TIME How-To

3 Smart Ways to Remember Tasks

Every day there are dozens of things you need to remember to do—ask your friend about her sick mother when you chat, recall which piece of art you and your child decided to get framed, remember to pick up milk when you’re in the supermarket. But getting a reminder at the most appropriate time is not always as simple as putting an appointment in your calendar.

Fortunately, there are apps that will help you remember all these normal life activities that too often slip through the cracks. You can set a reminder to pop up the next time you’re in the your local supermarket or when you make a phone call to a specific person. You can even schedule alerts to trigger when you have an hour free on your calendar, so you can take care of those important tasks that just never seem to get done.

So don’t forget: Check out my picks for apps that will help you remember the important things in your life.

Snap a photo to remember later

Wand

Sometimes a picture really is worth 1000 words and that’s when the Wand app (free on iTunes) can be a lifesaver. What microbrew did you enjoy last summer at the new seafood restaurant? Which of your daughter’s drawings did you want to get framed? Not only can you set reminders, but when a picture is not enough, you can also add a caption—”best beer with whole fried clams–ever.”

You can also categorize your photos and share them as albums, like “best microbrews.”

Be reminded when you get somewhere

Apple

When a reminder is tied to the next time you go to a particular store or place, a location-based reminder works like a charm. For those with an iPhone, location reminders are built into the Reminders app that comes pre-loaded. When you set up a reminder, you can toggle on ”Remind me at a location.” There, you can select an address manually or from your address book, and choose for the reminder to trigger when you arrive or when you leave.

Android users can used Google Now, which comes preloaded on Android devices. Either launch the Google Now app and scroll down to the bottom where you’re see a reminder icon (a finger with a string tied around it) or tap the microphone on your Google search box and say “remind me.” Add a title for the task and then select when or where you want the reminder. Google Now is part of Google Search (free on iTunes) for iOS devices and works in the same way.

You can also set reminders using any web browser by typing “Google Now Reminder” into the Google search bar. A box will come up letting you fill in the “what when and where” and then you can choose to “remind me on Google Now.”

Be reminded when you have free time

Shifu

Need to call a friend to wish her a happy birthday? Want to remember to ask your sister-in-law about her trip to Japan? With Shifu (free on Google Play), you can set reminders to trigger when you have the opportunity or time. So you can set a reminder like “Call Julie to wish her a happy birthday whenever I have 15 minutes free” or “The next time I talk to Emily, remind me to ask her about her trip to Japan.”

Shifu also lets you set location-based reminders or even the next time you’re connected to WiFi—great for remembering to back up your photos while traveling.

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Companies

AT&T is Buying DirecTV in $48.5 Billion Deal

The company confirmed that it will pay roughly $95-per-share in a stock-and-cash transaction based on AT&T's Friday closing price and officially acquire DirecTV in a deal worth approximately $48.5 billion

AT&T officially will acquire satellite broadcast provider DirecTV in a deal worth approximately $48.5 billion, the company confirmed Sunday, after weeks of rumors about an impending purchase.

AT&T will pay roughly $95-per-share in a stock-and-cash transaction based on AT&T’s Friday closing price, the company said in a release.

The deal will add DirecTV’s 20 million subscribers to the 5 million already signed up to AT&T’s U-verse television service, setting the buyer up to compete with television giants like Comcast. AT&T could also move its existing U-verse subscribers to DirecTV’s satellite network, freeing up precious spectrum for broadband Internet service.

The AT&T-DirecTV deal is sure to get a close look from regulators at the Federal Communications Commission, which would be concerned by media consolidation issues, and the Department of Justice, for antitrust matters.

This announcement comes as AT&T rival Comcast is trying to convince the very same regulators to allow it to buy Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion deal that critics call a blow to competition and consumer choice.

AT&T, however, reportedly plans to cozy up to regulators by framing its DirecTV buy as a move to expand Internet access in underserved areas, a longtime technology policy goal of the Obama administration.

TIME Tech

Apple and Google Call a Truce in Patent Wars

Apple Google
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page. From left: Paul Sakuma—AP; Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

After years of legal wrangling over intellectual property, Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all current patent disputes between the two companies, marking an extraordinary de-escalation of the patent wars between the Silicon Valley tech giants

Apple and Google, two of Silicon Valley’s top intellectual property antagonists, have declared a ceasefire in their long-running war over patents, the companies said late Friday night.

The two tech titans said they signed a landmark agreement to settle all outstanding patent litigation between them, in a marked de-escalation of the smartphone patent wars that have gripped the tech world in recent years.

“Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies,” the companies said in a joint statement emailed to TIME. “Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform.” The companies said their deal didn’t include an agreement to license technology to each other, which would be virtually unthinkable because Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS compete as the top two mobile operating systems in the world.

The stunning Apple-Google patent détente comes two weeks after a jury in California awarded Apple $119.6 million in damages against Samsung, in a case that what widely viewed as a proxy-war against Google’s Android operating system. Apple had been seeking more than $2 billion in damages.

For several years, the largest tech companies in the world—including Apple, Google, and Samsung—have engaged in very costly and time-consuming patent litigation in multiple jurisdictions around the world. Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs famously felt that Google “f—ing ripped off the iPhone,” and he pledged to devote his “last dying breath” to “destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.” Jobs vowed “thermonuclear war.”

“It’s a huge relief to see these companies finally recognize that competing in the courtroom doesn’t make sense,” said Julie Samuels, a top intellectual property lawyer who served as a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“Instead of spending millions of dollars enriching patent lawyers, they’ll put those resources into real competition—in the marketplace,” said Samuels, who is now executive director of Engine Advocacy, a nonprofit tech policy group.

Apple already won one major patent infringement case against Samsung, resulting in damages that were ultimately pegged at $930 million. Samsung, which is apparently not a party to the new agreement, is appealing that verdict.

Almost two years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page reportedly held clandestine talks about ending the patent dispute between the two companies, but no agreement materialized.

TIME Technologizer

Microsoft’s Home Automation Deal Is More Proof It’s a Whole New Company

Insteon Box
Insteon

Rather than trying to destroy an established leader in the category, the company is embracing it

On the surface, there’s nothing particularly surprising about the news that Microsoft is working with Insteon, the creator of one of the major home-automation standards, to provide Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 with new apps. Home automation is rapidly becoming a major tech category unto itself. The deal will let consumers control household items such as lamps, security cameras and thermostats from their Windows PCs, phones and tablets, and Microsoft will sell Insteon hardware kits in its stores.

It sounds like a sensible partnership, and it is. But it’s also evidence that the Microsoft of 2014–the one run by Satya Nadella–is a whole lot humbler and more sensible than the one which dominated the industry for so long.

The old Microsoft was often prescient when it came to identifying emerging categories. It entered them aggressively, usually with its own technologies and almost always with a Windows-centric perspective on the world. Its goal was to crush the competition.

Sometimes the strategy worked: That’s how we got Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, both of which reached 90 percent-plus market shares in their respective categories. But it also led to plenty of stuff which never went anywhere, such as the Microsoft SPOT platform for devices such as smartwatches, the Plays for Sure system for copy-protected digital music and Windows Media Photo, an alternative file format to JPEG for storing digital photos.

If home automation had started blossoming a decade or so ago, it’s likely that Microsoft would have devised its own platform–let’s call it Windows for Your House–and would have tried to topple the standards of the day, which included Insteon as well as perennial rivals ZigBee and X10. It’s possible that such a gambit would have succeeded. But it seems even more likely that it would have been a waste of everybody’s time.

Which is why the partnership with Insteon is such a refreshing move, in line with other recent Microsoft developments such as it release of a capable version of Office for Apple’s iPad. The company still needs to provide millions of people with clear reasons to dump their old copies of Windows 7 and–bleeecch–Windows XP and move to Windows 8.1. It also has to provide reasons to choose a Windows Phone over an iPhone or an Android handset. The new Insteon support is a small-but-meaningful incentive, in a way that some new Microsoft technology would not be.

An important point: Microsoft hasn’t given up on the view that as new gizmos come along, they should all be based on Microsoft technologies. At its BUILD conference last month, it talked about a new shrunken-down version of Windows for “Internet of Things” devices. Among its potential applications are household appliances. And the company is giving the operating system to hardware makers for free, which certainly sounds like an attempt to grab lots of market share as quickly as possible.

But whether or not you ever own a toaster that runs Windows, future versions of the operating system for PCs, phones and tablets will work with the hundreds of devices which already support Insteon. That’s good for everybody involved, including Microsoft, Insteon and–most important–both companies’ customers.

TIME technology

Chinese Search Giant Baidu Moves into Google’s Backyard

Company and Bank images After China Leadership Shift
China's national flag, left, and Baidu Inc.'s corporate flag fly outside Baidu's headquarters in Beijing, China, on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. Tomohiro Ohsumi—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The new kid on the block unveiled a new artificial-intelligence research lab in Silicon Valley and appointed Google-alum, Andrew Ng, as chief scientist

Baidu, the “Google of China,” just took a flying leap out of China.

The search giant announced on Friday that it will invest $300 million in a Silicon Vally R&D center. The lab will employ 200 staff and have at the helm a pioneering researcher in artificial intelligence and Google-alum, Andrew Ng.

Ng currently heads Stanford University’s artificial-intelligence lab and helped found and lead Google’s Deep Learning team, which has built self-teaching search engines that can, say, learn how to recognize cats in YouTube videos.

Internet companies believe the technology could branch out from cat-recognition into applications as diverse as driverless cars, robotics and speech-recognition.

Baidu expressed “delight” at the hiring decision, saying in a statement, “Andrew is the ideal individual to lead our research efforts as we enter an era where AI plays an increasingly pronounced role.”

TIME privacy

People Are Already Scrambling to Get Their Past Scrubbed From Google

Just three days after the European Union’s high court ruled that citizens have a right to request search engines remove information about them from search results, people are already lining up to have unsavory bits of their history scrubbed from Google’s servers

Just three days after the European Union’s high court ruled that citizens have the “right to be forgotten” from search engine results, Europeans are already lining up to get unsavory bits of their history scrubbed from Google’s servers. The tech giant is scrambling to come up with a mechanism to handle the flood of requests and could face new financial costs because of the ruling.

More than 500 million people across 28 European countries now have the legal right to demand that Google remove from its search results links that they believe are no longer timely or relevant, even if the facts contained in said links are true. Already a former politician who wants to run again has requested that Google remove articles about his past time in office, according to a person familiar with the matter. Other requests have come from a university lecturer who wants to scrub articles about his job suspension and a man convicted of owning child pornography who wants to remove articles about the conviction, the person familiar said.

It’s not yet clear whether Google has complied with these or any other takedown requests.

“The ruling has significant implications for how we handle takedown requests,” a Google spokesperson said in an email. “This is logistically complicated – not least because of the many languages involved and the need for careful review. As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know.” He declined to say how many takedown requests Google has received, but a German regulator told the New York Times that such requests in Germany had increased tenfold since the ruling.

The tech giant is still reeling from the surprise judgment by the European Union’s Court of Justice, which ruled in favor of a Spanish lawyer who had been demanding Google to remove links to an article about debts he owed in the 1990’s. The ruling, centered on the idea that old web pages would fall out of public knowledge if not for Google’s ability to quickly scour the entire Web, vastly broadens the scope of a 1995 directive that grants Europeans extensive protections for their personal data. If Google refuses to comply with a citizen’s takedown demand, that person can have a judge or arbiter decide on the validity of the case. Google could potentially face significant costs litigating to keep old links in its search database and implementing a system that allows it to comb through thousands of takedown requests. Yahoo search and Microsoft’s Bing will also be affected.

Because of First Amendment protections of free speech and Google’s large political clout, experts believe it is highly unlikely that the “right to be forgotten” will ever be adopted as law in the United States.

TIME technology

Here’s the World-Class Designer Google Just Hired to Save Glass

Google has been putting a lot of effort into making Google Glass seem like a fashionable device and not a vaguely creepy gadget for geeks. The wholesome Mother’s Day ad was a solid first step. Now, the company is handing the reins to a master designer and marketer who will be tasked with making Glass appealing to the masses.

Ivy Ross, a former executive at Mattel, Disney and Calvin Klein, will be heading up the Google Glass project starting next week. Ross knows how to design products that people actually want to buy—at Mattel, she led design for all girls’ toys worldwide. Unlike Glass, though, Barbie has never been banned from bars or gotten anyone assaulted (to my knowledge).

Ross addressed the polarizing nature of Google’s latest device in a Google+ post announcing her new role. “I look forward to answering the seemingly simple, but truly audacious questions Glass poses: Can technology be something that frees us up and keeps us in the moment, rather than taking us out of it?” she wrote.

Google is gearing up to release Glass as a widely available consumer product soon. Though the device is technically still in beta, it’s on sale on Google’s website while supplies last.

TIME cloud storage

Pogoplug’s Cloud Storage Is ‘Unlimited’ Unless You Use Too Much of It

A cloud storage provider reveals its throttling policy in response to complaints from heavy users.

Online storage provider Pogoplug offers what seems like an incredible deal for keeping your data safe in the cloud. For $50 per year, the company promises “unlimited” data backups, supposedly ideal for preserving your cherished photos and videos.

But over the last few weeks, some Pogoplug users have run into a previously undisclosed catch: If you upload more than 1 TB of data, your upload speeds could be throttled.

Jimmy Cohrssen, a professional photographer, discovered this while using Pogoplug to back up his pictures. Cohrssen signed up for Pogoplug roughly eight months ago, and had stored 6 TB worth of photos on Pogoplug’s servers. He had no complaints until earlier this month, when the same 500 photo uploads that used to take an hour or two were suddenly taking days to complete.

“Their advertising is very deceptive, really pushing the idea that they are one of the only services out there that provides unlimited services, when the truth is the opposite,” Cohrssen said in an e-mail.

Cohrssen spent weeks hassling Pogoplug tech support, until they finally offered him a pro-rated refund. He’s still deciding what to do, and isn’t thrilled with the prospect of re-uploading 6 TB of files to another service like Backblaze or Drivepop.

Eventually, in response to weeks of complaints, Pogoplug gave an explanation to affected users. In a message drafted by Chief Product Officer Jed Putterman and distributed by the company’s tech support, Pogoplug said that it has to divvy up its limited bandwidth among heavier users to keep things fair for everyone:

Our primary goal is to get people’s initial back up done as fast as possible. In order to do this, for the first 1TB of storage we allow files to be backed up as fast as our users can send them. We chose this amount of storage because we felt it was well beyond the initial amount that people would need to back up to feel safe. For users beyond 1TB, we take our remaining bandwidth and evenly distribute it across those users. We are constantly adding additional bandwidth and infrastructure, and when we do everybody benefits.

In an interview, Pogoplug CEO Daniel Putterman further explained that the company uses lots of other factors to prioritize speeds. For instance, streaming video gets greater priority so that users don’t get any interruptions while watching. The 1 TB throttling cutoff was actually a response to users who wanted fast speeds on their initial backups.

“There’s this long list of QoS-related features, because if you don’t do that, you’re going to have a crummy cloud,” Putterman said.

There’s nothing wrong with having such a policy. The problem is that Pogoplug doesn’t mention potential speed limits anywhere on its website or its terms of use. The company’s FAQ page promises “no restrictions on storage or file size,” but says nothing about speeds. The letter from tech support was the only acknowledgement that a throttling policy exists.

Danny Dausend, another Pogoplug user, said the sudden throttling was a “huge surprise,” given that there was no indication of the policy before he signed up. Like Cohrssen, he’s also not sure what to do now. “I need to find a new place to house my stuff,” Dausend said in an e-mail. “But I have over 1.8 TB, and that’s not an easy task.”

Putterman said the company debated for several weeks whether to reveal the throttling policy, because it’s just one of many factors that can affect speeds. “The point is, there’s so many of them, why isolate this one?” Putterman said.

Still, Putterman acknowledged that Pogoplug could be more transparent about its policies. He said the company would at least consider adding some disclosure to its terms of service.

“We’re going to be, probably, very open, and dramatically more so than other companies in the space, and hopefully we’ll set an example for others,” Putterman said.

There is another silver lining for affected users: A few days ago, Pogoplug discovered and fixed a failed port that may have caused some of the more drastic speed issues. The fix doesn’t explain the previous weeks of complaints, but some users on Pogoplug’s forums have indeed reported speed improvements over the last few days. Putterman also pointed out that if users were able to upload more than 1 TB in past, that means most of the time, Pogoplug is able to offer a satisfactory level of service.

Still, Pogoplug can’t predict every spike in demand, especially as it works to acquire users in new ways, such as a recent promotional deal with Sprint. With finite bandwidth and no guarantee that users won’t notice slower speeds in the future, the best thing Pogoplug can do is stop leaving its users in the dark.

TIME Smartphones

Buy an iPhone 5s or Wait for the iPhone 6? An Always-Updated Guide

Rumors about an iPhone 6 from Apple have been gaining steam lately, from leaked design mockups to potential specs to possibilities for screen resolution. That means it’s time to examine one of the most popular questions I get from people who are pondering an upgrade: Should I buy an iPhone now, or wait for the next model?

Rather than answer this question once and freeze it in time, I’ll keep this story up to date with important developments and adjust the buying advice accordingly.

iPhone 6 Rumor Roundup

With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of what we think we know about the iPhone 6 as of May 2014:

  • The iPhone 6 may have a 4.7 inch, 1704-by-960 resolution display, according to 9to5Mac. That’s compared to a 4-inch, 1136-by-640 resolution screen in the iPhone 5s and 5c.
  • Design mockups show a curvier design compared to previous iPhones, in a thinner aluminum chassis. A similar design has appeared in supposedly leaked schematics from Apple supplier Foxconn.
  • The iPhone 6 may include sapphire glass, which could make the screen much more resistant to damage. Apple has partnered with GT Advanced Technologies to produce sapphire glass; that much is not a rumor, though it’s unclear whether the technology will be ready to use in displays for the next iPhone.
  • 9to5Mac has reported that Apple’s A8 processor may focus more on power efficiency than speed, in order to improve the iPhone’s battery life.

As for release timing, the consensus among rumors points to a September launch, which would put the iPhone 6 launch at roughly a year apart from the iPhone 5s and 5c. We’ve seen some shadier reports of an August release, but nothing that really instills confidence. Likewise, there’s been some speculation about an iPhone 6 reveal at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but little in the way of actual evidence. Bottom line: the iPhone 5s probably has at least a few months left atop Apple’s smartphone lineup, maybe longer.

Why to Wait for the iPhone 6

A larger screen means a roomier keyboard to type on, larger buttons to press and more immersive movies and gaming. As someone who’s used lots of bigger Android phones, I can say it’s always hard to go back to the smaller iPhone once you’ve adapted to a roomier display.

If I were in position to upgrade, and my phone wasn’t on the fritz, I’d wait to upgrade at this point. And if my phone was having problems, I’d consider activating an older smartphone of mine just to get through the next four months or so. After all, once you buy a phone, you’re likely stuck with it for the next couple years.

Why to Buy an iPhone 5s Now

The inherent drawback to larger phones is that they’re tougher to use with one hand. But so far, there hasn’t been much talk of Apple releasing new versions of its smaller iPhones for users who don’t want the larger display. Odds are that the iPhone 5s will fall back to the middle tier of Apple’s lineup, with the iPhone 5c possibly filling out the low end.

For those who prefer smaller screens, the good news is that the iPhone 5s is already a fine phone, with an excellent camera, powerful processor and–most importantly–the best app selection of any platform. And even now, it’s not uncommon to see big discounts on the iPhone 5s and 5c from third-party retailers, so you won’t have to wait until the fall to get a good price. For everything but the bigger screen, you can upgrade now with confidence.

What About That Extra Large iPhone?

The outlook is much hazier for the rumored 5.5-inch iPhone, which has been mentioned as a possibility alongside the 4.7-inch model. Reuters reported in April that the 5.5-inch version would come “several months” after its smaller sibling, but a Taiwanese news site claimed that the jumbo iPhone won’t happen until 2015. Details about the phone itself are much harder to come by, which makes me skeptical about whether this phone is even going to happen. (Remember, Apple tests lots of different screen sizes without actually releasing them.) If you’re holding out for an iPhone phablet, you could be waiting a very long time.

I’ll leave you a disclaimer, by way of an anecdote: A few years ago, the tech world seemed certain that Apple was preparing a drastic redesign for its next iPhone, with a teardrop-shaped chassis and extra-wide home button. It didn’t happen, as Apple released the mildly evolutionary iPhone 4S instead. A lot can happen in the months before launch, so take the information we’ve got with a grain of salt, and I’ll keep an eye out for anything that might merit a change of advice.

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