TIME Social Media

Twitter Wants to Dominate Apps By Winning Over Developers

Twitter Inc. Headquarters As Company Raises $1.8 Billion After Boosting First Debt Sale
The Twitter Inc. logo is seen on coffee mugs inside the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Social network wants to expand its reach beyond tweets

Twitter is trying to make itself an essential part of the app ecosystem with a new suite of tools aimed at mobile developers. Those tools, announced Wednesday and bundled together in a free service called Fabric, put Twitter in more direct competition with Google and Facebook for control of the mobile future.

Fabric is comprised of a suite of individual tools that together help developers deal with many of the issues they face getting their apps up and running. Crashlytics, a company Twitter bought in 2013, will help developers analyze crash rates for their apps and improve stability. MoPub, another recent Twitter acquisition, is an ad exchange that allows developers to easily serve ads in their apps that are bid on in real-time auctions. The third leg of Fabric, called Twitter Sign In, will let people sign into different apps using their Twitter login credentials rather than a username and password specifically for that app. Similarly, a new service called Digits will let people sign into apps using their cellphone number instead of a username and password.

Outside of Digits, Twitter had offered some form of these services before, but they hadn’t been wrapped up in one simple-to-use interface. Announced at the company’s first-ever mobile developer conference, Fabric is something of an olive branch Twitter is extending to the development community after the social network tightened access to its API a few years ago. Whether app makers will play nice with Twitter now remains to be seen.

TIME apps

Google’s New Email App Wants to Save You From Your Inbox

Opening an email could become a thing of the past, if 'Inbox' can get the right information up front

Google launched a new email app called “Inbox” Wednesday that strips essential information from your incoming messages, displaying it in a stream similar to a social media newsfeed.

Inbox Google

Rather than display messages by subject line, Inbox cuts straight to the body of your emails and attempts to prune out everything but the essential bits, such as flight times, event invitations and attached photos. A flight, for instance, will have your flight times clearly displayed up front without the airline’s preamble. The app can also draw pertinent information from the web, such as your flight’s status. The app also attempts to automatically populate to-do lists and calendar appointments, sparing you from copying the details, flipping to a new app and pasting the information into all of the related fields.

The question remains how well a machine can gauge “pertinent” information to a human user. Early hands-on demonstrations suggest an intuitive user experience. For now, only a select group of users will get to use Inbox by invitation only, who, in turn will be able to invite friends and collectively will decide whether this app will replace regular email for good.

TIME Web

25% of Women Say They’ve Been Sexually Harassed Online

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Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

Name calling and humiliation are pervasive, but stalking and sexual harassment disproportionately affect young women

Four out of 10 adults have experienced some form of online harassment, but some of the most alarming variants — stalking and sexual harassment — disproportionately affect upon young women, according to a Pew survey released Wednesday.

The survey breaks down online harassment into six categories, from name calling and humiliation to physical and sexual threats. The milder attacks crossed gender lines and occurred so pervasively that many respondents said they chose to ignore their attacker rather than engage or withdraw from the forum.

But beneath the white noise of insults, experiences varied dramatically depending on the respondents’ age and gender. Roughly one-quarter of women aged 18 to 24 said they have been stalked or sexually harassed online, making them visible stand-outs from an otherwise level field of insults.

PI_2014.10.22__online-harassment-02 2

The Pew survey also exposes deeper divides that can exact a greater emotional toll on Internet users. “Those who exclusively experience less severe forms of harassment report fewer emotional or personal impacts,” the study authors write, “while those with more severe harassment experiences often report more serious emotional tolls.” It lends empirical weight to the argument that there’s no comparing male and female harassment online.

 

TIME Reviews

Apple’s New iPads Are Great, But Not Essential

Apple Unveils New iPad Models
The new iPad Air 2 (R) and iPad Mini 3 are displayed during an Apple special event on October 16, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 tablets and the iMac with 5K retina display. The Asahi Shimbun—2014 The Asahi Shimbun

You may be better off seeking last year's cheaper models

Apple’s latest iPads, the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3, are being released to relatively muted fanfare compared to the excitement that surrounded the launch of the company’s latest iPhones. It makes sense—while the latest iPhones sported larger screens, much-improved cameras and the ability to be used as mobile wallets in stores, the improvements to the iPad line are subtle by comparison.

The new iPads are great, reviewers say, but they may not warrant running out for an immediate upgrade. Here’s a rundown:

Over at The Verge, Nilay Patel praises the iPad Air 2’s unprecedented thinness (6.1 millimeters), improved A8X processor, TouchID fingerprint scanner and battery life. However, at $499 for the cheapest model with 16 GB of storage, he says the product doesn’t differentiate itself enough from the slightly smaller iPhone 6 Plus or a full-fledged Macbook:

iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are designed to make the transition from iPhone to Mac easier than ever with features like Handoff and Continuity; there’s hardly any reason to take a pitstop at the iPad along the way . . . For better or worse, Apple’s allowed the iPad to become the giant iPhone its critics have always insisted that it is, and in a world with giant iPhones that’s a tough spot to be in.


The iPad Air 2 is “pretty close to perfection,” according to CNET, but it also “doesn’t do anything startling or new.” As Scott Stein explains:

The iPad Air 2 is undoubtedly better than any other current iPad, but its advantages might matter less than last year’s dramatically-redesigned iPad Air: screen quality, size, and battery life are close enough, effectively, to feel the same. Processor power and camera quality — and Touch ID — are welcome additions, but not needle-movers for the typical iPad user. Year-old iPads have never seemed like better bets.

The original iPad Air is now retailing for $399 for its cheapest model. Critics say that may be a better choice for iPad newcomers or those with even older tablets looking for an upgrade.

Apple’s new pint-sized tablet, the iPad Mini 3, probably isn’t worth its price, according to the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo. It doesn’t sport the super-fast processor in the iPad Air 2 and it has the same weight and dimensions as its predecessor, the iPad Mini 2. The newly-added Touch ID is the main differentiating factor, along with a new gold model, but Manjoo says that’s not enough. “Unless you’re going to be doing a lot of Apple Pay shopping or you’re gaga for gold, it’s best to save the $100 and go with the Mini 2,” he writes.

The final verdict: Apple’s latest products are well-designed and probably the most advanced in their respective markets, but they still don’t quite warrant their high price tags, especially if you’re looking for more storage than the basic models provide.

 

TIME technology

This App Can Scan and Solve Math Equations Instantly

Doing math homework just got way easier

A viral video about a new app looks like a dream come true for anyone who struggles with math.

Based on the promo clip, PhotoMath, dubbed a “smart camera calculator,” appears to use smartphone cameras to scan a photo of a math equation in a textbook and display the answer instantly — similar to apps that scan barcodes and takes users to a link in a web browser. It looks like the app can also show step-by-step instructions for solving the problem.

PhotoMath’s parent company MicroBLINK launched the app this week at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe in London, TechCrunch reports. It is available in the App Store on iTunes.

MORE: Really Hard Math Problems With Friends: A New Way to Prep for the SAT and ACT

Read next: 50 Best iPhone Apps, 2014 Edition

TIME Gadgets

This $100 Nightlight Tells You When Your Smoke Alarms Go Off

Leeo Leeo

It's not your average nightlight

Smart home company Leeo has unveiled its first product: a smart nightlight.

The light also monitors temperature and humidity in your home and alerts your phone when your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors go off. The device plugs into your wall and has a microphone so it can monitor those detectors, sending you or other people in your call list a warning if there’s smoke in your house.

There’s no doubt the Leeo nightlight is a nifty product. But it’s not clear it’s worth $100 for a device that’s like a combined smoke detector, a NEST and a regular ol’ nightlight, and may not do any of those things as well.

Leeo formed in 2013 and plans to release a series of connected home devices that connect to your home’s Wi-Fi.

TIME Video Games

In the Sunset Overdrive Launch Trailer, It’s Mostly Blue Skies

A corporate soda outfit releases an energy drink that turns its imbibers into mutants, and that's where you come in.

So here’s what I want to ask whoever put the Sunset Overdrive launch trailer together: where’s the sunset?

First it’s nighttime, then it’s daytime, then you get a few seconds of post-sunset skyline while the protagonist gets all motivational-speaky. But the action takes place midday. Look at that cerulean blue sky! Look at all those fat cottony clouds! ELO would approve!

But the overdrive angle…that’s hard to miss. This is a game about the opposite of narrative gravitas. You’re the former employee of a soda-maker that’s released an energy drink that turns people into slavering super-powered mutant bad guys. Your job is to grind around a carnivalesque sandbox and do goofy, epic battle with (flying?) worms, robots, sac-covered troll-things and giant floating dolls.

Sunset Overdrive is one of Microsoft’s two holiday Xbox One-exclusive pillars, the other being that thing about a military cipher who fights tittering aliens still, in 2014, more behaviorally interesting than the ones the studio that created said military fellow more recently introduced.

Studio Insomniac Games has a respectable design track record with this sort of thing. The ups and downs of the later Resistance games aside, the Ratchet & Clank series is terrific. Sunset Overdrive looks like a punk version of the latter, a third-person gonzo playscape: Tony Hawk meets Tank Girl meets Sam Raimi. (Is it me, or does the protagonist look a little like teenage Bruce Campbell?) If you’re a game aficionado, Insomniac’s also name-dropped Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio as inspirations.

Microsoft claims the game “rewrites the rules of traditional shooters.” We’ll see, when the game arrives next Tuesday, October 28.

TIME Gadgets

One of Apple’s First Computers Just Sold for $905,000

The Apple 1 was a rickety device that couldn't do much, but it sparked a revolution in home computing

One of Apple’s first-ever computers, the Apple 1, sold for $905,000 at an auction in New York City on Wednesday, roughly twice as much its expected price tag.

The Henry Ford organization bought the computer and plans to display the computer at its museum in Michigan, according to Reuters.

The computing relic was designed by Steve Wozniak in 1975 when the Apple co-founder wrote code by hand and fit together cut-rate parts onto a motherboard. “It was the first time in history,” Wozniak has said, “anyone had typed a character on a keyboard and seen it show up on their own computer’s screen right in front of them.”

The auctioned off Apple 1 was functioning as of last month, and can still run very basic commands. It’s believed to be part of the first batch of 50 units assembled in Jobs’ family garage. It contains a circuit board with four rows and 18 columns, a keyboard interface, 8K bytes of RAM and comes with a keyboard and a monitor.

Only 63 surviving authentic Apple 1’s were listed in an Apple 1 Registry as of January out of the 200 that were built. The model up for auction is one of 15 believed to still have working motherboards.

TIME Security

Google Now Supports USB Security Keys for Two-Step Verification

Most security experts agree that you should secure all your online accounts with two-step verification when you can. It’s an important additional security feature that requires you to have access to a physical item (typically, a mobile phone) to gain access to your online accounts.

After entering your password, you enter a second code from your smartphone to double-verify your identity. With two-step verification enabled, even if someone steals your current password through a hack, they won’t be able to enter your accounts unless they also steal that physical item – a requirement that stops most bad guys in their tracks.

Of course, there are always situations where you may not want to use – or simply don’t have access to – a mobile phone. That’s why Google announced the launch of Security Key. It enables two-step authentication for your Google accounts through the use of a physical USB stick.

“Security Key is a physical USB second factor that only works after verifying the login site is truly a Google website, not a fake site pretending to be Google,” the company explains on its official UK blog. “Rather than typing a code, just insert Security Key into your computer’s USB port and tap it when prompted in Chrome. When you sign into your Google Account using Chrome and Security Key, you can be sure that the cryptographic signature cannot be phished.”

Security Key requires a USB drive to work, so it’s not compatible with most mobile phones and tablets. Security Key also requires you to use the Chrome web browser (version 38 or newer) to complete verification. And, of course, there are questions about just how secure the USB format is in general due to the recently discovered BadUSB vulnerability.

If you want to give Security Key a try, you’ll need to purchase a FIDO U2F-certified key to use with the feature. You can buy a basic USB security key on Amazon for $5.99, or something slightly sturdier with a button for $17.99. You can learn how to register and add a Security Key to your Google account by visiting the Google Help page.

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

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