TIME Smartphones

Apple Finally Lets You Deregister Phone Numbers From iMessage

Apple's New Big-Screen iPhones Draw Long Lines As Sales Start
Bloomberg/Getty Customers compare an Apple Inc. iPhone 6, left, and iPhone 6 plus during the sales launch at an Apple store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014.

SMS messages used to get lost due to a glitch with iMessages

Messaged received: Apple has released a new tool to answer complaints that switching from an iPhone to a different smartphone dooms iMessages sent to them from other iPhone users to an unseen purgatory.

Apple’s new web tool lets ex-iOS users efficiently deregister their phone numbers from Apple’s iMessage system and ensures that future SMS messages get delivered to the new device.

The fix corrects a long-standing problem: If former iPhone users don’t disable iMessage before transferring to a different smartphone, SMS messages sent to them by people still using Apple devices can continue to be sent as iMessages. But, since iMessage is exclusive to Apple platforms, those messages won’t be received on the new smartphone. The bug is the subject of a class action lawsuit in California.

To use the new tool, ex-iOS users just enter their phone numbers into the web browser. Apple then sends a confirmation code by SMS.

TIME Social Networking

Facebook Will Make it Easier to Unfollow Boring Friends

The splash page for the social media Internet site Facebook.
Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images The splash page for the social media Internet site Facebook.

Users will be able to more easily hide people from their News Feed

Facebook is continuing CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of turning the social networking site into “the perfect, personalized newspaper for everyone in the world” by giving users more control over their News Feed.

The company is adding a new News Feed settings page that will show users which people and pages they interact with most frequently and those they’ve recently unfollowed, Facebook announced Friday. The change will allow users to more easily add and delete people and pages from the News Feed based on user interest. The feature is available on the mobile and desktop versions of the site, and will come to the Facebook app within the coming weeks.

Users can also use the gray arrows that appear in the top right corners of posts to hide stories they’re not interested in reading. Then, they can select whether they’d like to see less from that person or unfollow them altogether.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced it would start cracking down on clickbait and hyperbolic headlines in News Feed links by evaluating how much time users spent reading a link and whether they were liking and sharing it.

TIME Gadgets

Everything You Need to Know About Google’s New Nexus 9 Tablet

Google Google Nexus 9

How does Google's new flagship tablet stack up?

This review originally appeared on Trusted Reviews.

The Nexus 9 is Google’s new lead tablet, the first to launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop and the first of the Nexus troupe to use a 4:3 screen rather than a widescreen one.

People hoping for a tablet with which to replace their Nexus 7 may be slightly disappointed by the price, though. At $399, it’s not the market-defining bargain that the earlier Nexus was. Given the little issues here and there, it’s not as complete or coherent a device as the iPad Air 2. There’s a slight spark of magic missing that means it probably won’t go down in history as an all-time classic.

However, what’s commendable is the direction it demonstrates. 8-inch non-widescreen tablets like this will no longer be ‘non-canon’ third-party oddities, and that’s a very good thing. We don’t think it’ll take the Nexus 9 18 months to be topped for value, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is already a fairly compelling alternative. But for a larger device, the Nexus 9 offers up a solid ‘go-to’ standard.

Nexus 9: Design

The Nexus 9 sets itself up for criticism. Its style and shape are pretty similar to the iPad Air 2, a departure for the Nexus series. This in itself is a good move. Larger tablets feel a lot more natural when they adopt a less-widescreen aspect: both the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 are 16:10 ratio, whereas the Nexus 9 is 4:3.

However, the Nexus 9 doesn’t offer quite as impressive build quality as an iPad, and when the design similarities are so clear, it’s hard not to compare the two directly despite their differing platforms. You may bring up price difference ($100 more for the iPad Air 2), but also consider that the still-pretty-great first-gen iPad Air costs now exactly the same amount as the Nexus 9. To explain, let’s look a little closer at the Nexus 9’s hardware design.

Much like the Nexus 7, the Nexus 9 uses a plastic back cover, one that that’s firmly strapped into a metal frame that runs around the tablet. It’s a fairly innocuous design, and despite using a very mild soft-touch textured finish, it still feels conspicuously like plastic.

We’re also slightly disappointed with some of the finishing elements, given how much more expensive this tablet is compared to the Nexus 7. The plastic rear flexes at certain points, even producing a slightly disconcerting clicking noise towards the top of the tablet, and there’s a roughness to the metal frame as it pokes ever-so-slightly above the screen glass.

The volume keys too feel a little cheap, the action slightly misjudged and shallow, even if they are metal. This may be us simply grasping for explanations, but HTC’s relative inexperience may be to blame: it makes the Nexus 9 and hasn’t released a tablet since the 2011 HTC Flyer.

While we have no particular worries about the longevity of the Nexus 9 – it doesn’t feel poorly made, just not all that well finished – it seems like a bit of a middleweight contender for what is meant to be the standard-setting Android tablet flagship. We’ll see other elements that suffer from this sort of vibe later on.

It’s not just the iPad Air 2 the Nexus 9 needs to compete with, either. The Nexus 9 is 7.9mm thick and 425g (Wi-Fi), a load heftier than the 6.6mm thick, 294g Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 – the Samsung is smaller, but still a good size. The Nexus 9 is arguably just not leading the pack in the way it really should be.

However, cast away those comparisons and in real-life use the Nexus 9 is pretty good. The non-widescreen aspect is great, there’s just enough side bezel to rest your thumb on, and it’s very comfortable to use, especially if you have both hands spare or are sitting down.

Like the iPad Air 2, which is a somewhat-similar weight, you can use it one-handed for a while without discomfort, but it’s far off the feather-lightness of the 8.4-inch Samsung or the iPad Mini 2/3 (we recommend the former, by the way).

Just like the Nexus 7, the Nexus 9 leaves out a microSD card slot. There are 16GB and 32GB versions of the tablet, with a slightly disappointing $80 gap between the two. That’s even more than Apple charges: you get a bump up from the 16GB iPad Air 2 to the 64GB model for $100. Who’d have thought Google would charge even more than Apple’s often notoriously-pricey upgrades?

Step back a minute, and we can see the factors behind the Nexus 9’s failing to offer the market-defining package we’re after. It doesn’t offer class-leading value or class-leading design, and doesn’t have all the geek-friendly features that might excuse these two points.

The hardware spec list is relatively simple too. There’s no IR transmitter, for example – something found on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4. If this is all sounding terribly negative, you need to understand it in with context of the weight of expectation laid on the Nexus 9. It’s not just meant to be ‘an’ Android tablet, it’s meant to be ‘the’ Android tablet.

So far: good, not superb.

Google is also to offer a Nexus 9 folio keyboard case, which comes with solid keyboard action even if typing on it can feel a little cramped. It’s not cheap at $130, but bumps up the tablet’s potential as a portable productivity tool.

Nexus 9: Screen Quality

The Nexus 9 has an 8.9-inch screen. That’s a fair bit smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad Air, but it still feels much, much larger than the Nexus 7 – far closer to the iPad’s league.

What’s important to note here is the screen shape. A 4:3 aspect isn’t so hot for widescreen movies, but it’s great for just about everything else. Browsing, (most) gaming and a great many kinds of apps feel more at-home on this shape display.

Unlike an iPad, relatively few Android apps will have been made with this squatter screen shape in mind, but then most are created with a great deal of scaling versatility in mind: they have to cater for screen from three inches to 23 inches, or even more when you factor in things like Amazon Fire TV.

We love the shape, and while the extra portability of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is handy, a straw poll of the Trusted team sees most of us side with the squatter Nexus 9 style.

Thumbs-up for the screen style, but how are its tech chops?

The Nexus 9 has an 8.9-inch 2,048 x 1,536 pixel IPS LCD screen. That’s the same resolution as the iPad Air 2 crammed into a smaller space, getting you pixel density of 281ppi.

It’s enough to ensure you get nice, sharp images and text. Pixel peepers will be able to see a wee bit of jaggedness right up close, but if that’s an issue, get the higher-res Galaxy Tab S 8.4 or an iPad mini 3. Or, more to the point, get your priorities in order. There are issues with the Nexus 9’s screen, but a lack of resolution is not one of them.

The first thing you might want to worry about is black level. It’s decent, but only for an LCD screen. This wouldn’t have been an issue to raise until recently, but Samsung’s Tab S tablets offer reasonably priced, high-quality AMOLED screens that let you opt out of the insanely saturated colours that used to come as part of the OLED package. These screens offer much greater contrast. We think it’s only seriously worth worrying about if you’re going to watch films on the tablet in lower lighting.

Any lack of contrast or limit to the black level is a symptom of an IPS LCD screen, not a particular failing of the Nexus 9, though, and IPS comes with benefits too. Colours are excellent — vibrant without being remotely radioactive (as the Samsung Tab S tablets are in multiple display settings) and viewing angles are good.

There is the odd sign that this isn’t a real top-notch screen in QA terms, though. First there’s fairly significant backlight leakage at the top of the screen. This is basically where you can see the effect of the side-firing backlight LEDs, making one edge of the screen significantly brighter than the rest of the display. It’s a fairly common occurrence, but one that we’re disappointed to see so clearly in a tablet of this grade.

Our particular Nexus 9 sample also suffers from a spot of backlight bleed. This is where parts of the screen are lit-up slightly more than others, another form of backlight leakage. It is only very minor, though, and unlikely to be noticed unless you like staring at screens of dark greys and have — like us — acquired a certain degree of irritating tech pedantry.

Despite its issues, the Nexus 9 screen is certainly one we’d happily watch films on. Just make sure that backlight leakage isn’t going to get on your nerves too much.

Nexus 9: Speakers

The front stereo speakers are an obvious choice for movies too. Coming from the HTC design labs, they bear the same BoomSound branding as the HTC One M8 speakers. These speaker outlets sit at the extreme ends of the Nexus 9, just as the screen cover meets the metal band that rings around the tablet’s perimeter.

We were initially worried that these speakers might be a bit easy to block when holding the tablet, but they’re virtually immune to it actually. Clever internal design means you need to block the entire speaker port for it to have any detrimental effect on the sound, something that can’t be said for the speakers on the bottom of an iPad. Care-free stereo is a big win for a tablet, and is obviously great for games as well as films.

It’s just a pity, then, that sound quality isn’t quite as on-target. The Nexus 9 tries desperately to offer beefier-than-average sound, but it doesn’t really have the hardware to do this in style. As revealed in the Nexus 9 ifixit teardown, the tablet has fairly small driver units, and you can hear this effect. The output of the tablet is subject to fairly extreme compression and equalization in order to squeeze as much power out of the tiny little speakers as possible, but it results in rather forced sound that just isn’t particularly pleasant to listen to.

It’s warmer than the tablet norm, which is good. However, we can’t help but feel HTC could have done better. It’s no doubt a symptom of fitting the tablets into such a small front cavity, and potentially a cost issue too. There are much worse tablet speakers out there, but the Nexus 9 is outclassed by the iPad Air 2, which offers greater top volume and less processed sound.

Audio quality through wireless speakers and headphones is much better. The Nexus 9 supports aptX for higher-quality wireless streaming and the output from the headphone jack is excellent.

Nexus 9: Android 5.0 Lollipop Software

No matter how many unfavorable comparisons we may make to other Android and Apple devices, we can’t take away that the Nexus 9 is the first tablet to launch with Android 5.0 Lollipop.

It’s a major update, one that brings a whole new look and a bunch of behind-the-scenes features. However, anyone who has used an Android device in the past few years will find it terribly familiar, and a good deal of the added features have been seen before in custom Android interfaces.

This being a Google release, though, everything in the Nexus 9 is executed with an extra kick of class and cohesion that these custom Android interfaces generally lack. It also seems to want to add a bit of texture and depth to Android. The texture comes largely from the two rather lovely ‘torn’ paper default wallpapers, but there’s also a little bit more depth to some of the interface. Most of it is aesthetic – different animations here, some slightly clearer drop shadows there – but it works. Google calls the new look Material.

It also involves a tweaked colour scheme. Bold colours have been given a pastel inflection that provides the whole system a slightly more lifestyle-friendly look. Where the Android 4.4 KitKat look was bold and a little cartoony, the new look makes Android 5.0 easier to accept for those who might still consider Android a bit geeky next to Apple’s iOS devices.

But what’s actually new and, well, useful? There’s a bunch of alterations, but most are things we’ve seen before. For example, you can now check out your notifications very easily in the lock screen, and there are easier-access feature toggles in the notifications menu. You just drag down once more from the notifications screen to access them. It’s a great improvement for vanilla Android devices, but is nothing new in more general terms.

Cross-device support has been improved too. You can resume content between, say, an Android 5.0 phone and tablet, although this will naturally only apply to apps that have this support built in. Without a whole swathe of Android Lollipop devices to switch between, we have a little while to wait and see what this really feels like.

Other important elements of Android Lollipop live under the surface, and are things most people do not need to consider. For example, it’s the first version of Android to offer native support for 64-bit CPUs like the Nexus 9’s Nvidia Tegra K1. It also sees Android switch to the ART runtime from the DALVIK one, a measure designed to speed-up overall performance at the expensive of a little storage space. However, at present the difference is not really noticeable.

Nexus 9: Performance

The issue is that for all its power and its bleeding edge software, the Nexus 9’s performance is not impeccable. On occasion, elements that should scroll smoothly show a bit of judder and app load times are frequently a little longer than we’d like in such a new and important piece of hardware. We experiences a few jarring glitches too.

For all the pre-release promise of Android 5.0 Lollipop, it doesn’t have the immediacy of iOS 8 on a latest-generation iPad. Yet. We’re willing to chalk these minor niggles down to Lollipop being brand new and still a few tweak-heavy updates away from full speed. This is supported by the fact that we didn’t experience any of these issues on the Nvidia Shield Tablet that has similar innards.

The Nexus 9 uses the Nvidia Tegra K1 CPU, a dual-core CPU. The performance of just one of these cores isn’t far off the full capabilities of 2013 flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. It’s very powerful indeed. This is the second version of the K1, using a more advanced architecture than the A15-based version used in the Nvidia Shield Tablet.

In the Geekbench 3 benchmark, it scores 3562 points total, and 2038 per core. That’s an extremely good score, besting the Snapdragon 805 version of the Galaxy Note 4. That’s better than the similarly priced iPad Air but a lot less than the iPad Air 2 scores.

It’s the GPU power of the Nexus 9’s Nvidia K1 that’s truly exciting, though. It uses the same 192-core GeForce Kepler GPU as the Nvidia Shield Tablet, and can benefit from some of the optimizations made for that model. Nvidia even got Half-Life 2 working for the tablet, although that’s not available for the Nexus 9 at present.

The big deal here is that it uses the Kepler architecture, the same used in some dedicated GeForce graphics cards. It’s designed for ‘proper games,’ as some gaming snobs might describe them. We’re already starting to see some of the benefits, such as in Dead Trigger 2, which offers snazzier water effects than with other devices.

However, how far will it go? Development for Kepler on mobile devices has been pushed along by Nvidia to date, but longer-term momentum has yet to be proved. It seems likely to be end up a game of lowest common denominator bingo, with the other players being Qualcomm’s 805 and successive chips. The future shows exciting promise, but is uncertain.

Nexus 9: Battery Life

The Nexus 9 has a 6700mAh battery, a good deal smaller than the 9000mAh one in the old Nexus 10, but smaller display size and improved efficiency means the Nexus 9 doesn’t need as many milliampere hours as that mostly-forgotten minor classic.

When playing a 720p MP4 video on loop with brightness at mid level, the Nexus 9 lasts for 11 hours 25 minutes. That’s an excellent result for an Android tablet, whose stamina rarely matches up to Apple’s tablets: this still doesn’t, but it’s close. The tablet comes with just a 1.5A charger, which is a little low-powered for a device with as chunky a battery as this. It takes more than four hours to charge – not terrible, but could be a bit better.

It’s battery stamina that matters more in our book, though, and here the Nexus 9 performs very well.

Nexus 9: Cameras

Shall we leave the best bit to last? No, of course not. The cameras are something of a weaker point of the Nexus 9. Hardware specs sound perfectly fine: it has an 8-megapixel rear camera with a flash, and a 1.6-megapixel front unit. For a tablet, that’s a perfectly respectable higher-end setup. But in person it’s nothing too impressive.

The Nexus 9’s autofocus is pretty remedial, being relatively slow to lock on, and with a clear back-and-forth motion that, while part of any contrast detect system, is more laborious and obvious than most. Image quality is not terrific either. Hand it an unchallenging scene and it’ll come up with decent result commensurate with the 8-megapixel resolution – colours will be fine too. But that’s not what being a good camera is about.

The Nexus 9 suffers quite badly from light bloom when there’s a strong source in or just outside the scene, and poor dynamic range tends to leave you with shots that are either a bit dull-looking or washed out and overexposed in parts. Unfortunately, there’s no HDR mode to help out. And predictably, lower-light photos aren’t too hot. Unlike some phone cameras, the Nexus 9 doesn’t radically brighten-up dark scenes to make what’s going on clearer. Unless you use the flash, you’ll end up with murky shots. Flashes can upset the look of shots a bit, but even having one is pretty great in a tablet – many don’t.

The Nexus 9 reportedly uses the same camera sensor as the HTC Desire 610, but as we saw with the Nexus 5, its implementation could do with some tweaks. However, for a tablet this sort of performance is perfectly passable.

Google has redesigned the camera app a bit for Android 5.0 Lollipop, but the core features remain pretty similar. You get Panorama, Photosphere (360 degree panorama), Lens Blur and video capture up to 1080p.

Anything Else to Consider?

The Nexus 9 comes in 4G and Wi-Fi varieties — we’ve been looking at the latter here. Getting mobile Internet costs you an extra $120, which isn’t too bad when Google asks you to pay $80 just for a measly 16GB of extra internal storage.

There’s one other hardware omission not talked about that often, too. In the push to get us all to use Chromecast, the Nexus 9 does not appear to support either MHL or SlimPort, used to transmit video over HDMI through a microUSB port.

Should I buy the Nexus 9?

The Nexus 9 is an important tablet for Google, for HTC and for Android in general. And it doesn’t manage to make quite the impact the Nexus 7 had in 2012, and in 2013 with its follow-up.

At a time when Apple is offering pretty compelling value with its legacy models, Samsung has significantly upped its game in the tablet field, and new players like Nvidia are bringing releasing tablets, the Nexus 9 doesn’t really set any new standards. And that’s a shame. However, it is a very good tablet in its own right, especially if you’re willing to forgive the little failings in its screen and other hardware elements.

We do think that the Nexus line needs a new lower-cost entry to recreate the vitality it had back in 2013 with the Nexus 7, though. While the Nexus line was perhaps never intended to be a paragon of value, a high-value, low-nonsense approach is what we’ve loved about the best Nexus devices. It’s something the Nexus 9 doesn’t quite have enough of.

Verdict

The Nexus 9 is a powerful, handy tablet that’s fun to use, but it feels a little more like a suggested starting point for other manufacturers than a device that’ll stick on our most wanted list for 18 months.

See more from Trusted Reviews:

iPad Mini 3 review

iPad Air 2 review

Amazon Fire HD 6 review

TIME Companies

Grading Twitter’s Performance One Year After Its IPO

US-INTERNET-TWITTER
Emmanuel Dunand—AFP/Getty Images A banner with the logo of Twitter is set on the front of the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in New York.

Twitter is generating big revenue and making smart acquisitions but slow user growth remains the dominant concern

Social networking giant Twitter was flying high a year ago, when its wildly successful IPO filled the company’s coffers and seemed poised to usher in a new wave of consumer tech public offerings.

But the company’s performance in 2014 has been mixed. New users are still coming to the site, but at a relatively slow rate. Revenue is growing briskly, but so are losses. And a revolving door in the executive suite means that the company’s leadership is in flux. As the Wall Street Journal points out in a profile of CEO Dick Costolo, exactly what Twitter is and what it wants to be seems to be ever shifting.

Here’s a recap of Twitter’s first year as a public company, grading its hits and misses.

User Growth

Over the last four quarters, Twitter has added 52 million monthly active users, growing its userbase by about 22%. In the year prior, Twitter added 65 million new users and grew its base by about 39%. This decelerating growth has been the main narrative dogging Twitter during 2014 and drawn unwanted comparisons to Facebook, which is still growing at a healthy clip despite dwarfing Twitter in size. Costolo has tried to divert attention toward other Twitter growth metrics, like the number of people who see tweets embedded across the Web, but investors continue to be fixated on user numbers. On this front, Twitter looks like a maturing company, not a quickly growing one, which is a huge problem given its stated ambition of “building the largest daily audience in the world.”

Grade: C

Stock Performance

Twitter roared out of the gate as a public company, jumping more than 70 percent from its IPO price of $26 per share during the first day of trading. Since then it’s been a rocky ride—the stock climbed above $70 amid a larger market rally at the end of 2013, then dove as low as $30 during the spring. Because investors (and perhaps the company itself) have yet to settle on exactly which metrics should be used to measure success, every quarterly earnings report from the company feels like a gamble. On Thursday, Twitter closed at $40.84. That’s well above the IPO price but perhaps not at the heights early investors dreamt were possible.

Grade: B

New Features

Everyone from tech pundits to Costolo himself have acknowledged that Twitter’s main failing is that it can be hard for new users to understand. The company’s made some cosmetic efforts to address this issue, by helping new users find interesting people to follow and revamping profile pages to make them more visually engaging. However, the core functionality of Twitter as an unending torrent of short messages filled with cryptic, site-specific shorthand remains unchanged. Twitter could make more changes to its core product to make it palatable to a wider audience—by presenting tweets based on an algorithm instead of chronological order, for instance—but such a move risks alienating the power users that provide so much of Twitter’s content.

Grade: C

Financial Performance

Twitter was famously unprofitable when it went public. The company now generates a small profit excluding some line items like stock-based compensation. But investors didn’t expect the company to make money in 2014 and its adjusted earnings have consistently exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. Revenue is also increasing at brisk pace, more than doubling to $361 million in the most recent quarter. The company also managed to increase the average revenue generated per 1,000 timeline views in each successive quarter this year. All in all, Twitter’s doing a good job monetizing its current userbase. The problem is that it hasn’t reached a level of scale that would allow it reach the revenue or profit levels of the biggest Internet companies.

Grade: B

Leadership

From its inception, Twitter has had a tumultuous executive suite, but the hirings and firings have come at a torrid pace since the company went public. In the last year Twitter dumped its chief operating officer, its chief financial officer, its product chief, its vice president of media and its head of news. This ongoing shakeup has not yet led to a significant boost in user growth or a meaningful rethinking of the Twitter product. Instead it’s created confusion about the company’s direction.

Grade: D

Events

Twitter has always shined most during big events, and the company worked hard this year to make the site an even more essential event destination. The biggest push came for the World Cup, when Twitter made a landing page full of curated tweets and live scores. Other big events included the Super Bowl (most tweeted ever), the Grammys and made-for-social TV programming like the ridiculous Sharknado movie. There was also Ellen Degeneres’ celebrity-studded Oscar selfie, which was retweeted more than 3.3 million times and generated gobs of free press for Twitter. The social network has effectively made its users’ conversations a relevant facet of virtually every heavily covered news event, whether it’s the Ebola outbreak or #AlexFromTarget.

Grade: A

Acquisitions

All of Twitter’s big-time acquisitions still appear to be chocked full of potential. MoPub provides the basis for Twitter’s ad exchange and is front and center in the company’s new suite of developer tools to help app makers place ads in their programs. Twitter data licenser Gnip will help the company better monetize its firehose of tweets, which are a sought-after gauge of public sentiment for marketers and academics. And microvideo website Vine, which seemed like a curious oddity when first acquired in 2012, now racks up more than 1 billion video plays per day. Even if the growth of Twitter proper remains slow, the company can tap into other revenue sources.

Grade: B

 

TIME apps

5 Can’t-Miss iPhone and Android Apps on Sale This Weekend

Get 'em while they're free

Looking to download a few great premium apps while saving some money this weekend? Check out these five apps and games, all on sale or free for the new few days.

  • Swype

    Swype Swype

    Aside from looking brilliantly sleek, Swype is perhaps one of the most practical apps available. Instead of typing one letter at a time, users drag fingers across a keyboard to put words together. Swype, whose prediction algorithm is very intuitive, is meant to help you avoid those auto-correct blunders that are either a pain to fix, or if you didn’t manage to catch it, an embarrassing mistake.

    Swype is temporarily available free in the App Store.

  • Ettetetta

    Ettetetta Ettetetta

    An endearingly designed game (with a needlessly long palindrome of a title), Ettetetta is a very barebones puzzle game. The goal is simple: align two rows of blocks in the same color to advance to the next level. It’s the sort of game one can spend hours playing in order to beat a high score, and then continue playing anyway. Not to mention Ettetta is easy on the eyes.

    Ettetetta is temporarily available free in the App Store.

  • Best Full Jane Austen Collection

    Jane Austen Collection
    Jane Austen Collection Jane Austen Collection

    Despite the pandering in the title, this is one of those apps that is simply better to have than to be without; all of Austen’s books are crammed into one app that allows users to search specific passages. In short, with the answer at your fingertips, you’ll never be left to wonder ‘What Would Darcy Do?’

    Best Full Jane Austen Collection is temporarily available free in the App Store.

  • Galaxy Storm: Galaxian Invader

    Galaxian Invader Galaxian Invader

    Galaxian Invader is perfect for those old enough to remember Galaxian, the 80s arcade game meant to compete with Space Invaders. There are many apps dedicated to recreating the arcade version Space Invaders that many gamers have come to know so well, but it’s a rare thing to find an app inspired by the idiosyncrasies Galaxian introduced to the arcade world. A charming game in its own right, Galaxian is a fun way to blast alien ships into space.

    Galaxy Storm: Galaxian Invader is temporarily available free in the Google Play Store.

  • Chirp

    Chirp Chirp

    The worst part of a trip to Costco isn’t the line, nor the amount of unnecessary bulk product you walk away with; inevitably trouble happens when you try to find your group. Are they standing listlessly in front of the Vitamix demonstration, or canvassing the cheese aisle? Chirp is basically a keyfinder for human beings, allowing you to triangulate someone’s position. And for concerned parents, Chirp is a fantastic way to keep tabs on your children.

    Chirp is temporarily available free in the App Store.

TIME Google

Google Barge Project Scrapped Over Fire Safety Concerns

Google Mystery Barge
Jeff Chiu—AP In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, file photo, two men fish in the water in front of a Google barge on Treasure Island in San Francisco. The barge portion of the Google barge mystery is only half the story.

The Coast Guard expressed concern over lack of oversight in the secretive project

Concerns over fire-safety led Google Inc. to halt construction of its “Google barges,” a secretive project that had attracted significant public curiosity.

“These vessels will have over 5,000 gallons of fuel on the main deck and a substantial amount of combustible material on board,” wrote Robert Gauvin, the Coast Guard’s acting chief of commercial vessel compliance, in a March 2013 email to Google’s contractor on the project, Foss Maritime Co. The Wall Street Journal broke the story using documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Google had previously said the barges, located of the Maine coast and in San Francisco Bay, were to be “an interactive space where people can learn about technology.” The West Coast barge was eventually moved out to storage 80 miles away, while the Maine barge was dismantled and scrapped.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

TIME Security

Apple Says It’s Blocking Malware-Infected iPhone Apps

Apple Inc.'s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Go On Sale
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images An Apple Inc. iPhone 6 stands on display at the company's Causeway Bay store during the sales launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014.

Apple moved quickly to combat a massive iPhone hack from a Chinese app store

Apple said Thursday that it’s blocking apps infected with malicious software in an effort to protect iPhone users in China from being hacked.

Over 450 apps available on third-party Chinese app store Maiyadi have been infected with Wirelurker malware, which steals data from iPhones and iPads by lying in wait on computers running Apple’s Mac OS X operating system.

Apple moved quickly to block the affected apps. “We are aware of malicious software available from a download site aimed at users in China, and we’ve blocked the identified apps to prevent them from launching,” Apple said in a written statement Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Palo Alto Networks, the security company that first reported the breach, said that hundred of thousands of iPhone users may have been affected.

You can learn more about how to protect yourself from the Wirelurker malware here.

 

TIME privacy

Twitter Joins Partnership to Improve Handling of Harassment Claims

Nonprofit Women, Action & the Media will vet reports of abuse based on gender

Twitter is partnering with a nonprofit to make it easier for people to report harassment based on gender. The organization Women, Action & the Media will begin collecting reports of harassment via an online form and send the reports it deems valid to Twitter. The new tool is a pilot program, and the organization says it will monitor Twitter’s responses to harassment claims and help the social network improve how it handles complaints.

At least a quarter of female Internet users between 18 and 24 have been sexually harassed or stalked online, according to a Pew Research Center survey. In the past, Twitter has faced criticism for how it deals with harassment towards women on its site. There was an uproar last year when Twitter neutered the ability to block other users, and the social network was forced to quickly revert back to the original blocking feature. The site has also become a feverish battleground for the #GamerGate controversy, through which some women have faced harassment on the social network.

TIME Gadgets

These Are the Best Over-Ear Headphones You Can Buy For $300 or Less

PSB Speakers PSB M4U 1

The PSB M4U 1's are the best headphones you can buy in their price range

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com

If I was looking to buy over-ear headphones for $300 or less, I’d get the PSB M4U 1, our recommendation for the second year running. After researching dozens of new headphones and testing 17, the PSBs remain the best for most people because they sound just as great playing acoustic concert guitar as they do thumping hip-hop.

How We Decided

We spent 20 hours researching new headphones released since last fall. Anything on the new list that had good reviews or was too new to have any reviews yet, we brought in to be tested by our panel of four experts with decades of audio reviewing experience.

The idea behind our panel is this: listen to all of these headphones back-to-back to get a sense of sound, build quality, comfort, and features as compared to each other. (To our knowledge this is the first time any publication has directly compared some of these products in the same test session.) Because these are headphones of a higher price range, we tested them using an iPhone, Android phone, and iPod, in addition to the Sony PHA-2 Hi-Res DAC and the Dared HPA-55L headphone amp to see if there were varying results in sound quality.

Our Pick

The panel agreed: The PSBs simply have a fantastic overall sound. Clean treble sits lightly on clear mids, complemented by full, rich lows that don’t boom or thud—they bring a sense of depth to the sound that creates the feeling of space, rather than a flat wall of sound. In other words, consonants in words are clear without sounding harsh and strings have a full, rich sound rather than a tinny one. And when the bass drops in your favorite party anthem, the PSBs won’t rattle, sound sloppy, or lose the detail in the other instruments.

In addition to sound and comfort, these headphones have a universal single-button remote and mic on a detachable (and therefore replaceable) cable. They come in black, red, and gray.

Flaws (but not dealbreakers)

We’d love an iPhone three-button remote option, but when headphones sound this good, we’re willing to put up with the single-button universal remote. And although the shiny plastic overlay on the PSBs has held up for us so far, we would like a design that feels as though it could take a bit more abuse. Overall, those are minor quibbles.

Another Great Choice

The Mo-Fi by Blue are the microphone company’s first-ever headphone offering. What sets them apart is that they include a built-in, rechargeable headphone amp. Four of our reviewers slightly preferred the sound of the Blue Mo-Fi over the PSB M4U 1. They’re more neutral-sounding when compared to the PSBs, with a little less sibilance to the consonants in words and a little less intensity in the bass (unless you select the On+ bass-boost mode). Between the two, it really becomes a matter of preference rather than quality.

So why aren’t they our pick? At more than 1 lb., they’re a little heavy. All that solid build material, internal amp, and rechargeable battery create a headphone that weighs more than an iPad Mini.

For folks who wear headphones all day long, this could become a literal pain in the neck. We’d rather have someone decide to try the $350 Blue and say we were crazy for questioning the weight than have someone buy the Blue and be miserable because they couldn’t wear them all day.

A More Portable Option

The $240 Sennheiser Momentums are a good choice if you like smaller ear cups, must have an iPhone-specific remote (with volume control), or prefer more intensity in the bass. While they have a cool, compact styling, the ear cups may be a bit small for folks with larger outer ears.

Great Looks, Great Sound

If you want something with a tad more visual panache, we’d recommend the $400 Master & Dynamic MH40. They look stunning and have the sound quality to match, albeit with the slightest boost in the treble and bass. Like the Momentums, they have replaceable cables—one of which has a three-button iPhone control. However, they’re $100 more than our main pick.

The Step-Down Pick

The $220 Beyerdynamic Custom One Pros are a versatile option, with sliders on the back of the ear cups that customize the amount of bass you hear. Panels on the ear cups can be changed to suit your style preference, and they feature removable cables and a removable boom mic for folks who want to use the Custom One Pro as a gaming headset. The downside to this modular design is a slight loss in the fidelity of sound in the heavier bass settings.

Wrapping It Up

In a category flush with amazing headphones, the PSB M4U 1 are the winners for the second year running because they’re comfortable, they sound phenomenal, and every single one of our panelists liked them. We think you will too. Happy listening!

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com.

TIME How-To

5 Tips to Stay Healthy If You Sit at a Computer All Day

Grazia Magazine Produces Issue From New Shopping Centre
Oli Scarff—Getty Images Production staff on the weekly fashion magazine, Grazia edit the magazine in a temporary office inside the Westfield shopping centre on November 3, 2008 in London.

Desk jockeys aren’t athletes, but they still need to stay fit

It might be due to the darkness that accompanies shorter days, or the invasion of warmer, comfier clothes into the winter workplace, but now is the time when long hours, slouching, slumping, and straining dominate the office. Clean up your act around the computer, before bad habits lead to poor health.

Here are five ways to make sure your computer desk doesn’t become the death of you.

1. Give your monitor a second look.

If your screen is planted directly on your desktop, it’s time to ask management for a raise — for your computer’s display. According to Dr. Jim Sheedy, director of the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University, the top of your the screen should be level with your eyes. The ideas is to get the eyes looking down about 10 degrees. If it’s any lower or higher, computer users will adapt to it by moving their head. If your screen is to low, your head points down, causing neck and back aches. High displays, meanwhile, contribute to dry eye syndrome.

2. Poor posture? Take it on the chin.

Poor posture is something that every office-based employee should consider throughout their day. Most people sitting at a computer get drawn into the screen, which means they crane their necks forward. This imbalance puts strain on the neck and spine. It’s like holding a bowling ball with one hand, says Dr. James Bowman, of Portland, Ore.-based Solutions Chiropractic. If your arm is vertical underneath, it puts less strain on the muscles, but lean that ball forward and your muscles have to compensate to keep it aloft. Sitting at a desk, that bowling ball is actually our head, so Bowman recommends chin retractions, or making a double chin, to keep the neck and spine lined up underneath.

“It’s probably the most effective single exercise you can do for the upper back and neck,” he says.

3. Stand up for yourself.

The modern workplace was built around the concept of sitting, but humans’ ability to stand goes back millions of years. Buck the trend of the office era with a standing desk — or, if that’s too radical, a sit-stand workstation. According to research out of the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, sit-stand workstations helped workers replace 25 percent of their sitting time with standing up, which can increase their sense of well being and decreased their fatigue and appetite. The Jarvis Desk can go from 26-inches to 51-inches at the push of a button, lifting up to 350 pounds of whatever’s on your desk—including multiple monitors.

“I definitely feel healthier standing while working as it causes me to be more focused on my posture and ‘hold’ myself better in terms of my stomach and shoulders especially,” says Dan McCormack, who uses a Jarvis Desk at his home office in Austin, Texas.

4. Move it or lose it.

But why stand when you could walk? Many offices around the country are getting wise to treadmill desks, which can help workers burn 100 calories more per hour over sitting, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health.

“The most important thing is to switch it up and work in different positions throughout the day,” says Emily Couey, Eventbrite’s vice president of people. The online event ticketing service offers multiple workspace options including traditional sitting desks, standing desks, and treadmill desks, which Couey says “people love, because it allows them move while they work — especially those with fitness trackers counting their daily steps.”

5. Pace yourself.

All work and no play makes Jack a bad employee. Whether it’s on their phone in the bathroom or on the computer in their cube, everyone takes sanity breaks to check their Facebook or read some news. The Pomodoro Technique even encourages this kind of behavior by breaking tasks into “pomodoros,” intense 25 minute work bursts, followed by five-minute breaks.

Named because they can be measured using little tomato-shaped kitchen timers (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato), this method lets people work intensely and stave off distraction, yet rewards them with time to goof off, as well. If you don’t have a tomato timer handy, there are a lot of apps online to keep track of your sessions. But Francesco Cirillo, the technique’s founder, recommends using the real deal.

“You have to be able to actually wind it up,” Cirillo says in his book, The Comodoro Technique. “The act of winding up the Pomodoro is a declaration of your determination to start working on the activity at hand.”

Read next: 7 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee at Work

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