TIME Gadgets

How Google and Apple Plan to Invade Your Next Car

Jared Newman for TIME

Between Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the road to smarter cars is looking less rocky.

Just plug in your phone.

That simple step is how Apple and Google will shave years off the process of getting their software into automobiles. Instead of trying to bake iOS and Android into car makers’ infotainment systems, the two tech giants have come up with a workaround: You just plug in whatever phone you have, and send the software to the car by wire.

We’ve known for a while now that Apple was going this route with CarPlay. As announced in March, users will connect their phones to supported vehicles through a Lightning cable, and a specialized version of iOS takes over the center screen. You can then ask Siri for directions, put on some music, make a phone call through the car’s speaker system or dictate a text message. It’s supposed to be just as safe as any in-car dashboard–and much safer than looking down at your phone while driving.

Last week, Google announced a similar system called Android Auto. Instead of using a Lightning cable, it uses MicroUSB. Instead of speaking to Siri, you use Google voice search. Instead of Apple Maps for directions, you get Google Maps. Both Apple and Google are also soliciting app developers so that certain apps on your phone–such as your favorite streaming music service–will show up in the car.

Naoki Sugimoto, Senior Program Director for Honda’s Silicon Valley Lab, told me during Google’s I/O conference that it can take five years to develop a new car. But since Android Auto doesn’t involve specialized hardware, Honda has figured out how to quickly integrate Google’s software.

“These are mostly software features, so the way we work is to try to decouple software architecture from hardware architecture,” he said. “So this way, in the five-year process, we can wait until the last moment to put a new feature into the production schedule.”

And here’s the kicker: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are similar enough in their underlying architecture that some auto makers–including Honda and Volvo–are planning to support iOS and Android at the same time. So at least in some vehicles, you won’t have to pledge allegiance to a single platform when you buy your car.

The plug-in system doesn’t just provide more choice for users. It also allows auto makers to retain some control over the dashboard, and frees Google and Apple from having to support things like FM radio, climate control and Bluetooth connectivity. For all those things, you’d still use the car’s built-in system. But when you want your car to be a little smarter, you’ll just bring along your cable of choice–MicroUSB or Lighting–and plug in the phone you’ve got. (Both Google and Apple are letting auto makers decide how the car’s native systems should integrate with Android Auto and CarPlay. Google is also letting auto makers add some of their own features to Android Auto, such as vehicle diagnostics and roadside service requests.)

The trade-off is that performance can be a little laggy–at least that was the case in my Android Auto demo at Google I/O last week–and you’ll always have to take the phone out of your pocket to use Android Auto or CarPlay. Maybe someday we’ll see a system that connects wirelessly to your phone while still providing the entire Android or iOS interface, but doing so today would cause a huge hit on the phone’s battery life. I imagine people will still rely on Bluetooth connectivity some of the time, even if it means having no apps and no on-board navigation.

I haven’t tried CarPlay yet, but I spent some time in a Honda demo car with Android Auto at Google’s I/O conference this week. In short, it looks like a much safer way to listen to music, make phone calls and get directions while driving. Both Apple and Google claim that their software will start showing up in cars later this year; I’m looking forward to when plugging in your phone is as common as popping in a CD once was.

TIME space

NASA to Re-Attempt Global Warming Satellite Launch

After first mission failed in 2009

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NASA will launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) on Tuesday to further scientific understanding of carbon dioxide emissions, the agency’s first mission to study greenhouse gases.

The $468 million mission will allow scientists to record detailed carbon dioxide measurements, contributing crucial information to the incomplete understanding of “where all of the carbon dioxide comes from and where it is being stored when it leaves the air,” according to a statement. A clearer picture of the global carbon cycle will allow scientists to evaluate methods to mitigate climate change.

“The observatory will use its vantage point from space to capture a picture of where the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide are, rather than our cobbling data together from multiple sources with less frequency, reliability and detail,” Gregg Marland, an American geology professor, told NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Officially cleared for launch on Sunday, the OCO-2 will be the second satellite to observe carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, after Japan launched the Greenhouses Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) in 2009. While the GOSAT records only one observation every four seconds — only 500 per day prove useful — the OCO-2 will log 24 observations per second. And thanks to a small one-square mile viewing frame, the OCO-2 will dodge clouds to report nearly 100,000 highly usable observations per day.

As the name’s appendage suggests, OCO-2 is a replacement for the mission’s original satellite, which was lost in 2009 when the Orbital Taurus XL launch vehicle, carrying the satellite, failed to enter orbit. A mishap investigation report determined that the failure to separate of the payload fairing — a heavy cover designed to jettison after launch — prevented the Taurus from achieving orbital velocity. The Taurus re-entered the atmosphere, igniting and disintegrating before plummeting into the Pacific Ocean near Antarctica.

This time, the OCO-2, which entered its implementation phase in 2010, will launch atop the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. The Delta II was selected after a second Taurus rocket failed to launch in 2011 for a similar reason. NASA stated that “there are no issues or concerns with either OCO-2 or the Delta II,” noting a “zero percent chance” of a weather criteria violation.

The OCO-2 has a planned operational life of 2 years.

 

 

 

TIME Smartphones

10 Free iPhone Apps Everyone Should Download

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There are tons of apps on my iPhone that I love and use all the time, from my local supermarket’s app to fun games like Threes. It’s really hard to choose favorites, but that’s exactly what my editor Suzanne asked me to do: Pick my 10 favorite free iPhone apps.

It wasn’t easy. But after much deliberation, I narrowed the apps I use every day down to a list of 10 that spans multiple genres, from GPS navigation to fitness tracking. Take a look at my faves, and if you’d like, use the comments section to tell us all your favorite free apps that I might have missed.

 Maps
Google

Google Maps

To be sure, the stock Maps app on your iPhone has improved a lot since its disastrous launch two years ago, but it’s still not as well designed and robust as the Google Maps app it replaced. Google Maps 3.0 offers highly accurate traffic reports, construction alerts and road closings provided by Waze, lane guidance so you don’t miss your next turn, the ability to save maps for offline use and even mass transit directions with schedules built in. And if a new, faster route becomes available, Google Maps will alert you and ask if you’d like to switch.

You can download Google Maps for iOS on the Apple App Store.

Weather Channel App

Yahoo has long been the provider of your iPhone’s stock weather app, but that’s about to change later this year in iOS 8 when Apple will switch to The Weather Channel. But you shouldn’t wait for iOS 8 – the stand-alone Weather Channel app is leagues ahead of Yahoo’s version now. It offers extended 10-day forecasts and hyperlocal rain reports down to your exact location. It looks great, and as an added bonus, it doesn’t glitch out like the stock iPhone app occasionally does.

You can download The Weather Channel app for iOS on the Apple App Store.

Stitcher

I’m a big fan of NPR shows like Radio Lab and Wait, Wait, but I’m rarely around a radio when the shows are broadcast. That’s why I like the Stitcher radio-on-demand app. It streams podcasts direct to your phone from all the biggest names, from popular NPR shows to The Nerdist to Penn Gillette to Joe Rogan. There are plenty of news briefs, too, so you can stay current on what’s going on in the world.

You can download Stitcher for iOS on the Apple App Store.

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Gas Buddy

Gas Buddy

I recently took a cross-country road trip, and as you can imagine, I spent a lot of money on gas along the way. But I was able to save a lot of money on gas, too, thanks to the Gas Buddy app. It relies on crowdsourcing to constantly update gas prices at fueling stations across the country, letting you compare prices no matter where you are. You can even overlay prices on a map, pinpointing the best, cheapest location to refuel on your route. Prices tend to be accurate, and are generally quickly updated when they’re not.

You can download Gas Buddy for iOS on the Apple App Store.

Facebook

Pretty much everyone is on Facebook these days, for better or worse. To stay connected with everyone in your social circle, I recommend downloading the official Facebook app. It learns your preferences as you use it, delivering content it thinks you’ll find most relevant. And you can change your own profile and write your own updates on the go, making all your friends jealous of your exciting night out on the town. It’s a guilty pleasure that I just can’t do without.

You can download Facebook for iOS on the Apple App Store.

Google Now

It the past, I’ve called Google Now “creepy” – and it is. But that’s just because it’s so good at learning about you and your life. Google Now learns where you work, where you live, and where you travel, providing you with instant weather alerts, traffic and mass transit updates based on where it thinks you’re going. And if you’ve got a Gmail account, Google Now pulls travel bookings and restaurant reservation confirmations from it, automatically notifying you if your flight is delayed and letting you know when you’ll need to leave home to catch it. Plus, it learns from your Google searches to deliver sports scores and news headlines it thinks you’ll be interested in. You have to give up a lot of privacy to Google to use it, but Google Now is so good that doing so feels worth it.

Google Now is part of the Google Search app and is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

Adidas miCoach

There are plenty of great fitness apps available on your iPhone, but one of my (and Suzanne’s) favorites is Adidas miCoach. It offers coaching, training plans, exercises, performance tracking that includes steps taken and calories burned, and GPS tracking. You’ll get the most out of miCoach by pairing it with a compatible activity monitor, but it still works great as a standalone app. Give the free app a try – you have nothing to lose but a few pounds.

You can download Adidas miCoach on the Apple App Store.

yelp-app-ios-pizza-search-510px
Yelp

Yelp

Whenever I’m feeling hungry away from home, I reach for the Yelp local discovery app. It ranks local businesses based on user-submitted ratings and reviews, making it easy to discover a great new hair salon or the place with the best pizza in your town. Yelp learns your preferences as you use it and check in to businesses, tailoring recommendations to your own individual tastes. Yelp also helps you save money: Occasionally, businesses offer coupons and specials on the app just for stopping and checking in.

You can download Yelp for iOS on the Apple App Store.

RedLaser

RedLaser is a shopping assistant app designed to help you find the best prices on any item with a barcode. Just use the app to take a photo of an item’s barcode and RedLaser will figure out what the item is, which local stores and websites sell it, and at what prices. And as a bonus, the app stores all your loyalty card info and offers coupons, helping you turn a good deal into a great deal.

You can download RedLaser for iOS on the Apple App Store.

Spotify

I’ve said it before, but Spotify is my absolute favorite app for streaming music to my iPhone. I pay for the $9.99 monthly premium service, but there are plenty of free listening options available for those who don’t mind a few ads every now and then. Spotify lets you create and modify your own radio stations, create playlists and shuffle through songs by your favorite artists. And if you install the app on an iPad, Spotify now lets you listen to individual songs on demand without you having to shell out the cash to become a premium subscriber.

You can download Spotify for iOS on the Apple App store.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Mobile

Find Out Which New York Subway Line Has the Best Cell Phone Coverage

Update 5:52 p.m.

One of the travails of living in New York is spending lots of time in underground subway tunnels, where finding decent cell phone coverage can feel like sifting for gold. A new study by a company that benchmarks wireless networks reveals which subway lines in the city have the best coverage and which will turn your smartphone into a paperweight (or a Candy Crush machine).

According to Global Wireless Solutions, the 7 train has the most consistent mobile coverage in Manhattan, with phones being able to access their carriers’ data network 74 percent of the time on the subway line. On the other end of the scale, trying to use the Internet on the F train is pretty much impossible—phones can only get online about 8 percent of the time on that line.

To conduct the test, Global Wireless Solutions used a portable benchmarking system called a Freerider and four Samsung Galaxy S III and S IV smartphones to test the wireless networks of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. The test occurred from May 5 to May 8 and covered the area of Manhattan below Central Park. Check out the full results below:

  1. 7 train (Times Square to Grand Central) – 74 percent success rate
  2. E train (50th Street to Lexington Ave/53rd Street) – 52 percent success rate
  3. 6 train (28th St. to Grand Central) – 35 percent success rate
  4. B, D trains (Columbus Circle to Grand St.) – 23 percent success rates
  5. 1 train (Columbus Circle to South Ferry) – 20 percent success rate
  6. A, C trains (Columbus Circle to Fulton Street) – 16 percent success rates
  7. L train (8th Ave to 1st Ave) – 15 percent success rate
  8. 2, 3 trains (Chambers St. to Wall St.) – 14 percent success rates
  9. J, Z trains (Delancey St. to Broad St.) – 12 percent success rates
  10. (Tied) E train (Canal St. to World Trade Center) – 11 percent success rate; N, Q, R trains (Lexington Ave/59th St. to South Ferry) – 11 percent success rates
  11. F Train (Lafayette St. to East Broadway) – 8 percent success rate

In an emailed statement the Metropolitan Transportation Authority called into question the value of the study. “Recently, a Virginia company tried to measure the strength of wireless service in stations that don’t have wireless antennas installed yet – as well as in tunnels which have never been wired for service,” the agency said. “This says a lot about the company’s methodology, but it has nothing relevant to say about wireless service in the subway system. Any New Yorker who has called, texted, emailed or surfed the web while waiting for a train knows the value of this service and, and their opinions matter more than an out-of-state press release.”

The MTA has contracted a company called Transit Wireless to install wireless service in all the city’s subway stations by 2017. So far 47 stations have been equipped with wireless service, the MTA said in its statement.

TIME

EU Slashes Mobile Data Roaming Fees By 55%

(BRUSSELS) — The European Union says the surcharges for surfing the Internet on mobile devices while traveling across the 28-nation bloc will be more than halved.

The European Commission says the new cap on the so-called roaming fees will be effective starting Tuesday, just in time for the summer holiday travel season.

It said Monday the price cap for one megabyte of data use will be lowered to 20 euro cents (27 dollar cents) from 45 cents — a 55 percent drop. Phone calls and text messaging services across national borders are also getting cheaper by about 25 percent.

The bloc’s executive Commission — keen on being seen as helping the EU’s 500 million consumers — started cracking down on the fees in 2007 and seeks to abolish them altogether by 2016.

TIME Research

In 2025, Everyone Will Get DNA Mapped At Birth

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What will the future hold? REB Images—Getty Images/Blend Images

Scientists have scoured trends in research grants, patents and more to come up with these 10 innovations that will be reality in 10 years (or so they think)

Everybody likes to blue-sky it when it comes to technology. Driverless cars! Fat-burning pills! Telepathic butlers! But the folks at Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property & Science do it for a living—and they do it with data.

By examining who’s investing in what, who’s researching what and who’s patenting what, the group has come up with 10 predictions of innovation for 2025, which they presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival. The list included the first attempts at testing teleportation, the ubiquity of biodegradable packaging and electric air transportation.

Here’s what they say will be commonplace in medicine in a decade:

1. Dementia will be on the decline

While the World Health Organization predicts that more than 70 million people will be affected by dementia, much of it related to Alzheimer’s disease, by 2025, that upward trajectory of cases may be blunted somewhat by advances in genetics that will lead to earlier detection and possible treatment of the degenerative brain disorder.

2. We’ll be able to prevent type 1 diabetes

Unlike type 2 diabetes, which generally develops when the body gradually loses its ability to break down sugar properly, type 1 diabetics can’t produce enough insulin, the hormone that dispatches sugar from the diet. Advances in genetic engineering will lead to a more reliable technique for “fixing” genetic aberrations that contribute to type 1 diabetes as well as other metabolic disorders, making it possible to cure these conditions.

3. We will have less toxic cancer treatments

Building on the promise of targeted cancer therapies, which more precisely hone in on tumor cells while leaving healthy cells alone, researchers will have a deeper knowledge of the Achilles’ heels of cancer cells, which will help them to develop more powerful and precise drugs that can dispatch tumors with fewer side effects.

4. Every baby will get its DNA mapped at birth

It’s already a trendy thing to have your genome sequenced, but today there isn’t much you can do with the information. Having that information, however, may prove useful in the near future, both for predicting your risk of developing diseases as well as your ability to respond (or not) to certain drugs. As knowledge about the genome, and what various genes, or versions of genes do, grows, so will doctors’ ability to predict health outcomes and treat patients based on genetic information. So within a decade, getting a baseline DNA map at birth could be a valuable way of preparing to lead a healthier and possibly longer life.

TIME Big Picture

Where Wearable Health Gadgets Are Headed

fitbit
A person wearing a Fitbit fitness band types on a laptop Getty Images

Every once in a while, I’m shown a tech product and I can’t figure out why it was created. One great example of this was a two-handed mouse I was shown at large R&D-based company many years ago.

I was asked to review it to see if they should bring it to market. After trying to use it and viewing the complicated things you had to do to make it work, I told them it would never succeed. However, the engineer behind it was convinced he had created the next great mouse and was determined to try and get it to market. Thankfully, the management at this company killed it, as it would have been a complete failure and provided no real value to any customer. However, the technology was available to create it and this engineer did it because he could.

In the world of tech, most successful products address serious needs that people have. This is very much the case behind the current movement to create all types of wearable devices designed to make people healthier.

Folks behind products like the Jawbone Up, Nike Fuel, Fitbit and others have solid backgrounds in exercise and exercise science. They wanted to create stylish wearable products that could be used to monitor steps, count calories and track various other fitness metrics. Other products such as ones from iHealth, which has created a digital blood pressure device and a blood glucose testing kit that are tied to smartphones, were designed by people close to the health industry who saw a need to create products that could utilize digital technology to power new health monitoring tools.

At a personal level, I’m pleased that these folks are utilizing key technologies like accelerometers, sensors, Bluetooth low-energy radios and new types of semiconductors to create products that aim to impact people’s health. Readers of this column may remember that two years ago I suffered a heart attack and had a triple bypass. As you can imagine, this provided a serious wake up call to me about taking better care of myself. Since then, my Nike Fuelband has been my 24-hour wearable companion: I check its step-monitoring readout religiously to make sure I get the 10,000 steps in each day that my doctor has required of me as part of my recovery regimen.

While I would like to think that these tech folks are doing it for the altruistic reasons, the bottom line is that there is a lot of money to be made in health-related wearables. The folks from IHS published a good report last year on the market for wearables, which are mostly driven by health-related apps.

Most researchers that track this market believe that the wearable health market will represent at least $2 billion in revenue worldwide by 2018. In many developed countries around the world, people are becoming much more health conscious. Reports seem to come out daily, talking about the good or bad effects some foods have on our lives. And more and more, we hear that we need to exercise to either maintain our health or to improve it.

So a combination of the right technology becoming available and an increased awareness for better health has created this groundswell of health-related wearable devices and digital monitoring tools designed to help people have healthier lives. But there is another major reason that we are seeing more and more health-related wearables and digital monitoring products come to market now. This is driven by most healthcare providers and is one of their major initiatives: In simple terms, it’s cheaper to keep a person healthy than to cover their costs in the hospital when they’re sick.

Almost all the major health care providers have created web sites with all types of information about managing one’s health. These sites have information and programs for cancer patients, diabetics, and many other health issues that help people better manage these diseases. Health insurers are also really getting behind the various digital monitoring tools and health wearables, too, viewing them as vital tools that can help their customers stay healthier and keep them out of the hospital as much as possible.

Interestingly, as I talk to many of the executives of these health-related wearable companies, many of them claim to be on a mission. Yes, they admit there is money to be made, but most I speak with are serious about giving people the technology to help them keep themselves healthy. In fact, in at least two cases, the executives I have talked to have special funds they personally set aside to donate to major health causes as part of their personal commitment to using technology to make people healthier.

While there is some chatter about the market for wearable technology not being a sustainable one, I suspect that it will stay on track to eventually become integrated into everyday objects such as watches, hats and even clothes, becoming part of a broader trend called “self-health monitoring.” This trend basically says that people will want to have more and more information about calories the number of calories they’ve burned, the number of steps they’ve steps taken, their pulse and other metrics. Thanks to these new technologies, this data would be available to them in a variety of ways.

Of course, not everyone may want to know these health-related data points, but the research shows that at least one-fourth of U.S. adults have these types of health-related wearable monitoring devices on their personal radars. The fact that this market is growing around 20% or more each year suggests that we could continue to see growth for at least another three years. As these devices become part of our wardrobes, they could eventually fade into the background while still providing health-related info that many people may need to stay motivated. This is the goal that the tech world has embraced wholeheartedly, providing more and better tools for this purpose.

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

TIME Social Networking

The Author of a Controversial Facebook Study Says He’s ‘Sorry’

But he also defends his research into the transmission of emotional states

One of the authors of a controversial Facebook study into emotional states published this month has apologized for anxiety caused.

Facebook tweaked the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 users by displaying disproportionately positive or negative statuses for one week in January 2012, to help its researchers understand how emotional states are transmitted on social media. More than 3 million posts were analyzed in the experiment.

“My co-authors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused. In hindsight, the research benefits of the paper may not have justified all of this anxiety,” wrote Adam Kramer, one of the three authors, in a Facebook post.

But Kramer also defended the social network’s study. “We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out,” he wrote.

Controversy swirled around the social media giant’s ethics because users were not explicitly asked or notified that they were part of the experiment. Instead, Facebook relied on its terms of service that all users agree to when signing up and allows them to conduct studies like this.

You can read the full post by Kramer here:

TIME Cuba

Google Boss Eric Schmidt Leads a Visit to Cuba

The New Digital Age - 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt speaks during the 2014 SXSW Festival in Austin on March 7, 2014 Heather Kennedy / Getty Images

The visiting team spent two days in the Cuban capital to encourage an open Internet

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has visited Cuba to promote “a free and open Internet,” the country’s independent online newspaper 14yMedio reported on Saturday.

Company executives Jared Cohen, Brett Perlmutter and Dan Keyserling also joined the trip, said the news site, which is run by dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez.

The visiting team reportedly “met with officials,” spoke “with youth at polytechnic schools” and visited the University of Computer Sciences.

According to AFP, Google’s visit was not reported in any official Cuban media.

In her blog, Generation Y, Sanchez wrote, “We didn’t ask him any questions, and we didn’t want any answers, we just told him who we are and what we are trying to do.”

U.S.-based Schmidt confirmed the business trip in a Google+ post and criticized the U.S. embargo on the Latin American country.

“Cuba will have to open its political and business economy, and the U.S. will have to overcome our history and open the embargo. Both countries have to do something that is hard to do politically, but it will be worth it,” he wrote.

Only government-approved professionals and specialists can access the Internet from their homes in Cuba.

[AFP]

TIME

This Is the iPhone’s Incredible Evolution Over the Past 7 Years

Huge changes

Apple; Gif by Joseph C. Lin—TIME

The first-generation iPhone debuted on June 29, 2007, forever altering the landscape of mobile devices. It helped propel the shift from traditional cell phones to smartphones and helped make Apple one of the most sought-after and valuable brands. Take a look back at how the company’s signature product has changed over the past seven years in the GIF above.

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