TIME Careers & Workplace

This Surprising Trait Can Get You Fired at Apple

Apple Tim Cook
Stephen Lam—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook waves from stage after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco.

CEO Tim Cook explains why he lets some people go

There’s one thing that will make or break you at Apple: cultural fit.

In an exclusive interview with Fortune published Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook says that it took him some time to learn the importance of cultural fit after he fired John Browett in 2013 just one month after the European electronics exec had been appointed Apple’s head of retail.

Browett, according to Apple execs, didn’t fit in at Apple, and frequently angered store employees by changing their schedules. After being fired from Apple, Browett said in a speech that he was shocked that he was let go due to not fitting in with company culture, even though he was qualified for the position.

As Cook explained to Fortune, it’s all about people skills:

That was a reminder to me of the critical importance of cultural fit, and that it takes some time to learn that. [As CEO], you’re engaged in so many things that each particular thing gets a little less attention. You need to be able to operate on shorter cycles, less data points, less knowledge, less facts. When you’re an engineer, you want to analyze things a lot. But if you believe that the most important data points are people, then you have to make conclusions in relatively short order. Because you want to push the people who are doing great. And you want to either develop the people who are not or, in a worst case, they need to be somewhere else.

Of course, that isn’t the only way to get fired at Apple. Tim Cook hasn’t been afraid to toss even high-ranking employees if they make mistakes. When Apple Maps flopped, for example, Cook fired Scott Forstall, the head of mobile software.

Read the rest of Fortune’s profile of Tim Cook here.

Read next: Apple CEO Tim Cook Lashed Out Against Google and Facebook

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TIME Management

6 Charts Showing Tech’s Gender Gap Is More Complicated Than You Think

See why it's so hard to break the glass ceiling in Silicon Valley

 

Several of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have released a series of diversity reports revealing how few women hold their companies’ top jobs — or jobs in general. Now a recent string of lawsuits is suggesting that the fix isn’t simply to recruit more women — what about the women who are already employed? Are they being held back from rising up?

That’s the key question in investing partner-turned-Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s ongoing lawsuit against her former employer, Kleiner Perkins, a highly-established venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California. The jury in Pao’s case began hearing closing arguments this week, and will soon decide whether it was gender bias that prevented Pao from being promoted to a higher-ranking partner, or, as Kleiner Perkins’ lawyer argued, whether Pao is simply “[blaming] others for her own failures.”

Adding to the scrutiny of Silicon Valley’s treatment of women are two other high-profile gender discrimination lawsuits against Twitter and Facebook, both recently filed by female former employees.

A gender gap in the workplace, particularly in Silicon Valley, is old news. But Kleiner Perkins isn’t the kind of Silicon Valley company we’re used to hearing about. By suing a venture capital firm, Pao raises a important point — the gender gap could be a problem at the firms that are often funding Valley companies, too. (In addressing this claim, Kleiner Perkins said in a trial brief last month it has “long been a supporter of women entrepreneurs.”)

According to a report by Babson College in 2013, gender bias reveals itself in the patterns of venture capital investments. (The study was sponsored by Ernst & Young and the Diana Project, both of which prioritize workforce diversity.) Upon analyzing these patterns, the study found that businesses with all-male leadership teams are four times as likely to receive venture capital funding as teams with even one woman.

That apparent gender bias might explain why only 3% of venture-funded businesses are led by women, according to Babson College’s report, which surveyed 6,517 of these businesses. About one-third of all U.S. businesses are led by women, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration:

 

Curiously, the percentage of female venture capital investors (11%) is almost equal to the percentage of female executives among Silicon Valley’s Top 150 companies (10.8%) — though this is merely a correlation. (These data points come respectively from the latest Venture Census and a 2014 report by Fenwick & West LLP, a global law firm with clients including Facebook and Google.)

Even if these two gender gaps are wholly unrelated, it’s still worth noting that Silicon Valley appears to have an especially pronounced gender diversity problem when compared to the S&P 100. The S&P 100 is a non-industry specific stock index comprised of companies with the 100 leading U.S. stocks, many of which are outside Silicon Valley:

 

So it’s an undeniable truth that Silicon Valley has a gender diversity problem. But the question of whether the gap has started to close is a bit trickier.

Take, for example, the following chart from Fenwick’s report. It shows the percentage of women in the highest-ranking positions in Valley’s top 150 companies (“SV 150″) between 1996 and 2014. By looking at the upward trends, you could say that gender diversity in Silicon Valley has improved:

But don’t jump to any conclusions. Once again, when you compare the SV 150 to the S&P 100 benchmark, gender diversity in the Valley appears to be problematic. Take a look at the following chart, which shows the top Valley companies had lower percentages of women than the S&P 100 in every single leadership position except President/COO and General Counsel in 2014:

There’s yet another caveat: If you examine only the very top Valley companies, the gender diversity problem is cast in a much better light. After all, Google just named a female CFO this week, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman are proof of change among tech titans.

The chart below shows gender diversity in the Valley’s top 15 companies (“SV15″), like Google and HP, has rapidly improved. Female representation was remarkably strong in a several positions in 2014, including President/COO and CFO. But other positions, like Chair, were still entirely male in 2014 — just like in 1996:

These mixed messages regarding the depth of Silicon Valley’s gender problem are surfacing on both sides of Pao’s trial. Kleiner Perkins’ lawyers, for example, argued that 20% of its partners are women. That’s much higher than the average of 6%, according to Babson College’s report, which surveyed 139 venture capital firms’ partners in 2013. Kleiner Perkins’ top ranking female partner, Mary Meeker, even testified against Pao, arguing the company promoted women based on their merits.

But Pao, too, had an arsenal of numbers at the ready. In addition to qualitative evidence of gender bias — like claims of all-male dinner parties — Pao’s legal team also cited the superior performance of investments made by the company’s female investors, including Pao. A female partner at Kleiner Perkins once reportedly even constructed a matrix comparing women’s and men’s investments to drive this point home.

The jury in Pao’s trial will soon put an end to these arguments — but the gender gap debate will surely continue outside the courtroom. Even if the jury sides with Kleiner Perkins, Pao’s closely watched trial remains a warning for the larger, male-dominated business industry to reevaluate the treatment of women in their companies. There’s a business incentive at play here, too: Companies with female leaders appear to be performing unusually well, according to a recent study of women-led companies by Karen Rubin, director of product management at the algorithm development site Quantopian. In her study, Rubin showed how the women-led Fortune 1000 companies — there are only 27 currently — posted greater cumulative returns than those of SPY, a tracker of the S&P 500 stock index, which Rubin used as a benchmark:

Women Leader Fortune 1000

In fact, it seems that these female-run companies have outperformed the male-dominated benchmark even more often since the financial crisis of 2008-09. That’s a gender gap to be proud of — and one that can’t be ignored.

Read next: 5 Best Ways Men Can #LeanInTogether to Help Women Get Ahead

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TIME Music

This Is Apple’s Plan to Kill Spotify

Apple Spotify Beats Dre Iovine Reznor
Michael Buckner—WireImage Producer Dr. Dre (L) and Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records Jimmy Iovine attend the iHeartRadio Music Festival VIP After Party held at Gold Lounge on Sept. 23, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Apple is planning a new music service following the Beats acquisition

Spotify’s biggest battle is no longer with Taylor Swift.

Apple is working with headphone maker Beats to launch a new subscription-based music service to rival the highly popular Spotify, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing people briefed on the company’s plans. Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion last May,

The new streaming service will overhaul Apple’s iTunes Radio, which failed to achieve mainstream success, and Beats Music, Beats’ streaming service that has challenged Spotify in service quality, but not in subscription numbers. Heavily involved in the project are Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails frontman and former Beats exec, in addition to Beats’ cofounders, hip hop producer Dr. Dre and record label exec Jimmy Iovine.

Unlike Spotify, Apple will not offer a free tier in its streaming service. The paid-only nature will likely ease music executives’ concerns that free music discourages users from purchasing subscriptions. The decision may also appeal to artists who have voiced their opposition to free streaming, including Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and The Black Keys, all of whom are not on Spotify.

Sources also told the Times that Apple, once considered the undisputed leader in music sales with iTunes, had recently failed to convince record labels to agree to a subscription cost of $8 per month, which would be $2 less than the price of Spotify’s paid tier.

Apple has kept its plans for Beats secret since the acquisition, though music industry experts have long speculated that CEO Tim Cook planned to use Beats’ talent to revamp Apple’s music platform offerings. Though TechCrunch reported in September that Beats would be discontinued and folded into Apple, Apple soon denied the claims, but provided no further information.

[NYT]

Read next: Streaming Music Showdown: Spotify vs. Beats

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TIME Amazon

Why Amazon Is Hosting a $25,000 Robot Showdown

Amazon Opens Fulfillment Center In DuPont, Washington
Stephen Brashear—Getty Images Amazon Kiva robots, which help fill orders by bringing shelves of merchandise to Amazon Associates, navigate an Amazon Fulfillment Center on February 13, 2015 in DuPont, Washington.

One small step for robots, one giant leap for warehouse automation

Some 25 teams will compete in Amazon’s upcoming robot throwdown, a competition that will test the outer limits of what a robot can see, grasp and pack into a cardboard box.

The e-commerce giant recently awarded travel grants to 25 robot team finalists who will be flown to Seattle this May to compete in Amazon’s Picking Challenge. Each team’s robot will be confronted with a shelf of 25 common household items. It will have to accurately identify, grasp and package the items with care.

Points will be awarded for computer vision — the ability to tell apart a box of Oreo cookies, for instance, from a box of Cheez-It crackers — as well as dexterity. Dropping or damaging an item will result in points deducted, MIT Technology Review reports. The winner will receive $25,000 in prize money.

Robots already play an instrumental role in Amazon’s packaging centers, ferrying 700-pound inventory shelves in and out of storage, but the challenges of handling individual objects with care has posed a persistent challenge for researchers. Amazon says it hopes the contest will “strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities and promote shared and open solutions.”

TIME apps

Crush Your Fantasy Draft With These 9 Baseball Apps

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Seven
Jamie Squire—Getty Images The San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tap into some Moneyball-level sabermetrics with only your smartphone

It might not look like baseball season yet depending on where you live, but Spring Training is about to wrap up, which means the boys of summer will soon be headed north.That means fans are hunkering down in their basements for their fantasy baseball draft.

But rather than lugging a laptop and piles of rotisserie guides to the big event, download some of these apps to your tablet or smartphone instead. Designed from the ground up to help you build a powerhouse fantasy franchise, they’re all you need to dominate your league this year.

DraftValet

Behind every great manager, there’s a great bench coach, whispering sage advice into their ear. But if you don’t have a real-world guru to turn to, this app offers a network of experts to tap for advice. DraftValet starts off by asking for details about your league and team, and then lets you ask anything you please, like which starter would be better in a head-to-head matchup, or what position players would DraftValet’s experts stick with in a keeper league. You can also browse other users’ questions and keep an eye out for trending topics — an important feature for sniffing out up-and-coming players and sleeper picks.

DraftValet is available for free on the App Store.

FantasyPros Mock Draft

Practice makes perfect, and with this simulator you’ll be plenty ready to pick a winner come draft day. Simply plug in your league’s variables, including the amount of teams, draft position, and roster settings (which includes the default modes for CBS, ESPN, and National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues), and the app breaks down likely scenarios.

An easy-to-access cheat sheet pulls up players’ numbers from last year, their average stats from the previous three seasons, and a 2015 projection, giving you quality information to make your picks. And the app’s artificial intelligence works blazingly fast, which gives you more time to make your own selections, and ample opportunity to hone your draft strategies over and over.

FantasyPros Mock Draft is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MLB.com At Bat

Get a steady stream of baseball news, stats, and scores straight from the tap with Major League Baseball’s official app. While it’s free to download, the league has several different ways of getting in your wallet, all depending on how connected to the game you want to be. But to get the most breaking news of on- and off-the-field action, no other app out-pitches this ace. With scores, news, and stats aplenty, it is a must-download for fantasy fans and baseball buffs alike. And with paid subscriptions you can also listen to or watch live game broadcasts — something the saltiest of scouts do everyday, so you should, too.

MLB.com At Bat is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MLB PrePlay

For the pros and fantasy players alike, Major League Baseball’s 162-game regular season is a big commitment, if not a full-on slog. If you don’t have time to dedicate to engaging in a full-on fantasy league, this prediction-based game is a great backup. Pitting you 1-on-1 with a real-life opponent, one inning at a time, Preplay is all about predicting the next play. So if you’re the kind of fan who likes to call the action before it happens, this app is a great second-screen companion. And with weekly challenges and power-ups, there’s plenty to keep the game interesting, even if it’s moving slow on the field.

MLB PrePlay is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

MiLB First Pitch

If you want to catch the next star before he’s even been given a locker with the pros, download this little brother to MLB.com At Bat. A free app that covers at least 160 minor league squads, MiLB First Pitch features a steady feed of scores, news, and stats that’s nearly identical to the big league app (in more ways than one — so be prepared to pay for access to the service’s higher-tier offerings, like video streams of live and on-demand games). Still, with intense coverage of the minors, this is the most in-depth way to follow prospects before you add them to your fantasy team.

MLB.com At Bat is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

OwnersBox

Designed specifically for fantasy sports fanatics, OwnersBox is a high-powered scout in your pocket, keeping tabs on all your players. With a highly customizable notifications system, the app can send you an alert when one of your player makes news, gets injured, or even every time he is about to dig into the batter’s box. OwnersBox also has a comprehensive list of reports that can help you find hot players and dump cold ones. These reports drill down into nearly every statistic going, ideal if you’re in a league that scores using a variety of categories. And when October comes, OwnersBox is still a keeper, because with NFL, NBA, and NHL stats, it’s a four-sport fantasy tool.

OwnersBox is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups by RotoBaller

With daily-updated analysis, RotoBaller’s app breaks down individual players not just from a historic, statistical perspective, but also by looking at the business realities and lineups around them, providing position-by-position insight on draft day sleepers. In addition, the app tells you which rounds you should consider drafting these players, because there’s nothing more amateurish than going all-in on a fringe player early in your draft. And then, once you get your team in shape, the app is great for browsing to fill out the holes in your lineup.

RotoBaller is available for free on the App Store.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit 2015

Forget your blank roster sheets, notebooks, or even those custom-made Excel spreadsheets you’ve been using for ages. This app, compatible with both smartphones and tablets, is designed to take the bulk out of your research — and better yet, it dynamically adjusts to your league settings and the players currently available. Featuring projections for 2015 statistics, but able to import the settings of your 2014 league (great for dynasty leagues), the Draft Kit provides projected dollar values for player auctions, as well as recent news and analysis. And with an improved interface over previous Rotowire Draft Kits, now you can just swipe players from your cheat sheet onto the teams that landed them — a huge draft day time saver.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit 2015 is available for $7.99 on the App Store and $4.99 on Google Play.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Assistant 2015

Compatible with both iPhones and iPads, this hub of rotisserie baseball activity will let you import your league from various services, including ESPN and Yahoo, to keep tabs on your players with stat leaderboards, daily lineups, player rankings, and more. The app’s personalized section is also a great place to follow your players’ news, or manage watch lists for players that you’re thinking of adding. And the app also comes with access to the solid RotoWire research, which is otherwise blocked off unless you have a subscription to the website.

RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Assistant 2015 is available for $9.99 on the App Store.

Read next: Self-Serve Craft Beer Is Coming, and It Might Even Save You Money

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TIME Tech

More Messages Are Now Sent on Apps Than Through Text

The ten most popular messaging apps have a total of more than 3 billion accounts

More messages are now sent via messaging app WhatsApp than through SMS texts, according to data from The Economist. WhatsApp handles 30 billion messages each day, compared to 20 billion sent through SMS texts.

The data hints at the growing significance of messaging apps in the tech world. The ten most popular messaging apps have a total of more than 3 billion accounts. To guarantee a large share of the market, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion last year.

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app with more than 600 million users. Facebook messenger and WeChat follow, each with more than 400 million users.

Last year, WhatsApp users sent more than 7 trillion messages.

[The Economist]

TIME apps

Twitter’s Meerkat-Killer Livestreaming App Just Went Live

Periscope has a more polished feel

Periscope, Twitter’s answer to popular livestreaming app Meerkat, went live in Apple’s App Store Thursday morning, while an Android version is still in the works.

As with Meerkat, Periscope lets you broadcast live footage of whatever your iPhone’s camera is pointing at: Your friends at a birthday party, your dinner sizzling on the stove, your view from a train window. You can also choose to share a link to your broadcasts over Twitter, a helpful feature for users with large social media followings to quickly amass sizable live audiences — and a feature also shared by Meerkat.

Periscope

Where Periscope differs from Meerkat is that it app makes it much easier to save recordings of livestreams in the app for yourself and others to view later. Meerkat has a feature intended to let you save your broadcasts to your device, but many users have reported issues with that option.

Periscope was being developed as an independent service until Twitter acquired the company back in January for what’s said to be $75 million or more. That acquisition came just weeks before Meerkat took off among early adopters and journalists, early success that was amplified as the app spread by word-of-mouth during this month’s South By Southwest Interactive technology festival. News of Twitter’s purchase of Periscope didn’t become public knowledge until after Meerkat started making the rounds.

The two services are now poised to compete with one another to become the livestreaming app of choice. Meerkat has the advantage of being first — “Meerkatting” is already a verb synonymous with instant live broadcasting over smartphones, even though similar apps have existed before. However, Periscope is a Twitter-supported app, meaning it alone will have access to Twitter’s social graph and marketing team. It’s also a more polished app; Meerkat was coded in a short amount of time and has the feel of a product made during a hackathon, even if its creators are pumping out updates at a high frequency.

It’s unlikely there’s room for two separate apps that do much the same thing. Only time will tell which app winds up a home screen staple, and which is relegated to a footnote in mobile history.

 

TIME Social Media

Facebook Is Playing a Brilliant Long Game for Your Attention

Facebook Messenger Platform F8
Bloomberg via Getty Images Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Facebook F8 Developers Conference in San Francisco, Calif., on March 25, 2015.

Remember Facebook Deals? How about Beacon, the ad-sharing feature that collapsed in a privacy scandal? Did you ever use Facebook Gifts while it was around? And when was the last time you fired up the Flipboard-like Paper app, if you ever downloaded it at all?

Facebook’s track record in releasing new apps or features is spotty at best, with a trail of outright failures running through the company’s history. This week, as the company announces new initiatives at its F8 developers conference, you have to wonder which ones will end up falling by the wayside.

And yet, taking the long view, you also have to wonder whether any new crop of failures will matter at all. Because when Facebook conceives new ideas and turns them into apps or platforms, the company is taking the long view. Facebook isn’t trying to bat 1.000, or even have a .407 season. Even with its collective failures, Facebook remains beloved by investors, who have pushed its stock up 232% over the past two years.

From that perspective, it’s more important to see what Facebook is trying to accomplish with its newly announced offerings, rather than looking too closely at the announcements themselves. With that in mind, here’s a quick summary of what Facebook has announced so far at F8:

Messenger Platform, which features a compose window loaded with third-party apps (40 for now), and a new customer-support communication with businesses.

Parse. The mobile platform Facebook bought a couple of years ago will let developers build apps for the Internet of things, including wearable devices and smart appliances.

Embedded videos. In a clear threat to Google, videos uploaded to Facebook’s site can be embedded YouTube-like, on other sites.

LiveRail. Facebook is launching a mobile ad exchange that lets publishers sell display and video ads using Facebook data alongside cookies.

Spherical videos. Shot with 24 coordinated cameras, the immersive, 360-degree videos bring an element of virtual reality to the news feed.

These are only the latest announcements. On Tuesday, Facebook unveiled On This Day, a feature showing users archived posts as their anniversaries roll by. On Monday, Instagram announced Layout, a new app that combines multiple photos into a single image. Over the weekend, word leaked out that Facebook was talking with media companies about hosting content inside its platform. And last week, Messenger added the ability for friends to send payments to each other.

Tech keynotes have become like Christmas stockings, a grab bag of new goodies that, handled right, fill gadget lovers and developers with either glee or disappointment. Facebook’s stocking this week wasn’t as squeal-inducing as some of Apple’s have been. But again, that’s not the goal. The goal is to keep innovating, to keep iterating, until something gels with user behavior, gaining enough traction to become a part of their daily lives.

In fact, many of Facebook’s newer initiatives are largely do-overs of its past misfires. Beacon was re-engineered in Facebook Connect, which also shared user information on third-party sites–and AppLinks, a feature mentioned in the F8 Keynote, takes that integration a step further with deep linking. Facebook Places, launched in 2011 to kill off Foursquare and shuttered a year later, was reborn this year as Place Tips, aiming once again squarely at Foursquare.

In the weekly tech news cycle, these little revelations seem ephemeral, even trivial. Take a few steps back and look at the longer-term perspective and something more significant emerges: Facebook is mutating, virus-like, to adapt to how we interact with each other online. In conference calls with investors, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly warn they won’t monetize products until they resonate with a large base of users. That was the case with Facebook’s original Web site, and it’s still the case with Instagram and WhatsApp.

Facebook’s own Messenger app is a clear example. After launching as a “Gmail killer” in 2010, the original Messages feature became a staple of the site and, eventually, a distinct app. When the company later bought WhatsApp, some worried Facebook would spoil it by turning it into an all-in-one messaging platform like WeChat or Line. Instead, WhatsApp remains largely unchanged, while Facebook is amping up Messenger from app to platform, with an ecosystem of third-party apps on top.

Of all the F8 announcements, Messenger is the most interesting. By letting users download apps directly inside conversations, Facebook is making it easy to distribute apps virally–a huge draw for developers considering Facebook’s platform. If this plan succeeds, Facebook would be hard to rival in the messaging space.

But Facebook didn’t stop there. Messenger is also becoming a line of communications with companies. Deals and Gifts were attempts to anchor ecommerce inside Facebook that largely fell short of Facebook dream of getting consumers to interact as closely with brands as they do their friends. If Messaging–which chronicles transactions from purchase to delivery inside a single thread, aiming to make ecommerce as personal as in-store buying–doesn’t achieve that original goal, it’s a big step toward it.

Not all of Facebook’s new efforts are very far along. In opening Parse up to the Internet of things, Facebook cited examples like push notifications when garage doors open or close, or reminders that a plant needs to be watered. These feel like applications that make people dread push notifications or wired homes in general. But Facebook is working with chipmakers to build Parse support inside processors, so there’s clearly a long-term game being played here as well.

Some of these new features may fall by the wayside, prompting snickers by observers. But the real question–as is usually the case in Silicon Valley–is how will Facebook respond? If you don’t love the new Messenger or embedded videos, Facebook is all right with that. It doesn’t need you to love them. It just needs them to be just useful enough among your friends that you start using it yourself.

And when it does, Facebook will have wormed its way that much more tightly into your daily life. Because at Facebook, it’s never been about being loved. It’s aways been about being used.

TIME Research

Google Granted Patent for Smart Contact Lens

This undated photo released by Google shows a contact lens Google is testing to explore tear glucose.
Google/AP Google's smart contact lenses.

May allow people with diabetes to easily measure glucose levels

Google has been granted a patent for a contact lens with an embedded chip,

The patent, which was discovered by WebProNews, features a sensor in the lens. Google has previously said that it is partnering with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to create a smart contact lens that could monitor blood sugar for people with diabetes.

As TIME has previously reported, Google has been testing various prototypes of smart contact lens and is currently in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about a lens that measures glucose levels in users’ tears. The company says the chip and sensor are embedded between two layers of contact lens material and a tiny pinhole lets tear fluid from the eye reach the glucose sensor, and the sensor can measure levels every second.

Diabetics must currently prick their fingers throughout the day to measure blood sugar levels, but Google believes the contact lenses would be less invasive and allow people with diabetes to check glucose more often and more easily.

When asked if the patent is indeed for the smart contact lens for diabetes patients, Google told TIME the company does not comment on patent filings. “We hold patents on a variety of ideas—some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents,” a Google spokesperson said in an email.

TIME Social Media

Facebook Messenger Is About to Get Way More Useful

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote address at Facebook F8 in San Francisco on March 25, 2015.
Robert Galbraith—Reuters Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote address at Facebook F8 in San Francisco on March 25, 2015.

Facebook is inviting developers to make apps specifically for Messenger

Facebook is inviting software developers to build programs that will greatly expand the capabilities of its popular Messenger app, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday.

Speaking at Facebook’s annual F8 conference, Zuckerberg unveiled Messenger Platform, which allows developers to build apps specifically for Messenger. The platform will open up Messenger’s 600 million monthly users to third-party developers while giving Messenger users a plethora of new features cooked up outside Facebook’s offices.

Messenger users will see two immediate benefits from Messenger Platform. The first is a series of new third-party apps that will let users communicate in ways beyond text. Two new apps Facebook showed off Wednesday, for example, included Ultratext, which sends “eye-popping GIF messages,” and “Ditty,” which makes “every message musical.” Messenger users who receive a message from one of these new third-party apps will also get an invitation to download and install the new app themselves.

Messenger Platform will also support business-to-user messages, which aim to make customer service more efficient and seamless. For example, if you purchase something online, the business could send you a receipt and shipping info via Messenger. You could also send a message back to the business if you need to make changes, like ordering a different size shirt.

“I don’t know anyone who likes calling businesses — it’s just not fast,” Zuckerberg said of the feature, called Businesses on Messenger. “Helping people communicate more naturally with businesses is going to improve almost every person’s life.”

Some of the new Messenger apps will be available immediately, while developers interested in the platform can start designing apps of their own beginning Wednesday. Businesses on Messenger will launch in the next several weeks. Zuckerberg also promised the new platform would bring more feautres to Messenger in the future.

“There are going to be a lot of things we can do with Messenger Platform over time,” he said.

Facebook’s move to open up Messenger to third-party developers mirrors similar steps it took with its main site, leading directly to the rise of Facebook games like Farmville and Mafia Wars.

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