TIME Internet

How Google Could Change Online Shopping With 1 Button

The company is launching buy buttons for its search results

Your Google searches could be getting pricier in the next few weeks.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reports that the search giant plans to add “buy” buttons to pages showing search results for products available for online purchase. The buttons, which will take shoppers to another Google product page where they can actually make a purchase, will first appear on searches performed on mobile devices.

According to WSJ:

“If shoppers click on the buy buttons, they will be taken to another Google product page to complete the purchase, the people explained. On that page, they will be able to pick sizes and colors and shipping options, as well as complete the purchase, one of the people said.

The products will still be provided and sold by retailers, rather than by Google. Retailers including Macy’s Inc. are in talks with Google about taking part in the launch, the people added. A Macy’s spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.”

Google said in December that it would consider creating buy buttons for its search pages.

The move could help Google compete with online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, though WSJ notes that Google’s buy button model would see the online search company continue to get paid by retailers through its advertising model. Companies like Amazon and eBay typically share the proceeds from a sale with retailers.

Amazon recently stepped up its one-click ordering model by introducing the Amazon Dash, which is a physical button that is connected to the Internet and, when clicked, allows customers to instantly buy certain products. The Dash Buttons feature partnerships with a range of product brands—from Tide detergent to Gatorade.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

Read next: Google Has a Crazy Fun Job Opening on its Doodle Team

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TIME apps

This iPhone App Will Make You Super Nostalgic for Your iPod

A click wheel keyboard for your iPhone

Typing on your iPhone just got a lot more fun — and a lot slower, too.

The Click Wheel Keyboard app by developer Adam Bell allows you to scroll through each letter one at a time, emojis included, as shown in the video above. The retro keyboard is a good choice if you want a nice throwback to your iPod, but a bad choice, well, for just about everything else.

TIME Companies

Your iPhone’s Maps Are About to Get Way Better

Apple's World Wide Developers Conference Begins In San Francisco
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall demonstrates the new map application featured on iOS 6 during the keynote address during the 2012 Apple WWDC keynote address at the Moscone Center on June 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California.

Apple just bought a GPS mapping company

Apple just bought a global positioning system company in a move that could help boost the tech giant’s maps software and other location-based technology.

Apple is paying an undisclosed amount to acquire Bay Area mapping company Coherent Navigation. The deal was first reported by MacRumors on Sunday, and later confirmed by The New York Times. The company Apple is picking up brings GPS technology that is more precise than many of its consumer-grade counterparts.

In typical fashion, Apple was less than forthcoming with regard to the motivation behind the acquisition. An Apple spokesperson told the Times in an e-mailed statement that the company “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Apple bought mapping service Placebase in 2009, taking the first steps toward building its own mapping technology. However, Apple’s mapping technology still lags behind rivals like Google. Three years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook even directed customers frustrated with errors in an updated version of Apple’s Maps app to try rival service Google Maps.

Location-based technology is in high demand in Silicon Valley, as evidenced by recent reports that ride-sharing startup Uber has bid roughly $3 billion for Nokia’s digital mapping business, called Here.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

 

TIME Video Games

How Destiny Is Changing to Give Players What They Want

Bungie

A Bungie insider took us inside the process

It’s a divisive game. Depending on who you ask, Destiny is either the first truly next-gen console experience or an over-promised, under-baked revenue machine for mega-publisher Activision Blizzard. But there’s no disputing the 2014 title’s phenomenal commercial success.
Pitting players from around the world—Guardians, in Destiny parlance—against the forces of the nebulous Darkness on behalf of benevolent orb The Traveler, the game marries the fluid gunplay of the studio’s classic Halo games with the loot-collection of RPGs like the Borderlands and Diablo series. Destiny enjoyed one of the most successful launches in gaming history when it went on sale last September (despite a lukewarm critical reception), and over 20 million players have created their own Guardians. (Exact sales figures haven’t been released by the company.)
A major part of the game’s success is its focus on community, including the design of its endgame activities. Destiny‘s most challenging and creative tasks are strikes and raids, multi-stage encounters that require anywhere from three to six people to complete. In particular, raids like the Vault of Glass and Crota’s End revolve around puzzles and mechanics that are almost impossible to complete alone. Even the Crucible, the game’s player vs. player (PvP) arena, is framed as a training exercise for the universe’s Guardians: they’re fighting each other so they can become strong enough to tackle and defeat the larger evil forces assaulting their universe. The game is constantly making it clear that players are in this together.
That focus is also reflected in Bungie’s management of the people that make up its player community, a constantly shifting group of people. Headquartered in Bungie’s own forums and in the game’s extremely popular sub-Reddit, the hardcore fanbase’s relationship with Bungie tends toward a default state of genial exasperation: they love the game, have spent enough time with it to worm out every crack and crevice, and want the studio to fix every flaw even as it is sometimes creating new ones.
David Dague (a.k.a. DeeJ) is one of Bungie’s community managers, tasked with serving as conduits for whatever sentiments players happen to be conveying on a given day. They’re the ones who filter and send information back and forth between the player base and Bungie’s technical teams, whether through informal interaction or standard missives like the Bungie Weekly Update, a traditional home for bad jokes and hints at upcoming changes.
This is a pivotal time for Bungie. The studio is about to introduce major changes to the game’s reward mechanisms and content through its second DLC release, House of Wolves, scheduled for release on Tuesday May 19th. The expansion pack includes a new narrative and accompanying set of missions, a new social space for players, dozens of pieces of new gear, a materials exchange, a new co-operative endgame activity, and a new competitive PvP event.
In some ways, the size and breadth of House of Wolves feels like it couldn’t have come together without the frosty feedback the studio received regarding their first piece of DLC, The Dark Below, which was derided for being skimpy on content and for changing key parts of the player experience without advance notice or consultation. With the expansion’s release on the horizon, TIME spoke to Dague about what he’s learned since the game’s launch, how House of Wolves and future changes to the game will affect his role, and his favourite pieces of community-created world-building.

TIME: With almost eight months since release in the bag, how has your approach to communicating with the player base changed?

Dague: During the first few months after launch, the conversation we had with the emerging player base was very reactive. It seemed like we were always rushing to explain events from the previous week. Since then, I’ve been invited to work a lot more closely with the Live Team that supports the game. Along with Bungie User Research and Destiny Player Support, this enables us to include the community in the process that changes the way we all play. Now, the conversations we have with our players are a lot more forward-looking. We’re always building a bridge to the next update.
How does handling communication for a massive, public-facing property like Destiny differ from a more private communications role?
It’s so crucial to remember that Destiny appeals to many different types of players for different reasons. Our last report was that 20 million people had created a Guardian in our world. The challenge is to craft a message from Bungie that’s relevant to all of them. Every player of Destiny is important to us – from the Raiders to the Crucible warriors. It’s rare that they will all follow the same narrative from moment to moment. You gotta try and find a balance.
I know the game is designed around the concept of the community, but from a distance, the size of said community on Reddit and the Bungie forums is astounding—did you expect this level of activity and engagement?
“Hoped” would be a better word. We make games in the hopes that players will experience them. The world of Destiny is so much more interesting when it’s packed with interesting people. To see the way players have flocked to that Tower standing over a city in need of heroes has been amazing and humbling and inspiring. It’s definitely more than I can handle alone, which is why I’m grateful for the special teams on Bungie.net that help track feedback and tackle support issues. And what is this Reddit you speak of? Can I have a link?
The segment of the player base that’s active online has gotten up in arms over a few communication decisions in particular, namely the communication surrounding exotic upgrade paths and the decision not to include a raid with House of Wolves. What’s your biggest regret in terms of community management to date?
I think the way we revealed the Exotic upgrade paths for The Dark Below was the single most educational moment for me, personally. Every day is a chance to learn more about the community that plays Destiny. That was certainly one of them. It’s no coincidence that the kick-off to the conversation about House of Wolves started with a live demonstration of how to upgrade some of the more popular items in the Guardian arsenal. We even invited members of the community to participate and make sure we got it right.
How is the release of House of Wolves going to change your relationship to the community, if at all? (I realize it’s not going to have a giant impact on the structure of your updates or anything like that, of course, but it does seem like it’s going to address many of the thorns in the community’s side.)
That’s impossible to predict. After all, both parties get an equal say about the quality of a relationship. Our goals at Bungie are always to deliver an experience that people will love. Now that we’re dealing with an engaged player base, instead of a hopeful audience in waiting, we can prove to them that we’re listening. We want the Guardians of Destiny to feel like they’re a part of our creative process, and so many components of the House of Wolves player experience was inspired by their feedback. We hope that comes across when they embark on the adventure.
How do you envision your role changing as Destiny shifts from its DLC phase to a more mature state/as Destiny 2 enters more advanced stages of development?
I definitely don’t want it to change too much. The best thing about my job is knowing the heart of the player through the stories they tell about the game. I want to continue to help our team anticipate their audience, and I want to keep helping the leaders of our community to find an audience for their own voices. The things that we’ve learned about the players of Destiny make us better at talking to them, so I have no desire to migrate to a role where those lessons wouldn’t be valuable. Also, I’m not a very good concept artist and I use a calculator to do startlingly simple math, so certain career paths at Bungie are just blocked by the fates.
Do you have a favorite piece of community-generated lore? If so, what is it?
That’s easily the hardest question you’ve asked. You’re asking me to play favorites with a galaxy of rock stars. We have this ensemble of role-players who have taken to Twitter to personify characters from Destiny. With every announcement or community engagement, I can expect everyone from the Cryptarch to the Queen’s Brother (even favorite weapons) to show up and share their perspective – in character. It’s pretty hilarious, and just another example of how we’ve rooted their imaginations in this brave new world. I hope they never stop.
TIME Smartphones

One of the Best Smartphones for Photography Is Now on Sale

LG G4
LG LG G4

The LG G4 starts rolling out across the world today

LG began its global rollout on Monday of its new flagship G4 smartphone, which reviewers said could be one of the best Android phones out there.

The G4, already on sale in South Korea, will first hit the Hong Kong market before rolling out into Turkey, Russia and Singapore, the company said in a statement. The smartphone will eventually go on sale throughout of Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and other regions, though LG did not provide a specific timeline.

Unveiled last month, the leather-bodied G4 has become known for its 16-megapixel camera with a rare f/1.8 aperture lens — that means the G4 lets in more light than its two biggest competitors, the Samsung S6 and the iPhone 6. The device also comes with a manual shooting mode, allowing users to adjust settings like white balance, ISO and shutter speed, giving the 5.5-in. smartphone the feel of a DSLR camera.

LG has not yet announced a price for the G4, but it’s speculated to be around $600.

Read next: The LG G4 Could Be One of the Nicest Android Phones Out There

TIME Companies

Amazon’s Unlikely Secret to Delivering So Fast

FRANCE-DISTRIBUTION-AMAZON
Philippe Huguen—AFP/Getty Images An employee of the Amazon electronic commerce company works on April 11, 2015 in Lauwin-Planque, northern France.

Amazon is so underground

Amazon.com’s New York City delivery route at times takes an underground detour.

The online retail behemoth has begun to utilize New York City’s subway system for the company’s ultra-fast service, known as Prime Now. Prime Now promises to deliver popular items in as little as an hour for $7.99, or within two hours for free.

Two Amazon delivery workers were observed pushing large trolleys of Amazon boxes on the subway, and they told the Financial Times that they had been using the subway trains for most Prime Now deliveries because traffic in Manhattan made it “impossible to honor a 60-minute guarantee.

Amazon later confirmed the strategy, telling FT: “In Manhattan, our folks bike, walk or use public transportation. They only drive if the item is large like a flat screen TV.”

Amazon’s speedy service debuted in parts of New York; it’s part of a growing trend by major retailers to improve their delivery times in a battle for online market share.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Companies

This Is Google’s Plan to Save YouTube

Google Holds Event For Creators At YouTube Tokyo Space
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Google Inc.'s YouTube logo is displayed behind the reception desk at the company's YouTube Space studio in Tokyo, Japan, on Saturday, March 30, 2013.

Artificial intelligence will play a big role

Nearly ten years after purchasing it for $1.65 billion, Google has a plan to make YouTube way better than ever before.

In order to compete in an increasingly crowded marketplace of digital video content — from upstart live streamers like Meerkat and Periscope to growing streaming service Netflix to newly digital HBO — YouTube has to differentiate itself. To do that, Google is tapping into the Google Brain service, which may someday be more complex than the human brain. For now, though, it’s going to help wayward web wanderers find the best new videos to watch on YouTube, Fast Company reports.

Google Brain will collect huge amounts of data about how many people watch videos, how long they watch them, and other points of interest to spit out which videos a user should watch.

There are other avenues by which Google is pushing YouTube as well: advertisements for content partners on public transport, for example, and an upcoming ad-free subscription service.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

 

TIME innovations

Kate Spade’s New Bags Have a Surprising New Feature

A Kate Spade & Co. Store Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A Kate Spade & Co. store stands in Corte Madera, California, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.

Your iPhone will never run out of battery again

Handbag maker Kate Spade already sells iPhone cases. Now it wants to help charge your phone, too.

The company has joined forces with startup Everpurse to design a new collection of stylish bags that will charge wearer’s iPhones while they’re tucked away. Kate Spade’s collection, which debuts this September, will include clutches, totes and backpacks and retail between $198 to $698 each, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A fully charged Kate Spade Everpurse should last two days for a typical iPhone user, Everpurse co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dan Salcedo told the Journal. The tech-enabled purses and bags will be sold at Kate Spade New York stores, Kate Spade online, Nordstrom and Everpurse.com.

Everpurse generated a ton of headlines in 2012 when inventor Liz Salcedo raised $238,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, which led to a collection that launched in 2013 with a new line of bags debuting in 2014.

Kate Spade kicked off the company’s new fiscal year with strong results earlier this month, reporting that first-quarter sales jumped 14% to $255 million. CEO Craig Leavitt said sales were positive across all four key categories: women’s, men’s, children’s and home.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Video Games

10 Most-Anticipated New iPhone Games

Have a look at our picks for the most promising iPhone games yet to come this year

We’re already playing some of 2015’s best iPhone games—take a bow, Sorcery! 3, Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure, Planet Quest and Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be—so here’s a look at what’s left (that we know of, anyway) between now and year’s end.

  • Guitar Hero Live

    “No console? No problem,” reads the tagline for the handheld version of Activision’s upcoming rhythm rock-a-thon rethink. “The full game experience will be available on select mobile devices,” boasts the publisher, referring to a big-screen experience that’s designed to put you onstage with a live-ish reactive band and audience. How’s that work on a 5-inch screen? We’ll doubtless find out at E3 next month.

    Late 2015

  • Disney Infinity 3.0

    If playing Star Wars in story-less, multiplayer-focused, first-person shooter battle arenas turns you off—hello, Star Wars Battlefront!—then Disney Infinity 3.0 represents our best shot at solo-supportive, sandbox-based, story-driven Star Wars experiences. Look for characters like Anakin, Luke, Leia, Han and Vader to broaden Disney’s toy-game stable, and like last year’s version 2.0, the iPhone version of 3.0 should be all but identical to its console and tablet peers.

    Late 2015

  • Minecraft: Story Mode

    Telltale Games

    Did Minecraft need a narrative when part of the game’s triumph is the way it drives players to create their own? We’re going to find out when adventure-maker Telltale Games puts its imprimatur on the Lego-like sandbox builder later this year.

    TBD 2015

     

  • Age of Empires: World Domination

    The Age of Empires real-time strategy franchise fizzled a long time ago, and hasn’t seen a hit in years, so there’s understandable trepidation about this mobile-oriented version’s prospects. Can newcomer KLab Global resuscitate defunct creator Ensemble Studios’ once-beloved series? Pull it off without inundating players with freemium nagging? We’ll see.

    TBD 2015

  • Zodiac

    Boasting heady tunes by Final Fantasy XII‘s Hitoshi Sakimoto and expert scenario design by Final Fantasy VII‘s Kazushige Nojima, Zodiac is a 2D roleplaying game that marries side-scrolling levels with turn-based combat. Sounds a little like Valkyrie Profile, no? The difference: Zodiac transpires in an “ambitious” persistent online world, and supports cross-platform play (with Sony’s PS Vita handheld, and possibly others yet to be announced).

    TBD 2015

  • Ember

    If the demo teaser for N-Fusion’s Ember reminds you even a little of Ultima VII: The Black Gate, that’s no coincidence–the developer admits its upcoming fantasy quest-spinner was inspired by Origin’s classic 1992 title, remembered for its still rarely equalled depth of world and character design.

    TBD 2015

  • Firefly Online

    It’s one of TV’s most beloved science fiction tales reimagined as a roleplaying game in which players can pilot their own ships, assemble their own crews and trade with (or create missions for) other players. The original cast came back to handle voice work for their characters, which appear throughout the game.

    TBD 2015

  • Super Meat Boy Forever

    It’s the official sequel to 2010’s acclaimed platform game starring a tiny cube of flesh that darts and leaps through hundreds of trap-filled levels.

    TBD 2015

  • Forma.8

    You’re stuck orbiting an alien planet, your reserves nearly depleted, so you deploy a tiny probe to the planet, hoping to retrieve an underground energy source and continue your journey. Studio MixedBag dubs Forma.8 a “Metroidvania” (that is, Metroid plus Castlevania), wherein you’ll explore a mammoth and interlinked series of levels, solving puzzles and battling enemies to accomplish your goals.

    TBD 2015

  • Clockwork

    Explore a 400-year-old clockwork metropolis as Atto, a mechanical boy who sets out to mend both his malfunctioning machine city and its many robotic inhabitants—human survivors, who abandoned their organic bodies centuries ago to escape the ravages of a deadly plague.

    TBD 2015

TIME apps

6 Apps for People Who Hate Apps

TIME.com stock photos Social Apps iPhone
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Get your nose out of your phone with these simple tools

While smartphone apps are certainly as popular as ever, there’s also a revolt brewing against these attention-grabbing, notification-slinging programs. People are tired of being tied to their handsets and falling down the rabbit hole of their touchscreen every time an alert dings.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the Apple Watch, an entirely new product put out by the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer, that’s main goal is to keep us from using (yet also keep us tethered to) our iPhones. But you don’t need a 21st century calculator watch to escape the tractor beam pulling your eyes to your phone. These six apps will help you cut back on your screen time, while making you more productive than ever.

Hooks: What do you look for when you fall into the Internet? Do you drift over to Twitter to see what someone’s most recent tweet was? Do you check your team’s score, or even look to see when your favorite band is coming to town? Instead of chasing all those things down, just set up Hooks to do it once, and the app will reward you with timely alerts when the moment has arrived.

The free, iPhone-only app makes sure you’re on top of your game — whatever game that may be — by notifying you whenever the prompt of your choice gets triggered. That means never having to look up lottery numbers or forgetting Game of Thrones is about to start. Oh, and if you’re a weather-watcher, Hooks can probably tell you when winter is coming, too.

Do Button: Even with smartphones, sometimes it’s unnecessarily hard to do easy things. For instance, if you’ve got a connected lightbulb, you have to swipe, tap to open the app, tap to access the bulb, then tap to turn it on or off. Do Button, a free Android and iOS app made by IFTTT, cuts those steps down to just one. Tap the app, and you’ve got a simple, programmable button staring you in the face, ready to do your bidding, whether it’s turning on your WeMo plugged in device, setting your Nest thermostat to a predetermined temperature, or tracking your work hours on a Google spreadsheet. A little tap goes a long way.

Launcher: Swipe down on your iPhone’s home screen, and be prepared to never look at your smartphone the same way again. The drawer that comes down from the top of the display is your notification panel, and if you optimize it, you can cut down your app usage considerably. Launcher helps you do this by placing tappable shortcuts right on the notification panel.

Just place the functions that you perform most frequently here (call your husband, email your boss, get directions home), and tapping on the tiles Launcher creates will springboard you into action. The app is free, but a paid version provides a lot more functionality, from changing icon sizes to letting you put more of them on the panel.

Overboard: Whether it’s tapping on weather, then the news, then your Twitter — or a another routine entirely — there’s no reason, in this age of customization, to go from app-to-app to gather all your vitals. Overboard, a personable dashboard of pertinent information, lets you pull all your most current information together in one easy to read place.

A great app for media mavens, you can check everything from the top trending stories on BuzzFeed and The New York Times without tempting yourself with one of the publications’ other articles. Social media fans will appreciate being able to monitor their follower count on Twitter and Instagram without loading those apps. And with a clean interface, the $.99 app keeps it simple and distraction free, which is worth the price of admission.

Magic: Anything you desire, delivered on demand — that’s not an app, that’s practically magic. But there’s no genie in the bottle with this free (to use) service that’s so incredible you already have it on your phone without knowing it. Just text what you want to the number 83489, and as long as it’s not illegal, the operators manning the line will work on getting it for you, 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

Available anywhere in the U.S., the service will source whatever you ask for — a pizza, a hotel reservation, a new car — and set up payment via a secure web link (powered by payment processor Stripe), quoting a price to complete the purchase, with tip included, before sealing the deal. The service uses the likes of DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates to fulfill your orders, but in figuring out all the logistics for you, you’ll never even have to open those apps (or even sign up for them, necessarily). Now that’s quite a trick.

Clara: Technically speaking, Clara isn’t an app. She’s an assistant, powered by artificial intelligence, but since she exists solely in your email, she’s fair game for this roundup. Just enter your customizable Clara email address into the CC: field of one of your email exchanges, and she can coordinate between the parties in the message to set up a meeting on your calendar. Automatically responding to emails within an hour, the platform-agnostic service will correspond with your contacts, determining the best time for everyone, and then put the event on your calendar. Between $119 and $399 per month, her services don’t exactly come cheap, but hey, that’s the cost of convenience. On the bright side, she works 24 hours a day, seven days a week — which breaks down to a very low hourly rate.

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