TIME apps

5 iPhone App Deals You Just Can’t Miss This Weekend

Try 'Scan & Translate' to eliminate the language barrier

Looking to download a few great iPhone apps while saving some money this weekend? Check out these five, all on sale or free right now.

  • Scan & Translate

    Scan to Translate
    Scan to Translate Scan to Translate

    Similar to Google Translate, this app allows you to scan and translate text in another language. That makes it a fantastic tool for traveling (when, for example, you have no idea how to figure out menus and street directions), or for students working with texts in foreign languages. It’s also handy for getting over simple language barriers in day-to-day interactions.

    Scan & Translate is on sale for $1.99 in the App Store.

  • Lost Yeti

    Lost Yeti
    Lost Yeti Lost Yeti

    Very few puzzle games have plots, and the ones that do seem to try a little too hard. However, Lost Yeti seems to strike the perfect balance. The object is simple: Players must free a trapped Yeti (or Bigfoot, as some call him) by completing puzzles that unlock a footpath. It’s the sort of game you can spend a lot of time tinkering around with — but don’t get lost in the woods.

    Lost Yeti is temporarily free in the App Store.

  • Cycloramic

    Cycloramic
    Cycloramic Cycloramic

    Another app that helps you take advantage of your new phone’s advanced photo capabilities, Cycloramic can let take way better panoramic photos. The app can take wide-angle photos, but it also has a hands-free mode allowing it to snap fully 360º shots by rotating your iPhone using its vibration motor. If that sounds confusing, worry not: The app packs very clear instructions on how to get the best results.

    Cycloramic is temporarily free in the App Store.

  • Touch2Face

    Touch2Face
    Touch2Face Touch2Face

    Touch2Face is one of those rare apps that doesn’t sound like it does much of anything, but it will actually change the way your use your iPhone. It’s simple: Touch2Face creates icons in your iPhone’s notification dock or home screen for dialing up your favorite people, which eliminates the need to scroll through your endless list of contacts. There are options to have the buttons make FaceTime calls or stick to regular voice dials.

    Touch2Face is temporarily free in the App Store.

  • Message Art

    Message Art
    Message Art Message Art

    For some reason, this app’s developers have decided to market it to towards children and parents when it’s obvious that 1) very young children shouldn’t have iPhones and 2) that it’s likely to be used and enjoyed by adults. The app allows you to draw pictures, doodle over photos from your library, or even hand-write notes and send them as an image via iMessage. It’s a lot of fun to use, and sometimes more intimate than normal text messages.

    Message Art is temporarily free in the App Store.

TIME Web

This Is How Richard Scarry Would Draw Silicon Valley’s Most Infamous Stereotypes

There's the "Patent Troll," the "Thought Leader" and more

Author and illustrator Richard Scarry penned some of the most iconic children’s books of the past few decades, like the Busytown series about animals doing human jobs in a pretend town. More than 100 million of Scarry’s books were sold, and his work was turned into all sorts of television shows, movies and video games.

Now, artist Tony Ruth is honoring Scarry’s legacy with a series of scathing satirical illustrations showing how the legendary illustrator might pen Silicon Valley stereotypes. Ruth’s new series, “Businesstown,” features such Valley staples as the Patent Troll, the Digital Prophet, the Thought Leader and more.

Check out some of Ruth’s work in the gallery above. Be sure to visit his constantly-updating Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram pages for fresh updates.

TIME Gadgets

You Can Control This Heated Scarf With Your Smartphone

Scarf
Martin Dimitrov—Getty Images Woman texting on smartphone outside

New device can also vibrate

A scarf is probably not the first kind of “wearable device” you think of, but Microsoft may change that. A research group at the company has developed a smart scarf that can heat up or vibrate via a smartphone app, MIT Technology Review reports.

The scarf is comprised of hexagonal modules made of felt and overlaid with copper taffeta. One of the modules has Bluetooth functionality in order to communicate with your smartphone. Some of the modules heat up and others vibrate, but they can be rearranged in any order to alter the heat distribution of the scarf.

Researchers told the MIT Technology Review that they’d like to add cooling functionality to the scarf, as well as a music player. The device could even worth with other biometric devices to adjust the scarf temperature based on a person’s mood, perhaps boosting the heat when the wearer appears to be sad.

For now, the scarf is just a research project. A paper on the device was presented at a conference on human-computer interaction at Stanford University on Sunday.

TIME Innovation

See The Incredibly Goofy Evolution of Virtual Reality Headsets

Inventors have been experimenting with virtual reality headsets in a variety of sometimes wacky ways, from virtual roller coasters to virtual surgery

TIME Companies

Apple Paid its New Retail Chief More Than $70 Million Last Year

Apple Inc.'s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Go On Sale
Lisa Maree Williams—Bloomberg/Getty Images Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president of retail and online stores at Apple Inc., right, and employees look on before opening the doors to the company's George Street store for the sales launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Sydney on Sept. 19, 2014.

Making Angela Ahrendts the company's highest-paid exec

How much does Apple care about its retail stores? Enough to pay more than $70 million to the woman heading them up, making her the highest-paid exec at the company.

Apple revealed in an SEC filing Thursday that new hire Angela Ahrendts earned $73.4 million in 2014, almost all of it in stock awards. Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, joined Apple in May as the senior vice president for retail and online stores.

In the filing, Apple explained Ahrendts’ sky-high paycheck. “The recruitment of Ms. Ahrendts provided an extraordinary addition to the Company’s executive team with the experience and ability to lead both the retail and online businesses,” Apple wrote. “In determining her transition package, the Compensation Committee considered Ms. Ahrendts’ compensation arrangement at Burberry and the amounts that she was expected to receive in future years. At the time, Ms. Ahrendts was among the highest paid executives in the U.K. and held unvested Burberry equity awards with a value of approximately $37 million.”

Part of the reason Apple’s been so generous to Ahrendts is because her job extends to much more than just managing the Apple Stores: The former Burberry head was brought on specifically for her fashion taste to help design an Apple Watch that would be visually appealing to customers. We’ll find out whether she succeeded when the new device launches in the spring of this year.

TIME Social Networking

Here’s How How Pinterest Is Trying to Attract More Men

Pinterest
Josh Edelson—AFP/Getty Images Decorative pillows set the scene at a Pinterest media event at the company's corporate headquarters office in San Francisco, California on April 24, 2014.

More gender-neutral search results, and also more tacos

With its penchant for promoting pulchritudinous pinups, plush petals and piquant plates, Pinterest has a reputation for appealing in particular to women — more than 70% of its 72.5 million U.S. users are female.

Now, Pinterest is trying to appeal to the male demographic by subtly making its search results more gender-neutral.

That means including more tacos and pizzas alongside popular baked goods and family meals in search results for recipe ideas, reports the Wall Street Journal, or a wider range of Halloween costumes. Executives are also targeting male appetites by introducing personalized search results where gender is factored into the results and promoting pins based on gender.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

TIME apps

A Bunch of New Microsoft Office Apps Are Coming This Year

Microsoft Holds Annual Shareholder Meeting
Stephen Brashear—Getty Images Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addresses shareholders during Microsoft Shareholders Meeting December 3, 2014 in Bellevue, Washington.

The new Microsoft Office is designed for Windows 10

Microsoft has plenty of upgrades in the pipeline for Office users.

First, the newest version of Microsoft’s Office software suit, named Office 2016, will arrive in the second half of 2015, the company announced Thursday. Office 2016 will feature full-fledged apps designed for PCs and keyboard-and-mouse use.

Microsoft is also rolling out separate versions of its Office apps designed for the upcoming Windows 10 operating system, which is designed to work seamlessly across various devices. Accordingly, those apps, including forms of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook, will work on PCs, tablets and mobile phones. Here’s a look at Word for Windows 10, for example:

MicrosoftWord for Windows 10

General Manager for the Office Product Management Team Julia White said Thursday that the so-called Office for Windows 10 apps are “built for touch and offer the unmistakable Office experience you know and love.”

“As ‘universal’ Office apps, they truly are the same app across device size, providing a consistent way for independent software vendors and developers to extend and integrate with Office apps,” added White in a blog post.

The Office for Windows 10 apps will be pre-installed on Windows 10 mobile devices, and a free download for other machines. Expect them to arrive “later this year,” per White.

TIME Gadgets

How To Boost Your Wi-Fi With a Range Extender

phone
Getty Images

Here's how to get your Wi-Fi network to finally cover your whole house

I love the Wi-Fi service available in my home. I have my laptop, my smartphone and my tablet hooked up to it so I can surf the web from anywhere in the house. Well, almost anywhere.

The Wi-Fi gear is installed towards the back of my place. The further I go towards the front of the house, the worse the signal. If I try to do much more than check email in my front room, it takes forever. Streaming YouTube or Netflix is out of the question.

Fortunately, this is why they make wireless Wi-Fi range extenders. These are small boxes that can extend the range of your Wi-Fi signal by boosting it and retransmitting it.

What to buy

When looking for a wireless Wi-Fi range extender of your own, you don’t need to buy from the same manufacturer as your Wi-Fi box (though it doesn’t hurt, either.) The features you are looking for are easy set up, matching frequency band (2.4 and/or 5Ghz) and a signal-strength indicator.

Two-button set up

If you aren’t especially tech-savvy, you’ll want to stay away from extenders that require you to fiddle around with their internal settings through a web browser. Watch out for any product that comes with a CD or software.

The easiest set up is if both your Wi-Fi box and the expander have WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). Pushing the WPS buttons on both your Wi-Fi box and your extender at the same time allows the systems to talk to each other and take care of the setup without you having to muck around with the settings.

Match the frequency

Is your Wi-Fi box running on a 2.4 or 5Ghz band? Make sure the extender matches. If you have a choice, boosting a 2.4Gz signal will go further, but boosting the short-range 5Ghz signal will be stronger. Dual-band extenders cover both.

Signal strength indicator

How do you know where to put your extender for the best signal boost? Too close to your Wi-Fi box and you won’t get the best coverage. Go too far and the weakened signal won’t do you any good. Look for extenders that give an indication of signal strength so you can find just the right spot.

Our recommendation

Netgear’s WN2500RP Dual Band Wi-Fi Range Extender ($54 on Amazon) has all the bells and whistles we covered here. We particularly like the LED lights that give you a great indicator of the signal strength.

That’s all there is to it. With a repeater in place, you can be streaming music in your garage or checking Facebook on the porch in no time. But what if an extender can’t get the Wi-Fi to the room you want? Then it’s time to consider a wired alternative.

Wired extender alternatives

1. If your home has been wired for cable, you may have a coax (cat 5) jack in your home’s Wi-Fi dead zone that you can use to extend your coverage. A coax adapter creates a wired connection from your router box to the are where you need coverage without having to run a cable.

It’s as simple as plugging one adapter into a coax jack next to your existing router and using an Ethernet cable to connect them. Then plug the second adapter into a coax jack in the area where you need Wi-Fi coverage and use an Ethernet cable to connect the adapter to the included, second Wi-Fi router. You should get the same speeds as your current W-Fi network and higher speeds than a Wi-Fi repeater will provide.

If this sounds like the option for you, we recommend the Actiontec Dual-Band Wireless Network Extender and Ethernet Over Coax Adapter Kit ($149.99 on Amazon).

2. A powerline adapter creates a wired connection from your router box to the room you need it without having to run a cable between the two areas. It does this by using the existing electrical system already built into your house.

It’s as simple as plugging one adapter into a power outlet next to your router and using an Ethernet cable to connect them. Then plug the second adapter into an electrical socket in the room where you need it and plug another Ethernet cable from that one into whatever computer, game console or smart TV requires an internet connection. Pair the two adapters by pressing the buttons on the front of them and you’re good to go.

A powerline adapter will likely provide a faster internet connection than a Wi-Fi repeater, though it will depend on how your house is wired. It’s ideal if you’re only trying to connect one device that has an ethernet port.

If this sounds like the option for you, we recommend the TP-LINK TL-PA4010KIT AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter Starter Kit ($40 on Amazon). It is small, powerful, secure and has an energy-saving mode. You can buy extra adapters if you want a signal in more than one room.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME Gadgets

You Asked: How Do Virtual Reality Headsets Work?

Virtual Reality
Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images An attendee wears an Oculus Rift HD virtual reality head-mounted display at he plays EVE: Valkyrie, a multiplayer virtual reality dogfighting shooter game, at the Intel booth at the 2014 International CES, January 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

If it was a simple as strapping a video screen to your face, we’d all have iPhone visors

Microsoft surprised the world Wednesday with a futuristic headset that will beam 3D images right into users’ retinas. This eye-popping technology certainly looks like it’s on the cutting edge, but actually, the biggest part of it — virtual reality — has been around for years. No, I’m not talking about 1995’s Nintendo Virtual Boy, I’m talking about the underlying science of virtual reality, originally started at NASA 25 years ago.

In essence, virtual reality is taking what people expect to see in the real world as they turn left and right or move forwards and backwards, and replacing it with imagery that moves and behaves the same way, says Mark Bolas, associate director of the Institute of Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California.

“Your perceptual system doesn’t really have anything to tell it that it’s not in the virtual world, so it believes it, and you feel as if you’re present, Bolas says. But he isn’t just a mouthpiece for the head-mounted technology — his department at USC is a major reason why we’re seeing a boom in virtual reality today. His team once included Scott Fisher, who directed NASA’s early virtual reality efforts, and Palmer Lucky, founder of Oculus VR, a leading maker of virtual reality headsets.

To start, think of virtual reality as a stereo video instead of a 3D movie, says Bolas. “When you’re in the theater [for a 3D movie], you see a 3D picture, and you briefly feel presence,” he says. “But if you turn your head left and right, you’re going to see the edges of the screen, so presence is going to be broken.”

On the other hand, virtual reality uses computer graphics, algorithms, and lenses to hide that edge and recalculate the picture as you move. If you turn your head left or right, it will seem like there’s no end to the screen, like it surrounds you in 360 degrees. “All of a sudden, the trick’s complete and you feel like you’re in the space,” says Bolas.

Of course, a 360-degree screen would be prohibitively expensive to make. But Bolas’s lab at USC made a breakthrough in 2011 that helped make virtual reality more realistic, both economically and visually. “We found a magic number for field of view that really gave you this illusion of presence,” says Bolas.

Previous consumer virtual reality displays had fields of view around 40 to 60 degrees, says Bolas. “It’s almost like looking through a toilet paper tube.” By working with an expensive 150-degree screen, USC studied how narrow they could make the field before the feeling of presence was compromised.

“We don’t think about our peripheral vision very much, but it influences us quite a bit,” he says. “It’s wired deep in our brain as a survival mechanism so that if a lion jumps out at you and you see it in your periphery, you react before it ever even gets to the center of your field of view.” The sweet spot for where people catch the lion (or does it catch us?) is around 90 to 100 degrees.

With that figure in mind, USC produced an open source kit that has helped virtual reality developers make more convincing products. And since that time, the technology has taken off, with startups like Oculus getting acquired by Facebook in a $2 billion deal, companies like Sony and Samsung making their own gear, and of course, yesterday’s futuristic announcement from Microsoft.

But the funny thing is, you don’t necessarily need to wait for any of their inventions to try out virtual reality for yourself. In 2012, USC released FOV2GO, a free template for constructing your own virtual reality eyepiece using cardboard and an iPhone 4/4S for a screen. Then, in 2013 they followed up with another free template called VR2GO, which uses the larger-screened iPhone 5 and Android handsets as displays. And the newer model is a 3D-printing file, thank goodness, because mounting a smartphone to your face with cardboard looks awful strange.

TIME Gadgets

Microsoft Wants To End Awful Business Meetings With This Massive Touchscreen

Microsoft Surface Hub
Microsoft Microsoft Surface Hub

Hands-on with the 84-inch Surface Hub

Microsoft got plenty of attention Wednesday for its eye-catching HoloLens, a headset that projects 3-D content into the world around you. But it also unveiled another innovation at its Windows 10 press event that serves a much more pressing purpose: Fixing terrible business meetings.

Microsoft’s new Surface Hub is a massive, Windows 10-powered tablet that takes the whiteboards, speakerphones and video-conferencing solutions that slow down your meetings and packs them into an 84-inch touchscreen 4K display, or for a tighter squeeze, a 55-inch 1080p display. It’s wall-mountable, but Microsoft also sells various Hub-friendly stands.

Because the Surface Hub simulates so many familiar conferencing tools, it’s a breeze to use. The whiteboard app detects the minutest movements of the stylus across the screen, and notes can be saved to the cloud. Presentation materials can be wirelessly shared to the Hub from any participant’s Windows- or Android-powered device, eliminating the time-suck of physically connecting a laptop to a projector.

Then there’s the ultimate bane of the business meeting: The dial-in callers who pile into a single conference line and announce their presence with a mysterious ding. The Surface Hub replaces all that with Skype videoconferencing, with participants appearing in a tidy stack on either side of the screen while dual cameras ensure callers have a clear view of the conference room.

Surface Hub
Microsoft Surface Hub

Microsoft is pitching the Surface Hub as a corporate time-saver, claiming it can whittle down the time it takes to set up a meeting from 12 minutes to a few seconds. But aside from the time savings, the really intriguing application of the Surface Hub is how it changes the way users interact with a presentation. It’s surprising how the simple act of marking up a slide or manipulating graphics can bring a story to life. I lost two minutes tinkering with a meaningless chart of coffee sales because I couldn’t resist dragging and dropping new views of the data into the center of the screen. Even more intriguing was 3-D models of engine parts, which could be rotated with a twist of the hand, giving engineers an opportunity to accelerate conversations about design tweaks.

The Surface Hub might look familiar to you: It was the brainchild of digital touch screen guru Jeff Han, who developed the Election Day touch screens that first cropped up on CNN, giving political analysts a new way of fiddling through voting data in red states and blue states.

Han says no shortage of potential business users contacted him after the election looking for similar tech for their conference rooms. But the massive touch screens were forbiddingly expensive, with costs running upwards of $80,000. Microsoft bought Han’s company, Perceptive Pixels, back in 2012, and got to work bringing down the screens’ price into the realm of an “enterprise” budget.

Still, Microsoft hasn’t said how much the Surface Hub will cost — or when exactly it’ll go on sale. For now, Microsoft will only say it’ll hit store shelves “later this year.”

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