TIME Companies

You Can Now Barter for Goods on Amazon

LIONEL BONAVENTURE—AFP/Getty Images The Amazon logo is shown in Paris on November 13, 2012.

Now you can make Amazon sellers an offer they'll probably refuse

Amazon announced a new “Make an Offer” feature on Tuesday that enables shoppers to negotiate a lower price with sellers over email.

Amazon said the new button will appear alongside 150,000 items for sale in Sports and Entertainment Collectibles, Collectible Coins and Fine Art. Hitting the button will give the shopper an option of suggesting a new price to the seller. The seller, who sees the new price over email, can accept, reject or reply with a counteroffer.

“In a recent survey of our sellers, nearly half of the respondents told us that the ability to negotiate prices with customers would be important to drive more sales on Amazon,” Peter Faricy, Vice President of Amazon Marketplace said in a statement announcing the new feature.

“‘Make an Offer’ delivers that functionality and makes customers feel confident they are getting an item they want at the lowest price possible.”

TIME Social Networking

Facebook Video Uploads Reportedly Overtake YouTube

Facebook Annouces A New Product
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A Facebook employee demonstrates the new Instagram video option during a press event at Facebook headquarters on June 20, 2013 in Menlo Park, California.

New data suggests users are bypassing YouTube and uploading videos directly to social media

Facebook users uploaded more videos directly to their social media feed rather than pull videos from YouTube, according to new data that suggests Facebook is becoming the platform of choice for video sharing.

Social media analysts at Socialbakers tracked data across 20,000 Facebook pages belonging to public figures and companies. They observed a drop in the share of videos coming from YouTube as the number of videos coming directly from users increased, Business Insider reports.

For the first time, user-uploaded videos surpassed YouTube videos in November. The shift comes not long after Facebook tweaked its video playback feature so that scenes would begin playing automatically as the user scrolled through the page.

Read more at Business Insider.


Now You Can Virtually Wander the Streets of Dubai

Julian Finney—Getty Images The Burj Al Arab, a 7 star hotel, is seen on February 25, 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The first Arab metropolis to get Google Maps 'Street View'

Google added ‘Street View’ to its map of Dubai on Monday, marking the feature’s first foray into an Arab country.

Virtual visitors can tour the city’s most notable landmarks, including the “dancing fountains” outside of the Dubai Mall and the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, which can be viewed both from the ground floor and the observation deck 124 floors above the city.

“We hope that you’ll be inspired to explore its wonders in person,” the Google Maps team wrote in an announcement on the official blog, “but until then, they’re just a click away.”


TIME Security

Hackers Reportedly Warn Sony Pictures Not to Release The Interview

Seth Rogen James Franco
Ed Araquel—Sony Pictures/AP James Franco, left, as Dave, and Seth Rogen as Aaron, in a scene from "The Interview."

"Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism"

An open letter from hackers who claim to have infiltrated Sony Pictures Entertainment warned studio executives not to release The Interview, a comedy that imagines a U.S. assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

The message was posted anonymously to programming tool GitHub and could not be independently verified, the Verge reports. The authors warn of further attacks if Sony releases the comedy, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

“Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism,” the message read, “which can break the regional peace and cause the War.”

North Korea remains the prime suspect in the widespread hacking attack, but has denied involvement even while praising the hackers as “righteous” through state-run media.

[The Verge]

TIME apps

See Uber Protests From Around the World

As Uber expands around the world, the rideshare service has found tough opponents in city governments, taxi drivers and even its own employees, who have faulted the company for deregulating an industry protected by strict laws

TIME Social Media

Facebook’s Search Function Just Got So Much Better

Facebook Search Update

Now you can search to find posts, photos or videos that were shared with you in the past

Want to remember that movie trailer your best friend posted on your Facebook page a couple months ago? Facebook’s latest search update just made it a lot easier to do that.

The update allows you to use the search bar to find posts, photos or videos that were shared with you in the past, Facebook said. The new feature was designed specifically for mobile users, who make up 703 million of the social network’s 864 million daily active users, according to Facebook.

“You’ve told us the most important thing is being able to find posts you’ve seen before, and now you can,” said Vice President of Search Tom Stocky in a statement. “With a quick search, you can get back to a fun video from your graduation, a news article you’ve been meaning to read, or photos from your friend’s wedding last summer.”

The new search feature adds to Facebook’s Graph Search, an algorithm that enables you to search your friend network with phrases like “My friends who live in New York.” The update will roll out this week for Facebook users on desktop and iPhone.

TIME Security

Internal Memo: Sony Could Not Have Prepared For ‘Unprecedented’ Hack

Sony Hack
Kazuhiro Nogi—AFP/Getty Images A logo of Japan's Sony Corporation is displayed at its headquarters in Tokyo on May 14, 2014.

The attack was "unprecedented in nature," according to an internal note at Sony

Sony Pictures Entertainment could not have been “fully prepared” for a massive hack that hit the company last month, the head of a cybersecurity firm hired by Sony said in an internal memo published Monday.

In an internal email obtained by Re/code, Sony CEO Michael Lynton shared a note with employees from Kevin Mandia, head of security firm Mandiant, that called the Sony hack an “unparalleled crime” carried out by “an organized group.” Sony has contracted with Mandiant to investigate and clean up the breach.

“The malware was undetectable by industry standard antivirus software and was damaging and unique enough to cause the FBI to release a flash alert to warn other organizations of this critical threat,” said Mandia in the note to Lynton. It went on to say that “neither SPE nor other companies could have been fully prepared” for the attack, which leaked employees’ salaries, social security numbers and other data, as well as unreleased films.

The Mandiant letter may aim to vindicate Sony from responsibility for the hack after the company was accused of showing a cavalier attitude toward cybersecurity. Only 11 people were assigned to Sony’s security team, Fusion reported last week, while Sony Pictures’ executive director of information security Jason Spaltro told CIO Magazine in 2007 that it may be “a valid business decision to accept the risk” of a security breach.

Here’s the full note from Re/code:

Over the last week, some of you have asked about the strength of our information security systems and how this attack could have happened. There is much we cannot say about our security protocols for obvious reasons, but we wanted to share with you a note we received today from Kevin Mandia, the founder of the expert cybersecurity firm that is investigating the cyber-attack on us. The investigation is ongoing, but Mr. Mandia’s note is helpful in understanding the nature of what we are dealing with. Full text below.

We also want to thank you once again for your resilience and resourcefulness in carrying out our critical day-to-day activities under incredibly stressful circumstances. As a result of your efforts, we have made great progress moving our business forward, and we will continue to do so.

— — —
Dear Michael,

As our team continues to aid Sony Pictures’ response to the recent cyber-attack against your employees and operations, I wanted to take a moment to provide you with some initial thoughts on the situation.

This attack is unprecedented in nature. The malware was undetectable by industry standard antivirus software and was damaging and unique enough to cause the FBI to release a flash alert to warn other organizations of this critical threat.

In fact, the scope of this attack differs from any we have responded to in the past, as its purpose was to both destroy property and release confidential information to the public. The bottom line is that this was an unparalleled and well planned crime, carried out by an organized group, for which neither SPE nor other companies could have been fully prepared.

We are aggressively responding to this incident and we will continue to coordinate closely with your staff as new facts emerge from our investigation.

Kevin Mandia

TIME Video Games

The 8 Most Impressive Video Game Reveals You Missed This Weekend

No Man's Sky
Hello Games

Check out the weekend's most amazing game announcements and trailers, collated and annotated

Whatever you thought of this weekend’s debut Game Awards, it lured a sufficient number of respectable game studios, who brought with them more than a few intriguing announcements and never-before-seen trailers. Multiply by all the new material Sony trotted out at its first ever PlayStation Experience (also this weekend), and the ordinarily news-lethargic first weekend of December turned out to be full of surprises.

Here’s a look at the most impressive announcements and trailers from both shows:


Everyone’s comparing 505 Games’ Adr1ft to Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, because both involve someone in orbit floating through the wreckage of who-knows-what. Best case scenario? We’ll get to play a video game that one-ups Cuaron’s Gravity (which needlessly mangled basic scientific principles) by making rigorous physics per the hostile extremes of orbital space the game’s unremitting antagonist.

Drawn to Death

Drawn to Death is a “hand-drawn arena shooter.” That’s how The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency studio lead David Jaffe describes it, anyway. It’s impossible to tell how (or whether) the game’s going to set its gameplay off from other arena shooters, but it certainly looks unique.

The Forest

Alpha versions of The Forest have been playable since May on Steam, but the open-world survival game’s surprise confirmation for PlayStation 4 could signal a 2015 final release. In the game, you’ve survived a plane crash only to find yourself stranded in the wilderness who-knows-where, and observed by strange, debatably hostile, behaviorally nuanced (in unprecedented ways) humanoid creatures.


Hazelight–is it the name of the game and the studio?–was a monumental tease that offered no indication whatsoever about the sort of game two guys sitting on a boxcar having a smoke and moon-gazing amounts to. But it’s by one of the lead developers of Brothers — A Tale of Two Sons, and that alone makes the clip worth including here.

No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky may turn out to be a gorgeously vast patina of a cosmic exploration game, given its claims of procedurally generated galactic play-space times infinity. No one’s yet come close to grappling with fundamental design paradoxes whereby escalating randomness correlates negatively with player interest (imponderable haphazardness = boundless blah). But we’re still in “imagine what if” mode, and this latest trailer offers new wrinkles for consideration: a planet with purplish protuberances and another with undulating topography, a two-legged Star Wars-ian robot/vehicle and walk-in warp points.


If you watch Tacoma’s trailer and think “Hey, Bioshock!” some of the game’s developers actually worked on BioShock 2. But given what they pulled off with Gone Home last year, I presume we’re in for something mind-bending. A lunar transfer station run/built by “Virgin-Tesla”? As in Richard Branson plus Elon Musk? Could we be in for another futurism-skewering interactive narrative?

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

So Uncharted 4 looks nuts, and I say that as someone who doesn’t give a hoot about graphics in games nowadays. Sony wanted to make an impression, and boy did it: there’s over 15 minutes of “yes, you’re really seeing what you think you’re seeing” impressing going on in this actual-gameplay-rendered-using-a-PS4 video. And check out the creepy prehistoric-looking jungle. All that’s missing: a cameo by King Kong.

Zelda Wii U

If Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. saved the Wii U from oblivion, Zelda Wii U (we don’t know it’s official name yet) could be the game that clinches its comeback. It’s a shame Nintendo didn’t offer an alternative fullscreen view, but even watching this video of a video, it’s clear the new Zelda’s going to be vast–and judging from that quip about horses not running into trees, it’s aiming to remedy slipshod genre conventions (like heinous equestrian controls).

TIME Apple

Watch Apple’s Emotional New iPad Commercial

Just in time for the holiday season

Apple has a new commercial out for the iPad Air 2 just in time for the holiday season.

Under the tagline “Change is in the Air,” the 60-second commercial shows Apple’s newest tablet used in a variety of settings, with a heavy emphasis on scrappy, artisanal startups. The scenes show creative types using their iPads to design a tattoo, manage a flock of sheep or snap a blueprint for a 3-D printer — anything other than plain old web surfing.

MORE: The Top 10 Most Powerful Ads of 2014

“From the studio to the classroom, the field to the garage, it’s helping people discover new and better ways to do the things they love,” Apple wrote.

TIME Sports

Why 49ers Fans Totally Love High-Tech Levi’s Stadium

San Francisco 49ers Levi's Stadium Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Michael Zagaris—Getty Images Workers head down the stairs during the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Levi Stadium on July 17, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.

They have Wi-Fi, food-ordering apps and more

When the San Francisco 49ers set out to build their new stadium, they wanted to make it one of the most tech-advanced in the NFL. Now that Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium has been open for nearly a full season, it’s time to see if they actually pulled that off.

When the new stadium was built, the 49ers laid close to 400 miles of cable that allows for all types of wired and wireless connectivity in the arena. At the professional level, that gave TV, radio and online broadcasters access to some of the most high-powered infrastructure and world class broadcasting equipment ever installed in a stadium. For 49ers fans, new Wi-Fi routers, beacons and an app make it possible to order food, beer and merchandise from their seats or stream replays on their phones or tablets.

12 games into Levi’s Stadium’s inaugural season, I headed to catch a game to get a sense of how successful all that new technology has been. I can report the new features have made the arena experience much more immersive and interactive, putting it on-par with watching a game in the comfort of your own home.

I talked to over a dozen people at the stadium who have used the new Wi-Fi and various apps, and they all seemed to love the experience, especially the ability to have food and drinks delivered to their seats. Many 49ers fans also told me about the Beacon-powered tools that helped them find their seats or check on the bathroom line without getting up and missing a key play.

However, there’s a catch-22 about Levi’s Stadium’s new tech: When the 49ers are doing well, fans seldom check their mobile devices, preferring to keep their eyes on the action. However, if the home team is struggling, fans’ attention drifts, and many of the people I talked to said they used the stadium’s Wi-Fi to go online and check email, surf the web, or post disparaging comments about the team’s performance.

About 21,000 to 23,000 people use Levi’s Stadium’s Wi-Fi per game, with the exception of Sept. 14’s home opener that saw 41,000 unique users, according to the 49ers’ IT department. The peak bandwidth usage has ranged from 1.5 GB/s (Nov. 2nd) to 3.1 GB/s (Sept. 14th). The team’s last home game, on Nov. 27, registered a figure of 2.5 GB/s. Most games have seen fans use more than 100MB of data each, no small feat considering how hard it can be to use mobile data during games at big sports arenas.

The various San Francisco 49ers officials I talked to say the stadium’s tech has performed well. They admitted there have been Wi-Fi glitches every once in a while, but there have been no major problems. They are also pleased that once people first try the stadium app, they often keep coming back to it.

The 49ers hoped that Levi’s Stadium could be a poster child for other stadiums, and have been very gracious in sharing details about their plans with other NFL teams. The fans, meanwhile, are happy that the 49ers went the extra mile to make the stadium experience even better through technology the ticketholders have widely embraced.

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