TIME Video Games

12 Ways the New Guitar Hero Live Reinvents the Series


First Rock Band and now Guitar Hero are making bids to resurrect the music-rhythm game category

What’s the one thing missing from the Guitar Hero games, aside from their somehow magically transmogrifying you into a bona fide, string-sawing, fret-shredding, tremolo-slapping Rock God?

How about live stadium-sized audiences? Okay, so let’s assume there’s no way you’re luring thousands of people to watch you hammer tiny plastic buttons in tandem with onscreen cues while mugging for your webcam. But what if you could conjure an audience of real (as in not computer-rendered) concertgoers who looked and acted live instead?

This is Guitar Hero Live‘s big idea, and I’m not sure how it works, or even if it works. But the idea is definitely going to turn heads, if only because it seems so completely at odds with what you’d expect from this sort of experience in 2015.

FreeStyleGames demoed Guitar Hero Live for me last week in New York. Here’s what they’re saying about the game, due this fall for $99 with controller.

It’s the first new Guitar Hero game in five years

Guitar Hero Live marks Activision’s first mainline Guitar Hero since 2010’s Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, and it’s as clean a break as you’re liable to see in the category. For one, its existence depends counterintuitively on full motion video, weirdly shelving it alongside games like The Seventh Guest, Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, Mad Dog McCree and Wing Commander III.


The timing of the game’s announcement couldn’t be weirder, either. Activision claims it had no idea category rival (and original Guitar Hero creator) Harmonix was going to announce a new Rock Band game last month. I guess enterprising minds think—and subconsciously schedule—alike.

It’s the world’s first “first-person rhythm” game

In Guitar Hero, you tap buttons on a faux-guitar controller in step with onscreen cues that signify rhythmic divisions of the beat. Get a solid sequence going and the audience will cheer you on, or flub your part and they’ll break into choruses of boos.

But in Guitar Hero Live, instead of watching a camera pan around cartoonish avatars and concertgoers rocking out, the game sticks the camera on your shoulders, then shoves you onstage alongside filmed live action drummers, singers, bassists, keyboardists and the like, gazing out over a sea of expectant, all-too-easily disappointed fans. It’s first-person Guitar Hero, in other words, only without the option to move around on your own—a wise choice, since having to ambulate while interpolating rapid-fire rhythmic cues sounds nightmarish.

“You never see yourself in Guitar Hero Live, you never really hear yourself talk, because the whole idea is for you to imagine that you’re there,” says FreeStyleGames studio head Jamie Jackson. “It’s about getting you to believe that you’re on that stage, and to be completely swept along by the whole thing. That’s our vision for the game.”

The pretend-guitar control scheme is totally different

The original Guitar Hero games had players tapping up to five uniquely colored buttons along the top of a faux-guitar fretboard. The more difficult the song, the more the fourth and fifth buttons were used. Guitar Hero Live increases the button total to six, but eschews primary colors for just two—black and white—then stacks them at the top of the guitar neck as two rows of three, giving one a unique crisscross texture to help you sense (without looking) which row each finger’s in.

“What we’re trying to tell you, in design language, is ‘Do you hit the top row, or the bottom row?'” says Jackson.


The idea’s that casual players who maybe want to jam with at lower difficulty levels can do so by fingering just one row of buttons (three) at a time, whereas more sophisticated tappers will have to access both rows of three simultaneously. In practice, it’s a hair more like playing chords on a real guitar, your hands challenged to operate in two dimensions (simultaneously horizontal and vertical) instead of one.

The buttons (and onscreen cues) are now black and white

It sounds drab, and at first it does look bland, but FreeStyleGames says the decision to strip out the series’ trademark orange, blue, yellow, red and green buttons for black and white ones came about because it realized, belatedly, that those colors were throwing up informational roadblocks.

“In early development, we actually had the buttons using the original Guitar Hero colors,” says Jackson. But then one of the studio’s user interface designers came up with the idea to reduce the button colors from five to two, one for each button row. Jackson thought it was a terrible idea at first, but after giving the idea a try, he found he was able to play even more accurately.

“What we realized when we broke it down was, by having these as colors and trying to tell you whether to hit top row or bottom row, your brain was having to read color first, then top row or bottom row,” explains Jackson. “But it didn’t need to actually read color, because your fingers never actually move out of position. You always know which is left or right or the middle, that was a given piece of information. We just didn’t realize we knew that. So by taking out that process of your brain having to read the colors, everyone’s reactions got quicker. And that’s why we took the colors away.”

“Live” doesn’t mean actually live, but you’re not supposed to be able to tell the difference

That’s the promise, anyway, and it hinges, bizarrely, on fully filmed play-spaces.

So how did the studio keep the filmed reactions from looking artificial and the seams sufficiently seamless, since you can veer on or off course at any point in the midst of a song? The studio isn’t saying yet (expect more coming out of E3 in June), but claims their technology allows for the sort of reactive dynamism you’d expect from any of its prior titles.


“Your experience can change at any point,” explains Jackson. “There are no gates where the crowd’s reaction switches. You might get a song wrong in one place, one time, but the audience will have a totally different reaction if you get it wrong in a different place the next time. It’s entirely down to your performance.”

When I asked if this involved shooting epic volumes of video, the studio, which isn’t yet offering precise figures, was nonetheless emphatic that it involved “a lot.”

The studio wants to scare you

A little, anyway. FreeStyleGames says part of its design discovery process involved identifying the psychological rituals band members often go through before heading onstage. Imagine the sort of stage fright you might be grappling with, however accomplished or seasoned you are, if you’re playing a festival in front of a hundred thousand people. To that end, Guitar Hero Live supports multiple venue types, from intimate hundred-person clubs to sprawling stadiums.

The studio didn’t film any real bands

Imagine how expensive that might have been. But no, while FreeStyleGames says it’s using the original masters for the game’s hit lists, all the bands you’ll play in were created ad hoc.

Call it “Cover Band Hero,” then.

The audiences aren’t generic

Make no mistake: the musicians you’ll jam alongside in each song are playing the song you’re hearing, nor are they merely actors faking instrumentally out of sync performances. FreeStyleGames says that all of the musical performances line up visually with the master track, and even the audiences have been tailored to match the style of music you’re playing.


“Each song has been crafted to fit with a certain audience, and that audience will look like it’s there to experience that genre of music,” explains Jackson.

You can’t import your old Guitar Hero song library

The new Rock Band game, whatever else it turns out to be, supports most of the old Rock Band songs. For better or worse, Guitar Hero Live, because of the nature of its shift to handcrafted filmic experiences per song, supports none.

But the song list sounds massive

Activision says it’s positioning Guitar Hero Live as tantamount to playing a “modern music festival, with rock, folk, EDM, hip-hop, country and pop acts sharing the same stage.” The initial lineup (which Activision says amounts to “hundreds of playable tunes”) includes: The Black Keys, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Gary Clark, Jr., Green Day, Ed Sheeran, The War on Drugs, The Killers, Skrillex, The Rolling Stones, The Lumineers, Pierce the Veil and Blitz Kids.

So what’s on “Guitar Hero TV?”

Guitar Hero TV, or GHTV, is Activision’s shot at a self-hosted, 24-hour music video channel. At this point there’s still a lot we don’t know about it (save that it doesn’t involve Twitch), but the idea is to let players play along with official music videos, or compete with friends, whether local or online.


You won’t need a console to play

Paralleling the Skylanders franchise’s recent leap to mobile device, Activision says Guitar Hero Live will be playable on tablets and smartphones—all you need is the guitar controller—as well as PlayStations 3 or 4, Xbox 360 or One, and Nintendo’s Wii U.

Read next: Rock Band 4 Exists and It’ll Be on PS4 and Xbox One This Year

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME cybersecurity

Cyberattacks Against Big Companies Surged by 40% in 2014, Report Finds

Rafe Swan—Getty Images/Cultura RF

New malware threats crop up at a rate of 1 million a day, according to annual survey of cyberthreats

The number of cyberattacks against large companies rose by 40% last year, according to a new report, which finds hackers have honed spear-phishing and fraudulent email campaigns to focus attacks on larger targets with more precision.

Five out of six companies employing more than 2,500 people were targets of cyber attacks last year, according to Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Report. Even as the number of attacks surged, analysts found that the hackers were waging more efficient campaigns, deploying 14% less email to infiltrate an organization’s network.

The authors estimate that in addition to targeted attacks, non-targeted malware continues to proliferate online at a rate of 1 million new threats a day.


How to Save Stories To Read Later On Your Phone

Oli Kellett—Getty Images Woman using phone and drinking coffee

Pocket and Instapaper help you avoid missing the articles you want to read

Sometimes, it feels like our phones buzz with notifications from our favorite news apps at the most inconvenient moments — it’s hard to open a notification about Iranian nuclear developments when we’re headed into a meeting or chasing down the bus.

Luckily, there are a few great apps that will help you save important stories for reading later in the day when you’ve got some downtime, even if you don’t have a data signal (say, on the subway).

One of the most well-known of these story-saving apps is the easy-to-use Instapaper. After creating an account and downloading the mobile app (iPhone and iPad here, Android here) and optional browser extensions, you can save stories to your Instapaper queue from your desktop browser or mobile device. Later, you can recall those saved stories in Instapaper’s app for easy reading. Some websites and apps also offer a button that lets you instantly save stories to Instapaper directly.

Another popular option is Pocket, which works mostly the same way as Instapaper — people tend to prefer whichever app they were introduced to first. However, Pocket gives you some different options for saving stories, like the ability to add articles to your queue by emailing them to a designated Pocket address. Like Instapaper, you can also save from a number of third party apps through the share function. Get the iPhone version here, Android here.

TIME Gadgets

Which Smart Lightbulbs Are Right For You?


The home front has suddenly become a Battle of the Bulbs

Way back when the world was flat, the Red Sox were lovable losers, and you didn’t have to walk very far to find a post office mailbox, it used to be that when a lightbulb burned out, you’d grab another one that fit and plugged it in. These incandescent bulbs were disposable, and they cost pennies on the dollar compared to the much longer-lasting LED bulbs of today.

Now, as consumers increasingly turn to these energy-efficient bulbs, lighting companies are trying to lock shoppers into their ecosystem by putting out smart, smartphone-controlled bulbs. These Wi-Fi connected LEDs can be programmed to turn on and off at the tap of a touchscreen (or scheduled either through the companies’ own backend services or third-party solutions like IFTTT).

But all these bulbs are not created equally, and neither are their supporting hardware or software. Here’s how they measured up in the real-world testing of my well-lit home.

Connected Cree LED Bulbs

The least expensive LED light of the bunch at $14.97 per bulb, Cree’s Wi-Fi enabled, soft white 60 watt-replacements cast a good glow over my kitchen table. In fact, when I installed the new web-connected Edison bulbs, they replaced older (by a year), non-Wi-Fi-enabled, 60 watt Cree LED bulbs — and these newer bulbs seemed even brighter, though they boasted the same 815 lumens.

Luckily, I could dial back the Cree’s brightness through the Philips Hue app I used to control them, which is another feature worth mentioning. The Connected Cree bulbs are marketed as being Wink App compatible, which means they require a Wink Hub (a small piece of hardware that starts at $49 and works as a go-between from the bulbs to your Internet router). But that specific piece of hardware isn’t the only bridge that will do the trick, and since I don’t have a Wink Hub, I was able to connect the Cree bulbs to my Philips Hue hardware using these instructions. (Full disclosure: Only two of the three Connected Cree bulbs I tested could be detected by my Philips Hue bridge, but I feel that’s what I get for not going with the recommended Wink hardware.)

Otherwise, the Connected Cree LEDs work great. They are responsive to the inputs I make in the Philips Hue app and never miss a beat on my very regimented IFTTT triggers. I imagine they would only work better with a Wink Hub, so if you’re starting your smart home lighting efforts from scrap, be sure to pick one up.

Osram Lightify

Setting up Osram’s Lightify connected lighting system was the easiest of the bunch. After downloading the app, you simply use your smartphone’s camera to scan a QR code on the backside of the hub (or “gateway” as Osram calls it), plug it in, and through some sort of smartphone app magic, the device detects and connects to your Wi-Fi network on its own. Next up comes installing the bulbs so the hub and app can detect them — and viola, you’ve got connected lights. If that wasn’t easy enough, the app’s user interface is clean and easy to use, an advantage over the competition, especially Philips.

Ease of install aside, Osram’s Lightify A60 tunable white bulb is also a great little piece of hardware, not only kicking out 810 lumens, but also letting you change the warmth of the light emitted. I prefer a soft white light in my office, where I installed the system, but cooling the temperature to a bluer hue could help me battle the lack of sunlight in winter months. The only downside to the bulb is its “mushroom” form factor, which can limit the light emitted and make shadows under certain circumstances. The Cree bulb doesn’t have this — it illuminates all the way to the base — but all the other bulbs in this roundup do. (Philips Hue bulbs are the biggest offender of this design flaw.)

At between $30 and $35 apiece for the Lightify’s gateway and tunable bulbs, it’s a sound investment for a smaller space. The company also puts out colored bulbs and LED light strips, great for installing under cabinets. But replacing all the bulbs in your house with Lightify gear could break the bank, quick. Though, in terms of performance, you’d have no regrets.

Philips Hue

Installed over my kitchen sink and in a living room lamp, these are the bulbs I have the most experience with. Full disclosure: my review is of the Hue colored lightbulbs, but that’s only because I’ve been using these bulbs for years, long before Philips’ $19 white, Hue Lux bulbs were released. I imagine the white bulbs work the same or similarly, since I don’t typically play around with the colors on my bulbs anyhow.

To begin with Hue, you have to connect the Hue bridge to your Wi-Fi router via ethernet, a design decision that giveth and taketh away from this product’s stability. On the one hand, because it’s physically connected to your router, your entire Hue system is unlikely to go down. On the other hand, individual bulbs may have difficulty connecting to the bridge, depending on where they are and where your home’s Internet connection is set up. I will say that it’s been years since I had problems connecting to my Hue bridge, but I also don’t let my bulbs roam too far from the base. (Worth noting: I cannot seem to find a Philips Hue bridge for sale without lightbulbs as a part of the package, so expect to pay at least $79 in the beginning to get into this technology.)

And now that I’ve figured that out, the Philips Hue bulbs perform well, turning on and off according to my IFTTT schedules with a success rate that’s north of 98%. I feel like my bulbs aren’t particularly bright (they’re just 600 lumens), though at 750 lumens, the white Lux bulbs are just slightly dimmer than the competition. One cause of this might be the bulb’s high collar, a feature that hides a heat sink on all the LED bulbs, save for the Crees, as mentioned above.

But the dimmer light is hardly problematic compared to Philips Hue app in general. Unintuitive and in a sore need of a complete overhaul, the app will not let you delete bulbs from your house, which is problematic when bulbs become unresponsive (a plague that’s happened to many users, including myself). Your only option is to rename the bulbs (I put a “dead” suffix on them), so when you reinstall them, you can use the old name again. On the plus side, Philips has encouraged independent developers to make apps for its bulbs, and many of those programs are better than Philips’ default software.

WeMo Smart Bulbs

I’d love nothing more to tell you that Belkin’s WeMo Smart Bulbs worked fantastically — because the company puts out a lot of great products — but my experience setting up these bulbs perfectly mimicked the problems I had setting up their other smart products. This leads me to believe that there’s either a problem with their product or with me (and I fully admit it could be the latter).

Truth be told, it took me around 3 hours and four different tries to set up the WeMo Link and the two connected bulbs that make up the product’s $99 starter kit (individual bulbs cost $29 after that). The Link, which is WeMo’s bridge/gateway, had a particularly difficult time connecting to my Wi-Fi, just like the WeMo Switch and WeMo Insight Plug did previously. I tried so many different things to get it to work, but ultimately what did the trick was deleting the WeMo app, restarting my phone, reinstalling the app, and performing a factory reset on the Link. (I also had to reset both bulbs, an endeavor that involved me turning on/off the lights in a timed pattern that took three tries to get right.)

Now that they’re finally working correctly, I’m loathe to update the app or the hardware’s firmware, a request that has gone out every so often with my Switch and Insight. This is a bad habit to get into, as these firmware updates send out security patches, which are key for keeping your smart home secure. But that’s my hangup, as is, possibly, my lack of patience with WeMo’s inability to find my Wi-Fi networks when I’m setting up the system. I think I’ve isolated my install problems to the simple fact that it seems to take Belkin’s smart home products a good three minutes to fully boot, initially. Every time I install one of their products, I feel like it’s not working, and maybe I unplug it or reset it. And I’m not alone in this — when I search Twitter and the web for similar complaints, there’s a chorus of cranks wishing WeMo worked better than it does.

TIME Apple

5 Reasons You Should Update Your iPhone Immediately

Apple iPhone 6 Debuts in Prague
Matej Divizna—Getty Images A seller poses with iPhone 6 during a midnight sale of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus at Apple Premium Reseller store on October 24, 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Other than avoiding that constant reminder to upgrade

Averaging more than an update per month, Apple’s iOS 8 is getting to be nearly as annoying as Adobe Flash when it comes to keeping software up-to-date. But at least users are getting something for their power-cycling and downtime. In fact, the newest iOS 8.3 update is loaded with some rather delightful goodies for iPhone and iPad users who keep their systems up to speed.

Here are five reasons why you should update your Apple iPhone or iPad’s operating system right now:

1. CarPlay Gets Unplugged

After updating their handsets, Apple users with newer-model cars (or whom have installed cutting edge, aftermarket car stereos) will get a pleasant surprise when they turn their key: CarPlay no longer requires that iPhones be plugged into a USB port to control your car radio.

Working like AirPlay does with Apple TV and wireless speakers, the CarPlay in-car user interface is now beamed directly from the phone to the car’s head unit, untethering phones and making this feature much more convenient. Now, if only Apple could do something about the price of CarPlay-compatible systems…

2. Siri Takes A Better Tone

If you’ve noticed that Siri seems to have relaxed recently, it’s not you, it’s her. iOS 8.3 made some tweaks to the way Siri speaks, giving her a much more conversational tone, even if her words are the same. It’s a nice, subtle touch that you may not notice unless someone pointed it out to you. And it makes her corny jokes sound almost funny, too. (I said almost.)

But Siri’s isn’t the only voice to get some elocution lessons. The Maps app’s turn-by-turn navigation has improved its street name pronunciation as well.

3. Wi-Fi Gets Some Wins

Whenever there’s a big software update, it seems like there are always some users who get left out in the cold with strange, unexplainable bugs. With iOS 8, many users experienced intermittent Internet connectivity issues, including signal degradation and repeated requests for passwords. One tech-savvy user got so frustrated looking into the glitches that he outlined the problems online, coining the term WiFried.

Apple heard these complaints and, with this update, (hopefully) addressed an issue where devices intermittently disconnect from Wi-Fi networks, as well as nipped the continuous login issue. Speaking from personal experience, the password problem can be crazy-making, as you wonder if you’re always getting your Wi-Fi password wrong.

But the Wi-Fi update is not only about patches and band-aids. It also brings Wi-Fi Calling to Sprint customers, letting them join T-Mobile subscribers (and EE users in the U.K.), as the few who can talk on the phone without eating up their plan’s minutes. Hopefully other carriers will allow this feature in future updates.

4. Family-friendly Fixes

Family Sharing is a feature that was released with iOS 8, and 8.3 helps to iron out some of its bumps. For instance, the update fixed a snafu where some apps wouldn’t launch on certain family members’ devices, but it would launch on others. Likewise, it also patched an issue that blocked some family iOS devices from downloading free apps already downloaded on another family-owned Apple gadget.

But in particular, parents will be happy to hear that the update made “Ask to Buy” notifications more reliable, letting account holders grant permission on App Store and iTunes purchases. iOS 8.3 also now lets parents set their kids’ phones to filter out iMessages from people who aren’t in their Contacts app — a great security feature to make sure strangers aren’t chatting with their kids.

5. Emojis Aplenty

And a big thumbs up to Apple for adding more than 300 new emojis to its iOS keyboard. The emoticons that have everyone all a-smiley-face in particular are the ethnically diverse icons that allowing people the world over to express themselves in ways that match how they look. And Apple’s designers didn’t stop with Earthlings — they even slipped in a secret Vulcan salute emoji. So, live long and prosper, iOS 8.3. At least until next month.

TIME A Year In Space

Watch NASA’s Spectacular First GoPro Video Captured on a Spacewalk

"Video like this is the whole reason we built the camera"

GoPro’s community of thrill seekers might have been upstaged permanently by a NASA astronaut who captured stunning footage of a spacewalk using a high definition camera for the very first time.

NASA astronaut Terry Virts strapped on the point-of-view camera last February before venturing out of the International Space Station (ISS) to do some exterior housekeeping on the berthing docks. He and astronaut Barry Wilmore were reconfiguring the ports for the upcoming arrival of commercial crews.

Along the way, they captured two stunning videos, one showing the ISS’ incomparable views of earth and the other floating beneath the station’s underbelly, bristling with panels, cables and dishes.

“This was the first time an astronaut captured HD video of a spacewalk while outside,” NASA public affairs officer Dan Huot told TIME. The GoPro helmet camera used features much higher resolution than the astronauts’ current helmet-cams. “They are small, simple and have great quality,” he said.

The camera used during the space-walk works much like the kind of GoPro you can buy here on Earth, only with a one-touch power up and record function. “This makes it much easier to execute while wearing large gloves,” Huot added.

The footage is quieter and slower than the typical GoPro images of say, roof jumpers or a great white shark lunging toward the camera. But then it’s hard to top the hypnotic movement of a camera in zero gravity, where even a belt buckle, floating into the frame, can be fascinating to watch.

“Video like this is the whole reason we built the camera,” Rick Loughery, a spokesperson for GoPro, said. “To be able to share that perspective with the world.”

Read next: A Year in Space

TIME apps

The 8 Best Apps to Get Your Yard Greener Than Ever This Spring

Lilly Roadstones—Getty Images Man texting sat in allotment

Get things green with some pruning shears, a spade, and your smartphone

While a glance out your window may still reveal some brown, muddy puddles (or worse: white, snowy mounds), it’s still about time to start thinking about your yard. As difficult as it was to dig out over this past winter, it could be just as hard to prepare your lawn and garden for better weather and better days ahead.

But short of hiring a landscaper, these eight apps may be the best ways to get some expert help for your yardwork this spring. Better yet, free or very low-priced, they’ll save you plenty of green over hiring a pro.

Eden Garden Designer

Tending a garden requires patience and vision, but this app helps to take the guesswork out of how things will look in full bloom. The iPhone-only app lets you snap a picture of your yard and then place in all manner of features, like flowers, bushes, and trees. A drag and drop interface lets users tinker in the yard without getting any dirt under their nails, while seasonal settings can show them how their yard will appear throughout the year.

There are more than 40 plants in the app, which may not be quite enough for constant gardeners, but people trying their hand at landscaping or setting up a new plot may find that to be a perfectly manageable amount.

Eden Garden Designer is available for $1.99 on the App Store.

Essential Garden Guide

Gardeners looking to shave their grocery bill are advised to download this guide for growing your own fruits and vegetables. With more than 30 vegetables and 10 fruits in its database, this iPhone app will tell you everything you need to know about planting, tending and harvesting, including how deep to put your seeds, how much light each crop needs, and how much soil acidity the plants will tolerate.

It’s a fairly simple app that puts green thumb information at your fingertips, and will pay you back in spades by cutting down on how much you pay for your favorite fruits and veggies all summer long.

Essential Garden Guide is available for $1.99 on the App Store.

Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens

Everyone from beginners to experts can learn something new about their yard through this comprehensive guide to landscaping. Written by master gardener Susan Morrison, the app blooms with information on more than 90 plants, tagged by climate zone, flower cover, drought tolerance and other details that will ensure you’re picking the right ground cover for your space.

In addition, it has great step-by-step guides on everything from planting grasses to laying down mulch. The only way this app could only be more helpful would be if it could push a wheelbarrow.

Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens is available for $.99 on the App Store and $2.99 for Google Play.


Developed by Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institute, this field guide can help leaf-peepers identify the tree species they’re looking at. With high-resolution, clear images of the tree’s particular leaf, fruit, flower, and even bark, the app makes it easy to discern plant life around you. Currently it only contains trees from the east coast of the United States, but with upgrades being made to the app all the time, there’s plenty of room to grow.

Leafsnap is available for free on the App Store.

Organic Gardening Magazine

Technically not an app (just like, technically, a tomato is not a vegetable), this downloadable version of the print publication Organic Gardening is even greener than the real thing, because it didn’t kill any trees being printed. With features, stories, and gardening tips dating back to the magazine’s early days in the 1940s, Organic Gardening goes to the roots of the home gardening movement, with colorful photos, well-researched tales, and more. Subscribers to the print version can download issues for free, while new readers looking to explore can either subscribe by the year or pick up an issue at a time.

Organic Gardening Magazine is available for free on the App Store and on Google Play, but charges apply for individual issues or subscriptions.

Perennial Match

Pulling together a garden with lasting appeal can be a tricky challenge. This universal iPhone and iPad app, while loaded with information and a little more complicated than other plant apps, is a great guide to making sure your crops are all compatible with each other, throughout the year. With the ability to set filters, the app will help you plant according to factors such as height, spacing, colors, season, and hardiness. In addition, information on the kind of critters, from deer to butterflies, that the plants attract can help to make your garden more lively than you originally imagined.

Perennial Match is available for $4.99 on the App Store.

Scott’s My Lawn

Sure the grass is always greener on the other side of the street, but that shouldn’t make you stop tending your own lawn. Published by the turf experts at Scotts, this app can not only tell you what to apply to your lawn to make it green and lush (spoiler alert: they recommend Scotts products), but it will also set geographic-oriented reminders to alert you when to apply the lawn food and pesticide.

The GPS map-based square footage calculator can help you determine exactly how big your green space is, excellent for figuring out how much fertilizer to spread. But one feature, the Weed Identifier, didn’t work (it allows you to send a photo of a weed in your yard to Scotts, but they never replied to mine).

Scott’s My Lawn is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Sprout It

With a crisp, clean interface and a library full of plants, Sprout It is a great iPhone and iPad app to inspire beginners to take control of their green spaces, whether those are big swaths of the backyard or container gardens on a patio. Vivid illustrations make this app easy on the eyes, helping users see what they’re about to grow before they get going. But the smartest thing about Sprout It is how it pairs location-based data with weather information, helping gardeners think ahead when it comes to planting and watering.

Sprout It is available for free on the App Store.

TIME legal

This Country Just Banned Revenge Porn

TIME.com stock photos Computer Keyboard Typing Hack
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

New U.K. law cracks down on many kinds of online abuse

The United Kingdom is cracking down on people who share nude photos of their exes without their consent, a practice known as revenge porn.

Under the U.K.’s new Criminal Justice and Courts Act enacted Monday, anyone who discloses private sexual photographs of another person with the intent to cause distress could be prosecuted. Violating the new law carries a punishment of up to two years in prison, a fine or both. The law applies to photos shared both online and offline, according to The Telegraph.

The new law marks the U.K.’s first time revenge porn has been listed as a specific crime.

The U.K. is also cracking down on Internet trolls through the new act. Punishment for abusive messages that have the “intention of causing distress or anxiety” will be punishable by up to two years in prison, up from a six-month maximum under previous rules.

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games of the Week

Try Rogue Star, a Star Wars-like space adventure

Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.


Overall an incredibly simple game with a very rewarding premise, Smove takes you through a number of levels in which you fly through different stages, dodging obstacles as they fly toward you. And though it may not be the world’s most complex game, it’ll keep you playing for a very long time.

Smove is free in the App Store

Attack the Light

For fans of Steven Universe, this game is an absolute necessity. For those who have yet to watch the endearing Cartoon Network show, then allow this game to be your gateway. Run through maps related to the show and clobber enemies while playing as the show’s main characters. However, Attack the Light isn’t entirely a fighting game. You lead your characters on an adventure, turning this game into an adorable RPG.

Attack the Light is $2.99 in the App Store


Tiltagon is a truly fantastic, fast-paced puzzle game. The object is simple: you must continuously tilt your device in order to manipulate the trajectory of a ball on a series of increasingly complex hexagonal landscapes. Keep the ball rolling, and you stay alive. If not, you explode, which is a great way to go out.

Tiltagon is free in the App Store

Rogue Star

Perhaps it’s simply the game’s name, but Rogue Star has great similarities to the celebrated GameCube game Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. In Rogue Star, you fly your ship in a band of criminals, blasting your way through space and completing missions in order to ascend the ranks.

Rogue Star is $4.99 in the App Store


This hugely anticipated game was well worth the wait. It’s essentially just like the much-loved button mashing games of yesteryear, except with greatly improved graphics. You can unlock a variety of characters, including some of your favorites from the old series, and spend your time ripping opponents throats out or stabbing them in the face or turning them into ice sculptures.

MORTAL KOMBAT X is free in the App Store

TIME Gadgets

Apple Watch Pre-Orders Hit Almost 1 Million on First Day, Group Estimates

The cheaper Sport Watch was the most popular model

Almost one million people ordered an Apple Watch on the first day it was available, according to an estimate by a research firm, showing strong consumer demand for an Apple product that debuted to mixed reviews.

Slice Intelligence, citing an analysis of e-receipt data from 9,080 online shoppers, said that about 957,000 people in the U.S. pre-ordered an Apple Watch on Friday, with each buyer purchasing an average of 1.3 watches and spending an average of $503.83 on each one.

More than 60% of consumers bought the cheapest iteration of the Apple Watch, the Sport model.

Many of the initial purchasers are committed Apple fans: 72% purchased an iPhone, iPad or Apple computer over the past two years, and 21% ordered an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus in the last few months, according to Slice.

The black sport band was the most popular choice, as was the larger 42mm case.

Read next: Here’s What It Was Like Buying an Apple Watch Today

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