Why This Huge Retailer Is Betting Big on Drones

Skip Brown—Getty Images/National Geographic Creative A nine year old boy flies his drone in a local park.

It expects them to fly off the shelves

Sam’s Club is hoping to see a drone on every child’s wish list when the holidays come around this year.

The retail chain, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, plans to stock its locations with roughly a dozen different models of consumer drones ahead of this year’s holiday season, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The chain expects drones to fly off the shelves once the holiday gifting season begins. There will be plenty of varieties of the product for Sam’s Club customers to choose from, including entry-level drones that cost as little as $100 as well as higher-end devices that cost thousands of dollars and come equipped with high-resolution cameras or claws that can pick up certain objects.

Sam’s Club, which made the move after one of its pricier drone models started selling particularly well online, likely hopes its bet on drones will help to boost consumer electronics sales at a time when rivals like Costco are seeing stronger sales growth.

One way Sam’s Club has looked to differentiate itself from rivals like Costco is by focusing on its customers who are small business owners — a segment that makes up as much as one-third of the retailer’s membership base. As the Jorunal notes, Sam’s Club has found that roughly half of the customers buying its drone products do so with professional goals in mind, from real-estate agents looking to take pictures of properties from the sky to professional photographers using the devices for event photos.

To help boost drone sales, Sam’s Club even plans on setting up in-store interactive drones that customers can touch while watching demos of the products flying around the store.

TIME xbox

The Xbox One Is Now Better and Cheaper


There's a new model of the gaming console, and the old model got a price cut

Gamers everywhere, rejoice: the XBox One is about to get more powerful, and it will have less of an impact on your wallet.

The newest model of the popular console will have more than 1 terrabyte of memory. That model will go on sale for $399. The existing model, with around half of that memory — around 500 gigabytes — will see its price slashed to just $350.

Microsoft said the price cut will be permanent.

The Seattle company also announced a new wireless XBox One controller featuring a headphone jack, so you can talk to your gaming buddies directly through your controller.

TIME Smartphones

Your iPhone Is About to Get Harder to Hack

Apple Introduces Two New iPhone Models At Product Launch
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images The new iPhone 5S with fingerprint technology is displayed during an Apple product announcement at the Apple campus on September 10, 2013 in Cupertino, California.

The switch from a 4 to 6-digit code makes guessing the right combination exponentially harder

Apple will require mobile users running the upcoming version of iOS to move from a four-digit passcode to a six-digit code, the company said Monday. The requirement applies to all iPhones and iPads with a TouchID fingerprint scanner, Ars Technica reports.

While passcodes will remain optional, the change from four to six digits work out to make them about 100 times more difficult to randomly guess.

The announcement slipped under the press’ radar amid an action-packed conference, but was later highlighted by a Stanford computer science graduate on Twitter. The expanded passcode would confront hackers with one million possible combinations, versus the current headache of 10,000 combination. After ten failed login attempts, the phone will automatically wipe itself clean.

The enhanced security feature will come standard on new Apple devices and roll out to current users who upgrade to iOS 9 this fall.

TIME the big picture

How Silicon Valley Is Addressing the World’s Food Crisis

healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, time.com stock, onions, red onions, vegetables
Danny Kim for TIME

Investors are pouring money into the field

Correction Applied Tuesday, June 9.

When you think of food, you probably don’t think of technology. However, technology has played a major role in the food world, whether it was taking farming from oxen-led plowing to tractor based harvesting to today’s discovery’s of natural pest controls to the controversial bioengineering of food. Technology, especially things like social networks and services like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Yelp, OpenTable and Table 8 has had a big impact on the food industry and there are thousands of food blogs covering just about any related topic one could think of.

This past week, there was a fascinating conference held at the San Francisco 49ers’ stadium called Bite Silicon Valley, organized by Octagon Culinary that discussed the intersection of food and technology. Various chefs and industry speakers on the program talked about the major issues facing the food industry and more importantly, the real concern over how, by 2050, we’ll be able to feed a planet of 9 billion people.

The conference was held in Silicon Valley because the food industry and tech industry have started to intersect and companies like Google and Yahoo have major research projects related to the future of food. Many Sand Hill Road venture capitalists have placed major bets on various food technology and services. As a couple of venture capitalists at the event told me, food-related start-ups fit into their sustainability portfolios, alongside solar, energy or electric cars because they have the potential to positively impact our world.

The goal of some of these VC investors is to connect restaurants with food providers, or to create on-demand delivery services from local farms, or ready-to-cook dinner kits. Other goals I have been told about are to invent new foods, like creating cheese, meat and egg substitutes from plants. One of the companies that venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Bill Gates and Biz Stone have invested in is Beyond Meat. It was there giving tastings of its new plant-based Beast Burgers and beef crumbles. I tasted the Beast Burger and it’s one of the best plant-based burgers I have ever eaten. According to Tim Geistlinger, VP of research and development at the company, “the Beast Burger is not trying to be a meat substitute. It is designed to become a new type of protein-rich food product that does not use soy or have any GMO products in them but could be used as a meat substitute for the center of one’s plate.”

Beyond Meat believes there is a better way to feed the planet. Geistliner said that the “mission is to create mass-market solutions that perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein.” It is “also dedicated to improving human health, positively impacting climate change, conserving natural resources and respecting animal welfare.” This captures well the thinking of Bill Gates and other Valley tech investors who have identified with this vision.

Another company with similar goals is Impossible Foods. This company has raised $75 million from VCs so far and like Beyond Meat. Its quest is to create a plant-based meat substitute with high protein that could be used to feed people all over the world.

According to CB Insights, in 2012, VCs and others invested $350 million into food tech companies or projects, and that amount is rising about 37% every year. With all this Silicon Valley investment, especially in companies trying to create meat alternatives, it seems that this has become one of the tech world’s next holy grails.

The event included two days of tastings from local chefs and as a food event it was spectacular. But the event’s more noble purpose was to get the food and tech world talking about the serious issue of world hunger and the challenge of feeding the planet in the future.

One of the big messages that came from the conference is that there are significant environmental consequences and health issues associated with eating too much red meat, sodium or sugar and sugar substitutes, and while world hunger is a major problem, so is obesity in many places around the world. They had some great sessions about “What are we doing to enable to the planet to feed 9 billion people by 2050,” as well as sessions titled “the Challenge of Food Waste” and a “Renewed Debate about GMO’s.”

The keynote speaker at the event was Chef José Andrés, who TIME named to its 100 most influential people in 2012. Andrés has become an activist in the food industry to get folks who work in food to find ways to deal with the world hunger challenge. He has also put his money where his mouth is, investing in the World Central Kitchen. Its website states that “World Central Kitchen is hard at work ’empowering the people’ to be part of the solution – with focus on building ‘smart kitchens,’ training on clean cookstoves, creating jobs, and strengthening local business.” Andrés spends around six weeks a year devoted to these types of projects and said he came to this event to challenge Silicon Valley executives to join the food industry’s quest to deal with the massive issue of feeding a hungry world.

Andrés gets very animated and passionate when he talks about one serious problem he sees that he believes we must deal with immediately. He said that at least 3 billion people in the world still cook using stones and wood fires. The smoke from these fires causes all kinds of health issues including cancer, cataracts and asthma and impacts the women and children who do most of the cooking for the family’s daily meal. It also impacts the girls in the family who spend up to three hours a day gathering the wood or fuel for the fire, sometimes in hostile areas where many have been attacked. He has become a chief advocate for what he calls “clean cook-stoves” and has backed the use of solar stoves and less harmful fuels to be used in these villages and towns where people’s only form of cooking is fire and smoke.

I spoke with Andrés after his keynote and he told me that “he strongly believes in the power of food as a change agent” and he is devoted to making the food world a serious contributor to being a major part of providing a solution for these particular world problems. While Silicon Valley has some investments in this area, it needs to do more in the way of actual financing of new food tech companies and do extended research in this area with goals that are aligned with Andrés and others who understand the magnitude of this problem and how it will affect the worlds future. Silicon Valley is known for its exceptional problem solving skills and I certainly hope that the tech execs who heard Chef Andrés’ plea will join him and others in the food industry to help deal with this massive world problem.

Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry.

Correction: This article originally misstated the company behind the Beast Burger. It is Beyond Meat.

TIME Smartphones

This Is the Single Best New Feature Coming to Your iPhone

Apple Starts iPhone 6 Sales In Germany
Sean Gallup—Getty Images A shopper ltries out the new Apple iPhone 6 at the Apple Store on the first day of sales of the new phone in Germany on September 19, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

Goodbye "Unknown Caller"

The next iOS upgrade will bring a slew of predictive shortcuts to the iPhone, Apple revealed at its annual developers conference on Monday.

Among the best features included in the upcoming iOS 9 is a tool that offers you an educated guess at who’s calling from unknown numbers based on previous contact over email. Gone, hopefully, are the days of letting those calls go to voicemail just to screen out robocalls.

Among the iPhone’s other new context-based features: The new iOS will automatically pull up a “Now Playing” screen as soon as the user plugs in a pair of headphones, as well calculate the best time to leave for calendar appointments and send a helpful notification in advance, relieving users from constantly checking the time.

While a beta version of iOS 9 will be out shortly, the public version won’t launch until the fall — perhaps coinciding with the unveiling of a new iPhone model.

TIME self-driving cars

Mercedes’ Next Sedan Does Something Very Special

The car will be able to steer itself at highway speeds

The autonomous driving revolution is taking a big step forward with the new Mercedes E-class.

The sedan will be able to steer by itself at highway speeds, which Bloomberg notes is a feat formerly only seen in tests.

The new cars will hit the market in March 2016, and drivers will actually feel the steering wheel move in their hands if the feature is turned on. In tests, the car was able to go through a dark tunnel at 80 mph without any serious problems.

This is the latest in a series of self-driving car announcements over the past few months from major automakers. General Motors has said it will have autonomous cars on the road within a decade, and Google is starting to road test their autonomous pods.

TIME Apple

This Is Apple Music’s 1 Huge Advantage Over Spotify

It's simpler than you think

Apple on Monday unveiled a new music streaming service called, aptly enough, Apple Music. It combines your own music with Apple’s massive song library, plus human-powered Internet radio stations and recommendation engines.

Apple Music is clearly aimed at on-demand streaming king Spotify, even matching the $9.99/month price for Spotify’s ad-free Premium subscription. What Spotify offers that Apple Music doesn’t is a free version, which has a more limited feature set and jams your jams with ads every few songs.

But that free tier could actually be a massive disadvantage for Spotify. Only about about 15% of Spotify’s 60 million users pay for the service, but their subscription fees make up around 90% of the company’s revenue.

That small but highly lucrative slice of Spotify users is exactly what Apple is after with Apple Music. After all, those users have already shown they’re willing to fork over 10 bucks a month for unlimited tunes. And there’s no penalty for switching: Spotify charges month-to-month with no cancellation fee, so users aren’t locked in to the service. This also explains why Apple’s rolling out an Android version of Apple Music — to go after more of Spotify’s user base. If Apple converts enough of Spotify’s paid users, it could totally decimate Spotify’s business.

Read more Streaming Showdown: Apple Music vs. Spotify vs. Pandora vs. Rdio

But the biggest advantage Apple Music will have is even simpler than all that: It will be automatically installed when iPhone users upgrade to iOS 8.4 later this month, while iPhones sold with that software on board will have the app pre-installed. Installing an app from the App Store is a dead simple process, but it’s still a big barrier to adoption. Having that nice shiny Apple Music logo on users’ screens right off the bat will give Apple Music a big push in its early days — especially in concert with Apple’s three-months-free offering. If Apple converts enough trial users into paid subscribers, that one-two punch could send Spotify spiraling into second place.

Read next: 4 Things Apple Just Announced That You Need to Know About

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Apple

See How Google and Apple’s Latest Big Announcements Compare

Apple and Google have both held major developers' conferences in the past few weeks. See how the big events compare.

TIME apps

Streaming Showdown: Apple Music vs. Spotify vs. Pandora vs. Rdio

It’s a digital battle of the bands for these music services

Back in 2001, Apple’s iPod “1000 songs in your pocket” ad campaign changed how the world thought about music. And over the 14 years that have passed since, high speed Internet and wireless data changed it again. These days, we have closer to zero songs in their pocket, because music streaming services let us listen to whatever we want on-demand from the cloud. But each streaming service hits its own set of high notes and low notes.

Here’s a comparison of the most popular subscription music services going:

Apple Music

When Apple’s new streaming music service launches on June 30, it could have a huge leg up on the competition because it will come pre-installed on millions of iPhones running the soon-to-be-released iOS 8.4 operating system. A medley of the former Beats Music paid subscription service and iTunes Radio, Apple’s free streaming offering, the $9.99-per-month Apple Music boasts more than 30 million tracks.

But the company knows a massive library isn’t enough if it wants to overtake competitors like Spotify. So the iPhone-maker bundled in some new features, as only it can. By unleashing Siri’s smarts on its library, Apple Music lets subscribers say things like, “Play the top songs from 1982,” and immediately get an earful of totally ‘80s tunes. Also, the Apple Music on-boarding process (which was a big part of Beats Music) is intuitive, quizzing users on their favorite genres and bands to get a feel for how to best customize its recommendations.

Still, nothing is better than the human touch. For that, Apple Music includes Beats 1, a worldwide streaming radio station with expertly selected tracks introducing people to great new artists. The company also boasts a new social feature that allows artists to share notes, photos, and other media with fans, directly in the app. Apple did something like this before with its Ping social music service, but it didn’t move the needle with fans or artists. So, like the entire offering, the jury is still out on this one until later this month for iOS and — get this — Android. One thing families will love is its group rate: $14.99 will cover six users in a household.


The reigning champion of the digital music world feature-wise, Spotify has more than 60 million active users in at least 58 countries, but only 15 million people pony up the $9.99 per month for the ad-free Premium service. Still, it’s those free users that stick in Apple’s craw, because they still get access to many of Spotify’s 30 million songs, only with ads interrupting the playback, among other restrictions.

Yet the big draw for many Spotify users is how refined the service has become since launching in 2008. As a platform hosting other apps on PCs, a digital jukebox on tablets, or a high-powered personal music library on mobile phones, Spotify delivers not only great tunes, but also an excellent user experience. And by integrating with Facebook early on, Spotify made it extremely easy for users to find their friends, letting them share their favorite albums, artists, playlists and tracks. Available on everything from Android to Windows to set-top boxes, Spotify has excellent reach not just with devices but also with demographics. Kids who have grown up listening to tracks on it are now turning their parents on to it as well. Thankfully, Spotify lets users double-, triple-, even quadruple-up on the bill by offering 50% off every account after the first. So, coincidentally, the cost for two household users is — you guessed it — $14.99.


With 80 million users, Pandora is currently the most popular streaming music service, but with Spotify and Apple Music on its heels, you have to wonder for how long. Pioneering data-driven personalized recommendations, the service was revolutionary when it launched in 2000. In the 15 years since, its seen the competition emulate its recommendation engine and surpass it in features offered. But name recognition alone keeps it awash in users, helping the free, ad-based side of the service continue to generate profit. Available everywhere from the Pebble smartwatch to the Ford Focus, Pandora has used its multi-year head start to gain ubiquity ahead of the competition.

But with far fewer songs in its library than Apple and Spotify, it works within its limitations. For instance, users can’t pull up just any song on demand; instead they can listen to a curated station based on an artist or song they enjoy. With the free service, users only get six skips an hour or 24 fast-forwards per day. Pandora One, the company’s $4.99 per month subscription offering, eliminates the ads and increases the amounts of skips a user gets, but continues to let stations automatically pause if they think you’re not listening, which can be a drag if you’re in a good radio groove.


Boasting the same 30 million-sized library as Spotify and Apple Music, Rdio takes a page out of all the competitors playbooks, offering free and a couple of paid tiers to provide plans to fit all its customers. The company’s free offering plays like Pandora, with ad supported radio stations based on artists, genres, moods, and more. Meanwhile, Rdio’s lowest cost plan, the $3.99 per month Rdio Select, cuts out the ads and the free service’s six-skips-per-hour limits. Or, for $9.99 per month, Rdio Unlimited delivers the on-demand perks that Spotify and Apple Music also promise: any track, or album, any time.

With desktop and mobile apps (including Android, iOS, and Windows Phone) Rdio’s reach competes with the other services very well. And with Facebook integration, it also has the social chops to help friends share music with each other. Unfortunately, these are all walled gardens, which means if you’re an Rdio user, you can’t share music with your Spotify-playing friends. Hopefully one day in the future, all these services will work in perfect harmony — but I wouldn’t bet on it.

TIME Gadgets

Must-Have Camping Gear For Your Summer Adventure

Westend61—Getty Images/Westend61 Hiking on trail

Fill your pack and hit the trails

Correction appended Tuesday, June 16.

It’s been argued the discovery of fire is mankind’s most important moment, but with burn bans occupying campgrounds across much of our drought-plagued nation, an open flame might not do you any good this year. Instead, you’ll need to rely on more modern innovations to keep you warm, dry, fed, and entertained. These 10 camping gadgets will not only help take the sting out of your smore-less nights, but they’re all compact enough to keep your load light as can be.

Biolite BaseCamp: Believe it or not, you can power your phone with wood. No, not Doc Brown or Bear Grylls—you. Heat is energy, and this cooking and charging station turns twigs and branches into electricity to power any USB-connected devices accompanying you into the wild.

And before you snicker like it’s a gimmick, the $299 stove works fairly quickly, with 30 minutes of fire juicing up five hours of talk time for the average smartphone. Coincidentally, 30 minutes is more than enough time for its grill to cook up some dinner. Batteries and burgers? That makes for happy campers.

CamelBak All Clear: If you’re gearing up for some backcountry camping, hauling a bunch of water with you can make your pack literally too heavy to bear. And since you’re headed to the realm of mountain springs and babbling brooks, what’s the sense in bringing your drink, anyway? This $99 water bottle uses ultra-violet light to purify water in just a minute. Able to zap more than 80 bottles before needing a recharge, the UV bulb, which is built into the container’s lid, lives up to 10,000 cycles. That’s enough for three bottles a day for nine years, in case you get lost out there.

 All Clear
CamelBakCamelBak All Clear

Eton Scorpion II: Whether you’re at home or at home on the range, this is one piece of gear you should have with you wherever you rest your head. A hand crank-charged AM/FM radio with NOAA weather band radio stations, this $59 device also doubles as a power bank and an LED flashlight, making it the ultimate safety gadget. Small and able to hook onto your pack, it can also collect power from its solar panel, so there’s no need to stuff it in the bottom of your bag.

 Scorpion II
EtonEton Scorpion II

GoPro Hero4: When camping, you really shouldn’t need a hero. But in case you do, at least this one won’t take up much room in your bag. Shooting everything from 30-frame-per-second 4K video to boring old still photos, this is the action camera of choice for everyone from extreme athletes to extremely spoiled teenagers. At $499, the wearable shooter might be the most expensive piece of gear on your trip, but the memories you can capture with it are priceless. With burst, time lapse, and even nighttime shooting modes, it’s a great way to capture the beauty of nature — so you can look back on those epic hikes when winter rolls around and you’re back to hibernating.

GoProGoPro Hero4

Olympus TG-4: Given its price, the GoPro isn’t for everyone. At $379, the TG-4 is great for everyone else. Able to withstand seven-foot drops, water depths of 50 feet, temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and a 220 pound rock crushing it, this camera is ideal for adventurers or very clumsy people. With GPS features, you can keep track of your favorite shots on a map, and Wi-Fi capabilities let you use an accompanying app for remote shooting. That’s not to forget the wide-angle lens and great 16 megapixel CMOS image sensor that even captures RAW images. You’re going to have some good looking memories.

OlympusOlympus TG-4

Osprey Atmos AG: This backpack’s boast of having “anti-gravity suspension” is most likely marketing-speak, but the trekkers who swear their 35-pound loads feel more like 20 pounds won’t hear of it. The real story is a lightweight mesh that hugs the body close from the hip to the shoulders, making the fit more like an extension of the body. While there’s not any other tech at play here, that’s enough to put this backpack, which runs around $250 depending on where you buy it, on our list.

 Atmos AG
OspreyOsprey Atmos AG

Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro: Flashlight, power bank, wireless speaker — these three items will just eat up space in your bag compared to Buckshot Pro, which not only has all these functions, but at $79 probably costs less than the rest combined. About the size of a Red Bull can, this rugged device can survive a tumble or a splash of water. Connecting to smartphones via Bluetooth, it has enough power to play 10 hours of music. Or by plugging into the juice via USB, it can charge an iPhone one and a half times, or a GoPro more than twice. The light is also versatile, with three modes (flashlight, lamp, and emergency beacon) showing you the way.

 Buckshot Pro
Outdoor TechOutdoor Tech Buckshot Pro

Petzl TIKKA RXP: You might think a head-lamp that comes loaded with its own operating system is overdoing it, but at $99.95 MSRP the price doesn’t show it. Designed to optimize the 215-lumen light’s reactive lighting technology, this software allows you to plug your lamp into a computer, tweak its beam patterns and lighting modes, and then survive the darkness without missing a thing. For instance, you can program it to dim and narrow when you look down at a map, but then brighten and flood when you look up at your surroundings. The water-resistant, 115 gram headset automatically adjusts brightness to get you the best battery life possible, lasting up to 12 hours. Let’s hope you’re not in the dark any longer than that.

PetzlPetzl TIKKA RXP

VSSL: If you’re hankering for the feel of old school technology, the flashlight form-factor of this range of survival gear will do more than scratch that itch. An aluminum tube topped with an LED light, this modern-day torch eschews big, bulky batteries, replacing them with small canisters full of life-saving stuff. So, for $105 you’ll get the LED, a compass, a first aid kit, a razor blade, water purification tabs, a wire saw, an emergency whistle, waterproof matches, fishing gear, and more. Refills vary in price, but are modest, starting at just $2 for a can opener.


Zippo Lantern: Best known for its flame-based products, Zippo recently released an LED lamp that’s every bit as useful as its iconic lighters. A big, light lantern that’s not afraid of the dark, this rugged lamp can take a tumble and keep glowing. It can even slip into the drink, and it floats, adding a new element to lake-side camping trips. The $89 light ($45 at Amazon) also has variable brightness settings, which helps make the battery stretch. At its maximum brightness, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery puts out an impressive 10 hours of luminosity; on the lowest-light setting, it can stay aglow for more than 40 hours. And the best part: no fuel required.

Zippo / Tom MartineauZippo Lantern

Correction: The original version of this article gave the incorrect price for the Petzl TIKKA RXP. It is $99.95 MSRP.

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