TIME Microsoft

Microsoft Just Killed One of Its Most Iconic Products

Clip art is no more

Microsoft quietly bid farewell to its “Clip Art” image library Tuesday, acknowledging that Word or PowerPoint users can find generic images of bunnies, money bags or cherry bombs through online image searches.

“The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop,” read a brief epitaph on Microsoft’s official blog.

Microsoft users of a certain age will remember the image library as an easy way to snap prefabricated images into a Word document or PowerPoint presentation. But the selection of 338 images, fun as they were, couldn’t compare with the explosive growth of images across the web and social media. (Google indexed roughly 10 billion images as early as 2010.)

Fans of photo clipping can still drag and drop images from the web into Office software, Microsoft noted, adding that they can always search creative commons photos using the company’s Bing Image Search service.

Here, in memoriam, are a few final clippings, courtesy of the now defunct “Clip Art” Library:

57437183

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BU005928

AA022278

 

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Read next: Microsoft Office Is Now Free for iPhones, iPads and Android

TIME robotics

5 Very Smart People Who Think Artificial Intelligence Could Bring the Apocalypse

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking poses for a picture ahead of a gala screening of the documentary 'Hawking', a film about the scientist's life.
AFP/Getty Images Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking poses for a picture ahead of a gala screening of the documentary 'Hawking', a film about the scientist's life.

'The end of the human race'

On the list of doomsday scenarios that could wipe out the human race, super-smart killer robots rate pretty high in the public consciousness. And in scientific circles, a growing number of artificial intelligence experts agree that humans will eventually create an artificial intelligence that can think beyond our own capacities. This moment, called the singularity, could create a utopia in which robots automate common forms of labor and humans relax amid bountiful resources. Or it could lead the artificial intelligence, or AI, to exterminate any creatures it views as competitors for control of the Earth—that would be us. Stephen Hawking has long seen the latter as more likely, and he made his thoughts known again in a recent interview with the BBC. Here are some comments by Hawking and other very smart people who agree that, yes, AI could be the downfall of humanity.

Stephen Hawking

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” the world-renowned physicist told the BBC. “It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.” Hawking has been voicing this apocalyptic vision for a while. In a May column in response to Transcendence, the sci-fi movie about the singularity starring Johnny Depp, Hawking criticized researchers for not doing more to protect humans from the risks of AI. “If a superior alien civilisation sent us a message saying, ‘We’ll arrive in a few decades,’ would we just reply, ‘OK, call us when you get here—we’ll leave the lights on’? Probably not—but this is more or less what is happening with AI,” he wrote.

Elon Musk

Known for his businesses on the cutting edge of tech, such as Tesla and SpaceX, Musk is no fan of AI. At a conference at MIT in October, Musk likened improving artificial intelligence to “summoning the demon” and called it the human race’s biggest existential threat. He’s also tweeted that AI could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. Musk called for the establishment of national or international regulations on the development of AI.

Nick Bostrom

The Swedish philosopher is the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, where he’s spent a lot of time thinking about the potential outcomes of the singularity. In his new book Superintelligence, Bostrom argues that once machines surpass human intellect, they could mobilize and decide to eradicate humans extremely quickly using any number of strategies (deploying unseen pathogens, recruiting humans to their side or simple brute force). The world of the future would become ever more technologically advanced and complex, but we wouldn’t be around to see it. “A society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit,” he writes. “A Disneyland without children.”

James Barrat

Barrat is a writer and documentarian who interviewed many AI researchers and philosophers for his new book, “Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era.” He argues that intelligent beings are innately driven toward gathering resources and achieving goals, which would inevitably put a super-smart AI in competition with humans, the greatest resource hogs Earth has ever known. That means even a machine that was just supposed to play chess or fulfill other simple functions might get other ideas if it was smart enough. “Without meticulous, countervailing instructions, a self-aware, self-improving, goal-seeking system will go to lengths we’d deem ridiculous to fulfill its goals,” he writes in the book.

Vernor Vinge

A mathematician and fiction writer, Vinge is thought to have coined the term “the singularity” to describe the inflection point when machines outsmart humans. He views the singularity as an inevitability, even if international rules emerge controlling the development of AI. “The competitive advantage—economic, military, even artistic—of every advance in automation is so compelling that passing laws, or having customs, that forbid such things merely assures that someone else will get them first,” he wrote in a 1993 essay. As for what happens when we hit the singularity? “The physical extinction of the human race is one possibility,” he writes.

TIME White House

Watch President Obama Sit for a 3D-Portrait

It's being called "the highest resolution digital model of a head of state"

The White House offered a behind-the-scenes peek Tuesday at the making of a presidential portrait—in three dimensions.

The video on the White House YouTube channel, entitled “The President, in 3D,” shows Barack Obama smiling wide, surrounded by a scaffolding of 50 custom-built LED lights and a team of digital imaging specialists from the Smithsonian Institution. One-second of flashes later, and they have captured what is expected to be “the highest resolution digital model of a head of state.”

The Smithsonian unveiled the freakishly lifelike bust on Tuesday.

TIME Companies

Amazon CEO Says Fire Phone Was a ‘Bold Bet’

Amazon CEO Bezos Introduces Smartphone to Take on Apple, Samsung
Mike Kane—Bloomberg/Getty Images Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, unveils the Fire Phone during an event at Fremont Studios in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on June 18, 2014.

"It's going to take many iterations" to get right, Amazon chief says

Jeff Bezos doesn’t regret the Amazon Fire Phone, the company’s CEO said Tuesday, despite mixed reviews and weak sales that forced his company to take a multimillion dollar write-down on unsold inventory.

“People love to focus on things that aren’t working,” Bezos said at Business Insider‘s annual Ignition conference in New York. “That’s fine, but it’s incredibly hard to get people to take bold bets. And if you push people to take bold bets, there will be experiments… that don’t work,”

Bezos appeared to put the Fire Phone in a category of what he called “smart failures,” NBC reports, saying that “companies that don’t continue to experiment, that don’t embrace failure” end up in trouble later.

Asked when customers can expect another Amazon phone, Bezos said “It’s going to take many iterations. I don’t know. Ask me in some number of years.”

[NBC]

 

TIME Rumors

A Bigger iPad Might Be Coming Next Spring

An attendee inspects new iPad Air 2 during an Apple special event on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images An attendee inspects new iPad Air 2 during an Apple special event on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.

A 12.2-inch iPad might arrive next year

A month and a half after the latest iPad release, rumors of a bigger iPad are already taking form.

A 12.2 inch iPad might arrive next year between April and June, according to a report by Mac Fan, a Japanese magazine that’s had a solid record of leaking supply-chain details.

The purported “iPad Plus,” rumored to be powered by an A9 processor with four speakers, would be three inches larger than the 9.7 inch iPad Air models, which are currently the biggest tablets Apple has in stock. The speculated 7mm thickness would place it in the middle of the existing iPad’s depths, which range from 6.1mm to 7.5mm.

Rumors of a larger iPad were abundant even before Apple unveiled its latest iPads, the iPad 2 and iPad Mini, in October. The Wall Street Journal reported in early October that a bigger iPad had been delayed to 2015 while Apple focused on supplying enough iPhone 6 devices to meet high demand.

 

 

 

TIME Security

The FBI Is Warning Other Companies After Sony Hack

How Hacker Sleuths Found Zhang Changhe in Trail From Myrtle Beach to China
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Joe Stewart, director of malware research at Dell SecureWorks, a unit of Dell Inc., speaks to a colleague in front of a pair of large wall mounted monitors in his office in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S., Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. S

The malware overrides data and prevents computers from booting up

A devastating malware attack used against Sony Pictures Entertainment last week could be a threat to other businesses as well.

In a five-age confidential warning first reported by Reuters, the FBI describes malicious software used in an attack that appeared similar to that used against Sony, though it didn’t mention the company by name. The FBI report provided technical advice to other businesses on how to respond to the malware.

The attack against Sony shut down the company’s email and other key systems for a week shortly before the holiday season, when the company will release several big-name movies. Several of Sony’s titles leaked online shortly after the hack before most of them even made it to theaters.

The FBI document warned of malware that overrides data on computer hard drives and prevents computers from being booted up. The agency said it was investigating the attack, while Sony said it hired FireEye’s Mandiant response team to help clean up the company’s systems.

Some reports have tied the attack to North Korea, which has promised retaliation for an upcoming Sony comedy about a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

[Reuters]

TIME Web

Once Again, Google Will Tell You When Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

He'd better watch out

Google is once again keeping its eye on Santa Claus this year.

The search giant has launched its annual Santa Tracker, which maps Old Saint Nick’s coordinates on Christmas Eve. In the runup to Christmas, Google will roll out a host of games and surprises on its Santa website, including animated shorts, information on global winter holidays and even JavaScript courses aimed at kids.

There’s also an Android app so kids can track Santa’s movements while on the go. Each day Google will roll out a new a new feature, and the company’s blog post implies that even the new Android Wear smartwatches will offer some holiday cheer before it’s all over.

For a second opinion on Santa’s location come Christmas Eve, you can try out the NORAD Santa tracker as well, created in partnership with Microsoft.

TIME Companies

Steve Jobs to Testify in Apple Trial From Beyond the Grave

Steve Jobs Introduces iCloud Storage System At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address at the 2011 Apple World Wide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center on June 6, 2011 in San Francisco.

The former Apple CEO recorded video deposition before his death in 2011

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to make a posthumous appearance in court this week, defending Apple in a video deposition that was recorded in 2011, just months before his death from pancreatic cancer.

The class action lawsuit, which begins in Oakland, Calif. on Tuesday, will include a never-before-seen video in which Jobs addresses complaints that its music service violated antitrust laws, CNN reports. Plaintiffs allege that early iPod models were deliberately designed to play music purchased from the iTunes store, while blocking music purchased from rival services.

Jobs testifies that the incompatibility was built into Apple’s contracts with music labels. “We had pretty much black and white contracts with the labels,” he says in the video, according to CNN. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs are suing for $350 million in damages.

[CNN]

TIME Gadgets

7 Ways to Get a Smarter Home for Under $200

Nest Protect
Nest Nest Protect

Connect your house without killing your wallet

As technology companies started developing products for smart homes, they initially tried convincing consumers to buy the gear because it would save them money on things like energy usage and security subscriptions in the long run. But dumb homes are expensive enough, and shelling out hundreds of dollars to make them smarter and cheaper years down the line was a tough sell.

Now there’s a new tact on the marketplace — smart home gear that won’t break the bank. Here’s seven ways you can make your connect your pad for less than the cost of a new iPhone.

Watch your windows

ADT will charge you a minimum of $47 per month on a three year contract for home security, but the $40 Quirky Tripper (and its required $50 Wink Hub) can monitor your windows and doors subscription-free. The low-profile smart window and door sensor can send your Android or iOS device an alert whenever it’s tripped, keeping you in the know wherever you are. P

erfect for front doors, basement hatchways, or bedroom windows, the device comes in a two-pack, and you can easily add more sensors to the mix to keep your whole house safe.

Lock it down

Homeowners have been understandably weary about adding smart locks to their homes, but the $179 Lockitron is a great way to give your doors a little versatility. Designed to slip over existing bolt locks, the battery-powered device uses Bluetooth Low Energy to detect authorized smartphone-holding people. Or, if you have a friend coming by who doesn’t have a smartphone, you can let them open the door using a text message. Finally, if all else fails, old-fashioned keys still work fine. In fact, the device can even be removed when not needed, for that added peace of mind.

Light it up

One place where the smart home can absolutely save you money is in your lighting. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED lightbulbs can use up to 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs — the problem is they cost so much more. Still, they last up to 25 times longer, so the math may just pencil out.

Regardless, smart bulbs like the $99 WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set not only save you money, but they can add a home security element, turning on and off while you’re not home, deterring burglars. This set, which comes with two bulbs and a hub, is a great way to make the jump into greener lighting. The hub can connect up to 50 bulbs, but at $29 apiece, you’re probably not going to turn over your entire home’s lighting all at once.

Shut the door

Why should the home get all the attention when some of your most valuable items are out in the garage? The $129 MyQ Garage is a smartphone-connected door controller that lets homeowners open their carport from anywhere, any time.

Perfect for families who use the garage door frequently, this controller can reassure parents that the door wasn’t left open while their children head out for a bike ride. And on the other hand, when kids are old enough to take the car for a joy ride, the controller sends alerts to parents’ smartphones when the door is opened. Compatible with a wide variety of garage door openers, the kit is almost as easy to install as it is to use.

Add an all-seeing eye

There are many less expensive webcams for monitoring your place than the $199 Piper, but few pack the extra sensors that make this unit the potential brain behind your smart home. Sporting a high-definition fisheye lens, the AA battery-powered device can keep track of temperature, humidity, changes in light, sound, and detect motion, sending alerts to owners through text messages, emails, and even phone calls.

Piper has three security modes (home, away, and vacation), and an integrated 105 decibel siren is enough to stop any intruder in his tracks. But most interesting is that the camera also has Z-Wave capabilities, linking it to hundreds of sensors on the market that can do everything from monitoring doors to controlling smart plugs. Smart indeed.

Protect your family

If there was ever a home device in need of a smart makeover, it was the smoke detector. Loud, ugly, crude, and — honestly — effective, these alarms face death by broomstick more often than by expired batteries. Nest Protect, a $99 connected smoke and carbon monoxide detector, will message your smartphone if the alarm goes off and you’re not home. If you are home, rather than screaming its head off because you’ve burnt your toast, it will say “Heads up, there’s smoke in the kitchen.” Of course, if things are really bad, it beeps and flashes a red light to let you know something’s really wrong.

Meanwhile, the $99 Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight takes a different tact in protecting your family. This device listens for the pattern and frequency of your existing smoke detectors, and sends your phone a notification if it hears the alarm going off. If you’re not home, you can use the app to listen in on what’s happening in your home, or if you miss the notification, the smart light can alert the next person on the list. Way to think ahead.

TIME the big picture

Why India Will Be the World’s Second Biggest Smartphone Market

New iPhones Released In India As Apple Inc. Attempts To Lure Diwali Shoppers
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A customer tries out an Apple Inc. iPhone 5C at a Reliance Digital store, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd., in New Delhi, India, on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013.

India's mobile use is high, but smartphone ownership remains low

When it comes to the computing products I study — TVs, smartphones, tablets and PCs — I tend to talk primarily about what’s happening in China and the West. That’s mostly because China and the U.S. are the largest markets by population for consumer tech.

And while there’s a great deal of competition in these two markets, they’re quickly becoming replacement-focused — that is, most consumers aren’t buying entirely new products, but replacing older models. That’s sending growth rates for things like smartphones, tablets, and even PCs plummeting.

India, however, is a completely different story.

India will be the world’s second largest smartphone market. With a population of just over 1.2 billion, India has nearly as many people as China. Yet, unlike China, India’s smartphone penetration is still extremely low. More than 900 million Indians have a mobile subscription, but only about 110-120 million have a smartphone, according to most estimates.

What does that mean? India represents the next big growth opportunity for smartphone makers — yet it will also come with many challenges for global players looking to compete in the region.

As I’ve studied China, the U.S., and India, it became clear each of these populous regions are very different when it comes to consumer tech. Each country’s unique culture plays a role in how local consumers view, purchase and use technology. This explains why local hardware companies are gaining an edge over foreign ones.

As I pointed out in this analysis of regional smartphone market trends, India is still anyone’s game from a hardware standpoint:

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 10.33.40 AM

This model predicts that Micromax, an Indian brand, is poised to overtake Samsung as the number one smartphone vendor by quarter within the next six months.

Watching local brands rise to power in China and now in India is truly fascinating. While China is a relatively price-sensitive region, India may be even more so. That’s not entirely due to economics, but largely because Indian consumers have what is called a “value for the money” mentality. They tend not to pay more for something when a lower-priced product gives them more value for their cash.

But Indian consumers, like many consumers, don’t want cheap products — their focus is on finding good specs at a good price. This will be a key metric as smartphone vendors look to convert India’s large feature phone userbase to smartphones. Android One, Google’s developing-world focused smartphone software, will play a role in driving feature phone to smartphone conversion. Google is aggressively looking to gain a foothold in India, and Android One serves a key role in that strategy. Currently, Android One has a number of hardware restrictions in order to keep the price down. I believe this will change over time as Google continues to keep Android One hardware both price- and spec-competitive.

Still, it will be tremendously difficult for any company to make money on hardware in India. Instead, companies will have to look to monetize services more than hardware. This is why Google could be well positioned to compete, but also perhaps China’s Xiaomi. Given the green field that is India, Xiaomi’s services model, which is many ways competes directly with Google, has as good of a chance as any to gain a foothold.

Apple, meanwhile, will find its current India model challenged. There are likely less than 10 million iPhones in use in India, based on my estimate model. Older generation iPhones seem to be perceived as higher value for the money than current generation iPhones, and accordingly appear to move in more volume than current generation iPhones. While Apple may not find great success with current generation products in India, it seems their older products could be an angle to grow in the region.

Outside of Xiaomi and Apple, Motorola is the other foreign brand that I’m keeping an eye on. Motorola has been catering strongly to the value for the money mentality and seeing steady growth in sales from India.

Ultimately, this is exciting for both the country and the technology industry. As we saw with China, as smartphones have gained in popularity, a tech boom has emerged. We’ll soon see even more interesting innovations, particularly in software and services, come from India.

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