TIME Shell

Here’s Why Oil Giant Shell Is Slashing Thousands of Jobs

Company sees a ‘prolonged downturn’ in the oil industry

There was no sugar coating on Shell’s earnings report Thursday: “Today’s oil price downturn could last for several years,” the company said.

In reporting a 25% decline in net income in the second quarter, the company said it would be combating the “prolonged downturn” in the oil industry by slashing 6,500 staff and contractor jobs this year and reducing capital investment by $7 billion or 20%. The company employs 94,000 worldwide. Shell’s dreary outlook on Thursday comes after its prediction in April that oil prices would return to $90 per barrel in three years. Crude oil has slumped 50% in the last year—at one point hitting a six-year low.

Shell isn’t alone in trying to grapple with cheap oil. This week Chevron said it would cut 1,500 jobs in an effort to cut costs by $1 billion. Likewise, ConocoPhillips said it’s continuing layoffs as it tries to reduce spending by $1 billion over two years.

Graves & Co., an energy consulting firm, estimates that the energy sector has lost 50,000 in the past three months—that’s on top of the 100,000 layoffs since oil prices began to tumble last fall.

TIME apps

Yahoo Launches New Messaging App to Compete With WhatsApp and Snapchat

Our global shortage of messaging apps is now one step closer to being solved forever

Having decided to refocus its brand on mobile and video after losing ground in the search engine market, Yahoo unveiled its new messing app, Livetext, on Wednesday. The tech giant hopes it will prove a worthy rival to WhatsApp, Snapchat and others.

Livetext features peer-to-peer text, emoticons and videos, but without audio, making it perfect for communicating with friends who have loud or annoying voices. It’s available now for iOS and Android devices in the U.S., U.K,, Canada, France and Germany.

“We wanted to create a new way to communicate, blending the simplicity of texting with the emotion and immediacy of live video, to make your experience spontaneous and real,” Yahoo’s Adam Cahan said at Livetext’s media launch event in New York City.

So if Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Google hangouts, GroupMe, Facetime, iMessage, Skype, Blackberry messenger (yes, it’s back), texting and phone calls aren’t for you, there’s no better time to give Livetext a whirl.

[BBC]

TIME Microsoft

Why You’ll Actually Want to Use Microsoft’s New Web Browser

Microsoft's Internet Explorer replacement packs two big new features

With Windows 10, Microsoft is finally moving toward putting Internet Explorer out of its misery. But can Microsoft’s new web browser finally knock rivals Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox off their stride?

Edge, the default browser in Microsoft’s Windows 10, certainly delivers on the basics. Early speed tests suggest it can render graphics at top speed, for instance. Throw in a clean layout and the belated addition of a “reading” mode, and Microsoft Edge is at least on an equal footing with Chrome, Firefox and Apple’s Safari — and certainly a vast improvement over its wheezy predecessor.

But the true test of user loyalty will boil down to two new features that no other browser currently provides. The first is a search engine that tucks results into surprisingly convenient places. The second is a digital “inking” feature that makes doodling across the web a sheer joy.

Search

Microsoft’s Siri-like assistant, Cortana, fetches intelligent search results as you type in the address bar. Type the word “weather,” for instance, and the forecast automatically appears in a dynamic pop up menu. Replace it with a basic math equation, and there’s your solution. Ditto for quick problems like metric unit conversions.

Cortana also has a limited ability to curate search results as you’re browsing. Visit a restaurant’s webpage and Cortana’s logo may appear in the address bar, offering to show “hours, directions and more.” Hit it, and a panel slides out from the right-hand side showing a street map along with the establishment’s business hours, phone number and Yelp reviews.

While the functionality is limited only to some restaurants at the moment, the Microsoft Edge team says it’s racing to add more content. “You can just think of the most common activities on the web,” says group program manager Drew DeBruyne. “Shopping, booking travel, reading. Those are the classes of scenarios that we think are very interesting for Cortana to assist.”

And where Cortana can’t proactively suggest answers, users can highlight words and fetch search results, again, in an non-obstructive side menu. Compared to Google Chrome’s option to simply flop a new tab over the one you’re reading, it’s a huge improvement.

Inking and Scribbling

But perhaps the single most intriguing new feature in Microsoft Edge is the ability to snap a picture of a webpage and start editing it. The “ink” feature, which appears as a notepad icon in the upper right hand corner, takes a little getting used to. Hitting it snaps an image of the page and opens a toolkit of pens, highlighters, an eraser and text boxes, which appear in the menu bar. Users will have to decide how they want to use them.

“It’s not something people expect to be able to do in a browser,” says DeBruyne. “Even before there is a learning curve, there’s a ‘what is this for’ curve.” DeBruyne himself is curious to see how Windows 10 users might take the feature in unexpected directions. “Of course, we see some people using it basically for mustaches,” he adds. Here are a few other possibilities:

Wikipedia/TIMEAccentuate points of interest using highlighters
Wikipedia/TIMEAdd text boxes for heavy duty marginalia
Wikipedia/TIMEScrawl directly onto a page using digital ink

Combined, these features could transform the way we engage with the web — or amount to little more than a bunch of silly browser tricks. Which way Edge goes will depend on the willingness of users to reach out and touch the web, a habit that may not come easily after two decades of more passive browsing. That word “browser” alone shows what Microsoft is up against. But given Internet Explorer’s fall from grace in recent years — falling below 15% of the global browser market, according to usage statistics gathered by StatCounter — Microsoft has good reason to take some creative risks with the web, in the hope that users might follow.

TIME Video Games

There’s a Ridiculous Hidden Fee Inside Windows 10

It's tucked in an old stand-by that'll cost you now

Long before we had Angry Birds and Twitter to distract us at work, there was Solitaire on Windows. The card game has been a staple of Microsoft’s operating system for decades, but getting the full Solitaire experience on the newest OS may cost you.

The newly released Windows 10 features the Solitaire Collection, which includes several variants of the classic card game. However, unlike the version of the game you played at your grandma’s house in the ‘90s, Windows 10 Solitaire comes packed with advertisements. To get rid of the ads and earn some in-game currency (yes, this centuries-old game is borrowing from Candy Crush), users can pay $1.49 per month or $9.99 per year.

Read more: Windows 10 Reviews Are In—And People Love It

This actually isn’t the first time Microsoft has tried to get users to pay for Solitaire. A premium version of the game was also released for Windows 8, but the title wasn’t pre-installed in the operating system as it is in Windows 10.

It’s not that surprising that Microsoft is charging for Solitaire, considering that Windows 10 is free and the company is increasingly seeking revenue via ongoing subscription services instead of one-off software purchases.

TIME facebook

Mobile Is Facebook’s Cash Cow

Views of The Facebook Inc. Logo Ahead of Earnings
Bloomberg—Getty Images The login page for the Facebook Inc. mobile application is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5.

Money from mobile ads is dominating its total revenue.

Facebook’s continued efforts on mobile — and mobile ads — continue to pay off this quarter.

On Wednesday, the social network released its quarterly figures for 2015’s second quarter, and to the delight of investors, its mobile advertising revenue continues to grow, now making up 76% of its total ad revenue, or $2.9 billion. In the first quarter, it was only 73%, and in the second quarter of 2014 it was a mere 62%.

Facebook [fortune-stock symbol=”FB”] now has more than 1.31 billion mobile monthly users and 844 million mobile daily active users, a steady climb on that front.

For a couple of years now, Facebook has touted is new focus on mobile to investors, and Wednesday’s numbers should continue to backup the company’s claim.

 

TIME Uber

StubHub’s App Now Lets You Request an Uber To Your Event

They want to make sure you get to the show on time

StubHub isn’t content to simply sell you ridiculously expensive Taylor Swift concert tickets. It wants to make sure you get to the show on time too.

On Wednesday, the event ticket marketplace announced that it’s teaming up with ride-hailing startup Uber and integrating the service into its iOS and Android mobile apps. Now, when customers purchase tickets, they can set a reminder in the app to order an Uber ride for the day of the event, or, if they purchase tickets within two hours of the event, they can immediately book a ride right from StubHub’s app.

“This integration marks another step towards StubHub’s vision to become an end-to-end live entertainment service, moving users from discovery to purchasing to planning,” StubHub’s head of mobile Parag Vaish said in a statement.

For now, the integration is only available in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, StubHub said.

Uber originally released access to its application program interface (API) in 2014, and its potential uses were quickly obvious. The service has already been integrated into apps such as the Starbucks ordering app (for a ride to pick up that cup o’ joe), Hinge (for a ride to that hot date), and OpenTable (for a ride to that overpriced fancy restaurant), among others.

 

TIME Drones

Kentucky Man Arrested for Shooting Down a Drone Over His Property

Drone with Camera
Getty Images

"Everyone I've spoken to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing"

Kentucky police charged a man on Sunday for shooting down a drone that was flying over his home.

William H. Meredith, 47, told police in Hillview, Kentucky that his children alerted him to a camera-mounted drone hovering around the neighborhood. Meredith says he got his shotgun and waited for the drone to fly over his property before shooting, according to WDRB Louisville.

“Within a minute or so, here it came,” Meredith told WDRB. “It was hovering over top of my property, and I shot it out of the sky.”

Police arrested and charged Meredith with two felonies, first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment. The owner reportedly told the police the drone was worth over $1800, and was being used to take pictures of a friend’s home.

FAA guidelines say drone pilots must receive permission from property owners pre-flight when flying over a residence — but a FAA spokesperson told local media that shooting at an unmanned aerial vehicle posed a bigger threat.

Meredith, however, said he had every right to take the law into his own hands. “Everyone I’ve spoken to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing,” he said.

[WDRB]

TIME Google

Google Translate Just Got Way Better

Google Opens New Berlin Office
Adam Berry—Getty Images

It now works for Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish and Romanian

Google Translate is now even more useful for those last-minute translation needs.

The app now has the ability to instantly translate 27 languages from text. The way it works is simple, too: Just point your smartphone’s camera at the text you don’t understand and have the app translate it in real time.

TechCrunch reports that the app has recently expanded from translating seven languages to 27 languages, including Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, and Romanian. The update is available for both iOS and Android devices. TechCrunch spoke with Julie Cattiau, the product manager for Google Translate, who said:

Our mission is to help overcome language barriers. Whenever someone faces an obstacle due to encountering a second language, we want to be there to help solve the problem. Within that mission, our most important project is improving the quality of machine translation. But part of that is also the overall user experience, which is why we also invest in things like instant camera translation and multi-language conversation.

TIME windows 10

Windows 10 Reviews Are In—And People Love It

Despite some bugs, it's much, much better than Windows 8.

Microsoft has released their latest version of the Windows operating system. And a look around the Web has revealed a consensus: Windows 10 rocks.

From tech sites to PC users hoping for some kind of life from the Windows line of software, reviews have been largely positive for the OS. This bodes well for Microsoft, who have had to endure a wave of negativity over their latest earnings report and news they were laying off around 7,800 employees. Their last attempt, Windows 8, earned major minus points for their interface redesign, and with CEO Satya Nadella stating his goal was to hit 1 billion Windows-powered devices by 2019, the pressure was on to make their newest Windows iteration a success.

So far, so good. Some reviewers were effusive in their praise for Windows 10 (and couldn’t be happier to finally stop using Windows 8):

Geoffrey A.Fowler, Wall Street Journal:

I’ve been testing Windows 10 for three months on these computers and even on my everyday work laptop. It’s the best PC experience I’ve had since Windows XP. Here’s why: it’s familiar. The Start menu is back, and all your apps launch in your standard desktop view. Basically, if you know how to use Windows XP, you’ll have no problems with Windows 10. But even though it’s familiar, it’s also fresh… With Windows 10, your PC is actually useful again.

Tom Warren, The Verge:

Windows 10 is hugely exciting. I rarely touch my MacBook Air anymore as I find the combination of some good hardware (like the Dell XPS 13) and Windows 10 is a joy to use. I like the direction Microsoft is taking with Windows 10, accepting feedback and ideas from its customers along the way. It feels like the best way to shape Windows into something people enjoy using, rather than something they have to use… The best part of Windows 10 is that it ends the cycle of good and bad in favor of something great.

Devindra Hardawar, Engadget:

The best thing about Windows 10 is that it’s simply Windows, through and through. It’s as if Microsoft realized that devaluing the desktop in Windows 8 was akin to sacrilege, and Windows 10 is its penance. At its core, it’s a union of the best qualities of Windows 7 and Windows 8 – the desktop features of the former with some of the touch-friendly aspects of the latter. It’s no wonder Microsoft is calling it an operating system that’s both fresh and familiar.

David Pierce, Wired:

Before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way: You should upgrade to Windows 10. If you’re using Windows 8, 7, XP, ME, or 3.1, you should upgrade. Maybe wait a couple of weeks for the biggest bugs to be squashed, but do it. Why wouldn’t you? It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s a huge improvement on whatever version you’re using.

Some of the more seasoned tech reviewers were more reserved in their comments, due to some bugs they’ve found in the system:

Walt Mossberg, Recode:

The near-final build I’ve been testing proved surprisingly buggy. In particular, I had trouble with Windows 10’s sexiest new feature, the voice-controlled Cortana intelligent assistant — Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri — which has migrated from Windows Phones to the PC. Still, some of the new features are promising, the balance between old and new styles seems right this time, and — if the bugs get erased — Windows 10 would be a good choice for Windows devotees.

David Pogue, Yahoo Tech:

You really are going to love Windows 10. You’ll almost certainly want to upgrade your computers to it, especially since it’s free. But you might not want to do that tomorrow. I’d suggest you wait six weeks. By then, Microsoft will have swatted most of the bugs, and many of your favorite software companies will have released Windows 10-compatible versions.

Brian Chen, New York Times:

Combine the early bugs with the spottiness of Cortana and the fact that third-party app developers are still updating their Windows apps for Windows 10, and the operating system still has a little ways to go before it becomes a solid all-around upgrade. But the improvements to security, along with the familiar user interface, should be reasons to grab this upgrade sooner than later.

One reviewer, however, felt Windows 10 reflects a company caught in a transition:

Lance Ulanoff, Mashable:

Windows 10 is a reflection of a company at a crossroads. Microsoft desperately needs to drag Windows into the future (as a service or OS) and make it an integral part of both PCs and mobile devices. Microsoft clearly went too far for most users with Windows 8 and addressed many of the complaints with Windows 8.1, but more work was needed.

Users also took to Twitter to express a myriad of opinions on Windows 10:

 

TIME car age

Here’s Why Lots Of Cars On The Road Probably Still Have Tape Decks

Toyota Opens Hybrid Engine Factory
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The average U.S. vehicle age has hit a record

You know that slot in the middle of your center-console that you sometimes use as an iPhone holder? Well, that’s actually a tape deck—an ancient artifact once used to play cassette tapes. But what’s it doing in your car?

According to IHS Automotive, a consulting firm that provides insight into the automotive industry, the average age of vehicles in the U.S. has reached an all-time high of 11.5 years. Cars have become much more reliable throughout the years, so they can endure the road for a significantly longer period of time. With new smartphones and other devices being released every couple of years, cars far outlive the technology that comes with them; thus, tape decks.

IHS has been tracking this data since 2002. The average car age has gradually increased each year, with an even more dramatic boost during the recession due to a 40% drop in new car sales from 2008 to 2009. The climb has since slowed, and it has started to plateau. IHS predicts that the number will reach 11.6 in 2016 and remain stagnant until 2018, when the company thinks it will hit 11.7.

In case you’re wondering, the last new car to be factory-equipped with a cassette deck in the dashboard was a 2010 Lexus, according to the New York Times.

And here’s one caveat about owning and older car: make sure it has electronic stability control, and side curtain airbags — two key safety features introduced a little over a decade ago.

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