TIME Video Games

Xbox Controllers Are About to Get a Huge Upgrade

CHINA-US-COMPUTERS-GAMES-INVESTIGATION
Johannes Eisele—AFP/Getty Images A control of a Microsoft's Xbox One game console is pictured in a shop in Shanghai on September 29, 2014.

Hold off on buying those clunky headset adapters

The Xbox team released the specs for a new controller that will finally include a headphone jack, eliminating the need to buy a separate headset adapter.

The new controller will release after June 2015, according to a recent post on Xbox’s official support blog. The addition of a 3.5mm port will enable gamers to plug a wide range of compatible headsets directly into the controller.

That may irk owners of the current controller who spent $24.99 to connect their headphones through the Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter. On the other hand, the adapter does include a few handy audio controls, which add mute and volume buttons to the bottom of the controller. Standard headsets may not be able to match those functionalities, though Xbox may offer some clarification at its E3 press event in June.

TIME Gadgets

Here’s What Will Finally Make You Use Apple Pay

Apple Pay's killer app is coming

A customer rewards program is coming to Apple Pay.

It’s one of a slate of announcements expected at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, The New York Times reports, as the tech giant tries to get more people to use its mobile payments system. But details remain sparse.

“They want to be as disruptive to payments as Amazon has been to retail,” Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail and payments analyst for Forrester Research, told The Times. “By being early they can shape the customer experience and expectations.”

The news comes as mobile payments are expected to triple, from $52 billion in 2014 to $142 billion by 2019, according to Forrester Research.

9to5Mac, meanwhile, reports that Target could be the latest retailer to add Apple Pay. CEO Brian Cornell said he met with Apple CEO Tim Cook about supporting the mobile payments service in the future.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Apple

This Is the Biggest Change to the Apple Store in Years

Apple Store Same Day Delivery
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images The Apple logo is displayed on the exterior of an Apple Store on April 23, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif.

Lost your iPhone charger? Get one delivered to your door

Apple has rolled out same-day delivery in the San Francisco Bay Area for select products via the Apple Store app.

Some products on the app, such as the Apple TV and iPhone USB cables, now include delivery times as brief as one hour, MacRumors reports. Bay Area residents who tested the service out reported that items arrived as quickly as half an hour, though some delivery times may take up to a day.

Apple’s new service is made possible through a partnership with on-demand delivery company Postmates, which is also responsible for Starbucks’ coffee delivery in some U.S. cities. Apple products have already been available on Postmates’ iOS app for delivery, but it’s the first time that option has appeared on the Apple Store app.

[MacRumors]

TIME technology

General Motors Just Got Into Bed With Apple in a Big Way

The Hyundai Sonata has become the first car to integrate Google Android Auto. On its heels, Apple prepares to roll out its own in-car platform.

The next platform battle has begun and it’s being waged inside the car.

This week, GM’s Chevrolet and Hyundai announced plans to add technologies that will deliver smartphone functionality to the dashboard of new cars. On Wednesday, Chevrolet said it would offer both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility in 14 models, including the 2016 Cruze compact car that will debut June 24. A day earlier, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata became the first car to include Google’s new in-car voice-enabled software Android Auto.

Both platforms have the same mission to integrate the smartphone with the vehicle’s dashboard. Android Auto connects to Android smartphones, while CarPlay works with the iPhone. And they work about the same way. Once users plug their smartphone into the car’s USB port, the phone’s maps and navigation, music and selected apps are integrated onto the central screen. Both have similar features with a few notable differences—CarPlay users can only use Apple maps.

Applications in both platforms can be controlled by voice, steering wheel controls, and touchscreen and they’ll also will offer third-party audio apps, including iHeartRadio and Spotify. Google and Apple have even partnered with many of the same automakers, including Audi, GM, Kia and Ford.

Apple and Google’s battle over the connected car has been building up for a couple of years now. Apple introduced iOS in the Car—the in-car standard that would eventually be renamed CarPlay—during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013.

In January 2014, Google along with partners Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia, formed the Open Automotive Alliance, a coalition aimed at bringing the Android platform to the car. Several months later, Google unveiled Android Auto at its annual I/O developer conference.

The fight to become the dominant in-car platform presents a challenge for Google and Apple. Both companies want to further entrench themselves in consumers’ lives, possibly through exclusive partnerships with automakers. But it’s in the best interest of automakers to offer both platforms to its customers.

With the exception of a few automakers such as Tesla Motors, the digital console of the car where drivers control A/C, music, and navigation can have a decidedly old-school feel when compared to the functionality and look of a smartphone. The touchscreen in many cars can be finicky and hard to use, forcing many drivers to use their smartphone for navigation or music.

CarPlay and Android Auto allow drivers to bypass the dashboards found in most cars—a capability that will become increasingly important as car-sharing grows. Drivers can instantly access their own music and navigational settings in a strange car by connecting to the Android Auto or CarPlay platforms.

The platforms can also help keep drivers eyes on the road—or at least out of their laps. Some 660,000 drivers, at any given daylight moment across America, are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, according to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

At least initially, the connected car field will be dominated by MirrorLink, appearing in 1.1 million cars this year, according to an IHS Automotive report released last month. Apple CarPlay will be in 861,000 new cars and Google’s Android Auto will be in 643,000 new cars this year. Apple and Google will quickly surpass MirrorLink, appearing in 37 million and 31 million cars by 2020, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME Video Games

The Best Soccer Video Game Is Finally Getting Female Teams

But they can't play against the men's teams

The latest game in the FIFA EA Sports video game franchise will soon include women. The announcement comes just days before the women’s World Cup kicks off in Canada.

Teams from nations including Germany, the U.S., France, Sweden, England, Brazil and Canada will be available, The Verge reports. But female teams can only compete against other female teams in the game, not against male teams.

David Rutter, who heads the video game series, said adding female teams was something EA Sports had been working for some time, but technical issues delayed things.

“We needed to have tools and technology in place that could differentiate between men and women,” he told The Guardian. “Plus, we had to factor in the time and effort required for traveling around the world to scan faces and heads, record motion capture, etc. It’s been on the to-do list for a while.”

Watch a trailer announcing the inclusion of women in the game above.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

 

TIME Retail

Target CEO Would ‘Love’ to Have Apple Pay

Christmas Shopping Season is Underway
Scott Olson—Getty Images A clerk rings up sales for a customer at a Target store November 30, 2004 in Chicago, Illinois.

But first, retailer must finish transition to more secure credit card system

Apple Pay may soon be coming to a Target store near you.

Target CEO Brian Cornell told Recode that he’s been in discussions with Apple chief Tim Cook about adding the digital payment system at the physical retailer (Target already supports Apple Pay for online purchases).

However, before that happens, Target plans to outfit its stores with systems capable of reading chip and PIN cards. Chip and PIN is a technology common in Europe that stores credit cards’ data in an embedded computer chip rather than on a magnetic stripe, an innovation that helps boost security. Retailers that don’t have chip and PIN terminals available will become liable for credit card fraud that occurs at their stores later this year, so it’s no wonder Target’s head is making that upgrade a top priority.

Getting Target on board will be another big win for Apple Pay, which has been steadily recruiting new retailers since launching in October. Best Buy began supporting Apple Pay in its iOS app in April and pledged to support the payment system in its physical stores later this year.

TIME Smartphones

This Phone Has a New Trick You Wouldn’t Expect

Typing will never be the same

Lenovo has unveiled a new smartphone that doubles as a laser projector.

The Smart Cast features a built-in projector that can cast images large enough to turn a wall into a movie screen. The device also recognizes hand gestures, so users can cast a keyboard on a flat table and type away.

In a video demo, Lenovo showed off the Smart Cast being used to play music on virtual piano keys displayed on a tabletop and to slice through the mobile game Fruit Ninja on a wall.

No word yet on a price or release date for the device, which is just a concept product for now. While other smartphones have sported built-in projectors before, the Smart Cast uses a different projection technology, Engadget reports.

TIME Google

Google Is Preparing a Huge Onslaught Against Apple Pay

MasterCard Launches NYC Tech Hub, Showcases Payment Innovations
Charles Sykes—Invision for MasterCard MasterCard demonstrates Apple Pay at the launch of MasterCard's NYC Tech Hub on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 in New York.

In Google v. Apple, mobile payments is officially the new battlefield

The Google v. Apple battle is set to reach a new level on Thursday when Google is expected to introduce changes to its mobile payment products.

Confidential sources told The New York Times, that Google will unveil a service called Android Pay that will help store owners receive credit card payments through their mobile apps at its developer conference on Thursday. Retailers’ loyalty programs will also be able to use the service. Google will reintroduce Google Wallet—first launched in 2011—as a peer-to-peer payment system that allows individual users to send money to each other directly from their debit accounts, a service that’s reminiscent of that provided by the app Venmo.

Google’s plans seem to take direct aim at Apple Pay, a service introduced in October that brought new attention to the mobile payment market. The Times also reports that Apple is expected to announce changes to Apple Pay at its software conference next month.

Mobile payments are anticipated to hit $142 billion in the United States by 2019—up from $52 billion in 2014—but the technology is still bumping up against a nagging problem: credit cards are so easy to use that there’s no huge impetus for consumers to pay with their phones.

TIME legal

FCC Chairman Wants Subsidized Internet for the Poor

Phone service has long been subsidized

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission approved net neutrality rules to regulate the broadband Internet as a utility, treating it the same as it does telephone networks.

On Thursday, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to reiterate high speed Internet’s status as a public good when he introduces a plan to ensure that even the poorest Americans have access to broadband Internet.

Wheeler will announce changes to the $1.7 billion subsidy program created by the Reagan administration in 1985 that currently provides low-income Americans with affordable landline telephone service. Twelve million households participate in the program called Lifeline, which was expanded in 2008 to cover the cost of cell phone service. To be eligible for the program, households must have an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty line or must receive Medicaid or food stamp benefits.

The 2008 expansion of Lifeline boosted enrollment, but that increase coincided with a rise in abuse of the program, as some households received more than their one allotted subsidy. Wheeler’s proposal will give recipients a choice between phone service, Internet access, or a combination of both, according to The New York Times.

In 2013, the Pew Research Center found that only 54% of people making less than $30,000 annually had broadband services versus 88% of those earning $75,000 or more.

TIME Security

How Bad Bots Are Destroying The Internet

TIME.com stock photos Computer Keyboard Typing Hack
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

The web is at war, and the good guys are losing

The Internet has been described in many different ways over the years. We don’t use the term “information superhighway” much anymore, but a recent report may make you reconsider where and how you cruise around on it, regardless. That’s because a quarter of the cars on this road with you, dear reader, are being driven by mindless bandits looking to steal anything they can. Now, imagine traveling a road like that in the real world. No thanks, I’d rather walk.

Last year was the first time in history that bots outnumbered people on the web. According to research from Distil Networks, almost 60% of 2014’s web traffic consisted of automated bits of code, 23% of which exist to do dirty work for fraudsters and hackers. “It’s getting worse,” says Rami Essaid, Distil’s CEO. “Over the past ten years, they went from just kind of being out there and easy to detect to being really, really sophisticated.”

Computer programs that have been coded to either automate a task or pretend to be a person, bots have probably been on the Internet longer than you have. They can be either good or bad. For instance, Facebook uses bots to grab the headline, first paragraph, and image from a story when you share it on your news feed. Meanwhile, Google uses bots to crawl and catalog the web so when you run a search, the site can deliver appropriate results.

But hackers also use bots for all sorts of nefarious reasons, from lifting credit card numbers from an online store to scraping the text off an article and posting it on some random blog. (The nerve!) In fact, digital publishers get hit hardest by bad bots, with almost one-third of the traffic crawling on sites like this being malicious programs. (Sorry about that.) Travel sites, online stores, and real estate pages also abound with compu-critters.

Surprisingly, smaller websites are more vulnerable to bots than larger ones. Hackers target them more often in order to get usernames, passwords, and other credentials because these sites are less secure.”They don’t really care about actually stealing the money from small businesses,” says Essaid. “They care about stealing the information, because at the end of the day, people use the same usernames and passwords all over the place.”

While websites large and small should do more to battle bad bots, Distil’s report tosses blame at some surprising sources — like Amazon, China, and T-Mobile. Bad bots make up 78% of the traffic put out by Amazon, whose simple-to-setup cloud services power much of the web. “They’ve also made it real easy for bad guys to spin up servers, create bots, and do all sorts of bad things — and they don’t police it,” says Essaid.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom are being overrun by bad bots on the mobile web. This is a huge problem because there isn’t yet a lot of virus protection for mobile Internet devices, and last year there were more mobile than desktop web users for the first time in history. As a result, hackers are racing to exploit smartphones and tablets. In 2013, less than a percentage point of mobile traffic was bad bots. In 2014, that figure skyrocketed to between 6-8%. That’s a scary number because there are many more mobile devices than there are computers, so a vast majority of handhelds haven’t encountered a bot — yet.

“It’s like an unharvested field of potential bots and the bad guys are now moving towards harvesting,” says Essaid.

So until the Internet cleans up its own act, bot-dodging users like you and I will need to take an “every man for himself” approach. For mobile users, that means not jailbreaking devices, making sure to research apps before you install them and closing programs that you’re not running. On the desktop, it means never using the same username and password combination twice, only entering your credit card information on secure sites, keeping your software (including browser plugins) up to date, and actually installing virus software. “You might be a zombie bot that’s ending up hurting somebody else,” says Essaid.

Zombies? Bots? Things were a lot better back when the Internet was overflowing with cats.

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