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Here’s What’s Next from Apple (in Under Two Minutes)

Apple's WWDC keynote just wrapped up. Here's what's coming from the tech giant this fall.

More WWDC coverage here.

TIME technology

Hallelujah—You Can Now Escape Annoying Group Texts Sent to Your iPhone

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RIP irrelevant group text conversations. We won't miss you

You can now officially say goodbye to the inevitable feeling of dread that overtakes your body upon realizing you’ve non-consensually been added on to an irrelevant group text conversation.

Lot’s of stuff happened Monday at Apple’s WWDC. But one of the developer conference’s most exciting moments wasn’t har-harring with the Twitterverse when exec Craig Federighi showed off OS X Yosemite’s phone features by screening a call from his Mom and opting to dial Dr. Dre instead. It was when Apple announced that in iOS 8, users can finally unsubscribe from the endless pings of group chats. Because as happy as you are to know that your four closest friends and three randos with unfamiliar area codes are getting drinks Friday, you’re out of town and really don’t want to be a part of the painstaking pro-cons of West Village versus Williamsburg.

Up until now, there was no opt-out policy of group iMessages, the chain email of our era. There’s now a safe exit from a group text with a new do not disturb feature, which will silence the thread. If you aren’t one for subtlety, you can also just leave.

Sure, this might not be the most innovative thing at WWDC—your phone can now act as a remote control for your entire house with HomeKit and track your medical stats with HealthKit—but this development might save some phones from getting thrown out windows at times of complete annoyance.

TIME Innovation

Feds Might Allow Drones For Filmmakers

Drone Manufacture At Steadidrone Plant As Companies Explore Commercial Usage
Technicians look on as a SteadiDrone EI8GHT Octocopter hovers during a test flight in a field outside the headquarters of Mensuro Ltd., a distributor for SteadiDrone Ltd. products, in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Bloomberg—Bloomberg /Getty Images

Seven aerial cinematography companies have petitioned for the right to mount cameras to drones and make movie magic

The Federal Aviation Administration is considering lifting a nationwide ban on using drones for commercial purposes—so long as the purpose is to make movie magic.

Seven companies represented by the Motion Picture Association of America have asked for permission to shoot film and TV productions using unmanned aerial vehicles. The FAA said Monday that it would consider exemptions on a case-by-case basis, acknowledging “there could be tangible economic benefits as the agency begins to address the demand.”

A growing list of companies have requested permission to fly drones over farmland, power lines, pipelines and oil and gas flare stacks, among other commercial uses. The FAA says the firms must prove that exemptions to the rules will not pose a hazard to public safety.

Congress ordered the agency to set a framework allowing for commercial use of drones by 2015. The FAA will test drones at six sites.

TIME Video Games

Mario Kart 8 Clocked 1.2 Million Copies Sold in First Weekend, Says Nintendo

Nintendo

Nintendo says its popular kart-based racer is off to a strong start, but doesn't indicate how the game's impacting Wii U sales.

Our Mario Kart 8 review appeared half a month ago, but the game didn’t go on sale until May 30 — last Friday. Over the weekend, Nintendo’s debut Mario Kart for the Wii U managed to sell more than 1.2 million units worldwide, says Nintendo, “worldwide” in this case comprising Japan, Europe and the Americas.

The news comes a week out from E3 2014, where Nintendo is expected to focus on new software for both its Wii U console and 3DS handheld game system. The Wii U’s been struggling since its launch in November 2012 to strike a chord with both potential buyers and third-party game developers. To date, Nintendo’s only sold in the vicinity of 6 million units, whereas Sony’s PlayStation 4 — launched a year later than the Wii U — is already well ahead of Nintendo’s system, surpassing 7 million units sold worldwide in mid-April.

The 3DS, by contrast, has sold quite well for Nintendo since it dropped the handheld’s price in August 2011 (just six months after its February stateside debut), selling over 42 million units to date. But sales have tapered off recently, posting a year-on-year sales deficit in Nintendo’s most recent fiscal report.

Mario Kart 8 was expected to be a major sales booster for the company. After all, Mario Kart Wii, the sixth in series, sold an unprecedented 33.5 million copies, and Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS has sold over 9.5 million copies to date.

Whether it’s been a major Wii U booster remains to be seen. Nintendo’s only talking unit sales of the game at this point, many of which presumably went to existing system owners.

Life to date (and before Mario Kart 8 sales), Nintendo says the Mario Kart franchise has sold over 100 million units.

TIME Companies

Apple Unveils New Mobile Operating System iOS 8

Long-rumored health and smarthome features introduced

Apple introduced a new version of its mobile operating system, iOS 8, at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

CEO Tim Cook described iOS 8 as “a huge release” comprised of new features for end users as well as additional capabilities for developers. For users, iOS 8 will include an interactive notification center, an improved email inbox, a revamped keyboard with predictive typing, and a number of features for businesses. For developers, Apple announced a new programming language, dubbed Swift, to make it much faster to create apps for iOS.

As widely rumored before the conference, Apple unveiled HealthKit, software for tracking everything from exercise to blood pressure. The system, which Apple said it was working on with the Mayo Clinic, will integrate health data from a wide range of apps and devices. “Up to now, you couldn’t get a single comprehensive picture of your health,” said Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi.

Another introduction, HomeKit, will allow iOS to connect with a number of smarthome devices. Federighi gave the example of telling Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, that it was “time for bed,” which would signal smart devices, like light bulbs, to change states.

Executives demonstrated an updated Messages app which will let users share their locations with one another. The company is also adding a “tap-to-talk” feature that allows a user to hold down the screen to turn on the microphone and speak a message into a messaging thread. Audio messages are automatically played when a user raises the phone to their ear.

Apple is adding the option to preview apps or to purchase them in discounted bundles in its App Store. TestFlight is another feature being aimed at developers, allowing them to recruit iOS users as beta testers before an app’s final release.

Siri is also getting some upgrades. Much like Google Now, Siri in iOS 8 will be accessible with just a voice command of “Hey, Siri.” The upgraded assistant will also include Shazam song recognition, allowing users to quickly make iTunes purchases.

iOS will be available as a beta for developers today; it will be available to users this fall.

“Apple engineers platforms, devices and services together. WE do this so we can create a seamless experience for our users that is unparalleled in the industry,” said Cook in his closing remarks. “This is something only Apple can do.”

TIME Apple

Apple Unveils New Operating System Dubbed “Yosemite”

Apple today unveiled the next version of its Mac OS X operating system. The new release, called OS X Yosemite after the famed national park, includes a largely redesigned user interface more closely aligned with the look of its mobile iOS software.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s software engineering chief, took the stage of the firm’s annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference to show off the software. The new version, which features a sharper, flatter look, is more similar to the iOS software that runs on iPhones and iPads than any previous version of the Mac operating system.

OS X Yosemite also includes a “Dark Mode” that minimizes the translucency effect and introduces a darker color palette. Executives previewed changes to the software’s Notification Center, Spotlight search, Maps, Calendar, Messages, and Safari web browser.

A system dubbed “continuity” is intended to allow iOS devices and Macs to communicate seamlessly. A user can, for example, begin composing an email on an iPhone and automatically finish writing it on a nearby desktop computer. The system can also be used to place and answer phone calls and text messages that come to a phone on a nearby computer.

To show off the feature, Federighi placed a call from his desktop to new Apple employee Dr. Dre. “How you doing this is Dre,” said the rapper who is joining the company as part of a $3 billion deal for headphone-maker Beats Electronics. “Thanks for creating such amazing apps,” he said. “Say, what time should I show up for work?”

Apple made a developer preview available to conference attendees today. It will be available for free to all users this fall.

TIME Video Games

Mortal Combat X Unveiled with Jiggling Viscera

Remember when you wanted to play Mortal Kombat because it felt subversive? Like sneaking over to your grade school friend’s house whose parents let the both of you watch R-rated movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Heavy Metal on HBO? Because then-Senator Joe Lieberman wanted to ban the game on the presumption it was going to turn you into a violence-desensitized zombie barbarian?

Those were the days.

Mortal Kombat X, long rumored/expected and just confirmed/unveiled per the trailer above, looks to continue the series’ anatomically surgical traditions, taking the old buzzy notion of musculoskeletal body mapping and drilling down to far more visceral levels (literally).

I can’t tell if that’s in-game video or not, or if those intestines jiggling like jello are being calculated in realtime for concussive-damage-calculative gameplay purposes, but the frame to frame animation looks as fluid as any I’ve seen outside a cutscene. (Again, assuming that’s not a scene and actual gameplay.)

All we know, heading into E3 next week where I’d guess the game might be shown, is that Mortal Kombat (2011) developer NetherRealm is helming Mortal Kombat X, and that it’s due in 2015 .

TIME Video Games

Here’s The New Mortal Kombat Trailer

"Get over here," Mortal Kombat X

The next installment of the Mortal Kombat video game series is coming. Mortal Kombat X’s title was announced on Twitter by the series’ co-creater Ed boon on Twitter.

The game is slated for a 2015 release, according to a new trailer, for the Xbox One, the Xbox 360, Playstations 3 and 4, PC. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment promised it will deliver “the most brutal Kombat experience ever.” We just hope that impatient fans won’t have to yell “Finish him!” if there are any delays.

TIME

How to Watch Apple’s WWDC 2014 Live

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AFP—AFP/Getty Images

Apple’s annual developer’s conference kicks off today. The company will be live-streaming the event through Apple TV and on its website. You’ll also be able to follow TIME’s own liveblog at 10AM Pacific / 1PM Eastern. You’ll need Safari 4 or a second generation Apple TV (at least) to watch it. Click here for the stream.

You can also find out what to expect here as well as surefire ways Apple can make 2014 a banner year. Also, check out Fortune‘s new feature story, “Apple’s Newest Product: Complexity.”

TIME Big Picture

The Challenges of a Dick Tracy-like Watch-Phone

Samsung Gear 2
A Galaxy Gear 2 smartwatch sits on display at the Samsung Electronics Co. pavilion on day two of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Simon Dawson--Bloomberg / Getty Images

I have been testing the Samsung Gear smartwatch for some time now and have actually become a fan of these types of watches. My first smartwatch was the Pebble, but its limited functionality drove me to try out the Samsung Gear since it gives me something that I really wanted in a smartwatch: email alerts and the ability to read my email on the smartwatch itself.

Like many people in the workplace I get hundreds of emails a day, although very few demand immediate action. But given my type of business, if a client emails me, I like to respond to them as fast as possible. So these smartwatch alerts allow me to be highly responsive to client requests. Yes, sometimes they come during a meeting or while I am doing something where I can’t respond to messages immediately, but being aware of these requests as they come in is important to me and plays heavily into how I manage my workday.

Recently, word leaked that Samsung was working on adding a phone feature to a smartwatch, and it got me wondering whether this is a good idea or not. I grew up in the era of Dick Tracy and I have to admit that I thought his watch-phone was really cool — as a kid, I really wanted one. But as I look at this idea now, I really wonder if a watch-phone would work for me in the real world. More importantly, would consumers even want it? The idea of always lifting up my arm to speak into a watch and having everyone around me being able to hear what’s being said to me is just not appealing, even if it seems cool.

Most likely, such a smartwatch could be tied to a Bluetooth headset so a person could handle voice calls more discreetly, but a lot of people are uncomfortable having a headset in their ear all of the time and for many, it makes them look too much like a geek. I also suspect the user interface would be pretty clumsy, even if it was voice controlled.

The idea of adding a phone feature to a smartwatch comes under the heading that many in the industry call feature-creep. Simply put, engineers keep trying to add a bunch of features into small packages, and while sometimes it works, most of the time it does not. One good example is some of the features Samsung threw into its Galaxy S4 smartphone, especially the hover feature that the majority of people never used. Thankfully, the company took that out in the Galaxy S5 and seemed to learn the lesson that in some devices, less is more.

I have now used about seven smartwatches and each one I have used has tried to cram a lot into a very small package. These watch screens are 1.5” in most cases, and while the screens are sharp and easy to read, putting more features and more text into this small space most often does not work well at all. The good news is that with the Pebble watch, the Samsung Gear watch and others, most developers are creating simple apps that can work on a small screen and deliver what we call “snacking data” such as news alerts, message alerts and, in some cases, email headlines. Also, most of these watches so far are tied to smartphones, serving as extensions of the smartphones themselves.

However, I am starting to see a lot of work being done behind the scenes where some companies are trying to make the smartwatch a standalone device. Not being connected to a smartphone would essentially make it a PDA of sorts in its own right, with all of the data and info and apps delivered to the watch. These watches wouldn’t be extensions of smartphones as they are today.

Although Samsung has not actually shared any details about its supposed smartwatch-phone, it would not surprise me if that’s the direction the company might take with this device. While Samsung would still want to sell a lot of standalone smartphones — and a smartwatch-phone would never supplant these — from an engineering standpoint, Samsung and others may want to give consumers the option of having their smartphones on their wrists instead of in their pockets.

But would Samsung and others be doing this simply because they can? Or because consumers really want it? Think of the role your smartphone plays in your life today. Could you dump a great 4” or 5” screen that delivers tons of apps and services and instead use only a smartwatch-phone? I know I could not. That’s why I’m quite happy with my smartwatches being extensions of my smartphones, working together harmoniously.

Sure, there will be some early adopters who take the plunge should a smartphone-watch hit the market. But I am very doubtful that these would ever catch on and be a hit with consumers. Rather, they would likely end up being just an engineering showcase for the companies who make them and, at least in my opinion, will never catch on with the broad consumer market.

Bajarin is the president of Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to Big Picture, an opinion column that appears every week on TIME Tech.

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