TIME apps

The 8 Best Apps to Get Your Yard Greener Than Ever This Spring

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Lilly Roadstones—Getty Images Man texting sat in allotment

Get things green with some pruning shears, a spade, and your smartphone

While a glance out your window may still reveal some brown, muddy puddles (or worse: white, snowy mounds), it’s still about time to start thinking about your yard. As difficult as it was to dig out over this past winter, it could be just as hard to prepare your lawn and garden for better weather and better days ahead.

But short of hiring a landscaper, these eight apps may be the best ways to get some expert help for your yardwork this spring. Better yet, free or very low-priced, they’ll save you plenty of green over hiring a pro.

Eden Garden Designer

Tending a garden requires patience and vision, but this app helps to take the guesswork out of how things will look in full bloom. The iPhone-only app lets you snap a picture of your yard and then place in all manner of features, like flowers, bushes, and trees. A drag and drop interface lets users tinker in the yard without getting any dirt under their nails, while seasonal settings can show them how their yard will appear throughout the year.

There are more than 40 plants in the app, which may not be quite enough for constant gardeners, but people trying their hand at landscaping or setting up a new plot may find that to be a perfectly manageable amount.

Eden Garden Designer is available for $1.99 on the App Store.

Essential Garden Guide

Gardeners looking to shave their grocery bill are advised to download this guide for growing your own fruits and vegetables. With more than 30 vegetables and 10 fruits in its database, this iPhone app will tell you everything you need to know about planting, tending and harvesting, including how deep to put your seeds, how much light each crop needs, and how much soil acidity the plants will tolerate.

It’s a fairly simple app that puts green thumb information at your fingertips, and will pay you back in spades by cutting down on how much you pay for your favorite fruits and veggies all summer long.

Essential Garden Guide is available for $1.99 on the App Store.

Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens

Everyone from beginners to experts can learn something new about their yard through this comprehensive guide to landscaping. Written by master gardener Susan Morrison, the app blooms with information on more than 90 plants, tagged by climate zone, flower cover, drought tolerance and other details that will ensure you’re picking the right ground cover for your space.

In addition, it has great step-by-step guides on everything from planting grasses to laying down mulch. The only way this app could only be more helpful would be if it could push a wheelbarrow.

Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens is available for $.99 on the App Store and $2.99 for Google Play.

Leafsnap

Developed by Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institute, this field guide can help leaf-peepers identify the tree species they’re looking at. With high-resolution, clear images of the tree’s particular leaf, fruit, flower, and even bark, the app makes it easy to discern plant life around you. Currently it only contains trees from the east coast of the United States, but with upgrades being made to the app all the time, there’s plenty of room to grow.

Leafsnap is available for free on the App Store.

Organic Gardening Magazine

Technically not an app (just like, technically, a tomato is not a vegetable), this downloadable version of the print publication Organic Gardening is even greener than the real thing, because it didn’t kill any trees being printed. With features, stories, and gardening tips dating back to the magazine’s early days in the 1940s, Organic Gardening goes to the roots of the home gardening movement, with colorful photos, well-researched tales, and more. Subscribers to the print version can download issues for free, while new readers looking to explore can either subscribe by the year or pick up an issue at a time.

Organic Gardening Magazine is available for free on the App Store and on Google Play, but charges apply for individual issues or subscriptions.

Perennial Match

Pulling together a garden with lasting appeal can be a tricky challenge. This universal iPhone and iPad app, while loaded with information and a little more complicated than other plant apps, is a great guide to making sure your crops are all compatible with each other, throughout the year. With the ability to set filters, the app will help you plant according to factors such as height, spacing, colors, season, and hardiness. In addition, information on the kind of critters, from deer to butterflies, that the plants attract can help to make your garden more lively than you originally imagined.

Perennial Match is available for $4.99 on the App Store.

Scott’s My Lawn

Sure the grass is always greener on the other side of the street, but that shouldn’t make you stop tending your own lawn. Published by the turf experts at Scotts, this app can not only tell you what to apply to your lawn to make it green and lush (spoiler alert: they recommend Scotts products), but it will also set geographic-oriented reminders to alert you when to apply the lawn food and pesticide.

The GPS map-based square footage calculator can help you determine exactly how big your green space is, excellent for figuring out how much fertilizer to spread. But one feature, the Weed Identifier, didn’t work (it allows you to send a photo of a weed in your yard to Scotts, but they never replied to mine).

Scott’s My Lawn is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Sprout It

With a crisp, clean interface and a library full of plants, Sprout It is a great iPhone and iPad app to inspire beginners to take control of their green spaces, whether those are big swaths of the backyard or container gardens on a patio. Vivid illustrations make this app easy on the eyes, helping users see what they’re about to grow before they get going. But the smartest thing about Sprout It is how it pairs location-based data with weather information, helping gardeners think ahead when it comes to planting and watering.

Sprout It is available for free on the App Store.

TIME legal

This Country Just Banned Revenge Porn

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

New U.K. law cracks down on many kinds of online abuse

The United Kingdom is cracking down on people who share nude photos of their exes without their consent, a practice known as revenge porn.

Under the U.K.’s new Criminal Justice and Courts Act enacted Monday, anyone who discloses private sexual photographs of another person with the intent to cause distress could be prosecuted. Violating the new law carries a punishment of up to two years in prison, a fine or both. The law applies to photos shared both online and offline, according to The Telegraph.

The new law marks the U.K.’s first time revenge porn has been listed as a specific crime.

The U.K. is also cracking down on Internet trolls through the new act. Punishment for abusive messages that have the “intention of causing distress or anxiety” will be punishable by up to two years in prison, up from a six-month maximum under previous rules.

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games of the Week

Try Rogue Star, a Star Wars-like space adventure

Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

Smove

Overall an incredibly simple game with a very rewarding premise, Smove takes you through a number of levels in which you fly through different stages, dodging obstacles as they fly toward you. And though it may not be the world’s most complex game, it’ll keep you playing for a very long time.

Smove is free in the App Store

Attack the Light

For fans of Steven Universe, this game is an absolute necessity. For those who have yet to watch the endearing Cartoon Network show, then allow this game to be your gateway. Run through maps related to the show and clobber enemies while playing as the show’s main characters. However, Attack the Light isn’t entirely a fighting game. You lead your characters on an adventure, turning this game into an adorable RPG.

Attack the Light is $2.99 in the App Store

Tiltagon

Tiltagon is a truly fantastic, fast-paced puzzle game. The object is simple: you must continuously tilt your device in order to manipulate the trajectory of a ball on a series of increasingly complex hexagonal landscapes. Keep the ball rolling, and you stay alive. If not, you explode, which is a great way to go out.

Tiltagon is free in the App Store

Rogue Star

Perhaps it’s simply the game’s name, but Rogue Star has great similarities to the celebrated GameCube game Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. In Rogue Star, you fly your ship in a band of criminals, blasting your way through space and completing missions in order to ascend the ranks.

Rogue Star is $4.99 in the App Store

MORTAL KOMBAT X

This hugely anticipated game was well worth the wait. It’s essentially just like the much-loved button mashing games of yesteryear, except with greatly improved graphics. You can unlock a variety of characters, including some of your favorites from the old series, and spend your time ripping opponents throats out or stabbing them in the face or turning them into ice sculptures.

MORTAL KOMBAT X is free in the App Store

TIME Gadgets

Apple Watch Pre-Orders Hit Almost 1 Million on First Day, Group Estimates

The cheaper Sport Watch was the most popular model

Almost one million people ordered an Apple Watch on the first day it was available, according to an estimate by a research firm, showing strong consumer demand for an Apple product that debuted to mixed reviews.

Slice Intelligence, citing an analysis of e-receipt data from 9,080 online shoppers, said that about 957,000 people in the U.S. pre-ordered an Apple Watch on Friday, with each buyer purchasing an average of 1.3 watches and spending an average of $503.83 on each one.

More than 60% of consumers bought the cheapest iteration of the Apple Watch, the Sport model.

Many of the initial purchasers are committed Apple fans: 72% purchased an iPhone, iPad or Apple computer over the past two years, and 21% ordered an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus in the last few months, according to Slice.

The black sport band was the most popular choice, as was the larger 42mm case.

Read next: Here’s What It Was Like Buying an Apple Watch Today

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TIME Apple

Am I Less Manly for Buying a Small Apple Watch?

Size matters, especially when it comes to timepieces

My name is John, and I suffer from Dainty Wrist Syndrome.

The plague of the creative class, DWS involves the dwindling of the wrist muscles such that the afflicted can fit into those impossibly small cuff sizes on a dress shirt. (Victims are also known have impossibly smooth, uncalloused hands.) In all honesty, I’m not quite that bad off — I can open almost any jar without help — but I do still register (just barely) on the DWS spectrum. And when I saw that the Apple Watch came in two sizes, one with a 38-mm face and the other with a 42-mm face, I panicked and couldn’t help but wonder: Would I be less of a man if I bought a smaller Apple Watch?

There have been many articles written about how to figure out which watch size is right for you (my favorite is this neat dollar bill-folding trick), but none help you deal with the side-eye you’ll get after buying the wrong one. So I texted my best friend, an investment banker who inherited a love of watches from his grandfather, a former watch repairman. Surely, he would surely set me straight. “Hold on. Eating a sandwich,” he replied. A few bites later, he explained that he works with people who wear $10,000 watches as a statement piece, so I should go big or go home.

But one thing people don’t realize about the smaller-sized Apple Watch is that it’s already quite sizable. According to Matt Bain, Miami Beach, Fla.-based antique watch dealer, the standard size of a men’s watch today, on the smaller side, is approximately 36 mm.

“Men are wearing watches all the way up to 48 mm, 48 being very large,” he says. “I think the perfect size watch for a man today is probably about a 40-mm watch.”

Which, of course, is right in the middle of Apple’s sizing, and as such, is no help at all.

In Bain’s expert opinion, the smaller Apple Watch should work perfectly fine for a man of my slenderness. In fact, when it comes to Apple’s watch, he seems to regard its face size like that of a touchscreen phone — it’s all about utility and being able to see and interact with the display.

“I have the smaller iPhone … other people don’t even care. I think on the wrist, it’s the same thing,” he says. “Thirty-eight millimeters is still a large watch — it’s not a small watch, and I don’t consider it to be a woman’s one.”

For its part, Apple claims their watches are unisex, but their bands certainly have target markets in mind. For example, the Leather Loop band, which looks rugged yet refined, will only fit the 42-mm Apple Watch. And the Modern Buckle, with its elegant, subtle styling, is only available on the 38-mm version. So, if, like me, you want a smaller watch face with the more burly leather strap, you’re out of luck, and likewise if you want a larger watch face with a demure leather band.

Still torn, I decided to get a woman’s opinion. I’ve known Andrea Lavinthal, PEOPLE Magazine’s style and beauty director, since college. It turns out she’s a watch aficionado herself, owning a small collection of treasured timepieces.

“When they say unisex for a watch, in my opinion, that means typically a woman can wear a men’s watch,” Lavinthal says. “But it almost never means a man can wear a woman’s watch.”

Funny enough, Lavinthal does make an odd exception to this rule. In contrast to my best friend’s assertion that I should go big to show off, Lavinthal thinks I should brag by going small. According to her, guys tend to size up more than is necessary on everything from cars to clothes.

“They size up in their clothing forever until they either meet a woman who gives them a makeover, or they find a really good sales person, tailor, or friend with better style who they randomly start trusting,” she says. “It almost takes an intervention to get a guy to wear the proper size clothing.”

These man-childs apparently wear large and extra-large sized clothing, when they really should be sporting mediums. “Wearing the bigger size makes you look like a little person wearing a big t-shirt,” says Lavinthal. “The medium is going to fit you and actually make you look bigger.”

And likewise, when it comes to this smart watch — which is still an awkward fashion piece, despite Apple’s design prowess — wearing the proper size is likely to make it less clunky. Heck, if you wear the right size, it might even look like a watch, and not a wrist-top computer.

So I put the question to Lavinthal, point blank: If I bought a smaller Apple Watch, would she think I was less of a man? “No,” she responds. “I would say you’re cheaper.” And this is true: the smaller-sized Apple Sport Watch rings in at $50 less than the larger model. A watch that fits and almost enough extra cash to buy one of these lovely Nomad Apple Watch Stands? That is a stigma I can live with.

TIME Crime

8th Grader Faces Felony Charges for Changing Teacher’s Computer Background

Pranksters be warned

Eight-grader Domanik Green was arrested on felony charges in Holiday, Fla. Wednesday after breaking into his teacher’s computer to change the background picture to two men kissing.

Green, 14, who was released the day of his arrest, said that he broke into the computer of teacher he didn’t like after realizing that faculty members’ passwords were simply their last names, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Green, who previously faced a three-day suspension for a similar prank, said that many students got in trouble for breaking into teachers’ computers.

“Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done,” Sheriff Chris Nocco told the Tampa Bay Times Thursday.

One of the computers Green “hacked” contained encrypted 2014 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) questions, although the police say he didn’t view those files.

“If information comes back to us and we get evidence [that other kids have done it], they’re going to face the same consequences,” Nocca said.

[Tampa Bay Times]

TIME Gadgets

Netflix Just Totally Owned Apple Watch Fanboys

'Now you can view your favorite Netflix Originals directly from your wrist.'

Netflix has “unveiled” a new, brick-sized wrist watch that “isn’t THAT inconvenient” for watching movies and shows from your wrist.

The mock advertisement was conveniently timed to poke fun at the Apple Watch, which kicked off with a rush of pre-orders on Friday.

But with high demand pushing wait times for the device well into the summer, it looks like Apple will have the last laugh.

TIME Apple

Here’s What It Was Like Buying an Apple Watch Today

You should get hands-on time with one before buying

I just bought an Apple Watch. Please don’t tell my fiancée.

I was pretty sure I wanted an Apple Watch before the presales began at a time so early in the morning there was no way my feeble brain could process it. But I couldn’t justify spending a few hundred bucks on A Very Nice Thing before getting some hands-on time with it, checking out the bands, figuring out what size I should buy and so on. All the Apple Watch permutations result in a much more complicated decision-making process than buying a new iPhone, where there’s only a small number of colors, storage spaces, and, more recently, sizes to choose from.

So instead of preordering an Apple Watch sight unseen, I headed to Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue cube store this morning to see what the company’s demo process was like.

The first thing that caught my attention was the complete lack of a line. If you’re in New York City on an Apple launch day, you’re typically best off staying as far from The Cube as humanly possible. But because the Apple Watch wasn’t actually in stock today, there wasn’t the blocks-long line usually characteristic of Apple launches (that’s not an accident). There were plenty of other journalists on hand and a certain level of excitement to be sure, but it wasn’t nuts.

I arrived fifteen minutes before my appointment — Apple strongly recommends you have one — and right away got hooked up with an Apple Store employee named Bob, who was waiting by a table full of Apple Watches. Bob asked which models I was interested in trying. I told Bob I wanted to try the cheaper Sport model (which is what I thought I wanted to buy) as well as the mid-level Watch model with the Leather Loop bands (that band looks terrible in photos and I wanted to see if it was better in person. It was).

Bob put the various models on my wrist for me, which was a little weird — I’m (mostly) an adult and I can generally get a watch on my wrist correctly on the first try. I asked Bob if the Apple Watch came with an Apple Employee who would gently attach and remove the device every day for me. Bob said no. This was sad. I bet the people who buy the $17,000 Apple Watch get that.

The various Apple Watches I tried on were running a non-interactive demo loop. That was disappointing. I wanted to mess around with various apps and see what it was like to actually use the device, and I bet lots of other potential Apple Watch buyers do, too. Convincing fence-sitters would probably be a lot easier if they could get some true hands-on time with the device. There were kiosks set up that had more fully-featured Apple Watches, but you couldn’t wear them while you used them, so it wasn’t really the full experience of what owning one would be like.

Apple Watch
Alex FitzpatrickApple Watch Try-On

After trying a few different bands and bodies, I decided my initial guess was correct: The 42mm Apple Watch Sport was the way to go for me. The Sport “Fluoroelastomer” band is surprisingly nice and comfortable, the bigger screen will be better for interacting with the device (but could be off-puttingly large if you’re used to a small watch), and the cheaper price tag means I won’t be totally screwed when the inevitable much-improved version two comes out like three weeks from now.

I told Bob I made my decision, and he pointed me to a kiosk in the back of the store that would let me pre-order my Apple Watch online. I decided to head back to the office instead and placed my order there (see ya, tax return). The official ship day for the Apple Watch is April 28, but Apple says my device won’t arrive until June — the cost of waiting til 11:30 a.m. to order one. But I’ll get it eventually. For now, I’ll just have to keep using my iPhone every time I want to read some WhatsApp notifications. Like some kind of backwards Neanderthal. Sigh.

TIME Apple watch

Katy Perry and Pharrell Have the Exact Same Taste in Apple Watches

Hey Mickey!

A bunch of celebrities are posting pictures of themselves wearing the Apple Watch this week. Among them are artists Katy Perry and Pharrell, who share something strange in common: They’ve both picked the Mickey Mouse watch face for their new wearable device.

Here’s Perry:

❤️⌚️Oh Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!⌚️❤️

A photo posted by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on

And here’s Pharrell:

Woah.

A video posted by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on

Is this just a coincidence? Will the Mickey Mouse face become some kind of weird status symbol? Is this the work of a shadowy conspiracy group? Only time will tell.

TIME Retail

Amazon Is Suing Sites That Sell Fake Reviews

Amazon Unveils Its First Smartphone
David Ryder—Getty Images Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos presents the company's first smartphone, the Fire Phone, on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

Sites offer to fill seller's product pages with 4 and 5-star reviews

Amazon is cracking down on sites that it says sell fake reviews to bolster products sold on the retailer’s website.

The online retail giant filed suit Wednesday against buyamazonreviews.con and buyazonreviews.com, according to The Seattle Times. The suit accuses the websites of false advertising, trademark infringement and violating consumer protection laws.

Buyamazonreviews.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the website’s owner, Mark Collins, told the Times that Amazon’s claims were without merit, saying his site offers “unbiased and honest” reviews, not fake ones.

On its home page, buyamazonreviews.com offers “unlimited” four and five star reviews to its customers. “Our skilled writers look at your product, look at your competitor’s products and then write state of the art reviews that will be sure to generate sales for you,” the website states.

The case marks the first time Amazon has brought a lawsuit against a company said to be shilling fake reviews. Amazon is seeking triple damages and attorney’s fees, as well as a court order to stop the other sites from using the retailer’s name.

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