likes: everything

Dislikes: nothing

 

A rising star and natural speaker, Federighi is by far the most charismatic presenter currently at the company. Regardless of the product, topic or audience response, he emits an unwavering, boyish enthusiasm, beaming his way through spec lists, bad jokes, and routine product demos. Before 2012, he was a small-time extra, lucky to be on stage for 10 minutes at a time. Since then, he’s become the face of Apple’s keynotes, presenting for nearly 50% of WWDC 2013, and fully 70% of Monday’s event.

Federighi’s not perfect: he loves sprinkling his comments with empty superlatives (“incredible,” “awesome,” “really nice”), while his constantly cheerful buzz leaves little room for emphasis (how do we know what’s important and what’s not?). But his ability to make 78 minutes of keynote fly by faster than an episode of Silicon Valley makes him easily the best presenter of all current Apple employees.

Finest moment: Owning the stage for 70% of the 2014 WWDC keynote

1. Steve Jobs

Likes: bold, blanket statements

Dislikes: unreceptive audiences

 

In the end, of course, there can only be one choice for Apple’s greatest presenter: Jobs himself. With the confidence of Forstall, the mesmerizing qualities of Ive and the enthusiasm of Federighi, Jobs combined the strengths of his successors to sell everything from the iMac to the iPhone. Jobs also had the Clintonian ability to make people believe something just by saying it. Ive needs pleasant music, a white background, expensive machinery and a non-specific European accent to convince people: all Jobs had to do was open his mouth.

Jobs did have a speaking flaw—he would get visibly annoyed at his own audience when they didn’t respond how he expected—but his various gifts far outweighed the occasional flash of temper.

Apple might still be able to put on a show, but today it needs four guys to do it. Before, one was enough.

Finest moment: Announcing “three revolutionary products” in 2007

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

TIME Samsung

Samsung, Barnes & Noble to Launch Co-Branded Nook

Samsung / Business Wire

Barnes & Noble will tap popular tablet-maker Samsung to sell co-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nooks in hopes the deal will help it climb out of its Nook e-book sales hole.

Struggling e-book-tailer Barnes & Noble is turning to Samsung for help: the two companies announced Thursday they’re partnering to bring a co-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook to market by the end of the summer.

The partnership would see B&N load a custom version of its Nook software onto one of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 tablets, allowing B&N to benefit from the Galaxy Tab 4’s popularity and versatility. The new co-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will be based on Samsung’s entry-level 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4, and the companies expect it to be available in the U.S. in early August. It will be sold alongside B&N’s existing Nook e-readers at the bookseller’s nearly 700 U.S. locations, not replace them.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets, which run Android OS, range from 7- to 10.1-inch models, and the Galaxy Tab 4 — the fourth and most recent generation in the Galaxy Tab family — includes several budget-priced fourth-generation models with different screen sizes, all of which share the same internal 1.2 GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of memory. The companies didn’t say whether versions based on the larger screen Galaxy Tabs were under consideration.

The move appears to signal the end of B&N’s hand in the Nook hardware side of the business: CEO Michael P. Huseby said that the company will still sell its Nook GlowLight as well as provide support to existing Nook owners, but he called the Samsung partnership “a major milestone in Barnes & Noble’s efforts to rationalize the NOOK business,” noting it would “reduce [B&N's] exposure” to the costly hardware production side of its Nook tablet business.

Nook sales have been off for some time: in B&N’s third quarter fiscal report, the company said its Nook business dropped 50.4 percent revenue-wise, with a 58.2 percent fall in device sales year-on-year and digital revenue off 26.5 percent due to the decline in Nook unit sales. The company’s fiscal 2014 year-end earnings are due on June 25.

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