TIME Terrorism

Facebook and Twitter Are ‘Command-and-Control Networks’ for Terrorists

Spy chief: U.S. technology companies are in denial over the extent they aid terror and crime

The head of Britain’s equivalent of the NSA has said that U.S. technology firms that dominate the Internet must contribute more to the battle against violent extremism and child exploitation.

Robert Hannigan, the new head of Government Communications Headquarters, has accused Internet firms of being “in denial” over the role they play in crime and terrorism, demanding they work with security services to combat the growth of groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Writing in the Financial Times on Tuesday, Hannigan says that unlike other extremist groups, including al-Qaeda, ISIS has “embraced the web” and grown increasingly savvy in improving the security of their communications.

While technology companies may aspire to stand outside politics, their services increasingly facilitate crime and terrorism, argues Hannigan. “However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us,” he adds.

He says U.K. security agencies need better support from “the largest U.S. technology companies which dominate the web” and calls for greater cooperation, adding that most Internet users would prefer “a better, more sustainable relationship between the agencies and the technology companies.”

[FT]

TIME Music

Southwest Airlines Is Now Offering Free Beats Music

Beats Music Free Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines

Many are wondering about the future of Beats, which was acquired by Apple this year

Southwest Airlines is now offering free Beats Music to passengers connected to in-flight Wi-Fi, the Dallas-based airline announced Monday.

Flyers will see a promotion for the streaming service on their devices’ browsers upon connecting to Wi-Fi, and then will receive a custom playlist based information they provide about their mood, location and preferences, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson told the New York Times. After three songs, passengers will be asked to provide their e-mail, and afterwards they can continue to listen to Beats Music for free.

“We continue to enhance our onboard offerings to remain current as our customers’ needs evolve, and with the addition of Beats Music on our entertainment portal, we’re doing just that,” Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer, said in a press release.

Southwest said the Beats partnership had been in the works for a year, months before Beats’ $3 billion acquisition in August by Apple. Apple has yet to disclose its plans for the on-demand music service, but it said in September that TechCrunch’s report of Apple’s plan to shut down Beats Music was not true. Still, some say it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s similar service, iTunes Radio, absorbs the Beats brand.

Southwest’s free Beats deal is the latest example of promotions at 30,000 ft., where busy or bored customers are logging onto the increasingly many in-flight Wi-Fi services. T-Mobile, for example, announced in September that it would offer free texting over in-flight Wi-Fi.

 

TIME technology

Meet Nixie, the Selfie Drone You Wear on Your Wrist

Wearable cameras might be nothing new: the GoPro, a camera you can mount to just about anything, has been around since 2002, and 2014 saw the public releases of Google Glass and the Autographer. But now the developers of a new quadcopter drone hope to revolutionize the way we take photos of ourselves.

Called Nixie, this is a flying camera that straps on like a watch, but can dismount from your arm, shoot into the sky, take a photo, and fly right back again (thanks to a range of sensors powered by Intel’s Edison chip.)

The flying drone just won the grand prize at Intel’s Make it Wearable Challenge, after an open call for new wearable technology ideas that use the company’s flagship microchips.

The brainchild of Christoph Kohstall, a Postdoctoral researcher at Standford, and Jelena Jovanovic, formerly of Google, Nixie is still in the prototyping phase, but developers say it will weigh less than a tenth of a pound and capture HD quality images.

Nixie also boasts a panorama mode for aerial 360° arcs; a so-called “boomerang” mode for taking shots at programmed fixed distances from the owner; a “follow me” mode for, as the name implies, following the owner while they are in motion, and a “hover” mode for near-impossible high shots.

But this does raise some questions: Will Nixie be able to identify the owner in a crowded space? And while nailing algorithms for functionality is key, wearablilty is arguably equally important. Most importantly, the finished version of Nixie will have to integrate in its owner’s daily life. After all, a wearable drone camera will only really succeed if you can actually wear it.

One thing is sure: Intel’s $500,000 cash prize will help address these questions.


Erica Fahr Campbell is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME


TIME Gadgets

Hands-On With the Fitbit Charge, Charge HR & Surge

Fitbit Surge Fitbit

Fitbit showed off three new activity trackers this week; two fitness bands, the Charge and Charge HR, and one smart fitness watch with built-in GPS, the Surge. I got a hands-on look at the new devices before their launch and it’s evident that Fitbit is stepping up its tech game and gearing up to woo athletes away from the competition.

The Fitbit Charge

The Fitbit Charge, available now, is the promised replacement for the Fitbit Force that was recalled earlier this year when some users complained of skin irritation and rashes from the band. Fitbit calls this new model a reinvented version with not only a better design but more features.

The Charge still measures your steps, distance traveled and calories burned. It now also features automatic sleep detection which monitors the length and quality of your sleep based on an analysis of your motion. Additionally, it displays your phone’s caller ID on your wrist. You can’t actually answer a call or do anything with the information, but it’s good to have when you’re in the middle of a great workout or other situation and can’t grab your phone.

All this is shown on a bright OLED display that’s easy to read and scroll through. The band itself is not as smooth as before, it’s more textured, but that’s ok. It feels comfortable in the hand and on the wrist and didn’t seem too heavy.

The Charge will last up to seven days before needing to be recharged, according to the company. It’s available now in black, blue, burgundy and slate for $129.

The Fitbit Charge HR

Of the three devices I saw, the one I’m most excited about is the Charge HR. It’s basically a Charge with a built-in heart rate monitor so you don’t need to wear a chest strap during spin class or a workout. In fact, using Fitbit’s own PurePulse technology, it can provide a continuous measure of your heart rate, not just when you press start before beginning a work out, as you must do on other devices.

A huge improvement on this device, as well as the Surge below, is the watch-like closure which makes it much easier to put the band on your wrist. Though the notch closures on previous devices have been improved, I continue to struggle to get and keep the band closed on my wrist so I’m happy to see this change. In fact, I’d like to see it on the Charge as well.

All this heart rate monitoring on the Charge HR will cost you. It shaves around two days off the battery life, so you’ll have to recharge every five days or so. Plus it adds $20 to the cost, making this $150 when it becomes available in early 2015.

For serious runners and athletes, or those who like to track their outdoor workouts, the Surge is Fitbit’s most advanced tracker yet. It offers all-day heart rate and fitness tracking and adds in GPS tracking.

The device has eight sensors; accelerometers, gyroscopes, a compass, optical heart rate monitor and an ambient light sensor that all work together to give you a comprehensive summary of your daily activities.

The Fitbit Surge

The Surge is so much more than just a serious fitness tracker. It offers smartwatch features like Caller ID, text alerts and the ability to control your music from your wrist.

I thought this would feel much heavier since the band is a little wider than the one on the Charge, and the backlit LCD touchscreen display is larger. I was pleased to find it didn’t feel clunky and in fact sits nicely on the wrist. The Surge also has the watch-like clasp.

Alas, you’ll have to wait a little longer to go for a run with this GPS-enabled smart fitness tracker. The Surge will be available early next year for $250.

This article was written by Andrea Smith and originally appeared on Techlicious

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TIME Companies

Samsung’s Curved Galaxy Note Edge Gets a U.S. Release Date

Opening Day Of The IFA Consumer Electronics Show
A visitor inspects a Samsung Galaxy Note Edge smartphone at the IFA Consumer Electronics Show in Berlin, Germany, on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Krizstian Bocsi—Bloomberg / Getty Images

The Galaxy Note Edge will debut in the U.S. on November 14

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, the world’s only smartphone with a “functional” curved touchscreen, will launch in the United States on November 14, the Korean electronics maker announced Monday.

The Galaxy Note Edge, which features a sort of “second screen” that wraps around the phone’s righthand edge, made waves at floor shows this fall for its unusual design, extending the Galaxy’s already ample screen size to 5.6 inches and squeezing a few handy menu items along the screen’s outer edge. Initial reviews praised the screen’s design more enthusiastically than the functional improvement.

The phone will go on sale through most major carriers including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile at a starting price that varies depending on the cell phone contract and the carrier. AT&T will offer it at a starting price of $400 with a 2-year contract.

TIME apps

Google Just Released a Brand New Google Calendar App

An iOS version is in the works

Google unveiled a new Google Calendar app Monday, featuring enhanced convenience and a new layout, according to a blog post. The new app is available now on the latest Android operating system, while an update for older versions of Android as well as for iPhone is in the works.

One of the biggest changes in the new Google Calendar app is that e-mails will integrate seamlessly into the calendar. If you get an e-mail confirmation for a flight, hotel reservation or any other scheduling notification, Google Calendar will automatically pull in the details, so you no longer have to flip between apps or screens to copy and paste the details. Events also will be updated in real time, so if your flight gets delayed, for example, Google Calendar just might know about it before you.

Another convenient addition is a feature called Assists, which is like Google Search’s auto-complete, only that it provides suggestions as you type in names, places and events, like “Central Park” or “Birthday dinner.”

The finishing touch is a new layout called Schedule View, which adds illustrations, photos and maps to your events if you only have a second to glance at your calendar. Or, as Google says, Schedule View could just “bring a little extra beauty to your day.”

All told, the new Google Calendar app looks similar to Inbox, Google’s new email app meant to entirely rethink your, well, inbox.

The new Google Calendar features are now available for free on Android 5.0 Lollipop, the latest Google-designed Android operating system which began rolling out Monday, according to Android’s blog. Android 4.1+ devices will able to tap into the new Google Calendar app via a Google Play update, which will become available in the next few weeks. Google added that an iPhone version is in the works.

Read next: 50 Best iPhone Apps, 2014 Edition

TIME Media

Here’s Why Taylor Swift Pulled Her Music From Spotify

The Voice - Season 7
THE VOICE -- "Knockout Reality" -- Pictured: Taylor Swift -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) NBC/Getty Images

The 1989 star has been outspoken about singers valuing their music by saying no to low-royalty streaming services

Taylor Swift pulled all her music from Spotify on Monday, save for one song, in a move that’s got many of her fans—and especially the music streaming service—calling desperately for her return.

The Shake It Off singer hasn’t been too keen on sharing her music with Spotify. Swift’s most recent album, 1989, wasn’t on the service, and she initially held off on allowing Spotify to stream her 2012 album, Red. But the 24-year-old, whose music seems to have its own copyright patrol service, had been showing signs that she wouldn’t work with Spotify since July, when she explained her problem with streaming music services in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:

In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace. Piracy, file sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.

Swift also argued in her piece that free or virtually free songs are at odds with what music really means:

Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.

So how much do Spotify artists actually make? Artists earn on average less than one cent per play, between $0.006 and $0.0084, to be exact, according to Spotify Artists, a website that explains the service to artists.

MORE: Find the perfect Taylor Swift Lyric for your mood

It’s a small per-stream royalty, but for someone like Swift, a one-cent-per-stream model would likely rack in millions. Spotify has said that an unnamed but real-life artist was earning $425,000 per month in royalties for a “global hit album,” a category likely containing 1989, which is on track to set a record for the best-selling week ever for an album by a female artist. Additionally, over 70% of Spotify’s revenue goes to rights holders like the record label, publisher and distributor.

Other factors also make Spotify a lucrative opportunity for Swift. An artist’s popularity on Spotify is also one of the major metrics in how payout is calculated, and it’s no secret that Swift is a huge traffic driver. Her single Shake It Off was number one on Spotify as of Monday, and it’s likely Spotify’s charts would’ve looked a lot more like the ones on iTunes if 1989 was available there. Swift’s payout would also increase alongside Spotify’s revenue, and advertisers probably would’ve paid pretty large premiums to tap into Swift’s streaming audience.

Spotify

Spotify has made clear not only to Swift but to all artists that despite how little money artists make per stream compared to per album profits, it believes there is still value in its model:

We personally view “per stream” metrics as a highly flawed indication of our value to artists . . . We believe, however, that our service and the lives of artists will both be best if the world’s music fans enjoy more music than ever before in a legal, paid manner.

Still, it’s obvious that not even the promise of millions is enough to seal a deal with Swift, who’s calling for artists to reject services that devalue their work through low payouts. Other artists have taken similar actions, including musicians like American rock duo The Black Keys, who have spoken out against the small royalties paid by streaming services. Meanwhile, some artists like Coldplay choose to stagger their album’s streaming release in order to encourage listeners to buy or download the album before it’s available for streaming.

Spotify is holding out hope that Swift will return to the service, writing in a Monday statement, “We hope she’ll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone.” But her return doesn’t seem too probable now that she’s taken very real steps to realize what is one of her biggest goals as an influencer, according to her Journal op-ed:

My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet . . . is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.

Read next: 4 Places to Listen to Taylor Swift Besides Spotify

TIME Music

4 Places to Listen to Taylor Swift Besides Spotify

Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America"
Taylor Swift Performs On ABC's "Good Morning America" at Times Square on October 30, 2014 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy--Getty Images) Jamie McCarthy—Getty Images

But if you want 1989, you'll probably have to buy it

Taylor Swift just removed her music from Spotify, and it doesn’t look like they’re ever getting back together. But what now? Where will you be able to listen to Shake It Off? How will you get through your day without Out of the Woods?

Don’t rip your ears off in despair just yet– here are four places where you can still find Taylor Swift’s music online:

Rdio: You can listen to all of Taylor’s old albums here, but nothing from 1989, unfortunately.

Google Play: You can buy the entire album of 1989 on GooglePlay for $12.49, or individual songs for $1.29.

iTunes: 1989 is featured on iTunes and is on sale for $12.99.

Amazon: If you buy 1989 on CD on Amazon, it will automatically download all 13 tracks in MP3 format (and at $9.99, it costs less than iTunes.) You can also just buy the MP3 version for $12.49.

Other music sites like Pandora and Songza also still have Taylor’s music, but it’s not immediately clear whether they have 1989. And besides, you can’t request to hear specific songs through those sites.

Just don’t steal the album illegally, because if you did that, you’d really be letting Taylor down—she wrote a whole op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about how piracy is changing the music industry.

Update: The original version of this story has been updated to remove links from a site that hosts music files without the permission of copyright holders.

Read next: Find the Perfect Taylor Swift Lyric for Your Mood

TIME Gaming

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Will Have a Zombie Mode

AUSTRALIA-IT-INTERNET-GAMES-CALL OF DUTY
A shopper poses with the newest instalment of the "Call of Duty" videogame at a midnight launch of per-ordered copies of the game in Sydney on Nov. 3, 2014. Saeed Khan—AFP/Getty Images

But it isn't planned for launch

Until now, it was only a strong rumor that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare would include the zombie-killing mode that’s become a popular sideshow in the series since first appearing in Call of Duty: World at War. However, Activision is now confirming a Zombie Mode is in the works for the new title, to be available at some later date as paid downloadable content.

Activision confirmed Advanced Warfare’s Zombie Mode after this email from GameStop was sent to people receiving updates on the game. However, the email was inaccurate in that Zombie Mode isn’t available for Monday’s Advanced Warfare launch and it won’t require players to get the $49.99 Season Pass to play Zombie Mode.

“This just in, Zombies are back as part of the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare season pass! Stop by any GameStop to pick up one of the most anticipated games to launch this year, along with 4-multiplayer map packs, Atlas Gorge, and yes – ZOBMIES,” read GameStop’s email. “All this is available for purchase today GameStop as part of the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare season pass for only $49.99.”

Previously leaked trailers for Advanced Warfare seemed to reveal the game’s zombies will be more 28 Days Later and less Dawn of the Dead in that they’re faster and they can jump, though little else is known at this point.

TIME viral

Who Is ‘Alex From Target’ and Why did the Internet Make Him Famous?

Target Corp. Reported A 4 percent increase in second-quarter profits
The sign of a Target store is displayed August 14, 2003 in Springfield, V.A. Alex Wong—Getty Images

Twitter is a strange, strange place

For absolutely no discernible reason, the people of the Internet have turned a kid named Alex who works at Target — now forever known as #AlexFromTarget — into a celebrity.

It started Sunday when Twitter user @auscalum posted an image of the random, albeit adorable, young cashier from Target:

And then the Internet went crazy. (Again, for no discernible reason). Over the last day, Topsy reports that there have been more than 125,00 “Alex from Target”-related tweets.

And since the Internet is a creepy place, it found the true Alex from Target on Twitter. He now has 312k followers and counting:

There are even competing campaigns to get other cute bros (#SteverFromStarbucks, #KieranFromTMobile, #MattFromRedRobin) similar notoriety:

Even Target itself got in on the action Monday:

This is the American dream.

Read next: Internet Swoons Over Convicted Felon’s Mugshot

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