TIME FindTheBest

The Top 10 Smartphones on the Market for Fall 2014

With all the reviews in for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, it’s time to take stock of the larger smartphone battlefield. At FindTheBest, we compiled specs, features and ratings for every smartphone on the market to determine the top 10 phones today. Here’s the methodology:

35% Tech Specs

Made up of 18 different specifications for each phone, including max video resolution, camera optics, pixel density, weight, RAM, megapixels, talk time and more.

33% Expert Ratings

Includes reviews from publications that post numerical scores. These include WIRED, PCWorld, PC Magazine, CNET and Laptop Mag.

26% Features

Can the phone charge wirelessly? Does it come with an FM Receiver? Is it water resistant? Can it do NFC payments? The more capabilities, the better.

6% Performance Benchmarks

Lastly, how does the phone perform using a handful of benchmarks, like Geekbench for overall performance and DxOMark for camera quality?

Here’s the list, followed by the biggest takeaways:

Biggest Takeaways

Year-old phones are still winners…as long as they’re flagship models

Over 120 smartphones have been released this year, yet four 2013 handsets remain in our top ten. The reason? The flagship phones from Apple, Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony are simply a cut above the rest of the industry. These manufacturers know how much of their bottom lines ride on hit devices, so they pour most of their resources into one or two handsets per year.

For this reason, saving $100 by selecting a year-old phone is no longer a terrible idea. A Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5S is still a solid buy, and it’s certainly better than that budget Motorola at the Verizon store.

For the very best phones, release date matters

Once we get to the best of the best, however, release date does matter. There’s one big reason the iPhones outrank their rivals: Apple’s handsets are newer. Consider that the M8, S5 and G3 were released in March, April and May, respectively. Apple had all summer to pack in the latest tech and to gauge customer reaction to its competitor’s phones. Expect all three manufacturers to retake the lead as soon as they release their next products.

With this in mind, discerning smartphone buyers might consider following this principle: Just buy whatever the latest release is from a top manufacturer. If you’ve already bought into the iOS or Android ecosystem, it’s a different story, of course. But if you’re ready to start fresh, look for whichever top brand released a flagship phone most recently. Right now, that’s the iPhone 6. In a couple of months, that could be the Sony Xperia Z3. Early next year, that’ll likely be the Galaxy S6.

Bigger really is better…sometimes

Glance over our top 10 with screen size in mind, and you’ll find some inconsistencies. For the iPhone, smaller is better, with the 6 edging out the 6 Plus. For the Galaxy? The 5.7-inch Note 3 is still our #1 Samsung device, besting the 5.1-inch Galaxy S5. What’s going on?

The difference comes down to the intangibles, which are best captured in the expert reviews. While experts loved both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, they had a slight preference for the smaller device. To reviewers, the 6 Plus often felt like something new and interesting, but the 6 felt familiar and intuitive—enough to push it ahead of its bigger brother (despite inferior battery life).

For Samsung, things went the other way. The Note 3 was revolutionary, while the Galaxy S5 was evolutionary. Experts loved the stylus-equipped Note 3 for its size, audacity and productivity—a new landmark for big-screen handsets. The S5, while solid, didn’t captivate reviewers the same way.

So in the end, who really knows what the right screen size is? Perhaps smartphone size is more art than science.

Microsoft can’t crack the top ten

Microsoft’s Lumia line continues to miss the top 10 (the same thing happened when we did this exercise last year). It’s the honorable mention that’s increasingly more mention than honor. Experts continue to hit all the usual beats: The Windows interface is clever, but iOS and Android are more mature. The camera takes superb photos, but the app selection is weak.

Microsoft is planning a big rebrand this holiday season (dropping “Nokia” and “Windows Phone”), but unless the company coaxes more developers and customers from Android and iOS, it’ll have trouble sniffing the top 10. And at this rate, it’ll drop out of the top 20 soon (currently, our top two Lumias sit at #19 and #21).

China is knocking on the door

Take a look just outside our top 10, and it’s the Xiaomi Mi 4—not a Lumia phone—that threatens to disrupt the top 10 next year. The red-hot Chinese manufacturer already beats all of its rivals on price, and its specs are right in line with the best handsets on the market. The only remaining question: How long will it take for Xiaomi to come to the US?

Final Recommendations

If you want the best phone right now….

grab the iPhone 6.

If you want a great phone on a budget…

…get the Samsung Galaxy S4 or LG Nexus 5 — a year old, but still excellent.

If you’re willing to wait…

…a few months, get the Sony Xperia Z3.

…until next year, get the Samsung Galaxy S6.

If you want a fully unlocked phone with all the latest technology for ~$450…

…move to China, and get the Xiaomi Mi 4.

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest.

TIME Companies

Lyft Is Giving Rides to Baseball Fans During the Playoffs

Lyft Gives Up Pink Mustaches To Challenge Uber In New York City
The Lyft Inc. application (app) is demonstrated on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s for an arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lyft will offer rides during the playoffs

Lyft announced Thursday that it will partner with Major League Baseball as the official ride for fans, just in time for the playoffs.

The ride will offer car-sharing services to 74 million fans for safe transport to and from ballparks during the 2014 Postseason, which begins Tuesday, Sept. 30, through the entire 2015 MLB season, according to a press release. During that time, Lyft and MLB will offer free ride giveaways and special promotions for the playoffs in October.

MLB hosts over 2,000 baseball events per year, more games than any other professional league. The partnership will give Lyft, which has rapidly expanded across the U.S. this year as a competitor to Uber and other rival services, a shot to further establish greater traction in the ride-sharing industry as it and other players navigate complex regulatory hurdles to entering new markets.

TIME legal

Iowa to Tesla: Stop Test-Driving Your Cars in Our State

A logo of Tesla Motors on an electric car model is seen outside a showroom in New York
A logo of Tesla Motors on an electric car model is seen outside a showroom in New York on June 28, 2010. Shannon Stapleton—Reuters

Iowa's DOT recently put the kibosh on a three-day Tesla Motors test drive in the state capital.

If you want to check out one of Tesla’s newfangled electric rides before buying one, you can add Iowa to the list of states to steer clear of.

That’s because Iowa’s transportation department is telling Tesla Motors to stop offering test drives in the state because doing so is illegal, reports the Des Moines Register. Iowa’s DOT apparently said the test drives–conducted by Tesla in West Des Moines earlier this month–were illegal because Tesla isn’t a licensed auto dealer in Iowa, and that state law bans auto manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers.

Trouble is, Tesla doesn’t sell through traditional franchise outlets, and the company has no franchises dealer relationships anywhere in the U.S. If you want to buy one of billionaire Elon Musk’s ballyhooed electric super-cars, you have to transact directly with the company. Unless you’re filthy rich and/or casually profligate, that’s going to be a tall order for most buyers, considering the base price on a Tesla Model S starts in the $70,000 range and surges by tens of thousands from there.

Note that driving Tesla cars in Iowa is perfectly legal. It’s just the test-driving or selling through a storefront part that’s the problem.

Forbidding car makers from selling directly to the public sounds odd, but in fact auto manufacturers are prohibited from selling directly to consumers in nearly every state. In Texas, for instance, Tesla has two show galleries, one in Houston and another in Austin, but as Tesla itself notes on its website:

In an effort to comply with the current laws, employees at these galleries are prevented from discussing pricing and the reservation process. This includes any discussion on financing, leasing, or purchasing options. Also, galleries cannot offer test drives. The store’s interactive kiosks are also amended to remove pricing. Lastly, we are unable to refer the customer to another store out of state. This puts Tesla at a serious disadvantage and inhibits our ability to reduce misconceptions and educate people about Electric Vehicles and the technology. Furthermore, people are forced to leave the gallery frustrated, lacking sufficient information about the car and the brand.

There may be a political element to the kerfuffle as well: the Register notes franchise auto dealers in states around the country have worked with dealers associations to keep Tesla out, presumably threatened by Tesla’s unconventional sales model. In fact, it was Iowa’s Automobile Dealers Association that tipped the DOT off to Tesla’s test drives in West Des Moines, says the Register.

But not allowing auto manufacturers to sell directly to the public may be harming consumers, argues a 2009 competition-related advocacy report on the U.S. Department of Justice’s website. The paper advocates “eliminating state bans on direct manufacturer sales in order to provide automakers with an opportunity to reduce inventories and distribution costs by better matching production with consumer preferences,” and notes that economic arguments for states’ bans on direct auto sales that cite holdup or free-rider issues “are not persuasive because competition among auto manufacturers gives each manufacturer the incentive to refrain from opportunistic behavior and to work with its dealers to resolve any free-rider problems.”

TIME movies

Twitter’s New Ads for Movies Will Target You Based On What You Tweet About

Guardians of the Galaxy
These guys are going to save the galaxy. Seriously. Marvel

The company says Twitter plays a big part in helping people decide what movies to see

Twitter wants to get you to the movies.

The company will begin testing targeted ads about movies in the next few months, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The program would display ads about a particular movie to users who have tweeted about similar movies or related keywords. For example, a campaign for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 might target fans already tweeting about the series, users who’ve tweeted about Divergent or, hypothetically, anybody making a joke about volunteering as tribute and having the odds ever in their favor.

“Our recent research shows that Twitter is major influence on movie choice,” Jeffrey Graham, global head of research at Twitter, told THR. “Not only are people hearing about new movies on Twitter, they are using it to make a decision about what to see, then sharing their experience with friends.”

The program would be hassle-free for studios — they would only provide the names of similar movies, while Twitter would figure out which users were already talking about them, even if they weren’t using the title specifically.

Twitter already has a similar program in place for television.

[THR]

TIME Smartphones

Apple Offers Fix for iPhones Affected by iOS 8 Problems

It's a process the company typically doesn't officially endorse

Apple posted an official fix for iPhone owners affected by problems with Wednesday’s iOS 8.0.1 update, which many users reported caused a total loss of cellular service as well as issues with Touch ID on iPhone models that support the feature. The tech giant pulled the update after complaints about those issues quickly spread over social media, but for many users it was too late.

Apple’s fix is essentially a way to revert affected iPhones back to iOS 8.0.0, a process the company typically doesn’t officially endorse.

From Apple’s support website:

Follow these steps to reinstall iOS 8.0.

  1. Make sure that you’re using the latest version of iTunes.
  2. Connect your iPhone to iTunes.
  3. Back up your iPhone in iTunes on your Mac or PC. iCloud backups won’t restore to earlier versions, including iOS 8.0.
  4. Download the file below that corresponds to your device:
  5. Select the file you just downloaded by doing one of these in iTunes:
    • Mac: Press the Option key and click Check for Update.
    • Windows: Press the Shift key and click Check for Update.
  6. Press Update to install iOS 8 on your iPhone.

The Health app won’t work in iOS 8 after these steps. It will be fixed in our upcoming iOS 8.0.2 software update.

The iOS 8.0.1 problems seem to only affect the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices. TIME installed the update on an iPhone 5C and experienced none of the reported issues. Apple told The Verge that it apologizes “for the great inconvenience experienced by users,” and promised to quickly issue an iOS 8.0.2 update that would fix the issues addressed by 8.0.1 without causing new problems in turn.

TIME Smartphones

The iPhone 6 Lines Weren’t Actually Filled With the ‘Chinese Mafia’

iPhone 6 Becomes Available In Hong Kong
People buying and reselling newly purchased iPhone 6 units during the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on September 19, 2014 in Hong Kong. Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images

Chinese mobile tech experts say many ordinary people just wanted some extra cash

A video posted on YouTube Saturday showed what it claimed was the “Chinese mafia” camped outside Manhattan’s Apple Stores in anticipation of the first day of iPhone 6 sales on Sept. 19. Most of the front-of-line dwellers were old, spoke little English and declined to comment. Some slept on cardboard boxes. Others waited patiently on lawn chairs. One woman was even shown being arrested.

Since then, the footage has amassed nearly 2.5 million views, raising concerns about the foreign buyers, many of whom resold the iPhones at exorbitant prices in China, where the iPhone 6 is not yet on the market. The Chinese have “learned capitalism the wrong way,” according to one YouTube commenter. Or in the words of another commenter, those in line will “ship the phones back to China and make huge profits.”

There’s no disputing that there’s an underground market for iPhones, analysts who study China’s wireless market told TIME. But for most first-in-line buyers, the iPhone 6 gray market, while expansive, is far from what’s implied by a “Chinese mafia.” In reality, the process both stateside and overseas is much less of a structured, profitable operation.

In the U.S., many Chinese buyers crowding Apple Stores were likely from poor areas of major Chinatown areas, especially in New York and San Francisco, according to Linda Sui, an analyst at Strategy Analytics. “They need money. Most of them are low-income people,” Sui said.

Analysts agreed that in reality the U.S.-China iPhone 6 grey market trade was rather fragmented. Those who purchased the iPhone 6 in the U.S. often did not sell it directly to a customer. Rather, they connected through word of mouth with scalpers who were transporting the devices to China. These scalpers would then sell the iPhone units in China for a third time: a buy, resell and re-resell.

“In Chinatown, there are small circles, so many people know each other,” Sui said.

Carl Howe, an analyst with 451 Research LLC, estimated that these first-in-line buyers—many who waited days for the iPhone 6 to go on sale—will make “whatever the market will pay.” That’s only a few hundred dollars of profit after selling an iPhone 6 in the U.S. for about $1,000. Sui estimated that the maximum profit was only around $300 to $400 for the hours spent camping outside.

But once the phones arrive in China, where Apple has still not confirmed a release date for the iPhone 6, they could be sold for up to nearly $3,000 due to high demand, according to several reports. “I have around 200 pre-orders with 60 to 70% of these from mainland Chinese customers,” phone reseller Gary Yiu told AFP days before the iPhone 6 launched. Yiu said the 128GB gold iPhone 6 Plus could be resold for over $2,580 immediately after release.

“Nowadays I think it’s a lucrative enough business that there are literally gray market wholesalers,” Howe said.

Unlike stateside first-in-line buyers who just wanted a bit of quick cash, many Asian wholesalers had decidedly less innocent motives. iPhone wholesalers tend to be small businesses, and they hire or transport people to wait in line in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Australia—countries in the first batch to receive the iPhone 6—before illegally smuggling them into mainland China to avoid import taxes, according to Bryan Wang, a Beijing-based analyst at Forrester Research.

“In Singapore, what [organized groups] do is they hire people to queue up for the whole night,” Wang said. “These folks got $130 in cash for being there overnight.”

Still, while there’s certainly a small-scale, organized iPhone trade, the buzz in the U.S. and Asia has obscured the fact that transactions in the underground market aren’t as fluid or clear-cut as they seem, analysts said. Getting the iPhones back to China, for example, isn’t as simple as making a cash payment. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported Tuesday that authorities seized 600 iPhone 6 units from people attempting to smuggle the phones from Hong Kong to the neighboring Chinese city of Shenzhen to avoid paying electronics duties of up to 50%. Forrester Research estimated that two years ago, 70% of iPhones sold in Hong Kong were trafficked to China. Border security in Hong Kong has tightened up, according to the SCMP, which also published images of concealed iPhones.

There are also technical issues with using a foreign-bought iPhone 6 in China, according to analysts. They suspect the iPhone 6’s initial launch precluded China because Apple and China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology were sorting out discrepancies between China’s network and foreign networks. As it stands, some foreign-bought iPhone 6 models will either work at slow speeds or not at all in China, a fact that may have eluded Chinese buyers of resold iPhones.

“There’s actually 18-20 different iPhone 6 models built to satisfy different requirements,” Howe said. “I doubt there’s a whole lot of full disclosure [in the market].”

Perhaps the most surprising look into China’s underground iPhone 6 market is that many of its participants—even on the reselling side—are ordinary individuals hoping to score some pocket money, not organized groups.

Wang said he has friends with stable jobs who still participate in iPhone buying and reselling just to make some extra money. His nephew, a student in Sydney, Australia, queued up for over 12 hours to obtain an iPhone 6, like many other Chinese students studying abroad in countries selling Apple’s newest smartphones, and then immediately sold it. Young students also participated as smugglers, and many were caught at China’s border, according to the SCMP.

The gray market will continue insofar as the demand remains, analysts said, especially as Apple has established itself as a premium, luxury brand, even if it’s not China’s best selling smartphone. “In Chinese, we call [the buyers of re-sold iPhones] tuhao, which means less educated, newly rich people,” Wang said. “Basically, they just want to be the first one get the devices.”

“If you look at the legitimate market, which model is selling well?” Sui said. “Then you’re going to find it in the smuggled market as well.”

 

TIME justice

Surfers Beat Billionaire in Landmark California Beach Case

A surfer hops the gate at the top of Martins Beach Road, crossing property owned by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla in order to get to Martins Beach on August 7, 2014. Katy Steinmetz for TIME

The latest ruling in the ongoing battle over a northern California surf spot is a blow to venture capitalist Vinod Khosla

A California court issued a milestone ruling Sept. 24 that may restore public access to a beach that requires traveling across privately owned land, the latest turn in a multi-year legal frenzy that has pitted the surfers who cross the property against the billionaire who owns it.

Judge Barbara Mallach of San Mateo Superior Court ruled against venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, who was sued by the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation after his property manager blocked the public from accessing a beloved seaside spot known as Martins Beach.

At the center of the controversy is a low-slung metal gate that sits at the top of Martins Beach Road, an offshoot of the Pacific Coast Highway that is the only way to access Martins Beach from dry land. The road snakes across 53 acres that Khosla bought for $32.5 million in 2008. For two years, his property manager allowed the public to occasionally visit a stretch of sand where locals have gone smelt-fishing and surfing and picnicking for decades. But Khosla allowed the gate to be closed permanently in 2010 after his property manager received a letter from the county demanding that it stay open every day.

The conflict comes at a time when an influx of tech wealth has sharpened class tension in northern California. “[Kholsa] believes that he can find a way to use his wealth and power to strong-arm the situation,” says Chad Nelsen, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation.

Khosla doesn’t own a home on the land and says he has no plans to build one. The decision to shut off access to the road was a way to take a stand about what he felt were his basic rights. “This is a case about private property,” Khosla told TIME in an email. “We need to assert our rights and get the courts to clarify them.”

Khosla’s lawyers say they are considering appealing the verdict. “We will continue to seek protection of the constitutional rights of private property owners that are guaranteed by the U.S. and California Constitutions and that have long been upheld by the United States and California Supreme Courts,” his attorneys said in a statement.

Surfrider’s argument rested on a seemingly bureaucratic detail. The organization claimed that under the 1976 Coastal Act, which gave a statewide Coastal Commission jurisdiction over beachfront land, Khosla needed to apply for a development permit in order to close the gate. The commission will often only grant development permits, typically to build a home or another structure, if the public gets an established right of way in return.

“Because they’re in charge of beach development, they’re allowed to do this quid pro quo,” says Arthur McEvoy, a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. “They can ask you in trade to dedicate a little easement, if the development threatens to impede public access.”

The tricky matter is that while beaches are widely considered public, people don’t necessarily have a right to cross private property to get there. Cases such as this one set precedents that resonate up and down California’s 840 miles of coastline.

The view of Martins Beach from the bottom of Martins Beach Road includes a rock formation known as the “shark’s tooth.” Katy Steinmetz for TIME

It’s easy to see why Martins Beach is beloved. Its sands wrap around a cove with cliffs jutting out on either end, creating a rare surfing spot protected from the wind and also preventing people from walking to the beach from the north or south. Secluded and full of wildlife, its dramatic rock formations are often blanketed by birds. Seals pop their heads up between surfers and the beach.

For decades, cars that wound their way down the road from Highway 1 paid a small fee to the landowners for parking and frequented a snack shop that has fallen into disrepair. A now-defunct sign advertising $15 parking, the amount Khosla’s employees charged when visitors were allowed, still lays on the ground.

Steve Baugher, Khosla’s property manager, testified at the trial that it was his decision to close the gate. He also testified that he hired security guards to “deter trespassers”; their presence prompted five surfers to defiantly march past them last October to proclaim their right to be on the beach. Known as the “Martin’s 5″ the surfers were arrested by the county sheriff but the District Attorney declined to prosecute–inspiring more surfers to take advantage of this legal limbo and hop the fence with abandon.

In California, public access to the beach is protected by the public trust doctrine, a common law that can be traced back to the English crown proclaiming rights to all submerged lands, in order to let the public use the water above them for fishing and navigation.

“Our culture abhors private beaches, and generally speaking our law abhors private beaches as well,” McEvoy said. “And any landowner is going to want to keep people away from their beach.”

In an earlier case that went Khosla’s way, a group called the Friends of Martins Beach used a different angle to sue, testing a clause in the state constitution that declares that no entity shall “exclude the right of way to such water whenever it is required for any public purpose.” In a 2013 ruling, another San Mateo Superior Court judge said that because Martins Beach had been part of a land grant that settled the Mexican-American war in 1848, a year before the constitution was adopted, the intentions of that document were immaterial.

Beyond the ongoing court cases, two other avenues may force the drama to a close. One is a bill sponsored by State Senator Jerry Hill, a San Mateo Democrat, that would require the State Lands Commission to consider purchasing the road if negotiations with Khosla for public access fail. Meanwhile, the Coastal Commission, which has been fielding the public’s complaints about the closure of Martins Beach, is asking people to write in about how they’ve used the area in the past. That testimony may prove there’s a historic right of access that Attorney General Kamala Harris can sue to restore on the Commission’s behalf. “The Commission is trying very hard to bring it to a close,” says Nancy Cave, a commission manager who was part of negotiations with Khosla’s team that went nowhere. “We are frustrated, too.”

Khosla notes that he is not the first owner of the property to limit access, pointing out that previous owners closed the gate during certain hours and seasons and even inconvenient days. In court, property manager Baugher testified that he received a letter from the county demanding that the gates be open year round and parking be charged at the rate of $2, what beachgoers paid in 1973. Khosla has also accused Surfrider and the Coastal Commission of attempting to “blackmail and coerce him,” charges both deny. Surfrider emphasizes that Khosla has allowed changes that are far from what his predecessors did—like painting over a billboard that used to welcome people to come down from Highway 1 to the beach, turning it into a dark green slab.

Surfrider had hoped that the court would also fine Khosla for failing to apply for a permit but Mallach declined, saying that those who closed the gate had acted in good faith that they had the legal right to do so. Nonetheless, Surfrider championed the decision as a “huge victory.”

“Today’s court decision upholding the Coastal Act is an important victory for Martin’s Beach and ultimately strengthens the public’s right to beach access in California,” Angela Howe, Surfrider’s legal director, said in a statement. “The Surfrider Foundation remains vigilant to protect beach access rights, not only in this case, but also in other cases where the beach is wrongfully cut off from the public.”

TIME Companies

Apple Has an iPhone Headache, but It Won’t Last Long

Apple's stock is recovering after it took a sub-100 dip on reports of a faulty software update and bendable hardware

Updated Saturay 9/27

After launching two new iPhones and a new mobile operating system, iOS 8, last week, Apple had a rough few days. Sure, it sold a record 10 million of its new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models over the weekend, setting them up to be its most successful phones ever. But no company can escape the headaches that come with almost every new launch, and Apple had three problems marring an otherwise spectacular introduction.

First, iOS 8, Apple’s new mobile operating system, inexplicably launched late last week without promised apps that used a health and fitness feature called HealthKit. Then, early this week, reports flew around social media and tech blogs showing the iPhone 6 Plus, the big 5.5-in. granddaddy of the two iPhone 6 models, was easy to bend — some people claimed the phone bent when sitting in their pockets for extended periods, others bent the phones on purpose to prove it was possible, and everybody loved calling the whole thing “bendgazi.” Finally, Apple rolled out an iOS 8 update Wednesday intended to fix that HealthKit problem and other minor issues, only to quickly pull it after users complained the update had caused their iPhones to lose the ability to make phone calls.

“We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can,” an Apple spokesperson told several tech blogs in a rare public statement about the iOS 8 update problems. Several days later, Apple rolled out iOS 8.0.2, which took care of the bugs iOS 8.0.1 was supposed to fix, plus patched up the brand new bugs that update introduced. Apple later said only about 40,000 of the millions of iPhones out there in the world were affected by the iOS 8 update problems. Still, the company apologized “for the great inconvenience experienced by users” related to the issue.

While initially mum on the bending issue, late this week Apple said only a small handful of iPhone users formally complained about bent devices. Still, in a rare move, it decided to lift the veil on on its testing process, showing the world the rigorous quality control testing it conducts on every new device. That’s the latest sign the typically tight-lipped Apple is opening up: Apple also recently directly addressed an iCloud security flaw that led to the exposure of celebrities’ nude photos. Those minor moves toward transparency show an Apple that’s taking a different tack from years prior — back in 2010, late CEO Steve Jobs infamously made a nonapology apology for an iPhone 4 problem that prevented the device from making calls when it was held a certain way. While Apple acknowledged the issue and sent customers a special “bumper” case to fix it, Jobs still said the problem had been “blown so out of proportion it’s incredible.” That’s not the kind of language we’re hearing from the company under Cook, who also issued a public apology after the company replaced the widely-liked Google Maps app with its own Apple Maps back in 2012, a move met with much scorn from users and tech writers.

Even still , Apple investors initially balked at the news of the update problems and bending issues, sending the company’s stock dipping below $98 by Thursday’s closing bell. That’s a decent little dip for the world’s most cash-rich company, but there isn’t much reason to fret. Apple is still selling its new iPhones hand over fist, and it appears poised to sell its upcoming Apple Watch hand over wrist in just a few months. The company may have a little headache now, but it’s got plenty of aspirin in the medicine cabinet. Indeed, by the end of the day Friday, it seemed Wall Street got over it: Apple climbed nearly 3% on the week’s last day of trading action, ending back above $100.

TIME robotics

Facebook Wi-Fi Drone the Size of a Jumbo Jet Could Fly in 2015

An illustration of a drone to be designed by Facebook and Internet.org Internet.org

Hoping to test out its Wi-Fi-providing unmanned aircraft by next year

The Facebook drones are on their way, and we’re not talking about bored friends who send out Candy Crush Saga invites. The company shared a few more details about its plan to use drones to provide free Wi-Fi to the two-thirds of the world’s population that lack Internet access. First, don’t call them “drones,” Yael Maguire, engineering director of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, said Monday at the Social Good Summit in New York City. Instead he refers to them as “planes,” seeing as they will be “roughly the size” of airplanes “like a 747,” although much, much lighter.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME

9 Rules For Emailing From Google Exec Eric Schmidt

In a new book out this week chock full of Google-flavored business wisdom, How Google Works, Google executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt and former Senior Vice President of Products Jonathan Rosenberg share nine insightful rules for emailing (or gmailing!) like a professional

Communication in the Internet Century usually means using email, and email, despite being remarkably useful and powerful, often inspires momentous dread in otherwise optimistic, happy humans. Here are our personal rules for mitigating that sense of foreboding:

Cover of ‘How Google Works,’ by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg How Google Works

1. Respond quickly. There are people who can be relied upon to respond promptly to emails, and those who can’t. Strive to be one of the former. Most of the best—and busiest—people we know act quickly on their emails, not just to us or to a select few senders, but to everyone. Being responsive sets up a positive communications feedback loop whereby your team and colleagues will be more likely to include you in important discussions and decisions, and being responsive to everyone reinforces the flat, meritocratic culture you are trying to establish. These responses can be quite short—“got it” is a favorite of ours. And when you are confident in your ability to respond quickly, you can tell people exactly what a non-​response means. In our case it’s usually “got it and proceed.” Which is better than what a non-​response means from most people: “I’m overwhelmed and don’t know when or if I’ll get to your note, so if you needed my feedback you’ll just have to wait in limbo a while longer. Plus I don’t like you.”

2. When writing an email, every word matters, and useless prose doesn’t. Be crisp in your delivery. If you are describing a problem, define it clearly. Doing this well requires more time, not less. You have to write a draft then go through it and eliminate any words that aren’t necessary. Think about the late novelist Elmore Leonard’s response to a question about his success as a writer: “I leave out the parts that people skip.” Most emails are full of stuff that people can skip.

3. Clean out your inbox constantly. How much time do you spend looking at your inbox, just trying to decide which email to answer next? How much time do you spend opening and reading emails that you have already read? Any time you spend thinking about which items in your inbox you should attack next is a waste of time. Same with any time you spend rereading a message that you have already read (and failed to act upon).

When you open a new message, you have a few options: Read enough of it to realize that you don’t need to read it, read it and act right away, read it and act later, or read it later (worth reading but not urgent and too long to read at the moment). Choose among these options right away, with a strong bias toward the first two. Remember the old OHIO acronym: Only Hold It Once. If you read the note and know what needs doing, do it right away. Otherwise you are dooming yourself to rereading it, which is 100 percent wasted time.

If you do this well, then your inbox becomes a to‑do list of only the complex issues, things that require deeper thought (label these emails “take action,” or in Gmail mark them as starred), with a few “to read” items that you can take care of later.

To make sure that the bloat doesn’t simply transfer from your inbox to your “take action” folder, you must clean out the action items every day. This is a good evening activity. Zero items is the goal, but anything less than five is reasonable. Otherwise you will waste time later trying to figure out which of the long list of things to look at.

4. Handle email in LIFO order (Last In First Out). Sometimes the older stuff gets taken care of by someone else.

5. Remember, you’re a router. When you get a note with useful information, consider who else would find it useful. At the end of the day, make a mental pass through the mail you received and ask yourself, “What should I have forwarded but didn’t?”

6. When you use the bcc (blind copy) feature, ask yourself why. The answer is almost always that you are trying to hide something, which is counterproductive and potentially knavish in a transparent culture. When that is your answer, copy the person openly or don’t copy them at all. The only time we recommend using the bcc feature is when you are removing someone from an email thread. When you “reply all” to a lengthy series of emails, move the people who are no longer relevant to the thread to the bcc field, and state in the text of the note that you are doing this. They will be relieved to have one less irrelevant note cluttering up their inbox.

7. Don’t yell. If you need to yell, do it in person. It is FAR TOO EASY to do it electronically.

8. Make it easy to follow up on requests. When you send a note to someone with an action item that you want to track, copy yourself, then label the note “follow up.” That makes it easy to find and follow up on the things that haven’t been done; just resend the original note with a new intro asking “Is this done?”

9. Help your future self search for stuff. If you get something you think you may want to recall later, forward it to yourself along with a few keywords that describe its content. Think to yourself, How will I search for this later? Then, when you search for it later, you’ll probably use those same search terms. This isn’t just handy for emails, but important documents too. Jonathan scans his family’s passports, licenses, and health insurance cards and emails them to himself along with descriptive keywords. Should any of those things go missing during a trip, the copies are easy to retrieve from any browsers.

Excerpted from the book HOW GOOGLE WORKS by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, with Alan Eagle. © 2014 by Google, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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