TIME

Justices Rule for Broadcasters in Fight With Aereo

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled that a startup Internet company has to pay broadcasters when it takes television programs from the airwaves and allows subscribers to watch them on smartphones and other portable devices.

The justices said Wednesday by a 6-3 vote that Aereo Inc. is violating the broadcasters’ copyrights by taking the signals for free. The ruling preserves the ability of the television networks to collect huge fees from cable and satellite systems that transmit their programming.

Aereo is available in New York, Boston and Atlanta among 11 metropolitan areas and uses thousands of dime-size antennas to capture television signals and transmit them to subscribers who pay as little as $8 a month for the service.

TIME Innovation

Ford President Says Aluminum F-150 Is All Engines Go

Ford

Ford says the truck will ship on time this year, despite analyst concerns that manufacturing plant retooling will impact availability.

Investment firm Morgan Stanley is publicly fretting the truck might be delayed, but Ford says its new lightweight aluminum Ford F-150 pickup is on track and we’ll see it later this year.

“Everything is on schedule and everything is going as planned,” Ford Americas President Joe Hinrichs told reporters, speaking at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan (via Automotive News), adding that he was “very confident in this vehicle.” Morgan Stanley’s analyst Ravi Shanker had said earlier that Ford’s planned factory retooling, which it has to perform in order to produce the new pickup, would result in “slow changeover, with tight supply.”

Ford has noted the planned retooling would temporarily deplete its production by over 90,000 F-Series pickups, reducing company sales and profits. Furthermore, margins are expected to be lower on the new aluminum-bodied F-150. But Ford views all of that as necessary back-stepping to be first to market with a truck that uses a combination of “military-grade aluminum and high-strength steel,” and that’ll weigh roughly 700 pounds less than the version it’s replacing.

Note that Shanker doesn’t say the launch itself is in danger of being delayed, only that supply is going to be very tight in 2014 given manufacturing constraints. If supply is at a trickle, that could mean higher demand-driven dealer pricing, of course, culminating in a scenario where the truck’s debut looks more like a paper launch, and buyers wind up having to wait to lay hands on one until supply catches up.

TIME technology

FAA Won’t Allow Deliveries By Drone

This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs.
This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs. Amazon/AP

The Federal Aviation Administration is upholding a ban on using drones for commercial purposes, including delivering packages, according to a memo released this week.

The FAA has long said that commercial drone use is illegal, but a federal judge ruled in March that the FAA must accept public comment before adopting the rules, according to Ars Technica. The recent memo is a call for public input on its rules.

Drones that are used to deliver packages for a fee are barred under current statutes, the FAA emphasized in its Monday memo, even if the seller offers free shipping.

Drones also can’t be used for photographing a property for real estate listings, or determining whether crops need to be watered as part of a commercial farming operation, for instance.

The recent memo also means that Amazon’s hyped drone deliveries won’t be happening anytime soon, though there could be new rules in place in the coming years after the public comment period ends.

The National Park Service banned drone flights last week from its parks, saying that drones disturb wildlife and can endanger climbers.

 

TIME Innovation

Skyscraper Game of Tetris Breaks World Record

Philadelphia Tech Buzz
In this April 5, 2014 file photo shown is the classic video game Tetris played on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, April 5, 2014, using hundreds of LED lights embedded in its glass facade. Joseph Kaczmarek—AP

Dozens of Tetris enthusiasts played the supersized version in April using a joystick from about a mile away

(PHILADELPHIA) — All the pieces have fallen into place for the designer of a giant Tetris game.

Drexel University professor Frank Lee has earned the Guinness World Record for largest architectural video game display. Again.

Lee and two colleagues created a computer program to play the classic shape-fitting puzzle on two sides of a 29-story skyscraper in Philadelphia.

They used hundreds of lights embedded in the glass facades of the Cira (SEAR’-ah) Centre. All told, the “screens” totaled nearly 120,000 square feet (11,000 square meters).

Dozens of Tetris enthusiasts played the supersized version in April using a joystick from about a mile away.

The record announced Tuesday beat the previous one also set by Lee. Last year, he recreated the classic Atari game Pong on a single side of the same building.

TIME Windows Phone

30 Days with Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft

Microsoft's latest smartphone software makes some big improvements to keep pace with iOS and Android. Is Windows Phone worth another look?

When Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1 a couple months ago, it seemed to have finally caught up to iOS and Android in many meaningful ways.

I’ve had bad experiences with Windows Phone in the past, but I wanted to give Microsoft’s underdog platform another shot. So in mid-May, I asked the company to loan me a Nokia Lumia 1520, and installed the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview when the handset arrived. Over the next month, I used it as my primary phone, with my own AT&T SIM card.

For me, Windows Phone 8.1 has been a mix of delight and frustration. I can finally see the appeal of using Windows Phone, but spending some quality time with the platform also revealed major cracks in an otherwise solid foundation. Here’s what I liked and disliked about Windows Phone after living with it for a month:

Start Is Still the Best Part

After using Windows Phone for a while, I’m convinced that Microsoft has come up with the best app launcher, even if it takes some adjustment coming from iOS and Android. The Start screen, as Microsoft calls it, lets you set up your favorite apps–or “Live Tiles”–in a vertical stack. You have a choice of three sizes for each tile, and the larger each one gets, the more information it can show you directly on the Start screen. At a glance, I can see the day’s forecast, recent social networking updates from a group of friends and the latest Techmeme headlines.

Of course, Android has a similar system with widgets, but they aren’t as neat and orderly as Windows Phone’s tiles. You also have to spread them across multiple screens, instead of having one compact, flowing list, so it’s more of a chore to see what’s happening. With Android, you’re more likely to forget what you’ve put on those far-flung screens. I’ve said this before, but the Windows Phone’s Start screen is fun. It’s begging you to check out this or that diversion, which is perfect when you’re killing a few idle minutes.

Nice Touches Are Everywhere

This is a tricky thing to quantify, but Windows Phone has a lot of little clever designs to help users feel at home. Some of it’s cosmetic, like the way everything scrolls smoothly, and how the screen seems to squish together as you scroll past the edge of a page. But there are also little breadcrumbs that make Windows Phone easier to use.

For example, in most apps you’ll see a few action icons at the bottom of the screen, along with a “…” button next to them. Pressing that button may bring up more options, but it also slides the other buttons upward and shows some text to describe what they do. This prevents you from resorting to trial-and-error as you figure out how to use an app.

Also, I like how Internet Explorer puts the address bar at the bottom, making it easier to reach with a large phone like the Lumia 1520. And the new gesture keyboard is one of the best I’ve ever used, as it builds on Microsoft’s responsive, clutter-free touch keyboard. Things like these don’t show up on a spec sheet or feature list, but they show how Microsoft has really thought things through.

Notifications Need a Lot of Work

The Start screen is no replacement for a proper notification center, so I was happy that Microsoft finally added “Action Center” in Windows Phone 8.1. Similar to the notification bars on iOS and Android, Action Center is a condensed list of all incoming messages, e-mails and alerts, which you can swipe down from the top of the screen. You can also toggle a handful of quick settings from this menu, such as rotation lock and airplane mode.

As a high-level way to see what you’ve missed, Action Center is a fine start, but it has one huge problem: When you tap on a notification, many apps don’t actually take you to the thing they’re notifying you about. For example, if you tap on a Twitter alert, it only takes you into the main screen of the Twitter app, not to the actual message. I suspect this is a matter of developers programming their apps to handle notifications properly, given that Microsoft’s Mail app handles notifications just fine. But because Windows Phone has weak developer support (more on that later), I’m not holding my breath for widespread improvements.

Microsoft also has another notification problem: Just as it’s finished playing catch up with Action Center, it’s falling behind again on actionable notifications. With Android, for instance, you can delete e-mails, reply to messages or “favorite” a tweet straight from the notification bar, and Apple will add similar capabilities in iOS 8. Microsoft’s notification system is lifeless by comparison, and that could become a big disadvantage if notifications become a key aspect of wearable tech.

Apps Are an Annoyance

A common argument from Windows Phone fans is that the app gap has closed considerably over the last couple years, and that most users don’t need a ton of apps anyway. While it’s true that you can get by with Windows Phone’s app selection, you’ll probably still have some headaches when the app you want doesn’t exist on Windows Phone, or isn’t as well-supported compared to iOS and Android. Here are some of my app issues:

  • We at TIME use HipChat to communicate during the day. There’s no Windows Phone version, so I have to use the desktop-optimized website, which doesn’t work well.
  • I would have liked to use Uber or Lyft for transportation while I was in Los Angeles covering E3, but those apps aren’t available for Windows Phone.
  • I subscribe to Rdio for streaming music, but the Windows Phone app is garbage compared to the iOS and Android versions. Many features, including radio and the ability to shuffle an album or collection, aren’t available.
  • Spotify has a free version on iOS and Android that includes radio stations and shuffled playlists, but you need a subscription to use the Windows Phone app.

None of these things keep me from being able to use Windows Phone. They just make the experience more annoying.

There’s Still No Great Gmail Experience

Technically, the default Mail app in Windows Phone works with Gmail, but it’s far from perfect. It takes a long time to load long conversation threads, and it’s slow to sync any messages you’ve deleted, so you might see those messages again if you sit down at your computer a few minutes later.

I worked around this by using a third-party app called MetroMail for those longer threads, but this app doesn’t handle notifications properly (see above), and it takes several seconds to load new messages each time you open the app. In other words, I’m stuck with two half-solutions instead of one really good Gmail app, like the one Google offers on iOS and Android.

There’s a Well of Untapped Potential

If there’s one thing that would really help sell me on Windows Phone, it’d be greater connectivity with Microsoft’s other platforms. So far, Windows Phone still feels like its own little island. OneDrive cloud storage isn’t built into the file system like it is in Windows 8.1, and there are not enough strong ties back to the Xbox for gaming. (I’m still dreaming of a way to attach a game controller and take smaller-scale Xbox games on the road.) The version of Office that comes with Windows Phone is still a shadow of what’s available on Windows devices. Microsoft likes to tout “one experience across all devices,” but Windows Phone needs more work for that promise to become a reality.

The Verdict

Like I said earlier, I can see some appeal in Windows Phone now. It might especially make sense for novice smartphone users that don’t want an iPhone (mainly because of differences in price and available screen sizes), and aren’t looking to use a lot of apps.

But for me, Windows Phone needs a better hook than a great app launcher and some clever design flourishes. It could be in the form of killer hardware that no other platform has, but more likely, it’d have to be through tighter integration with the rest of Microsoft’s ecosystem. I already use a Surface Pro on the road and Windows desktop at home, so more “continuity” (to borrow a term from Apple) might convince me to forgive Windows Phone 8.1′s other shortcomings.

TIME deals

Microsoft Is Giving Apple Users Hundreds To Buy the Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 3
The Microsoft Corp. Surface Pro 3 tablet computer is displayed during an event in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Jin Lee/Bloomberg—Getty Images

Microsoft is once again throwing huge sums of money at customers to try to convince them to buy its products. The company is offering up to $650 toward the purchase of its new Surface Pro 3 to customers that trade in a MacBook Air that’s in decent condition. The deal, which runs through July 31, is only available in Microsoft’s physical retail stores.

The Surface Pro 3 has been billed by Microsoft as a true laptop-tablet hybrid. That Microsoft is targeting the MacBook Air rather than the iPad with the new promotion indicates the company believes its new product can go toe-to-toe with laptops in terms of functionality.

Even in the best-case scenario where a customer gets the full $650 deal (the actual discount depends on the model of MacBook and its working condition), the cheapest model of the Surface Pro 3, at $799, will still require $150 out of pocket. MacBook Airs start a bit pricier at $899, but the base model has 128GB of internal memory compared to the entry-level Surface Pro 3’s 64GB.

TIME video streaming

Apple TV Just Got an Upgrade That Makes It Way Better

Apple TV
Apple

Apple TV scored a big get today with the arrival of ABC News on the set-top box. The new app will function as a kind of online network, delivering ABC News content to Apple TV users 24 hours a day. The video coverage will be a mixture of live news updates, original programming and edited clips from TV properties such as Good Morning America. In nine major markets such as New York and Chicago, news reports from the local ABC affiliate will also be available. In total the new channel will have about eight hours of live programming each day, according to Mashable. Unlike many online apps from TV networks, this one won’t require users to prove that they have a cable subscription in order to use it.

In addition to the new ABC app, Apple TV also added AOL On today, a video network by the Internet company that features mostly short-form web video. PBS also added a kids’ network, PBS Kids, and cricket broadcaster Willow TV also added an app. Yahoo’s Flickr app also got a redesign to make it more appealing for the big screen.

Apple TV has sold more than 20 million units since it first launched in 2007, beating out competitors such as Roku and Amazon’s new Fire TV set-top box. Rumors persist that Apple will eventually launch a streaming or pay-TV service that competes more directly with cable.

TIME Smarthome

Google’s Nest Is Coming After the Rest of Your Home

Nest Labs, maker of the “learning” thermostat, is opening its platform to outside developers in a bid to expand the range of Internet-connected home devices it can interact with. Through Nest, which search giant Google acquired for $3.2 billion in January, users will be able to communicate with Mercedes-Benz vehicles, Whirlpool appliances, Jawbone fitness trackers and other gadgets.

Google is among the partners announced as part of the program. Google Now, the company’s personal digital assistant, will be able to set the temperature on a Nest thermostat automatically when it detects that a user is coming home, for example, or through voice commands. Nest said it will share limited user information with Google and other partners. Nest co-founder Matt Rogers told the Wall Street Journal that users have to opt in for each new device.

The move allows partners to link their software and applications to Nest’s thermostat, which will act as a hub for devices in the home. For example, Jawbone’s UP24 band knows when its users are about to wake up in the morning. Now, a Nest thermostat can automatically raise or lower the temperature just before a user gets out of bed in the morning. Likewise, a connected Mercedes-Benz can tell Nest when a user will be home from work, timing the house’s temperature correctly.

Nest is independently operated from Google. But the device maker is leading Google’s charge into the connected home market. Earlier this month, Nest announced it was acquiring Dropcam, a maker of connected cameras, for $555 million. The company’s founders have also said they are looking for unloved or poorly designed devices to reinvent.

TIME Tech

These Human Robots Will Haunt Your Nightmares

Japan hopes lifelike robots will be as common as laptops

Meet Otonaroid and Kodomoroid, two eerily lifelike robots who can read fluently, recite tongue twisters, blink, move and twitch their eyebrows (natch).

Japanese android expert Hiroshi Ishiguro unveiled the female cyborgs on Tuesday at the National Museum of Merging Science and Innovation. The two will be on display at the Museum for visitors to interact with.

Ishiguro’s robotics are the latest confirmation of the uncanny valley hypothesis, which posits that humans find discomfort when robotic and animated humans approach a natural human appearance.

With Softbank’s commercialization of robots, Ishiguro—who’s previously designed his own doppelgänger robots—hopes that robots will soon become a part of everyday life in Japan.

TIME Innovation

Smart Home Gadgets for Stopping Disasters Before They Happen

+ READ ARTICLE

Whether I’m traveling or anticipating the arrival of guests, I worry something will happen while I’m gone. Did I forget to turn off the iron? Will my guests arrive while I’m out picking up more milk?

With a smartphone or computer I can easily allay these fears by checking on that iron or even unlocking the door. In fact, there are products that provide remote control or monitoring of most of the important systems in a home. Better yet, you can install most of these yourself.

Wireless video monitoring camera

Dropcam

Do you want to make sure the neighbor fed your fish, that packages aren’t sitting on your front porch or that Fido isn’t sitting on the sofa again? With a wireless video-monitoring camera, you can perform a visual check on your home while you’re away. The new Dropcam Pro is a good choice with its 130-degree field of view and ability to digitally pan and zoom (8x) in on a scene. Plus, it has enhanced night vision and two-way audio communication (for chastising Fido or otherwise). Video is encrypted and can be saved, based on your needs.

If you want to take your Dropcam Pro to the next level, take a look at the $29 Dropcam Tab wireless movement sensors. They attach directly to your door or window, sending an alert to your smartphone if someone opens or closes one. They’re also rated for outdoor use, so you can attach them to a gate or garage door if you’d like.

Price: $199.00 on dropcam.com, $199.99 on amazon.com

Belkin

Remote control electrical outlet

Plug any device into the Belkin WeMo Home Automation Switch and you can turn it on or off with your iOS or Android device. So you can make sure the iron is off and the front lights are on wherever you happen to be. You can also set the WeMo outlet to work on a schedule, turning on or off at certain times of day.

Price: $49.99 on belkin.com, $49.95 on amazon.com

To automate hardwired light fixtures, you’ll need aBelkin WeMo Light Switch instead. It looks and functions similar to a standard wall light switch, but also adds the same kind of functionality you get from the Home Automation Switch. The only catch is that you’ll need to do a bit of wiring to install it (or pay an electrician do it for you).

Price: $49.99 on belkin.com, $44.00 on amazon.com

Nest

Remote control thermostat

There’s no need to turn down the thermostat when you leave town for the weekend. The Nest thermostat has sensors built in so it knows when you’re away and will automatically go into energy-saving mode. You can also turn up the heat remotely with your iPhone or Android phone so your home is just the right temperature when you arrive. And best of all, it learns your preferences as you use it, eliminating the need to deal with complex scheduling.

Looking for an even smarter smart thermostat? Check out the Honeywell Lyric. The Lyric automatically turns your heat or air conditioning on based on the GPS location of your phone. If you’ve got a schedule that fluctuates wildly, the Lyric can make sure your home is the perfect temperature the moment you step through the front door, whenever that happens to be.

You’ll need to wait until August to pick up the $279 Lyric. The Nest, meanwhile, is available now wherever home improvement goods are sold.

Price: $249 on nest.com or amazon.com

Wally Home

Water and flood alert system

Will the leaky pipe you just fixed in the upstairs bathroom hold over the long weekend? With the Wally Hub, wireless sensors will monitor for changes in humidity and temperature under the sink, next to the hot water heater or by any other appliance or pipe you’re worried about. An included smartphone app will keep an eye on all your sensors at once, with mobile alerts delivered the moment a change in wetness is detected. With Wally, you can address small problems before they turn into a catastrophic ones, even when you’re away from home.

The Wally Hub comes with 6 sensors included for placement around your house. Additional sensors are available at wallyhome.com for $35 each, or 6 for $199.

Price: $299.00 on wallyhome.com

Chamberlain

Smartphone garage door opener

Did you remember to close the garage door? Eliminate any question with new Chamberlain MyQ Garage System, a simple-to-install add-on to most major garage door systems made after 1993. It connects to your home Wi-Fi, letting you use your smartphone to check whether you left the door up no matter how far you travel from home. And as we mentioned in our Father’s Day Gift Guide, the device can also deliver alerts to your phone whenever the door opens, letting you know exactly how long past curfew your teenager stayed out.

Price: $110.49 on amazon.com

UniKey

Remote control door lock

Expecting guests to visit while you’re away? You could hide a spare house key under the welcome mat, but that’s pretty dangerous — that’s the first place most thieves look. Instead, take a look at the Kwikset Kevo powered by UniKey, a deadbolt that can be unlocked with a key, an included Bluetooth key fob or a Bluetooth capable smartphone. Giving guests access to your home is as simple as using the Kevo app to send a digital key to their phone. You can choose to receive alerts when keys are used, and digital keys can be retrieved when the visit is over.

In Techlicious’s review of the Kwikset Kevo, we discovered the lock can be installed in 15 to 20 minutes. It’s powered by four AA batteries, which will need to be replaced about once a year.

Price: $219.00 on amazon.com

First Alert

Smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector

Having a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your home or apartment isn’t just smart safety sense. In many places, it’s the law. Get in compliance with the First Alert ONELink Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detector with Voice. Should the detector sniff out smoke or a dangerous quantity of CO gas, an audible voice alarm will sound. And if you pair the device with an optional INSTEON Smoke Bridge and INSTEON Hub, you can have email or text message alerts sent directly to your phone. The system can even be set up to turn your home’s lights on in case of fire emergency, so you won’t need to worry about fumbling through the smoke.

Price (First Alert ONELink): $69.99 at smarthome.com, $61.75 at amazon.com
Price (INSTEON Smoke Bridge): $34.99 at smarthome.com, $34.99 at amazon.com
Price (INSTEON Hub): $129.99 at smarthome.com, $129.99 at amazon.com

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

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