TIME Media

HBO Go Is Now on Xbox One

US-ENTERTAINMENT-IT-INTERNET-VIDEOGAMES-MICROSOFT-XBOX
AFP—AFP/Getty Images A member of the Microsoft security team watches over the newly unveiled Xbox One videogame console at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, on May 21, 2013.

It hasn't hit Sony's PlayStation 4 yet

HBO Go is now available on Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console.

The online streaming service rolled out on the next-gen console Thursday, according to a Microsoft blog post. HBO Go is already available on the Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3, but hasn’t yet arrived on the PS4.

Currently, you’ll need a cable subscription to use HBO Go. However, in 2015, the cable network is planning to launch a standalone online version of its channel that Internet users can subscribe to without paying for cable.

TIME Transportation

Looking for a Ride? Here’s a List of Uber Alternatives

140529_FF_NerdWallet_Lyft_1
courtesy of Lyft A Lyft car operates in San Francisco.

A lot of companies want to be your driver

Uber has lost some users this week following stories about executives proposing opposition research on critical journalists’ personal lives and tracking a journalist’s use of the service without her permission. Some customers publicly ended their relationship with the company via social media, including humorist-actor-author John Hodgman. “I really don’t want to take that crummy car I was so glad to hang up on two years ago,” he wrote in a post about his decision to delete the app. “But I just can’t get into a car with those guys anymore.”

If you live in certain parts of the world, you might not even have Uber available as an option to walk away from. And you may have no intention of quitting Uber at all, continuing to love the service that is leading the revolution of local transportation around the world, providing an on-demand alternative to calling up a old-fashioned taxi cab dispatcher.

But for those out there into trying new things, here are some of the other players on the road offering smartphone-enabled rides from A to B:

Lyft: The San-Francisco based ridesharing company is the friendly neighbor to Uber’s cool chauffeur. Drivers use their personal cars, grilles adorned with signature pink mustaches, and invite users to sit in the front seat, often offering a fist bump as a greeting. The company has rolled out three additional services, Lyft Plus (fancy SUV version), Lyft Line (carpooling version) and Lyft for Work (commuting version). Lyft operates in about 60 U.S. cities, compared to Uber’s 220 worldwide. In some cities, like New York, Lyft functions very similarly to Uber.

Sidecar: This ridesharing company, also based in the Bay Area, promises the “lowest prices on the road.” Available in 10 major U.S. cities, Sidecar aims to match riders with “everyday people” driving their personal cars. But unlike other services that rack up a fare as you go, Sidecar asks riders to enter their destination and offers a selection of pre-set prices, along with ETAs, which the rider can choose from. The company also offers a cheaper “Shared Rides” carpooling option like Lyft Line and Uber Pool.

Flywheel: Taxi companies are using apps like Flywheel to re-disrupt the disruptors. Currently in San Francisco, L.A. and Seattle, Flywheel allows users to order a taxi on-demand and have payments made automatically through the app. The ride likely won’t be as fancy as an Uber black car or as cheap as an UberX, but there’s no surge pricing and the company is brokering deals to allow scheduled rides to airports, places where ridesharing companies are typically non grata.

Curb: In August, Taxi Magic launched as the rebranded Curb, broadening their focus beyond providing licensed taxis on-demand to include fancier cars-for-hire (like Uber black cars) in some of the 60 markets where Taxi Magic was already working with fleets. Unlike most of the other app-based services, customers have the option of paying with cash rather than through the app. The refreshed company is also working on launching pre-scheduled rides, to the airport and beyond.

Hailo: Another e-hail company that works with licensed cabs, Hailo is focused on the European market, having launched in London in 2011. (betrayed by their slogan, “the black cab app.”) In October, the company announced it would be closing operations in U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Boston, shifting their eye to growth in Asia and, perhaps, re-entering the U.S. market in a few years. In September, the company launched an innovative feature that allows users to pay for the bill in a street-hailed taxi through the app.

Summon: The rebranded and overhauled InstaCab, Summon is an on-demand service that has a hybrid approach, offering both taxi e-hails and cheaper peer-to-peer “personal rides” with a no-surge-price promise. Summon is currently available only in the Bay Area, but the company said earlier this year they plan to expand to L.A., Boston and New York. The startup offers pre-scheduled rides through their Summon Ahead program, including fixed-rate rides to surrounding airports, with a journey to San Francisco’s SFO costing a mere $35.

RubyRide: Based in Phoenix, Ariz., and founded in 2013, RubyRide is a fledgling subscription-based startup that bills itself less as a taxi replacement and more as a replacement for owning a car. A basic plan that allows unlimited pre-scheduled pickups and drop-offs within certain “zones” like Downtown Phoenix costs $299 per month. The company offers limited on-demand service but plans to expand their options—including replacing rides to and from the dry cleaners, say, with delivering members’ dry cleaning—as they grow.

Shuddle: Dubbed “Uber for kids,” this San Francisco startup positions itself as an app for lightening Mom’s load. Parents can pre-book rides to take kids (who aren’t old enough to drive themselves) to sports practice or school. With safety the obvious concern, the company institutes layers of checks beyond thoroughly screening employees: drivers are given passwords they have to use before picking up kids; parents are given photos of the drivers and cars and can monitor the trip through their app. Drivers must have their own kids or have worked with kids. The company’s first 100 drivers, which they call “caregivers,” are all female.

TIME apps

How One Word Made a Massive Change to Apple’s App Store

Apps are seen on Apple iPhone 5s January 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

Apps aren't labeled "FREE" anymore. They're labeled "GET"

Free apps on Apple’s App Store aren’t listed as “FREE” anymore — they’re listed as “GET.”

The change in the App Store’s download buttons arrives after the European Commission this summer forced Google to eliminate the word “free” on Google Play. That’s because the word “free” was misleading, the Commission said in a statement addressing both Google and Apple, as apps tagged with the “free” label could still have in-app purchases — a big revenue driver for app developers, particularly with mobile games. While Google’s change was seen only in European countries, Apple’s change is worldwide.

Striking the word “free” is also meant to protect children who are misled into making in-app purchases on their parents’ accounts, a situation that’s caused both Apple and Google a few multi-million dollar legal headaches. Apple has previously taken steps to make the App Store more child-friendly by launching a Kids section for children 11 and under.

There is one exception to the App Store’s word swap, though. Apple’s own free apps without in-app purchases, like iMovies, Numbers and Keynote, have retained the “FREE” label.

 

TIME Companies

Netflix Is Now a Whopping One-Third of Peak Internet Traffic

US Online Streaming Giant Netflix : Illustration
Pascal Le Segretain—Getty Images In this photo illustration the Netflix logo is seen on September 19, 2014 in Paris, France.

But YouTube leads on mobile

Netflix now accounts for more than a third of all downstream Internet traffic during peak evening hours in North America, according to research firm Sandvine.

Netflix’s share of traffic during the second half of 2014 rose to 34.89%, up from 34.21% in the first half of the year, Sandvine found in its biannual report. The figure is the highest for Netflix in Sandvine’s publicly available data since 2011. The streaming service has long dominated downstream Internet usage — a point that’s sparked battles between it and Internet Service Providers like Comcast and Verizon, which have argued Netflix should pay up for the bandwidth it uses.

While Netflix’s share inched up slightly, other tech companies also made gains. Facebook, which has been pushing video heavily this year, saw its traffic share increase from 1.99% to 2.98%. Amazon Video, Netflix’s most direct competitor, rose from a share of 1.9% to 2.58%. YouTube’s share also increased, rising from 13.19% to 14.09%. These gains in traffic came at the expense of iTunes and bitTorrent, which both had their shares dip below 3%.

These figures don’t account for Internet connections made via cellular data networks on mobile devices. On that front, YouTube is the leader with a 19.75% share, and Facebook is right behind it with a 19.05% share.

TIME apps

This Is the 1 Thing Facebook Can’t Figure Out

Facebook Creative Labs Apps
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images

Can Facebook make a popular standalone app?

Facebook has a good track record of pulling off big things. One-sixth of the world’s population is on the social media platform, which, by the way, is also developing laser-based Internet to connect the rest of the humanity while its CEO finds time to pick up Mandarin Chinese.

But if there’s one project that’s stumped the company, it’s the very thing that made Facebook what it is today: Creating the Next Big Thing, particularly in the form of a new mobile app. Facebook has recently released several apps separate from its primary offering, hoping one will be a hit. Its most recent attempt, Groups, takes the social media platform’s group messaging feature and spins it off into a separate mobile app. Before Groups arrived on Tuesday, there was Rooms, an anonymous chatroom app, Slingshot, a Snapchat-style disappearing messages app, Paper, a Facebook app redesigned for mobile devices and a much-mocked “Facebook for celebrities.”

Rooms and Slingshot are standouts because they’re the company’s first attempts at designing a completely new app outside its core platform. And while Slingshot feels very much like a Snapchat clone, Rooms, with its focus on old-school online chatting’s anonymity, is curiously distant from Facebook’s real-life focus. That makes it special among other apps from Facebook Creative Labs, a Facebook initiative that seeks to create new platforms to “support the diverse ways people want to connect and share.”

While the Facebook Creative Labs’ mission statement doesn’t say anything about building mainstream ways to connect, making popular apps seems an implied goal of a company that wants to be as much of a daily presence as running water. However, most of Facebook’s standalone apps have seen their rankings nosedive since their debuts, according to data from business intelligence firm App Annie. (Groups is still too new to track.)

Facebook does have a proven, if unpopular, way to get people to download its standalone apps — it can force them to do so. Several months ago, Facebook removed the messaging feature from its primary mobile app, telling users to go download the separate Messenger app instead if they wanted to keep privately messaging their Facebook friends. Messenger quickly climbed to the top of the app rankings and mostly remained there, despite poor reviews from users upset over the split.

But Facebook, like other social media companies, has shown it has another option, too: Finding successful apps outside the company’s walls and snatching them up in big-money acquisitions. Facebook’s desire to capture top-notch, widely-embraced apps — and keep them out of rivals’ hands — helps explain why the company paid nearly $1 billion for photo-sharing app Instagram and a jaw-dropping $19 billion for the WhatsApp messaging app, with both deals involving a mixture of cash and Facebook stock.

Whether Facebook can ever come up with a new mobile app that people really love — or if it should even bother trying — is an open question. But that clearly hasn’t stopped Facebook from trying to think up the “next Snapchat,” even if some of its attempts, like the now-extinct Poke and Camera, have totally flopped. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg said himself, the failure of new products has been “humbling.” As a company on top of its own particular mountain, Facebook can afford to learn by trial and error. So until it adds one of its own creations to its portfolio of big-name apps, expect it to keep trying.

TIME apps

Download These 7 Holiday Travel Apps to Get Home in Time for Christmas

Holiday Travelers Crowd Airports Ahead Of The Holidays
Scott Olson—Getty Images Travelers wait in line to check-in for flights at O'Hare International Airport on December 20, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

It's the most wonderful time of the year - unless you're traveling

Get the car’s oil changed and print those boarding passes out in advance, because it’s going to be a wild holiday travel season. According to the Weather Channel, flight delays at major airports are expected thanks to snow and rain that could hit parts of the U.S.

In a rush to beat the traffic, you might forget to pack your toothbrush or travel pillow — but there’s zero chance you’ll leave your smartphone behind. So before you leave home, make sure these seven great travel apps are downloaded and ready to go.

App In The Air

A one-stop information shop for all your air travel needs, this app breaks your trip up into four stages — check-in, boarding, take-off and landing — providing fantastic tools throughout the journey. For instance, a pre-flight checklist reminds users to pack dental floss and plug adapters, while the app can be configured to automatically send text updates of your flight (messaging rates apply) to people who are expecting your arrival. If you have wanderlust, App In The Air can also track your travel statistics — including countries visited, aircraft ridden in, and airlines frequented — improving your status in the app’s community of flyers.

App In The Air is available for free, with in-app purchases, on the App Store and Google Play.

Ambiance

While most airlines don’t allow in-flight cell phone conversations, unfortunately, they can’t ban talking altogether. So if your seat lottery lands you next to a Chatty Cathy, turn on the Ambiance app and tune out. Though it’s been around for nearly as long as Apple’s App Store itself, this is a solid ambient noise app loaded with a wide variety of sounds that have been rated by thousands of people. Birding fans can pick among sweet songstresses including the Fan Tailed Warbler and the Black-Capped Chickadee, while white noise fans can choose from a range of statics (yes, apparently there are more than one). And there’s one for travelers who want to check out but still be in the “now” — it’s called “Airplane Cabin.”

Ambiance is available for $2.99 on the App Store and Google Play.

DogVacay

Thanksgiving may be a family holiday, but all too often, man’s best friend gets the cold shoulder — and there’s not even any turkey on it. DogVacay, an online service that helps dog owners find pet sitters, has a iPhone app that can do everything from book overnight stays to get daily photo-updates of how your four-legged friend is faring. Each dog watcher has different rates and accommodations, so be prepared to pay. But for some pups, being in a home surrounded by people is a much better deal for their overall health and well-being.

DogVacay is available for free on the App Store.

Gate Guru

With the price of airfare always climbing, there’s a good chance you bought a bargain basement, three-leg plane ticket that has you routed through two different hubs. Gate Guru has all the details on various airports, letting you know where to eat, where the restrooms are, and what other shopping and services are available. Ideal for infrequent travelers, the app can have you navigating the terminals like a pro, avoiding the sketchy Chinese food take-out and opting for a tidy, fresh-made sandwich instead.

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

Glympse

Listen, there’s going to be traffic on Thanksgiving. Sure, you know all the back roads, can zip around that maddening highway interchange like a cab driver, and have all the lights on Broad Street expertly timed, but none of that matters when you arrive to cold mashed potatoes. Don’t hold up dinner — instead, keep the hosts informed to your expected arrival time with Glympse. A GPS-enabled app that shares your location with anyone you choose, Glympse is easier — and safer — than sending text alerts from behind the wheel. Just put in your end destination and recipients phone numbers, and the service determines how long it will take to get there, even calculating for traffic delays, because again: there’s going to be traffic on Thanksgiving.

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

Tripit

Planes, trains, and automobiles — and don’t forget lodging! — travel sure takes some coordination these days. Channeling the spirit of the AAA Triptik, this app creates an itinerary of your journey, pulling information from your confirmation emails and neatly arranging them into an easy-to-follow timeline. Turning your smartphone into a modern-day travel folio, it includes all the phone numbers and addresses you need, while cutting down on carry-on bag bulk. Its free-to-use service is great for casual travelers, but high-powered features like flight status text-message alerts and fare refund notifications can make Tripit’s pro-level service pay for itself.

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

Waze

We may be decades away from smart roadways that report their own traffic snafus, but this GPS-enabled app lets drivers take data into their own hands. By driving with the app open, users relay realtime traffic information to the service, which then updates all the other users as they drive. And if you encounter a road hazard, from an accident to a detour, you can report it with a hands-free prompt. But most importantly, you can also use Waze as a turn-by-turn navigator to get you to Turkey Day dinner in time for the first round of appetizers, no matter what the roads throw at you. Because, don’t forget, there will be traffic on Thanksgiving.

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

TIME Security

What To Do When Your Email Gets Hacked

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Benjamin Howell—Getty Images Person typing on a laptop.

First thing's first: Change your password

Last week, I got an email from a friend urging me to check out an amazing page. Between the grammatical errors and a link obviously pointing to a server somewhere in Russia, it was obvious that my friend’s email account had been hacked.

When I checked in with her another way, she already knew about the problem—the hacker’s message had gone out to her entire address book—and she was quite concerned. So I walked her through the steps for getting everything back in order.

Step #1: Change your password.

The very first thing you should do is keep the hacker from getting back into your email account. Change your password to a strong password that is not related to your prior password; if your last password was billyjoe1, don’t pick billyjoe2—and if your name is actually BillyJoe, you shouldn’t have been using your name as your password in the first place.

Try using a meaningful sentence as the basis of your new password. For example, “I go to the gym in the morning” turns into “Ig2tGYMitm” using the first letter of each word in the sentence, mixing uppercase and lowercase letters and replacing the word “to” with “2.”

Step #2: Reclaim your account.

If you’re lucky, the hacker only logged into your account to send a mass email to all of your contacts.

If you’re not so lucky, the hacker changed your password too, locking you out of your account. If that’s the case, you’ll need to reclaim your account, usually a matter of using the “forgot your password” link and answering your security questions or using your backup email address.

Check out the specific recommendations for reclaiming possession of your account for Gmail, Outlook.com and Hotmail, Yahoo! and AOL.

Step #3: Enable two-factor authentication.

Set your email account to require a second form of authentication in addition to your password whenever you log into your email account from a new device. When you log in, you’ll also need to enter a special one-time use code the site will text to your phone or generated via an app.

Check out two-step authentication setup instructions for Gmail, Microsoft’s Outlook.com and Hotmail and Yahoo!. AOL doesn’t support two-factor authentication yet.

Step #4: Check your email settings.

Sometimes hackers might change your settings to forward a copy of every email you receive to themselves, so they can watch for any emails containing login information for other sites. Check your mail forwarding settings to ensure no unexpected email addresses have been added.

Next, check your email signature to see if the hacker added a spammy signature that will continue to peddle their dubious wares even after they’ve been locked out.

Last, check to make sure the hackers haven’t turned on an auto-responder, turning your out-of-office notification into a spam machine.

Step #5: Scan your computer for malware.

Run a full scan with your anti-malware program. You do have an anti-malware program on your computer, right? If not, download the free version of Malwarebytes and run a full scan with it. I recommend running Malwarebytes even if you already have another anti-malware program; if the problem is malware, your original program obviously didn’t stop it, and Malwarebytes has resolved problems for me that even Symantec’s Norton Internet Security wasn’t able to resolve. Scan other computers you log in from, such as your work computer, as well.

If any of your scans detect malware, fix it and then go back and change your email password again. (When you changed it in step #1, the malware was still on your computer.)

Step #6: Find out what else has been compromised.

My mother-in-law once followed the ill-advised practice of storing usernames and passwords for her various accounts in an email folder called “Sign-ups.” Once the hacker was into her email, he easily discovered numerous other logins.

Most of us have emails buried somewhere that contain this type of information. Search for the word “password” in your mailbox to figure out what other accounts might have been compromised. Change these passwords immediately; if they include critical accounts such as bank or credit card accounts, check your statements to make sure there are no suspicious transactions.

It’s also a good idea to change any other accounts that use the same username and password as your compromised email. Spammers are savvy enough to know that most people reuse passwords for multiple accounts, so they may try your login info in other email applications and on PayPal and other common sites.

Step #7: Humbly beg for forgiveness from your friends.

Let the folks in your contacts list know that your email was hacked and that they should not open any suspicious emails or click on any links in any email(s) that recently received from you. Most people will probably have already figured out that you were not really the one recommending they buy Viagra from an online pharmacy in India—but you know, everyone has one or two friends who are a little slower to pick up on these things.

Step #8: Prevent it from happening again.

While large-scale breaches are one way your login information could be stolen—this summer, Russian criminals stole 1.2 billion usernames and passwords—they’re certainly not the only way. Many cases are due to careless creation or protection of login information.

Last year, Google released a study that reveals most people choose passwords based on readily available information, making their accounts hackable with a few educated guesses. Easy passwords make for easy hacking, and spammers use programs that can cycle through thousands of logins every second to identify weak accounts.

Picking a strong password is your best protection from this type of hacking. It also is prudent to use a different password for each site or account, or, at the very least, use a unique password for your email account, your bank account and any other sensitive accounts. If you’re concerned about keeping track of your passwords, find a password management program to do the work for you.

In my friend’s case, her passwords were pretty good and there was no malware on her computer. But she was careless about where she was logging in. On a recent trip overseas, she used the computer in her hotel lobby to check her email. That was a bad idea.

Computers in hotel lobbies, libraries and other public places are perfect locations for hackers to install key-logging programs. The computers are often poorly secured and get used by dozens of people every day who don’t think twice about logging into their email or bank accounts or entering credit card information to make a purchase. The best practice is to assume that any public computer is compromised and proceed accordingly.

This article was written by Suzanne Kantra and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME technology

It Took Microsoft 3 Tries Before Windows Was Successful

Microsoft Windows 1.0
AP Microsoft Windows 1.0

Windows 1.0 wasn't exactly a huge win — even with Microsoft Paint helping out

The first version of Microsoft Windows will be knocking on the door of its third decade Thursday when it turns the ripe old age of 29 — well past retirement in software years, given that Microsoft officially put it out to pasture in December of 2001. Still, looking back at Windows 1.0 offers exactly what its name implies: A window into how things used to be, and, in a way, how little has changed.

First announced in 1983, Microsoft Windows 1.0 wouldn’t make it to the consumer market for another two years — making it one of the first pieces of software to be dismissed as “vaporware,” a term actually coined by a Microsoft engineer a year before the Windows announcement, as a disparaging title bestowed upon a product that’s announced but never sees the light of day.

Windows 1.0’s big selling point was its Graphical User Interface (GUI), intended to replace MS-DOS-style command prompts (C:/DOS/RUN) with a computing style that looked much more like the multitasking, mouse-click-based computing most of us use today. It also came with software intended to show off its new graphical computing environment with what we’d now call “apps” like “Calendar,” “Clock,” and yes, of course, “Paint.”

Windows wasn’t the first operating system with a GUI as its primary feature. Microsoft rival Apple, for example, beat Windows to that punch by about a year when its Macintosh hit the market in 1984, and other “desktop”-style graphical interfaces were floating around before that. (Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs is said to have gotten a nudge towards the Apple desktop interface after visiting a Xerox facility in 1979.) But Windows 1.0 was marketed as an upgrade for people already running MS-DOS — and, in fact, it ran on top of MS-DOS, so anybody who wanted Windows had to have MS-DOS installed first.

So did Windows 1.0 fly off the shelves? Not exactly. Early reviews panned the product for running far too slowly — not the last time the tech press has made that particular critique. The New York Times wrote that “running Windows on a PC with 512K of memory is akin to pouring molasses in the Arctic.” Many reviews said the speed slowdown only got worse when users ran more than one application at a time — an ability that had been intended as a primary draw. And that weird mouse thing Microsoft insisted Windows users embrace? Lots of people hated it.

Despite those early hiccups, Microsoft didn’t just give up and close Windows — a smart move, given that computers running Windows operating systems now make up about 90% of the market. But not even Windows 2.0, released in 1987, set Windows on its path to world dominance. That spark didn’t come until Windows 3.0, released in 1990 to critical acclaim and widespread adoption, thanks to a redesigned interface and speed improvements. As TIME put it in the June 4 issue of that year, “Microsoft seems to have got it right this time.”

TIME Innovation

The 25 Best Inventions of 2014

Hoverboards, intelligent space craft, edible food wrappers, and much much more

—Welcome to TIME’s annual round-up of the best inventions making the world better, smarter and—in some cases—a little more fun.

 

  • The Real-Life Hoverboard

    justin fantl

    Hendo Hoverboard / $10,000
    Preorder at hendohover.com

    The hoverboard—a type of skateboard that levitates like a magic carpet—had been a pipe dream since its fictional debut in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II. Now California-based tech firm Hendo has built the real thing.
    Granted, there are caveats. Hendo’s hoverboard can float only an inch or so above the ground, and even then only over conductive material like copper or aluminum. Just 10 are being made to order (so far). And battery life is 15 minutes—barely enough time to zoom past your enemies à la Marty McFly.

    But the technology that powers it could be revolutionary. Using the $450,000-plus it raised on Kickstarter, Hendo founders Jill and Greg Henderson plan to develop magnetic “hovering” tech to stabilize buildings during earthquakes, protect valuable works of art and more. “The hoverboard is the first step to bringing this technology to the world,” says Greg.

  • The Supersmart Spacecraft

    Mangalyaan, India's Mars Orbiter Mission, is prepared for its Nov. 5, 2013 launch into space.
    INDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANIZATION

    Mangalyaan
    Developed by the Indian Space Research Organization

    Nobody gets Mars right on the first try. The U.S. didn’t, Russia didn’t, the Europeans didn’t. But on Sept. 24, India did. That’s when the Mangalyaan (Mars craft in Hindi) went into orbit around the Red Planet, a technological feat no other Asian nation has yet achieved. Building the craft cost India just $74 million, less than the budget for the film Gravity. At that price, the Mangalyaan is equipped with just five onboard instruments that allow it to do simple tasks like measure Martian methane and surface composition. More important, however, it allows India to flex its interplanetary muscles, which portends great things for the country’s space program—and for science in general.

  • A Reactor that Could Realize Nuclear Fusion

    Illustrations by Muti for TIME

    High-beta fusion reactor
    Developed by Lockheed Martin

    Nuclear fusion—the production of energy from the fusion of hydrogen nuclei—has always been the holy grail of energy: it’s endlessly productive and largely clean—and so far, it’s remained elusive. But in October, Lockheed Martin said it had achieved a technological breakthrough that will enable it to make compact fusion reactors small enough to fit on the back of a truck within a decade. The design uses “magnetic mirror confinement” to control the reaction. Absent further details on how it works, some outside scientists are skeptical. But if Lockheed really can produce a workable fusion reactor, the world of energy may never be the same.

  • Wireless Electricity

    Illustrations by Muti for TIME

    Witricity
    In development for Toyota cars, Intel PCs and more

    We already have wireless Internet and wireless phones. Why, then, are everyday appliances still shackled to the wall? To be sure, there are a few power-mat chargers for small gadgets like phones. But WiTricity, based in Watertown, Mass., is thinking big. Its technology—involving a plug-in coil that creates a magnetic field, which in turn powers objects as far away as 8 ft. (2.4 m)—has been tested on Toyota electric cars (with charging mats), Intel PCs (with charging pads) and more. Within 10 years, says CEO Alex Gruzen, rooms could be wired so that all appliances—lamps, TVs, stereos—pull power from a central charging base.

  • 3-D-Printed Everything

    justin fantl

    A machine that can build any object. It sounds like a sci-fi fantasy, but thanks to the rise of 3-D printers—devices that can build objects from digital blueprints, usually by layering plastic or other materials—it is rapidly becoming reality.

    That’s a boon for consumers and corporations alike. In the past year alone, middle-school students have 3-D-printed stock cars for physics lessons, scientists have 3-D-printed tissues for human organs, and GE has used 3-D printing to improve the efficiency of its jet engines. “This is one of those technologies that literally touches everything we do,” says Avi Reichental, CEO of 3D Systems, whose 3-D printers produce candy (as shown above) and musical instruments, among other objects.

  • Watches that Redefine Smart

    Justin Fantl for TIME

    Apple Watch / $349+
    Available early 2015

    Most smart watches have proved to be anything but: they try to shrink down the experience of using a cell phone, with clunky results. Apple’s Watch, by contrast, wholly reimagines the computer for the wrist, using a novel interface that combines a touchscreen and physical buttons. Besides telling time, the Watch can send messages, give directions, track fitness and make wireless payments. It’s also an attractive piece of fashion, with high-end Edition models that feature 18-karat gold. “Apple poured its heart and soul into the design,” says Robert Brunner, founder of San Francisco design studio Ammunition and a former director of industrial design at Apple. “It’s brave because they’re venturing into unknown territory.”

  • The Smartphone that Puts Privacy First

    justin fantl

    Blackphone / $629
    Available at blackphone.ch

    Nearly half of Americans don’t feel safe sharing private information over a cell-phone call, according to Pew. So how can phone owners conceal their data? Enter the Blackphone, a smartphone designed to put privacy above all else. The device, developed by the company of the same name and accelerated after the Snowden leaks, runs a customized Android operating system stripped of features that might make data vulnerable, like calendar sync. It also comes with software that encrypts calls, texts and browsing history at levels far beyond normal smartphones (which could make the Blackphone a target of law-enforcement officials, who say encryption technology makes it harder for cops to catch criminals). But even with a Blackphone, users should be careful about what they type or upload. As Blackphone CEO Toby Weir-Jones explains, “It’s dangerous to assume anything is a magic invisibility cloak.”

  • The Cooler that Powers Your Party

    IMG_0110.JPG
    Tara Johnson for TIME

    Coolest Cooler / $399
    Preorder at coolest.com (to ship in early 2015)

    For more than 60 years, coolers have done a fine job putting party refreshments on ice. But that wasn’t good enough for Ryan Grepper. “We wanted the cooler to be a place where people gather—to have all the things that make a space somewhere you’d want to hang out,” says the former medical sales rep.

    The result is the world’s smartest all-purpose party starter. It stores food and drinks, sure. But it also touts a blender (“for vodkaritas,” Grepper offers), an LED lid light (“to see if you’re reaching for beer or Clamato juice”), a USB charger (“so nobody’s phone dies”), a Bluetooth speaker (for tunes) and big wheels designed to navigate many terrains (beach, parking lot). “I just want to make the coolest cooler out there,” says Grepper. Hence the name: Coolest Cooler.

    Since Grepper’s prototype first appeared on Kickstarter earlier this year, roughly 63,000 backers have contributed $13.3 million to make it a reality. It’s now the most funded creation in the site’s history, besting hits like the Pebble smart watch and Oculus Rift’s virtual-reality glasses.

  • The Chip that Stops Your Slouching

    Illustrations by Muti for TIME

    Lumo Lift / $100
    Available at lumobodytech.com

    You can probably guess why so many people have posture that causes back pain: “We simply forget” to stop slouching, says Monisha Perkash, whose company, Lumo BodyTech, created the ultimate reminder. Once users clip the Lumo Lift, a chiplike gadget about the size of a thumb, onto their shirt, it analyzes neck and spinal positions and vibrates when they’re less than ideal. Although the system isn’t perfect—it can buzz when you lean for necessary reasons, like taking a phone call—it has exceeded internal sales goals. Half of its users are women, which is impressive given that early adopters for gadgets often tilt male.

  • The Car that Makes Electric Enticing

    P90129197_highRes.JPG
    Fabian Kirchbauer

    BMW i3 / $41,350
    Available at BMW dealerships nationwide

    For the most part, electric cars have been slow, sexless and stolid to drive—or stunningly expensive. So when BMW, the self-described maker of “the ultimate driving machine,” announced it would start selling them, it had a high bar to clear. The I3 delivers. In addition to getting 70 to 110 miles (113 to 177 km) on a single three-hour charge, its novel design allows drivers to use a single ­pedal to both accelerate and brake (press down to go, ease up to stop), which results in more energy-efficient driving. And because so-called range anxiety—the fear of running out of juice on the road—remains a top reason people don’t buy electric, BMW is pioneering ways to ease customers’ doubts. Among them: an optional backup gas motor that can recharge its batteries in a pinch and a program that lends owners a gas-powered vehicle for longer trips.

  • The Tablet that Replaces Laptops

    IMG_0420lo.JPG
    Tara Johnson for TIME

    Microsoft Surface Pro 3 / $799
    Available at microsoft.com

    Microsoft’s latest “hybrid” bundles the power of a laptop into a svelte 12-in. tablet and can run desktop apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. That, as well as a slim, detachable keyboard cover and a built-in stand that makes the Surface usable on a desk, makes it more suitable than other tablets for professionals like doctors and businesspeople. No wonder organizations such as Coca-Cola and Seattle’s Children’s Hospital have adopted it in droves.

  • The Ring that Alerts You in Style

    The Ring that Alerts You in Style
    Alice Keeney The Ring that Alerts You in Style

    Ringly / $195+
    Available at ringly.com

    Like many professional women, Christina Mercando keeps her smartphone in her purse, which meant she was constantly digging it out to check for important notifications. But what if she could get that info from something she was already wearing, much as pants-wearing men can feel a phone buzz in their pocket? That’s the thinking behind Ringly, a line of rings that can be programmed to glow when wearers get an email from their boss, a text from their Uber driver or any number of other can’t-miss communications. Mercando, a former product and design manager at eBay, raised more than $1 million to realize her vision. So far, the concept is working: the first 1,000 Ringly rings, which debuted in June, sold out within 24 hours.

  • The Pillbox that Gets Personal

    Justin Fantl for TIME

    Pillpack / prices vary
    Available at pillpack.com

    “I grew up in a family that owned and operated a pharmacy,” says T.J. Parker, who knows firsthand how confusing it can be for people to track which meds to take when, especially if they fill multiple prescriptions. That’s why the e-pharmacy he runs now, PillPack, doesn’t traffic in bottles. Instead, every two weeks, patients are sent a dispenser, which has their medication—all of it—sorted into a ticker tape of tearable packets, organized by date and time. For now, service is limited to patients with multiple prescriptions. But Parker’s ultimate goal is to make the pharmacy experience simpler for everyone, even patients on short-term antibiotics.

  • Bananas that Prevent Blindness

    Illustrations by Muti for TIME

    “Superbananas”
    Developed by the Queensland University of Technology

    In sub-Saharan Africa, up to 30% of kids under age 5 are at risk of going blind—among other conditions—for one simple reason: they don’t get enough eye-nurturing vitamin A. But what if the bananas that make up a lot of their diet could be re-engineered to deliver it? That’s the idea that struck Australian biogeneticist James Dale when he visited Uganda in the early 2000s. With backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dale and his team began developing a vitamin-A-enriched “superbanana”; human trials start soon in the U.S. In Africa, they will be introduced using what Dale calls a “reverse Ponzi scheme” to spark adoption. Village leaders will be given 10 free superbanana plants to grow, on the condition that they give at least 20 new shoots to other villagers, who will do the same. “These bananas could potentially solve” a major health problem, Dale says.

  • The Wheel that Gives Bikers a Boost

    IMG_0306_wheel.JPG
    Tara Johnson for TIME

    Copenhagen Wheel / $799
    Preorder at superpedestrian.com (to ship spring 2015)

    We know that biking is good for us and good for the environment. But getting around on a bicycle can seem daunting, especially in a large city with a hilly terrain. To lessen that burden, Cambridge, Mass.–based Superpedestrian has developed the Copenhagen Wheel, a standard-size wheel—it can be attached to the back of most bicycles—that boasts a rechargeable, battery-powered motor. Depending on rider preferences, entered through a smartphone app, the motor can kick in power throughout the ride or just on hills. Sensors also track road conditions, air temperature and potholes, so cyclists can share real-time information about best routes. “Cities are reaching a limit in terms of how many more cars they can accept,” says Assaf Biderman, founder and CEO of Superpedestrian; indeed, studies like those from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute suggest that the U.S. has reached “peak car.” The Copenhagen Wheel, which has raised more than $6 million (partially through crowdfunding), may help make cycling a more viable alternative.

  • The Seamless Sign-Language Translator

    Illustrations by Muti for TIME

    MotionSavvy uni / $198+
    Preorder at motionsavvy.com (to ship fall 2015)

    For the millions of deaf people who cannot speak, everyday communication often requires costly human translators and tedious note writing. Enter the Uni, a tablet and attachment that leverages motion-sensing cameras and voice recognition to translate American Sign Language into spoken words—and spoken words into text—in real time. “The need for this is so great,” writes Ryan Hait-Campbell, CEO of San Francisco–based MotionSavvy, who is deaf. Roughly 200 Indiegogo backers agree: the company has raised more than $20,000 to date.

  • The Filter that Fights Ebola

    IMG_0538_sand stick.JPG
    Tara Johnson for TIME

    Hemopurifier
    Developed by Aethlon Medical

    What makes the Ebola virus so frightening is its speed. In a matter of days, it can pump out enough copies of itself to overtake the immune system. But the Hemopurifier, a specially designed cartridge that attaches to a dialysis machine, can tip the balance back in the body’s favor: its lectin filter attracts Ebola viruses and sucks them from the blood as it flows through. It’s been used only once, on a patient in Germany, but it did the trick—effectively curing his Ebola infection. In the future, doctors hope similar tech could be used on viruses like hepatitis.

  • The Selfie Stick (and Hairbrush)

    justin fantl

    If 2013 was the year in which selfie became a buzzword, then 2014 was the year selfies became a cultural phenomenon. Look no further than a recent Pew report, which found that at least a quarter of Americans have shared a selfie on a social-networking site (including Ellen Degeneres, Kim Kardashian and President Obama).

    Sensing a new market, several companies have launched devices designed to streamline the selfie-taking experience. Many of them, like a hairbrush that holds your smartphone, are more goofy than game changing. But the selfie stick (produced by multiple brands), which enables users to position their smartphone beyond arms’ reach to get better photo angles, “adds genuine value,” says Van Baker, a mobile tech analyst at the research firm Gartner. “I’ve seen a lot of people using it.”

  • The AC that Lowers Your Energy Bills

    _MG_6107.JPG
    Amy Lombard for TIME

    Quirky + GE aros / $279
    Available at quirky.com

    Americans spend more than $11 billion each year to blast their homes with air-conditioning, releasing 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Experts say a sizable portion of that is waste. IT consultant Garthen Leslie realized as much while driving to work last summer in Washington, past rows of empty-looking houses with humming window units that could not be turned on or off remotely. There had to be a better way. “So I sent an idea to Quirky,” he says, referring to the GE-backed site that turns people’s concepts into creations. Four months later, they had a prototype.

    The Aros air conditioner, which has sold nearly 50,000 units since its May 2014 release, is a provocative departure from the familiar window unit. For one thing, it’s elegant, with a sleek white exterior that’s almost Apple-esque. It’s smart too. Thanks to a companion mobile app, Aros can track owners’ movements via GPS and turn itself on and off depending on their proximity to home. It also tells people exactly how much money they’re spending to cool their residences. That’s how Quirky knows it’s working: so far, the company says, Aros owners who use the “smart away” feature that turns the unit on and off automatically have trimmed their energy use by nearly 10%.

  • The Prison Room that Helps Inmates Relax

    Illustrations by Muti for TIME

    “Blue Room”
    Developed by Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon

    For 23 hours a day, the 200 inmates in solitary confinement at Oregon’s largest prison see nothing but a tiny, white-walled cell—an experience some research suggests can heighten mental illness and make prisoners prone to suicide attempts and violence. Last year, officials began letting some of them spend their free hour in a first-of-its-kind “blue room,” an exercise space where a projector plays video of open deserts, streaming waterfalls and other outdoor scenes. That imagery, says creator Nalini Nadkarni, who studies how nature affects behavior, is designed to calm prisoners, “much in the way we walk through a park” to relax. Inmates have responded so well that guards now use blue-room time as a way to pre-empt bad behavior.

  • The Tablet Toy that Gets Physical

    justin fantl

    Osmo / $79
    Available at playosmo.com

    Like many kids, Pramod Sharma’s daughter loves the iPad. But “when her face is glued to the screen, six inches away, all day long—I wasn’t too happy,” he says. (Studies have shown that too much screen time can lead to attention problems and obesity.) So the ex-Google engineer and his former colleague, Jérôme Scholler, devised a way to bring virtual play back into the real world. Osmo’s “reflective AI” attachment enables the iPad camera to interpret physical objects—allowing kids to mimic an onscreen pattern with colored tiles, for example, and get rewarded for doing it correctly (while also refining their motor skills). The toy, which debuted in October, has helped Osmo raise $14.5 million in capital and is now being sold in the Apple Store. “Many kids can play at once,” says Sharma, “so it becomes more interactive and imaginative.”

  • The Coaching Basketball

    Justin Fantl for TIME

    94fifty smart sensor / $200
    Available at 94fifty.com

    In sports training, as in business, there’s no more valuable asset than data. That’s why hoops pros use high-tech equipment to monitor everything from passing patterns to fatigue levels. This basketball aims to re-create those perks for casual players. It comes embedded with nine sensors and a Bluetooth chip that sends performance data to a mobile app—allowing players to measure, say, the arc of their jumpshot. If something’s off during game play, the voice of a coach (via the app) can even implore you to “go faster” or “snap your wrist.” “We get excited when we see someone improve,” says Michael Crowley, whose company, InfoMotion Sports Technologies Inc., makes the 94Fifty Smart Sensor. And apparently, that’s happening a lot: Crowley says InfoMotion has sold close to 100,000 balls.

  • Wrappers You Can Eat

    IMG_0445lo(2).JPG
    Tara Johnson for TIME

    Wikipearls / $4 for a pack of two
    Available at select Whole Foods

    “Edible wrapper” sounds like an oxymoron—unless you’re WikiFoods founder David Edwards, who has devised a way to encase yogurt, cheese, ice cream and more in shells strong enough to hold their shape (in water, heat and cold) until you take your first bite. The secret lies in science: Each shell is made of particles of dried fruit or other natural substances that are tiny enough to be electrically attracted to one another; they are combined with calcium and sugar to strengthen the form. Though the frozen-yogurt Pearls—the first WikiFoods product to reach mainstream stores, thanks to deals with Stonyfield and Whole Foods—are still packaged in biodegradable bags of two, Edwards’ ultimate goal is to sell them à la carte, like apples or peanuts, in an effort to reduce the world’s packaging waste.

  • Screens that Showcase Digital Art

    Illustrations by Muti for TIME

    Electric objects / $399 per frame
    Preorder at electricobjects.com

    “There are so many artists” making beautiful works on and for computers, says digital artist Jake Levine, referencing the burgeoning Tumblr community (among others). But putting that art on physical walls has been nearly impossible. Levine’s Electric Objects, which has raised almost $3 million in funding, aims to change that. The sleek, 22-by-13-in. flatscreens are wired specifically to display art. Their brightness dims in tandem with sunlight, and their matte finish blocks glare so they resemble actual paintings. And a companion smartphone app lets users switch what is displayed on a whim—eventually, Levine hopes, from a marketplace full of digital artwork.

  • Action Figures that Empower Girls

    justin fantl

    IAmelemental / $65 for a set of 7
    Available at iamelemental.com

    Studies have shown that girls’ career ambitions can be heavily influenced by their playthings. But when moms Dawn Nadeau and Julie Kerwin started searching for female action figures that were athletic and empowering—as opposed to dolls like Barbie, most of which cannot even bend their limbs—they were dismayed to find … none. (Well, aside from “hypersexualized figures for adult male collectors,” says Nadeau.) So using funds they raised on Kickstarter—$162,906 to be exact, more than quadruple their goal—they designed and commissioned a firm to build their IAmElemental series of action figures, meant to portray women as heroes with strong personalities. Each figure embodies a different “element” of heroism, like persistence or honesty. “The idea that girls could save the world—that’s a very powerful fantasy,” says Nadeau.

    Corrections appended Nov. 20, 2014, to clarify the title of WikiFoods founder David Edwards and funding figures for the Copenhagen Wheel and Electric Objects.

    Read next: 5 Unique Winter Warming Gadgets for Under $50

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