TIME Web

Reddit Demotes Technology Section to Punish Lazy Moderators

reddit
Carlos Osorio -- Toronto Star / Getty Images

The r/technology subreddit that's typically promoted on the homepage of the site, which is committed to unfettered dialogue, has been downgraded amid claims its moderators were using automatic filters to censor topics ranging from "Comcast" to "NSA" to "Snowden"

Imagine, in whatever business, the president of the company demoting an entire department — something major like marketing or risk management or supply, for underperforming or simply screwing up. Not firing and replacing the department head, or laying off a bunch of meddling middle-managers, but downgrading the whole caboodle (and, weirdly, leaving its management intact). One minute the entire department has a seat at the president’s table, the next it’s skulking in a corner somewhere, otherwise un-messed-with, but warned to sort itself out on its own terms before returning to its default position.

That’s essentially what just happened to Reddit’s entire technology community, known on Reddit as r/technology, a subreddit normally promoted on Reddit’s home page, now formally downgraded and bumped from its hallowed spot in the limelight. Because, writes the BBC, Reddit’s top yea-or-naysayers decided to demote it after reports emerged earlier this month claiming r/technology’s moderators were censoring several dozen words, among them “Anonymous,” “Bitcoin,” “Comcast,” “net neutrality,” “NSA” and “Snowden.”

Pretty serious charges for a site that prides itself on its commitment to candor and unfettered dialogue, which is why Reddit’s taking the issue so seriously. Reddit’s director of communications, Victoria Taylor, explained to the BBC that the site “decided to remove /r/technology from the default list because the moderation team lost focus of what they were there to do: moderate effectively,” adding, “We’re giving them time to see if we feel they can work together to resolve the issue.” Taylor says Reddit “might consider” putting r/technology back if the subreddit’s moderators can prove to Reddit and the r/technology community that they’ve rectified the problem (though that sounds like a catch-22 — the BBC says the community’s instead calling for the remaining moderators to go).

On the other hand, Reddit’s response sounds a little babies-out-with-the-bathwater. Imagine Google demoting the technology section of Google News, maybe hiding it under “science,” or folding it into “world,” or doing any number of things to obscure the section’s prominence as a linchpin of cultural interest and exchange. You wind up punishing the already-punished — the community itself — in other words (though how punished they are in the grand scheme, I’m not sure, since I don’t know how many visit Reddit through its front page, and other means of accessing r/technology, including Google search, are unaffected by the demotion).

As Wikipedia is to the encyclopedia, so Reddit is to the public forum: It’s what you get when you promote organized anarchy (or anarchy with a hierarchical veneer). It’ll thus be interesting to see how this plays out, since it’s all sort of undiscovered country. We’ll see whether the remaining moderators can rally the community or end up having to step aside. And depending how quickly this comes to a head, we’ll see whether Reddit’s decision to throw all of r/technology under the bus to discipline a few winds up being a more effective, efficient and counterintuitively fair solution than might have occurred had the site’s leadership simply removed the offending moderators.

TIME movies

Leonardo DiCaprio In Talks to Star in Steve Jobs Biopic

Leonardo DiCaprio arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood.
Leonardo DiCaprio arrives at the 86th Annual Academy Awards on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

The Gatsby star is reportedly in discussions with film honchos for a role in Danny Boyle's movie adaptation of Walter Isaacson's biography, which Sony acquired the rights to after Jobs' death in 2011

When David Fincher passed on directing Sony Pictures’s Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs biopic, the dream of a reunion of The Social Network team died. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, the move may have paved the way for reunion of 2000’s The Beach director/star duo, as the studio is now reportedly eyeing Danny Boyle and Leonardo DiCaprio for the project.

The film will be based on Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs, which Sony acquired the rights to after the Apple mogul’s 2011 death. According to THR, Sony has already initiated talks with Boyle, who won the Academy Award for Best Director in 2008 for Slumdog Millionaire. Boyle is said to have already approached his first choice star DiCaprio about playing Jobs.

Though the baby-faced DiCaprio might seem like a surprise choice to play Jobs, the actor is known for tackling well-known figures in past biopics, like Howard Hughes in 2004’s The Aviator and J. Edgar Hoover in 2011’s J. Edgar. However, though no deals are finalized yet, something tells us that even if Leo signs on, the Jobs role won’t be the key to his own long-awaited Oscar moment.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

 

 

 

 

TIME Technologizer

Lytro’s New Illum Camera: Light-Field Photography Gets Way, Way More Serious

Lytro Illum
Lytro

How serious? $1,599 serious

The first time I wrote about Lytro was back in October of 2011, when it announced its first product. I said it was “like no other camera you’ve seen before.” It wasn’t, and it isn’t.

The company’s $399 gizmo looks more like a pocket-sized kaleidoscope than a camera, and though it lacks many features standard on all other cameras, it uses light-field technology to create “living pictures” you can refocus after you shot them.

Since the camera’s debut, Lytro has added several new features–such as filters and an iPhone app–but the camera itself has remained the same. And even though it’s still the only light-field camera, it faces increasing competition from smartphone apps such as such as Google’s Android camera app. They use software alone to perform rough approximations of Lytro’s refocusing trick–usually very rough ones, but with the camera that’s already in your pocket.

Today, Lytro is announcing its second camera, the Lytro Illum. Rather than being what you might expect–an improved model at the same price point, or maybe even a lower one–it’s a radically different beast. Instead of going after garden-variety consumers, the Illum targets what the company calls “creative pioneers,” which it defines as professionals and passionate amateurs who are serious about staying on the cutting edge of storytelling technology.

So serious in fact, that they’re willing to pay $1,599 for this camera. That’s four times the cost of the original model (which remains on the market), and around the same price you might pay for a high-end consumer DSLR. The company will knock $100 off that price if you pre-order; it plans to start shipping the new model in July.

The basic light-field technology remains the same: Like the original Lytro, the Illum captures the direction of light in a scene as well as its color and intensity, giving it a fully three-dimensional understanding of the photos you take that other still cameras don’t have. That’s why you’re able to refocus photos after they’re taken and nudge them back and forth to see them from slightly different perspectives. But just about anything that the company could change about this new model, it did change.

 Illum
The Lytro Illum Lytro

That starts with the form factor. The first Lytro looked a bit like a squared-off, pocket-sized kaleidoscope, but this one looks like…a camera. A sizable, professional, stylish one–it leans forward in an aggressive stance–with a large lens and an articulated 4″ touchscreen display on the back and a shutter button where you’d expect it to be. It also has a slot for SD memory cards and a removable battery, two features absent in the original model. And it sports GPS and Wi-Fi, two features which aren’t yet standard fare on professional cameras.

The company also gave this camera a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the same one used in Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 smartphone. It says the new chip is 2,000 percent more powerful than the mundane one in its original camera, allowing the new one to do much more sophisticated image processing.

The original Lytro camera Lytro

Shooting with the first Lytro is a bit of a trial-and-error job: The matchbook-sized screen is dinky, grainy and hard to see outside, and it’s tough to tell whether your photo will have enough depth of field to make for striking refocusing effects. The Illum’s screen looks big and beautiful, and there’s a neat dynamic preview that outlines the people and objects in your scene. This time around, you should have a much better idea of the end result before you press the shutter.

The big new lens should go a long way towards improving image quality. It’s a custom design with 8x optical zoom capability (30mm-250mm equivalent) with a constant aperture of f/2. Lytro doesn’t measure images in megapixels. Instead it uses megarays, and while it’s hard for us mere mortals to understand exactly what that means, the Illum’s sensor captures 40 of them, vs. the first Lytro’s 11. Photos are now in a standard 3:2 aspect ratio instead of the earlier model’s Polaroid-like square format, and Lytro’s sample images, at least, are much crisper and more detailed than previous “living pictures.”

Speaking of sample images, here they are. You can refocus and zoom around them; press the arrow icons to move between photos.

As before, you can share Lytro photos online (like I just did above) and view them in the Lytro app for the iPhone and iPad. There’s also a new feature that lets you create videos that pan in and out of a still Lytro image, focusing the scene as they go. It looks a little like a 3D “Ken Burns” effect, and some of it is visible in the below video produced by Lytro.

By pushing the Lytro Illum so far up the photographic food chain, the company answers the challenge from smartphone apps by pretty much avoiding it. Judging from Lytro’s samples, nobody will look at Illum photos and say “My phone can do that.”

So does that mean that Lytro is opting out of the mainstream consumer market? I asked Ren Ng, the company’s founder and chairman, that question. He said that’s not the case at all: There will be further models aimed at a wider audience of snapshot takers, and Lytro still believes that all photography will be light-field photography someday.

For now, this camera is aimed at a relatively small group of people who are really smitten with light-field photography and willing to spend a lot of money to do it as well as possible. For them, it looks like it’s going to be neat. And at least the rest of us will have the opportunity to look at some of the pictures they shoot.

TIME Tablets

50 Must-Have iPad Apps

Here's a list of essentials every iPad owner should consider. Each entry features alternative options to check out, too, for well over 100 apps. Did we miss something? Tell us about the apps you can't live without in the comments section.

  • 1Password

    1password
    AgileBits

    1Password creates hard-to-crack passwords for your online accounts and hides them all behind one, secure master password (don’t forget your master password). Aside from just login credentials, you can use 1Password to protect your credit cards, passport, bank account numbers and even notes you don’t want falling into the wrong hands.

    1Password in the App Store

    See also: Keeper Password & Data Vault, LastPass

  • Allrecipes

    Allrecipes Dinner Spinner
    Allrecipes

    Referencing an iPad while cooking is usually far less cumbersome than using a computer, and the free Allrecipes app puts thousands of recipes and step-by-step videos at your fingertips. You can even sync recipes and ingredients with your Allrecipes.com account’s recipe box and shopping lists.

    Allrecipes in the App Store

    See also: BigOven, Epicurious

  • BaconReader for Reddit

    BaconReader for Reddit
    OneLouder

    Reddit — the self-proclaimed front page of the Internet — gets a glossy makeover with BaconReader. The app lets you cruise subreddits, follow friends, use multiple accounts and upload photos that you can draw all over using the iPad’s touchscreen.

    BaconReader for Reddit in the App Store

    See also: Alien Blue, Pics HD for Reddit

  • BlogPad Pro for WordPress

    BlogPad Pro for WordPress
    Macroweb Ltd

    If you maintain a WordPress site, the $5 BlogPad Pro app deserves a spot on your iPad. The visual editor sports a ton of features, there’s an offline mode and the conflict-management feature prevents you from accidentally overwriting someone else’s work if you’re both trying to work on a post at the same time.

    BlogPad Pro for WordPress in the App Store

    See also: WordPress, Blogsy

  • Catalog Spree

    Catalog Spree
    Padopolis

    Under normal circumstances, you’d need a pickup truck to lug 350 catalogs around. The free Catalog Spree app shrinks 350 popular catalogs into digital form and lets you swipe through pages and pages of potential purchases without breaking a sweat.

    Catalog Spree in the App Store

    See also: Catalogue by TheFind, thredUP

  • Chrome

    Chrome
    Google

    If you use Google’s Chrome web browser on your computer, loading the free app onto your iPad is a no-brainer simply for the ability to synchronize your browsing history, passwords and bookmarks. Incognito Mode gives you the option of browsing more privately, there’s a feature that helps you cut down on mobile data use, and you can search by voice.

    Chrome in the App Store

    See also: Dolphin, Coast by Opera

  • Dictionary.com Dictionary & Thesaurus

    dictionary
    Dictionary.com

    Dictionary.com’s iPad app boasts audio pronunciations, daily content (Word of the Day, slideshows and more) and over 2 million definitions. Perhaps best of all, most of the content can be accessed offline, so if you’re in an area without connectivity, you’ll still be able to look stuff up.

    Dictionary.com Dictionary & Thesaurus in the App Store

    See also: WolframAlpha, Merriam-Webster Dictionary HD

  • Fan TV

    Fan TV
    Fanhattan

    There’s no shortage of streaming TV and movie services available, but launching separate apps for each one quickly gets cumbersome. The free Fan TV app acts like a slick launchpad to other popular streaming apps, letting you find and watch what you want with minimal fuss.

    Fan TV in the App Store

    See also: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video

  • Fantastical 2

    Fantastical 2
    Flexibits

    Fantasical 2 is a feature-full calendar app that lets you add reminders, tasks and to-dos using natural language phrases. You can event set up geofences to have the app remind you of certain events or tasks when you enter a certain area, such as your home or office. And like any good calendar app, it plays nicely with Exchange, Google Calendar and iCloud.

    Fantastical 2 in the App Store

    See also: Calendars by Readdle, Remember The Milk

  • Feedly Reader

    Feedly
    Feedly

    Some of us like to read our news the (relatively) old-fashioned way. Thankfully, cruising your RSS feeds is a breeze with Feedly. The free app presents your favorite news sources in a slick card-like interface, highlights which posts are popular with other users and lets you browse for additional sources to add to your collection.

    Feedly in the App Store

    See also: Feedler, News

  • FitStar Personal Trainer

    FitStar
    FitStar

    FitStar looks to play the role of your virtual personal trainer by way of its “dynamic progression algorithm,” which adjusts the difficulty of your workouts alongside your fitness level and goals. The app can be cast to your TV set if you’ve got an Apple TV box, and the workouts are hosted by NFL great Tony Gonzalez.

    FitStar Personal Trainer in the App Store

    See also: Workout Trainer, Daily Workouts

  • Flipboard

    flipboard
    Flipboard

    One of the best-looking apps on our list, Flipboard bills itself as “your personal magazine.” Browse handpicked articles on various topics and pipe in updates from your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr accounts for a one-stop shop that caters to your interests.

    Flipboard in the App Store

    See also: Zite, LinkedIn Pulse

  • Friendly+ for Facebook

    Friendly
    Friendly App Studio

    If you’re not too keen on Facebook’s own iPad app, you might consider ponying up a couple bucks for the Friendly+ app. It presents Facebook in a simple, well-laid-out interface and includes extras such as a PIN code lock, multiple account support and custom-configured birthday reminders. There’s a free, ad-supported version as well.

    Friendly+ for Facebook in the App Store

    See also: Facebook

  • GarageBand

    Garage Band
    Apple

    Apple’s GarageBand app lets you indulge your inner Van Halen by laying down up to 32 music tracks containing just about any instrument you could imagine. Connect four iPhones, iPads or iPod Touches over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to record you and your bandmates at the same time, then share your finished creation on various social networks.

    GarageBand in the App Store

    See also: Figure, Music Studio

  • Genius Scan+

    Genius Scan
    The Grizzly Labs

    Genius Scan+ helps you tame that mountain of paperwork, digitizing it so you can quickly deal with it later — much, much later. The app detects the edges of documents when you snap a photo, and can then save them as PDF files and back them up to popular online storage services. A free, feature-limited version is available as well.

    Genius Scan+ in the App Store

    See also: Scanner Pro, Doc Scan HD

  • Google Maps

    Google Maps
    Google

    The reigning champion of helping you get from point A to point B, Google Maps is a must-download. Sure, the app helps you get where you’re going (or figure out where you are), but it also pulls in restaurant recommendations leveraged by Google’s purchase of Zagat, and real-time traffic information leveraged by Google’s purchase of Waze. If your iPad’s got a cellular connection, you can use Google Maps as a GPS system, too.

    Google Maps in the App Store

    See also: Google Earth, Waze Social GPS, Maps & Traffic

  • Hangouts

    Hangouts
    Google

    Assuming you have a Google account and friends who have Google accounts, the Hangouts app is an easy way to keep in touch with everyone. Let your fingers do the talking with the IM-like chat features, then switch to free group video calling with up to 10 people once the discussion really gets going.

    Hangouts in the App Store

    See also: Skype, ooVoo

  • Hipmunk Hotels & Flights

    Hipmunk
    Hipmunk

    Hipmunk takes the traditional flight-search model and turns it on its head, showing options sorted first by “agony,” then by price and other factors. You’re treated to a grid of at-a-glance info about which flights and hotels have Wi-Fi, which flights have long layovers, and a “heatmap” of hotel options that shows you how close each hotel is to the action — all in a fun, easy-to-use interface.

    Hipmunk Hotels & Flights in the App Store

    See also: Kayak, Orbitz

  • Houzz Interior Design Ideas

    Houzz
    Houzz

    If you’re looking for a little inspiration when decorating your home, the super-slick Houzz app has it. Well, it doesn’t have a little inspiration, actually: It has a lot of it. There are over 2 million photos of rooms, furniture and other products, all of which you can clip and save to a virtual scrapbook.

    Houzz Interior Design Ideas in the App Store

    See also: Homestyler Interior Design, ColorSmart by BEHR Mobile

  • iA Writer

    iA Writer
    Information Architects

    When all you want to do is indulge in a bit of distraction-free writing, the sparse-yet-useful iA Writer has you covered. You can focus on as few as three lines when writing on your iPad, and files can be saved via iCloud or Dropbox to be accessed on your iPhone or other devices. The app’s special keyboard sports arrow keys and direct access to punctuation, too.

    iA Writer in the App Store

    See also: Apple iWork, Microsoft Office

  • iHeartRadio

    iHeartRadio
    iHeartRadio

    If you’re listening to the radio, there’s a good chance you’re listening to a station owned by Clear Channel. The iHeartRadio app offers live streaming from thousands of Clear Channel stations, on-demand talk shows and the ability to create your own station from over 18 million songs.

    iHeartRadio in the App Store

    See also: Pandora, TuneIn Radio

  • IM+ Pro7

    IM+ Pro7
    SHAPE GmbH

    If there’s an instant messaging service out there that’s even moderately popular, chances are IM+ Pro7 works with it. Whether your friends use Facebook, Skype, Google, AIM, Yahoo or one of several others, you’ll be able to communicate with each other without juggling a bunch of different apps.

    IM+ Pro7 in the App Store

    See also: AIM, Hangouts

  • IMDb Movies & TV

    IMDb
    IMDb

    Spend enough time in front of your TV and you’ll eventually want to know why that person in that one show or movie looks so familiar. The free IMDb (Internet Movie Database) app has info on over 2 million TV shows and movies and over 4 million actors, directors and crew members.

    IMDb Movies & TV in the App Store

    See also: iTunes Movie Trailers, Movies by Flixster

  • Intellicast HD

    Intellicast HD
    WSI Corporation

    Weather apps are a dime a dozen (most are free, actually), but Intellicast HD has some of the best-looking, most up-to-date weather maps around. You’ll know exactly what’s headed your way, and how bad it’s going to be once it hits. The app is free; an extra two bucks gets you access to real-time, high-resolution radar feeds and some other goodies.

    Intellicast HD in the App Store

    See also: Yahoo Weather, The Weather Channel

  • Jinni My TV & Movie Guide

    Jinni
    Jinni

    The promise of personalized TV and movie recommendations always seems to be something of a letdown. Jinni provides a ray of hope, though, analyzing thousands of data points while hooking into your favorite streaming services and your cable provider to serve up a watch list you might actually want to watch.

    Jinni My TV & Movie Guide in the App Store

    See also: IMDb, Fan TV

  • Kindle

    Kindle
    Amazon

    There are several worthwhile e-book reading apps to choose from, but Amazon’s Kindle platform gets the nod thanks to its availability on just about every other device on the market. If it’s rectangular, has a screen of some type and connects to the Internet, you can probably use it to read a Kindle book.

    Kindle in the App Store

    See also: iBooks, Nook, Audible

  • Mailbox

    Mailbox
    Dropbox

    Mailbox looks to tame your Gmail inbox by letting you quickly archive emails with a swipe or turn them into task-like entities to deal with later. The app’s design emphasizes speed and simplicity, helping you to slice through your mountain of messages in a matter of minutes. Yes, you’re basically engaging in digital procrastination, but at least it’ll help you feel somewhat organized. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of reaching inbox zero, if only for a short while.

    Mailbox in the App Store

    See also: Gmail, Yahoo Mail

  • Mint Personal Finance

    Mint
    Intuit

    Instead of downloading separate apps to keep track of each credit card and bank account you own, try Mint. The free app connects to all your accounts and displays your balances, lets you customize a budget and shows your spending trends organized by category.

    Mint Personal Finance in the App Store

    See also: Check, Spending Tracker

  • Morning

    Morning
    Tamper

    If you check your iPad first thing in the morning, why not get an overview of what you actually have to do each day? The Morning app shows you weather, reminders, traffic along your commute, news, calendar items, stock prices and more, all tucked into a handsome card-like grid that’s available in multiple colorful themes.

    Morning in the App Store

    See also: Planner Plus, Google Search

  • Notability

    Notability
    Ginger Labs

    In the old days, to get your written notes synchronized with an audio recording, you used to have to spend over a hundred bucks on a fancy pen and paper combo. Notability now offers similar functionality in an inexpensive app. Take notes while your iPad records the audio, then play it all back later. Your notes will reveal themselves in time with what’s being played back on the audio recording.

    Notability in the App Store

    See also: Springpad, Evernote

  • Paper by FiftyThree

    Paper
    FiftyThree

    Paper is a free iPad app with a simple interface that lets you write, sketch and paint in virtual notebooks. It may not seem like rocket science, but realistically replicating the feel of various writing and art utensils on a tablet screen is a complicated feat that Paper pulls off with style.

    Paper by FiftyThree in the App Store

    See also: SketchBook Express, ColorBox HD

  • PCalc

    PCalc
    TLA Systems

    If you’re going to load a calculator onto something the size of a tablet, you might as well go big. At $10, PCalc isn’t your ordinary calculator: It’s like a scientific calculator that fell in radioactive goop and now has superpowers. At the same time, however, it’s functional as a straightforward calculator for those of us who aren’t especially mathletic.

    PCalc in the App Store

    See also: Calculator, Calculator Pro

  • PDFpen

    PDFpen
    SmileOnMyMac

    PDFpen is a great go-to app for dealing with complex PDF files, letting you edit documents, create notes and sign forms with ease. And if you’re a Mac user, the app is available for your computer as well, working with Dropbox and iCloud to sync your documents between your iPad and your Mac.

    PDFpen in the App Store

    See also: Adobe Reader, PDF Reader

  • Photo Editor by Aviary

    Photo Editor by Aviary
    Aviary

    For a free image editor, this app from Aviary sports a wealth of features. Aside from being able to crop and rotate your photos, there’s red-eye reduction, blemish removal, teeth whitening and more. You can add doodles, text and stickers to liven up your images as well.

    Photo Editor by Aviary in the App Store

    See also: Photoshop Elements, iPhoto

  • Pinterest

    Pinterest
    Pinterest

    Pinterest, the web’s most popular pin board, makes for a great couch companion. Pass the time browsing your friends’ pins, or pin things from around the web for projects or vacation ideas that you’d like to revisit later.

    Pinterest in the App Store

    See also: Glimpse, Clipboard

  • Pocket

    Pocket
    Read It Later

    Pocket lets you grab various bits from around the web — articles, videos, images and more — and save them for later perusal. The free app takes text articles and strips out all the ads, buttons and other digital detritus to present a clean, easy-on-the-eyes reading experience.

    Pocket in the App Store

    See also: Instapaper, Readability

  • Procreate

    Procreate
    Savage Interactive

    Procreate is not to be confused with a baby-making app. Despite the silly name, this app helps you make some serious art: With 120 brushes and over a hundred layers, Procreate turns your iPad into a digital canvas that can be manipulated almost as well as the real thing. You can even record your paintings as high-definition videos, playing back each stroke as it happens.

    Procreate in the App Store

    See also: Paper by FiftyThree, SketchBook Express

  • Recorder Plus + HD

    Recorder Plus
    Turbokey Studio

    Recorder Plus + HD is a full-featured audio recording app that lets you record sound files limited only by the available space on your iPad. And if you need to edit those long files, there’s a built-in audio editor that’s easy to use thanks to the iPad’s touchscreen. You can even share your audio files directly over your Wi-Fi network. There’s a free version with fewer features, as well.

    Recorder Plus + HD in the App Store

    See also: Voice Record Pro, Voice Recorder HD

  • Scribd

    Scribd
    Scribd

    Do you like e-books? Do you not like having to pay $10 for each one? Scribd is like a Netflix for e-books, giving you unlimited access to over 100,000 tomes for nine bucks a month. If you read books like people binge-watch movies and TV on Netflix or download music all day on Spotify, Scribd is worth a closer look.

    Scribd in the App Store

    See also: Gutenberg Literature, Kindle, iBooks

  • Songza

    Songza
    Songza Media

    Sometimes you don’t want to put too much thought into your music. In that spirit, Songza offers up mood-based playlists cobbled together by music professionals. Stream a mix for working out or driving or unwinding or singing in the shower. The moods can get as specific as you like, and the service is free and unlimited if you’re willing to put up with some intermittent ads.

    Songza in the App Store

    See also: Pandora Radio, Rdio, Spotify Music

  • Spotify Music

    Spotify
    Spotify

    For $10 a month, Spotify acts like a giant music store where you download as much music as you want for offline playback from your phone, tablet or computer. There’s also a streaming radio option, and if you don’t want to pony up $10 a month for the premium version, there’s an ad-supported version that lets you listen to any song for free.

    Spotify in the App Store

    See also: Rdio, Slacker, Rhapsody

  • StumbleUpon

    StumbleUpon
    StumbleUpon

    StumbleUpon has long perfected the art of serving up random items of interest on the web to users who just want something to do. Choose an interest, hit the big Stumble button and give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to whatever is presented to you. Repeat.

    StumbleUpon in the App Store

    See also: BaconReader for Reddit, Alien Blue Reddit Client

  • Team Stream HD

    Team Stream
    Bleacher Report

    Bleacher Report’s Team Stream app has a pretty fitting name. You pick your favorite sports teams and the app serves up a heaping helping of scores, tweets, articles, videos and photos in short order. You can set yourself up to get various notifications as they happen, and easily share updates over social media and via text messages to your friends.

    Team Stream HD in the App Store

    See also: theScore Mobile, Yahoo Sports

  • Titan Downloader

    Titan Downloader
    Connect Technology

    The free Titan Downloader app features a built-in web browser that lets you save video files you find on various sites for playback at a later time. You can queue up multiple videos to play one after another and set a pass-code lock to prevent others from accessing your collection.

    Titan Downloader in the App Store

    See also: MyMedia, iDownloader

  • TripIt

    TripIt
    TripIt

    As a TripIt user, you can make travel bookings and forward the confirmation emails from your airline, hotel, car-rental service and more to plans@tripit.com; those bookings will then be organized into a coherent itinerary available from within the free app.

    TripIt in the App Store

    See also: WorldMate, TripCase

  • Tumblr

    Tumblr
    Tumblr

    Tumblr is a weird, wild, wonderful collection of musings, images and videos — the Internet is a better place for it. And the official Tumblr app pays the site a great service by being just as straightforward and well-polished. You can use it to share just about anything with a few taps, while keeping tabs on multiple blogs and all your messages. It works offline when you don’t have a connection, too.

    Tumblr in the App Store

    See also: BlogPad Pro for WordPress, Twitter, Facebook

  • TuneIn Radio

    TuneIn
    TuneIn

    Think of the free TuneIn app as being able to turn your iPad into a radio capable of pulling in almost any station from anywhere in the world. The service boasts over 100,000 live radio station feeds and 2 million podcasts to choose from.

    TuneIn in the App Store

    See also: Songza, Pandora, SiriusXM

  • Tweetbot for Twitter

    Tweetbot
    Tapbots

    There are plenty of free ways to interact with Twitter, but the $3 Tweetbot app is well worth the price of admission, with an eye-popping design, time-saving gestures that you can customize to perform various tricks and connections to several third-party web services.

    Tweetbot in the App Store

    See also: Twitter, Hootsuite

  • Vodio

    Vodio
    Vodio Labs

    In case you hadn’t noticed, there are a lot of videos on the web. Vodio stitches together the videos people are actually watching, and organizes them into various categories so you can watch the ones that interest you. The app even suggests videos to you based on the types of videos you watch on Twitter and Facebook, getting smarter over time.

    Vodio in the App Store

    See also: Frequency, Showyou

  • Yelp

    Yelp
    Yelp

    If you’re on vacation or new in town (or even not-so-new in town) and you want to learn about what’s around you — shops, restaurants, dry cleaners, gas stations, bars, you name it — Yelp has you covered, complete with user reviews so you can separate the good from the bad.

    Yelp in the App Store

    See also: YP Local Search & Gas Prices, AroundMe

TIME Food and Beverage Industry

The Perfect Bacon Bowl Is Totally the Next Snuggie

The Perfect Bacon Bowl has sold 2 million units in its first four months

+ READ ARTICLE

Nobody needs a bacon bowl. We’ve managed to survive as a species for thousands of years consuming bacon in its much more pedestrian form: as strips. Eaten one at a time. Not baked together into a receptacle.

Yet, in the four months since its television advertising debut, the Perfect Bacon Bowl–a cooking apparatus used to do exactly what it sounds like–has sold 2 million units and is set to rival another product no one ever thought they had use for: the Snuggie.

The Perfect Bacon Bowl is the brainchild of Thom Jensen, a Salt Lake City histologist looking for a way to get his kids out of bed on Saturday mornings. He first tried to make a bacon turtle–just a turtle made out of bacon–using an upside-down muffin tin. But the bacon burned. So Jensen looked online and found people were making bacon bowls all over the place by putting aluminum foil around the tin, which got him thinking.

Jensen sent an online video of a conceptual bacon bowl into Edison Nation, a company that solicits ideas from everyday inventors. If Edison Nation believes the product might sell, the company licenses it and brings it to market, giving the inventors a cut of the sales. Jensen’s prototype was crude, a mere container made purely from tin foil, but it caught the eye of Edison Nation, including CEO Louis Foreman.

“There’s an incredible number of great ideas out there that never get to market because the obstacles are too great,” says Foreman, who’s also an inventor. “If you woke up and said, I have a great idea, you’d have two choices – quit your job and become an entrepreneur, which is high risk, or try to license your invention to somebody else.”

For many would-be inventors, however, filing for a patent and developing a prototype can be complicated and incredibly expensive. Foreman began Edison Nation as a way for people to realize their ideas without resorting to something drastic like liquidating their 401k. Anyone with $25 can submit an idea, and if it gets approved, Edison Nation invests all the capital and gives 7.5% royalties to the inventor.

The company receives thousands of submissions a year, but only a handful actually making it to store shelves. Foreman says trends and technologies like the maker movement and 3D printing have spurred more Americans to try their hand at inventing. He also says that because there’s less brand loyalty than ever (and the fact that stores will take virtually anything back) consumers are also more likely to try something different.

Since its founding in 2008, Edison Nation has licensed hundreds of products, including Party in the Tub (a disco light to get kids to take a bath), Eggies (an alternative to hard-boiling an egg), Gyro Bowl (a “spill-resistant” bowl for kids) and Emery Cat (a cat scratching board).

But Bacon Bowl may outperform them all. Edison Nation says the product is on par with the Snuggie, which sold 25 million units in a little over two years and has brought in an estimated half a billion dollars since it debuted in 2008. “I’m just overwhelmed,” Jensen says.

Bacon Bowl is the only one of the two dozen or so ideas Jensen has sent into Edison Nation. And even though he’s likely to receive a hefty royalty check at the end of the year, he’s not going to quit his day job. “I have to have something to pay for my hobby,” he says.

TIME technology

The Hot War Between Netflix and Comcast Is Escalating

The Comcast Center, home to Comcast's corporate headquarters, in Philadelphia
The Comcast Center, home to Comcast's corporate headquarters, in Philadelphia. William Thomas Cain—Getty Images

Netflix and Comcast are wrangling over whether their controversial interconnection pact should be covered by U.S. net neutrality rules

Internet video powerhouse Netflix used the occasion of its quarterly earnings report on Monday to lash out once again at Comcast, the nation’s largest broadband company, for charging what it calls “arbitrary interconnection tolls” against online content companies.

Comcast should not be permitted to buy smaller rival Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion deal now being scrutinized by U.S. regulators, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings argued in a letter to shareholders, because the cable giant is already too powerful.

It’s the second time in a month that Hastings has attacked Comcast, following a controversial deal in which the streaming video company agreed to pay for a direct connection to the nation’s largest broadband provider. “Comcast is already dominant enough to be able to capture unprecedented fees from transit providers and services such as Netflix,” Hastings wrote. “The combined company would possess even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers.”

Comcast’s response was swift. The broadband giant accused Netflix of using “net neutrality“—the principle enshrined in the now-defunct U.S. Open Internet rules that prohibited Internet service providers from favoring some online services—as a pretext for advancing its own commercial interests. In essence, Comcast says that Netflix is taking advantage of regulatory scrutiny of the Time Warner Cable deal to try to make interconnection deals—standard business arrangements that have existed between Internet and broadband companies for years—a net neutrality issue. And it’s doing this, according to Comcast, to bolster its own bottom line.

“Internet interconnection has nothing to do with net neutrality,” Comcast wrote in a company blog post. “It’s all about Netflix wanting to unfairly shift its costs from its customers to all Internet customers, regardless of whether they subscribe to Netflix or not.” In its 2010 Open Internet order, which was struck down by a federal judge in January, the Federal Communications Commission made clear that interconnection deals were not subject to the net neutrality rules.

As part of its deal with Comcast, Netflix gained a direct connection to the nation’s largest broadband company, bypassing bandwidth providers that operate as intermediaries between residential broadband companies and Internet firms. The agreement is already benefitting Netflix customers who subscribe to Comcast broadband service. Last week, Netflix said that streaming speeds to Comcast users had increased by 65% between January and March.

Comcast says that if Netflix is not happy with their interconnection pact, it’s free to terminate the pact. “If Netflix did not like the terms of our agreement, or if they do not like the terms Comcast provides at any time in the future, Netflix can work with any of the multiplicity of partners that connect with Comcast,” the broadband giant wrote.

Comcast pointed out that “Netflix approached us for this direct connection between Netflix and Comcast, cutting out the wholesalers with whom Netflix had traditionally contracted and paid for transit. This arrangement was thus about Netflix exercising its market power to extract a more favorable arrangement directly from Comcast than what Netflix had been paying for through third party providers.”

“Netflix is free to express its opinions,” Comcast concluded. “But they should be factually based. And Netflix should be transparent that its opinion is not about protecting the consumer or about Net Neutrality. Rather, it’s about improving Netflix’s business model by shifting costs that it has always borne to all users of the Internet and not just to Netflix customers.”

Paid interconnection agreements have been a common feature of the Internet’s behind-the-scenes architecture for many years, but now Netflix wants to frame such deals in terms of net neutrality. Moving forward, the FCC will decide whether deals like the one struck by Comcast and Netflix will be covered by the Open Internet rules. As of now, that’s not the case.

Dan Rayburn, principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan and executive vice president of StreamingMedia.com, says Netflix arguments against Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable aren’t valid. “This argument between Netflix and Comcast about interconnection deals has nothing to do with net neutrality,” Rayburn wrote on Monday. “This isn’t about ‘fighting for the Internet the world needs,’ like Netflix has said, it’s about keeping their costs down.”

TIME Apple

Apple Will Now Recycle Any Product You Give Back—and Give You Credit for It

The Apple Inc logo sits on display at the company's store in the Gran Plaza 2 shopping mall in Majadahonda, near Madrid, Spain, on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012.
Angel Navarrete—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Apple Stores will now accept any of the company's products for recycling at no charge, and may even give you a store credit to be used against a new model if the items you are trading in look in resealable condition

Starting today, Apple Stores will begin accepting any of the company’s products for recycling at no charge.

Even better, if the items look resalable, you might even get a store credit, a.k.a. an Apple gift card. CEO Tim Cook last month told shareholders the company wants to “leave the world better than we found it,” and this initiative is part of that.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives (and a former EPA administrator) told the AP Apple aims to “use all our innovation and all of our expertise to make the planet more secure and make the environment better.”

The move caps off an evolution from a few years ago when the company was criticized by some groups as contributing to electronic waste. Since then, Apple has unveiled a number of initiatives aimed at cutting its environmental impact.

TIME space travels

Google and NASA Cooperate on Building Floating Space Robots

NASA and Google will send floating robots equipped with 3-D mapping technology into orbit this summer, enabling them to navigate autonomously for the first time. "The future is awesome," brags Google

Tech giant Google is helping NASA make their floating robots smarter.

Since last summer, the two organizations have been cooperating on equipping NASA’s SPHERE satellites with 3-D mapping technology to allow the floating robots to move around more freely. They currently use a system based upon ultrasound and infrared light to navigate.

The SPHERES, which serve as robotic assistants to astronauts at the International Space Station, will be equipped with the technology behind newly unveiled Project Tango to better get around. The technology allows phones to make 3-D real-time maps of their environment, and so facilitating autonomous navigation.

“Think about having a free-flying robot that can fly around inside a space station, perhaps equipped with some type of future smartphone,” Zach Moratto, one of the NASA research engineers involved in the project, said in a video about the development.

The Project Tango-equipped floating robots will be launched into orbit this summer, a statement by Google said, before concluding on a bright note: “The future is awesome.”

TIME Video Games

If There’s an Apple vs Google ‘Arms Race’ for Mobile Game Exclusives, Android’s Losing

Apple and Google are supposedly battling for exclusive games on their respective mobile platforms, but we haven't seen many fireworks.

A story by the Wall Street Journal claims that Apple and Google have staked out a new battleground over mobile games, as both companies try to grab exclusives for their own platforms.

Citing unnamed sources, the Journal says Apple and Google are apparently offering promotional placement to game developers in exchange for timed exclusivity. While the report claims no money is changing hands, top placement in the iOS App Store or Android’s Google Play Store can have a huge impact on sales, so developers have a strong incentive to consider these deals.

But while reading the Journal’s report, one thing struck me as odd: There isn’t a lick of evidence that Google is actually fighting back against Apple’s supposed exclusivity push. While the story provides several examples of Apple making exclusive deals with top game developers, it doesn’t offer a single instance of Google doing the same.

With Apple, Electronic Arts reportedly agreed to a two-month exclusivity window for Plants vs. Zombies 2, and ZeptoLab gave Apple’s platform a three-month head start for Cut the Rope 2. An executive at GameLoft also confirmed that the company talked to Apple about an exclusivity deal, but ultimately decided against it.

What examples do we have for Android? The Journal merely says that Google has helped promote apps that “integrate Android branding.” One deal, with Russian developer Game Insight, apparently involved a discount on in-game items shaped like Android’s robot mascot. It’s safe to assume Apple wasn’t competing for this deal, and besides, Game Insight isn’t nearly as well-known as ZeptoLab, Gameloft or Electronic Arts.

Deal or no deal, it’s hard to find many instances of games going Android-first. Some noteworthy exclusives do exist, including Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VI and Gree’s Rage of the Immortals, which both had roughly a one-month head start on Android. But there are many more cases of popular games hitting iOS first, including Threes, Deus Ex: The Fall, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Hearthstone, The Room 2 and Ridiculous Fishing.

The story also mentions Amazon, practically as an aside. But at least with Amazon there are previous, documented examples of exclusives for the company’s app store. (The Journal’s report doesn’t even mention that Amazon is now creating its own games, which, as an approach to exclusive content, is much more interesting than making limited-time deals with other developers.

The idea that Google and Apple are battling for exclusives sounds good, at least, as it’s reminiscent of how traditional game console makers buy up exclusives for their own platforms. I’m just skeptical that there’s much of a fight going on in this case. Or if there is, it’s been extremely lopsided in Apple’s favor.

Besides, exclusives don’t mean much if they aren’t being marketed as a way to lure people onto one platform instead of another. If Google was having success with locking up Android-only releases, wouldn’t we be hearing about it from Google, rather than from “people familiar with the situation?”

TIME Companies

7 Silly Tech Company Naming Trends

Thomas Middleditch and Josh Brener in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley pokes fun at the bizarre naming trends in the startup world. Here are the smartest, goofiest and downright dumbest names.

In Sunday night’s episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley, a new series that follows a fledgling startup, the main character fights to buy the (terrible) name “Pied Piper” for his company. Meanwhile, his compatriots seek out other names to hilarious ends.

The episode mocks a lot of the dumb name trends we’ve seen in tech companies over the past few years. One of the programmers points out that all the best names are carnal ones that you can yell out in bed. The other guys take turns mimicking orgasming to names like “Uber,” “Google” and “Hulu.” “Hooli”—the fictional Google-like tech giant in the show—also adheres to this rule.

In another scene, one character suggests the name “SMLLR” and then “SMLR” because “we make things smaller, and this would be like a smaller version of the world ‘smaller.'”

“Looks like ‘smeller,'” a programmer responds. Other suggestions written on the whiteboard include “SmushIt,” “Contractor,” “Konctractor” and “Kntrktr.”

Of course these satirical versions of popular tech company names aren’t any sillier than the real Silicon Valley naming conventions that have followed some pretty identifiable patterns over the last 15 years.

Here are our 7 favorite trends, from the silliest to the best:

1. Words that sound like noises a baby would make

  • Etsy
  • Skype
  • Zynga
  • Kaggle
  • Hulu
  • Venmo (slightly justified: rooted in the Latin word “vendere” or “to sell”)

2. Add a Dot

  • Visual.ly
  • Put.io
  • Parse.ly
  • Last.fm

3. Dropped Vowels (because who has time to type that extra “e”?)

  • Flickr
  • Tumblr
  • Grindr
  • Scribd
  • Honorable mention: Twitter called itself Twtter when it launched in 2006 because Twitter.com was taken, but luckily they eventually bought the vowels

4. Cute Suffixes

  • Napster
  • Friendster
  • Etsy
  • Artsy
  • Loverly
  • Feastly
  • Spotify
  • Shopify

5. Blended Words

  • Wikipedia (wiki + encyclopedia)
  • Zillow (zillions + pillow)
  • Hipmunk (hip + chipmunk)
  • Pinterest (pin + interest)
  • Instagram (instant + telegram)
  • Epicurious (epicurean + curious)

6. Intentionally Misspelled Words (hey, it worked for the Beatles)

  • Google
  • Digg
  • Lyst
  • Reddit

7. Compound words (pushing two seemingly unrelated words together)

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • WordPress
  • LinkedIn
  • Grooveshark
  • PayPal
  • Urbanspoon
  • Fitbit
  • Foursquare
  • Snapchat
  • OpenTable
  • DropBox
  • Evernote
  • Flipboard
  • Groupme

Most of these sound ridiculous at first. As one Silicon Valley character concludes while high on shrooms, “It’s all just f***ing meaningless words.” But once a company becomes successful, we all end up using these nouns as verbs no matter how goofy they seem.

And to be fair, there’s a method behind the madness. We see a lot of compound words with capitals in the middle (like PayPal) because of early computer code, which didn’t allow for spaces. Plus there’s the problem of locking down a domain name: in 2013 the Wall Street Journal reported that 252 million domain names were registered across the web, so there aren’t that many options left for startups, hence the trend of sites that end in “.ly” instead of “.com.” Trademarking a company name is a major issue too, and the trademarked name must work internationally—something that isn’t incomprehensible in Japan or offensive in Australia.

There’s also the diverging desires to come up with a name as original as “Google” and to take advantage of a trend: when Spotify, succeeded hundreds of other companies began tacking on “ify” to their names. The process is so complicated that there are companies—like Lexicon and Catchword—dedicated to coming up with a names that are original but not terrible.

But that doesn’t excuse Pied Piper, which is still a terrible name with a terrible logo.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46,429 other followers