TIME Military

U.S. Army Aims to Build a Better Bullet

U.S. Army Sensors crammed into the tip of the grenade trigger the round's detonation once it passes over a wall or other obstacle.

Pentagon's new airburst round designed to take away enemy hiding places

In the olden days, soldiers killed when they fired a bullet at an enemy they could see. Then came indirect fire—lobbing mortars from afar, hoping for a lucky hit.

Now the Army is working on a new round, combining the best of both, by reducing the bad guy’s ability to hide.

Troops on the battlefield like to be “in defilade”—protected from enemy fire by physical obstacles. The Army’s new Small Arms Grenade Munition (SAGM) round is designed to remove the advantage offered by such cover: it explodes in midair after it has cleared whatever shield the enemy is hiding behind.

“It has a sensor that will sense defilade or walls or anything that somebody will be hiding behind,” SAGM chief Steven Gilbert says in a Pentagon release. “And basically detects it without the need of a laser range finder.” He has estimated the new round would more than double the lethality of existing grenade rounds at ranges of up to 500 meters.

Such a capability would have come in handy in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where anti-U.S. forces routinely sought shelter in walled compounds. “Warfighter lacks ability to engage combatants in defilade,” a 2012 briefing slide grumbled. “Grenade overshoots the target.”

The new round would give U.S. troops “a higher probability of achieving a first-shot kill against enemy personnel,” Gilbert adds, and could “defeat personnel targets in defilade positions at increased ranges with greater accuracy and lethality.”

Chris Boston / U.S. ArmyArmy engineers have spent three years mating sensors to explosives to ensure the round explodes at a “sweet spot” designed to increase the chances of a kill.

The Army’s Joint Service Small Arms Program, part of the service’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (known to friends as JSSAP-ARDEC) at New Jersey’s Picatinny Arsenal, has been developing the thumb-shaped, four-inch round for the past three years.

It’s the ultimate fire-and-forget weapon: the soldier doesn’t need to do anything before firing, other than point it toward whatever obstacle the enemy is using for defensive cover. “All the soldier would need to do is aim the weapon and fire it,” Gilbert told the Army’s C. Todd Lopez. “He’d have to have good aim…or the round won’t detect the wall. You have to have some sort of accuracy.”

Among Pentagon wags, “close enough” has long been deemed good enough for nuclear weapons. It could also end up being good enough for the Small Arms Grenade Munition if a formal Pentagon evaluation, set to begin in July, pans out.

TIME Books

Mark Zuckerberg Invites 30 Million to His New Book Club

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg Hosts Internet.org Summit
Udit Kulshrestha—Bloomberg/Getty Images Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook speaks during the Internet.org summit in New Delhi on Oct. 9, 2014.

More than 80,000 people had liked the club's page on Facebook

Move over Oprah. Mark Zuckerberg has a book club of his own.

The Facebook co-founder made a New Year’s resolution to read a book every other week, and on Friday he invited his 30 million Facebook followers to join him in what could become the world’s largest book club.

“I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling,” Zuckerberg said in a post. “Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.”

Apparently, his followers agree. More than 80,000 people had liked Zuckerberg’s newly-minted Facebook group, “A Year of Books,” as of Sunday morning.

The group’s first book will be Moisés Naim’s The End of Power, which argues that once-powerful positions have lost their dominance.

Read next: 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Facebook From Mark Zuckerberg’s Q&A

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME apps

These 5 iPhone Apps Will Make You Wildly More Creative

iPad Creativity
Marta Nardini—Getty Images/Flickr RF Painted face on tablet

Use your iPhone or iPad to tap into your inner artist

Sure, your iPhone can send texts, make calls and get the weather. But it can also help you realize your artistic ambitions, too. How? Check out these five apps, all recently highlighted by Apple as ways to be more creative using just your iPhone or iPad.


Procreate can turn your iPad into a professional-grade tablet for illustration. Not only is the app hundreds of dollars cheaper than comparable software, but it allows you to draw using a stylus or your hand and export your work into a variety of formats. Procreate lets you edit multiple layers at once, use a series of professional illustrator’s tools, and tinker around with scores of customizable brushes. Procreate isn’t merely a doodling app; it’s for creating something remarkable.

Procreate is available for $5.99 in the App Store.


VSCO is one of the few ways to take full advantage of the newest iPhones’ advanced camera settings. Not only does it help you take photographs, but it also allows you to edit them with a wide range of vintage-style filters, making VSCO Cam a double-threat in mobile photography. Toy around with a series of presets, but also learn what makes a better photograph by comparing edited versions of your photos to the original shot. At best, VSCO Cam will help you take ambitious and gorgeous photographs, and, at the very least, will get you a ton of Instagram likes.

VSCO Cam is free in the App Store.


Apple’s iMovie software realized its true potential when the company moved to Intel processors about ten years ago. For the first time, users could actually make professional-quality movies using just their iMac. The iMovie app has since been adapted for your iPhone and iPad, which means you can take your mobile videos and edit them with the software’s hallmark simplicity and efficiency. Your movies will be almost as mind-boggling as the ease with which they were created.

iMovie is available for $4.99 in the App Store.

Slow Shutter!

Slow Shutter! taps into iOS 8’s expanded manual photography controls, allowing iPhone photographers to snap photos while manually operating the shutter speed in order to create longer exposure photographs. Think of it as Picasso painting with light, except now you can use your iPhone.

Slow Shutter! is available for $1.99 in the App Store.

Brushes 3

Like Procreate, Brushes 3 is a very powerful mobile sketching app. Perhaps a bit more like drawing by hand than digital illustration, Brushes 3 is a hugely customizable app that allows users to pinpoint their style preferences and use the tools that work best for them. Moreover, it can also be used on the iPhone, which brings an added dimension to this advanced creativity app–this level of detail is usually reserved for the iPad’s larger screens.

Brushes 3 is free in the App Store.

TIME Security

Why Google Just Published a Windows Bug Before Microsoft Fixed It

Windows 8.1
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Employees assist customers at the opening of a Microsoft Corp. store in Bellevue, Washington, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012.

Google's 'Project Zero' gives software makers 90 days to fix problems

Google beat Microsoft to the punch this week when it published a Windows security vulnerability before Microsoft fixed it. The bug allows lower-level users on Windows 8.1 systems to make themselves system administrators, giving them access to server settings without prior approval.

Google publicized the bug as part of Project Zero, which tracks software flaws and reports them to vendors. Those vendors then get 90 days to fix problems before Project Zero publishes the bug along with code that can be used to exploit it.

Google first notified Microsoft of the bug on Sept. 30, 2014, Engadget reports. Microsoft says it’s still working on a security update, but it also sought to downplay concerns that hackers could use the bug to do serious damage in the meanwhile.

“It is important to note that for a would-be attacker to potentially exploit a system, they would first need to have valid logon credentials and be able to log on locally to a targeted machine,” Microsoft said in a statement.

All this might sound like Google is picking on a rival company’s software. However, Google says the intent of Project Zero is to encourage software vendors to secure their products quickly — before hackers find the flaws first.

“By removing the ability of a vendor to withhold the details of security issues indefinitely, we give users the opportunity to react to vulnerabilities in a timely manner, and to exercise their power as a customer to request an expedited vendor response,” Google said.


TIME Foreign Policy

U.S. Sanctions North Korea Over Sony Hack

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
AP U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Billed as the "first aspect" of the Obama Administration's response

The United States is imposing sanctions on North Korea following last year’s devastating hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the White House said Friday, calling them the “first aspect of our response” to the cyberattack.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday authorizing additional actions against the North Korean government following the November cyberattack, which U.S. government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have pinned on the isolated country’s government. The new sanctions will initially prohibit 10 individuals and three organizations access to U.S. financial systems, including North Korea’s main intelligence agency and it’s primary arms exporter. Among the individuals who are facing sanctions are representatives of the government and its state-owned enterprises to Iran, Russia, China, Sudan and Namibia. Others may soon face sanctions as well. None of the officials are being sanctioned because they were directly involved in the Sony hack, a senior Administration official said. The sanctions are on top of long-standing penalties in place for to limit the country’s nuclear program and its human rights abuses.

READ MORE New research blames insiders, not North Korea, for Sony hack

“The E.O. authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities associated with the Government of North Korea,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. “We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a U.S. company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression.”

The hack left Sony reeling from the online publication of executives’ embarrassing emails, salary information and more. It was seen by some as retaliation for Sony’s movie The Interview, which depicts a fictional assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Threats from hackers of 9/11-style attacks against theaters that screened the film initially led Sony to cancel its Christmas Day release, but it has since been screened in many small theaters and made available for streaming online. North Korea has denied being behind the hack, and some security experts have pointed to the possibility of insiders being responsible instead.

“We stand firmly behind our call that [North Korea] was behind the attack into Sony,” a senior Administration official said. “Some of the same cybersecurity firms don’t have access to the same [intelligence].”

In his end-of-year news conference last month, Obama promised that the U.S. government would respond, but would not discuss the specifics. That was followed by Internet outages in North Korea, but it’s unclear if those incidents were related. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama said. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

“The actions taken today under the authority of the President’s new Executive Order will further isolate key North Korean entities and disrupt the activities of close to a dozen critical North Korean operatives,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement. “We will continue to use this broad and powerful tool to expose the activities of North Korean government officials and entities.”

Read next: State Department Insists North Korea Behind Sony Hack

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME technology

Google Helps FCC Make Its Case on Internet Service Providers

Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have claimed for years that if the Federal Communications Commission lumps broadband service providers into the same legal category as other public utilities, like telephone companies, the Internet as we know it will cease to exist.

Investment in digital infrastructure will plummet. Download speeds will go down the drain. And digital innovation will be a shadow of its former self.

This week, Google begged to differ.

In fact, in a letter to the FCC on Tuesday, Google Director of Communications Austin C. Schlick wrote that stronger regulations could actually be a boon for Internet speeds and infrastructure investment.

That’s because reclassifying Internet service providers (ISPs) so that they fall under the legal umbrella of a “public service” would change the rules of the game in ways that could be beneficial for new Internet service providers (ISPs), Schlick wrote.

For example, reclassification would require telephone companies, like AT&T and Verizon, to allow new ISPs access to some of their existing infrastructure, including their utility poles. Telephone companies are already required to share that infrastructure with other telecom and cable providers, but so far have not been required to extend that access to broadband only services, too.

That rule-change could be huge for Google Fiber, the company’s highly-coveted lightning-fast broadband service. As of now, Google can’t depend on access to existing utility poles; instead, it has had to build its own infrastructure by digging up sidewalks and streets—which has proven slow, expensive, and politically problematic. Analysts say it’s one of the main reasons Google Fiber has been slow to expand outside of the three Western cities, Kansas City, Provo, and Austin, where it is today.

In the letter, Schlick cited an FCC report explaining that the “lack of reliable, timely, and affordable access to physical infrastructure—particularly utility poles—is often a significant barrier to deploying wireline services.” He added that, if ISPs were reclassified under Title II, the FCC “would have no reason to limit pole access rights that Congress conveyed precisely to ease this burden.”

In November, President Obama called for the reclassification of ISPs under Title II of the federal Communications Act, which would put ISPs into the same regulatory category as telephone, electrical, and water companies. Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others in the telecom industry vehemently oppose such reclassification. They refer to it as a “nuclear option” that would impose burdensome and archaic regulations on broadband services that would send the American Internet back to the 1930s.

Google’s letter to the FCC this week, which provides qualified support for Title II reclassification, is therefore music to the Obama administration’s ears. Google enjoys fairly widespread support among Americans, whereas Comcast and other cable companies consistently rank among the bottom of the barrel. Google received satisfactory ratings from 80% of Americans, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index in 2014. The same survey found that just 57% of Comcast broadband customers and 54% of Time Warner Cable broadband customers thought their ISP was doing a satisfactory job. Google’s letter is also a dig at Comcast and other cable companies, with whom Google and other Silicon Valley giants have been at loggerheads over the issue of net neutrality.

Google Fiber offers 1 gigabit per second download speeds, which is usually about 100 times faster than other ISPs’ basic broadband package.

TIME movies

6 Things We’re Glad Back to the Future Got Wrong About 2015

Universal Studios

Marty McFly’s future doesn't look much like our present

We made it, folks. 2015, the year to which Marty McFly travels in 1989’s Back to the Future II. Sadly, some aspects of the future envisioned by the film have not yet come to fruition—ubiquitous hover boards, self-lacing shoes, dog-walking drones. But thank the heavens that other aspects of that future haven’t crept into ours. Fax machines everywhere? No thanks.

Here are six things we’re grateful Back to the Future II got wrong about the year 2015.

The double tie worn by future Marty

Granted, we’re just one terrible idea at an influential fashion house away from confronting a reality of people wearing two ties at one time, but it hasn’t happened yet and thank goodness for that. One tie is too many. Two is a crowd.

Fax machines are not really a part of life anymore

Certainly not to the extent they are in Back to the Future II—and that’s a good thing. The paper-wasting ink hogs get jammed, require maintenance, and are just no match for a nice scan and send or even just snapping a picture with a smartphone.

Griff’s hat

Or Griff’s entire costume, for that matter. His hat is some kind of meat tenderizer turned helmet, he wears pointy, elvish steel toed boots and his clothes have some kind of human-expanding element that makes him bigger and stronger (which would be cool to have, but not for bad guys to have). Actually this can go for most of the clothes worn in the future. Except for Marty’s sick threads. We want that jacket.

Dehydrated pizzas

They wouldn’t be as cool as you think anyway. Yes, a pizza in four seconds sounds nice, but at what cost? Fortunately, trends in food are moving away from such time-saving, health-and-enjoyment-destroying food disasters and toward taking a little more time to make good meals with real food. Making pizza is fun!

Computer glasses

Sure, Google glass is a thing, but there are already movements afoot to establish boundaries and good social practices with respect to wearable computers, and at least Google glass isn’t everywhere just yet.

Flying cars

Also a thing that would be a complete disaster in practice, which is something you know in your heart of hearts if you have ever driven in any big city. It’s hard enough to get people to politely navigate a two-dimensional roadway without terrible collisions all the time. Introduce above and below lanes and the entire social fabric would collapse. Any fender bender would result in cars crashing to the ground below, perhaps on pedestrians or buildings.

TIME apps

5 Awesome iPhone App Deals This Weekend

iPhone 6
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images An Apple Inc. employee holds an iPhone 6 for a photograph during the sales launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at the company's George Street store in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014.

Try BioShock, a ported version of one of the most popular video games of the last few years

Looking to download a few great iPhone apps while saving some money this weekend? Check out these five, all on sale or free right now.


Alayer is an advanced photo editor with very streamlined and simplified functions. It allows you to alter photos using filters, effects and an arsenal of standard editing tools like color balance or adjusting light in an image. Essentially, Alayer is an idiot-proof version of Lightbox that makes it easy for amateur mobile photographers to get their desired outcome with minimal work.

Alayer is temporarily free in the App Store.


Sliding.to is the digital version of those impossible puzzle games found on keychains dangling from your old elementary school backpack. However, the added fun of Sliding.to is that you can take photos from your library and turn them into solvable puzzles in the app.

Sliding.to is temporarily free in the App Store.


Arguably one of the most popular console games of the past few years, BioShock’s iOS version has made a similar splash. Although not as extensive as the original, the iPhone/iPad version’s developers did an excellent job optimizing this game for mobile platforms. Fight your way through the dystopian, retro-space-age universe using old school weapons and futuristic machines just as you would on a console.

BioShock is on sale for $4.99 in the App Store.

Alarm Clock Reboot

If you’re anything like most iPhone users, then your brain has probably found a way of shutting off your standard iOS alarm clock without ever actually making you wake up. Alarm Clock Reboot has taken our laziness into account and built an alarm clock that actually gives you snooze options well before your schedule wake up time — you can hit the button four times and still get up when you’re supposed to. Not only is the display huge, but alarms need to be shut off in such a way that it’s hard to do it without truly being awake.

Alarm Clock Reboot is temporarily free in the App Store.

Avadon: The Black Fortress HD

Some typical iOS games have started to feel strangely deficient — but Avadon is an incredibly interactive fantasy RPG that could easily be played on a computer far more powerful. Build a character, boost its stats and go on epic adventures into a dark universe of underground prisons and dangerous wooded areas. One of the more extensive iOS games available.

Avadon: The Black Fortress HD is on sale for $4.99 in the App Store.

TIME fashion

This Dress Will Conveniently Smack Anyone Who Invades Your Personal Space

Dress of the future solves problems of today

This high fashion, futuristic dress will wage battle against what is by far the worst breed of space invaders — personal space invaders.

Forget about smart shirts that track your breathing and smart pants that charge your phone. Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht has finally created wearable technology that not only doesn’t look like yoga clothing overstock, but also serves a greater purpose: Literally slapping away creepers that get in your grill.

“The dress provides an extension of the wearers intuition: It uses proximity sensors as well as a respiration sensor to both define and protecting the personal space of the wearer,” Wipprecht writes of the Robotic Spider Dress. “Approach the wearer to aggressively and the mechanical limbs move up to an attack position.”

But the exoskeleton-like dress, which will be shown for Intel at CES for from Jan. 6-9, can also assist in the art of seduction.

“Approach the system under calmer circumstance and the dress just might beckon you to come closer with smooth, suggestive gestures,” she continues.

Might we suggest extendable limbs that can zero in on cat-callers within a two block radius?

TIME apps

The 10 Best Apps for Your New Windows Computer

Windows 8
Stan Honda—AFP/Getty Images The new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet with detachable keyboard and pen for writing on the screen after it was unveiled May 19, 2014 in New York.

These programs get the most from Windows’ revamped operating system

Microsoft’s Windows 8 was a major shift for PC devotees, but love it or loathe it, the new look operating system is here to stay. And with that all behind us, the road ahead is all about Microsoft-compatible apps.

From kicking back with a crossword to leaning in to an engrossing, international webcam chat — and whether they’re used with the touchscreen or the touchpad — these ten apps help Windows users get the most out of their new PCs.

Fhotoroom: From color-correcting a 41-megapixel RAW image file to cropping a tiny little TIFF, this free photo editor is powerful and easy to use, bringing more than 90 tools to Windows computers. Crafted to match Windows’ Metro interface, Fhotoroom is as easy on the eyes as it is on the fingers. And with social sharing capabilities alongside dozens of filters and settings, it’s an excellent app for making your snapshots look snazzy.

Flipboard: Giving digital media a near-physical feel, Flipboard has been a favorite app for tablet users for years. With Windows 8.1’s melding of the tablet and desktop operating systems, Flipboard has made its ways to PCs — and it works great. Pulling news stories from a wide range of sources like your Twitter and Facebook feeds and even conventional outlets like magazines, the free app displays stories in clear type in the Windows app, with bold, colorful pictures dominating its pages. The end result is a reading experience that’s almost as good as a real magazine. Almost.

Fresh Paint: Macs have a reputation as the creatives’ computer, but if Windows gets more apps like Fresh Paint, we’d have to give that view another perspective. Aping the painting experience, this free app gives users all the tools they need — like oil, watercolors, and pencils — to make digital works of art. Paints can be mixed and blended together, and there’s even a “fan” button to dry the paint on the canvas. If that all sounds too realistic to be true, the app goes one step further, offering custom framed canvas prints with just a tap (or a click).

Microsoft OneNote: Like a TrapperKeeper for your PC, Microsoft’s cloud-connected note taking app is a great place to gather all your must-save info, whether it’s a scribble on the touch screen or an audio recording. With OneDrive integration, OneNote automatically uploads notes to the cloud for safekeeping. This feature is particularly valuable to anyone who’s ever had a program crash while they were working on a file (I’m looking at you, Microsoft Word), because it eliminates the need to save early, often, or really at all.

The New York Times Crossword: One of the saddest things about print’s long, drawn out demise is the disappearance of the crossword puzzle. It used to be that you’d find one on every coffee table — and now we just have coffee there. This free app brings the daily puzzle to Windows computers, letting Times subscribers do their crosswords on the screen. In addition to not needing a pencil and eraser, users can also access the previous 20 years of archived crosswords via the app. But if you like writing in the answers and have a Surface tablet, you can use the pen to fill in your squares, making it just like old times, only not.

Skype: Sure, Skype has been around for ages, but after Microsoft bought the webcam chatting service in 2011, they made it a big part of Windows. For instance, subscribers to Microsoft Office 365 get 60 minutes per month of worldwide calling. That’s a nice treat, but Skype Translator is even more radical: this video-calling app can help two people speaking different languages to understand each other as they talk. Right now it only works with English and Spanish for spoken words, but it can translate more than 40 languages via instant message as well.

Spotlite: Because of its deep library of tunes, Spotify is a great service for fans of all kinds of music. But you have to admit, its default app looks like WinAmp circa 1999. Spotlite lets paid Spotify subscribers put an up-do-date spin on the streaming music player’s looks, endowing it with the same feel as Windows’ new Metro interface, complete with big, bold buttons and simple color schemes. The free app is a third-party offering, meaning neither Microsoft nor Spotify put it out. But it’s very popular in the Windows App Store, so hopefully it sticks around.

TuneIn Radio: Have you heard the buzz about podcasts recently? They’re the biggest thing since, well, radio. And speaking of the old AM/FM bands, the TuneIn app is a great way to give a listen to more than 100,000 stations, as well as more than four million podcasts. Fully configurable to program your own presets or just grab local stations, the free Windows app categorizes content not only by topic (music, news, and sports, for example) but also by language, meaning you can find Spanish language channels in your home city as well as others all over the globe.

Wunderlist: Windows has decades of experience when it comes to getting things done, but relative newcomer Wunderlist has an equally impressive reputation. This cross-platform, multi-device service has a gorgeous, free Windows app that lets users organize various areas of their life into list form. Whether it’s remembering the groceries or organizing the day’s errands, this app will not just help you cross things off your list, it will let you cross entire lists off your list. (Or postpone them until tomorrow, if that’s your thing.) In addition, you can attach photos, PDFs and other files to your to-dos, and even share and delegate items with other users.

Xbox SmartGlass: Though Microsoft got its start as a software company, that was a long time ago, and these days its hardware is doing some amazing things. SmartGlass, for instance, turns Microsoft Surface computers into Xbox controllers, letting users interact with the gaming system with touchscreen gestures. Whether it’s browsing through shows or connecting with gamer friends, it’s a much more intuitive way to navigate menus. And sometimes the content takes advantage of the second screen interface in ingenious ways. For instance, when watching Game of Thrones on HBO Go, the Surface tablet will display a map of Westeros. As great as that sounds, there is a downside — the service requires that users have an Xbox Live subscription.

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