TIME Gadgets

This Startup Is Basically Making Ultimate Frisbee With Drones

Exploring Santa Barbara's Coastal Charms
George Rose—Getty Images A Phantom drone buzzes above Gaviota State Beach at sunset on November 26, 2014, in Santa Barbara, California.

Drone tennis, drone pong, drone soccer, drone everything

A new “drone game” that allows players to pilot a drone across the sky in friendly competition has launched on Kickstarter. Players use a wand to control a drone’s flight and play games like pong, soccer or race through an obstacle course.

Made by the startup Zyro, the specially-designed drone used in the games is better protected than some other drones. It’s built to swing and spin with the wave of a wand, almost like hitting a ball with a tennis racquet. Players can choose whether to swing or pass Zyro based on the game they’re playing.

Zyro wants to open up its API to allow developers to work on new games.

So far Zyro has raised just over $650 out of the total $50,000 the project needs to be funded, with 18 days left.

TIME Social Networking

Microsoft’s New App Will Help You Stalk Your Friends

Microsoft

Location markers show who's around the corner in real time

Microsoft is reportedly working on a new app that can track the locations of your friends and family, displaying their movements across a map in real-time.

An early version of People Sense, which was unveiled by the Spanish-language news site Microsoft Place, overlays a select group of friends onto Bing Maps. The app mirrors the layout of Apple’s Find My Friends, which displays friends as roving markers inching through the streets.

But People Sense adds a number of features that makes communication a bit more seamless — tapping one of the markers will give the user options to message, call or pull up driving directions to the person of interest.

No release date has been set for People Sense, which is still under the development name “Buddy Aware.” A video review of the app, provided by Microsoft Place, shows an already robust set of features at work:

Read next: Madonna’s Most Memorable Social Media Moments

TIME Tech Policy

Here’s Why Russia Is Cracking Down on Google

A model of the Android operating system logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 27, 2012.
Bloomberg via Getty Images A model of the Android operating system logo at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 27, 2012.

The search giant's Android platform is at the center of complaints

Google may be running afoul of anti-monopoly laws in Russia. The country’s regulators are investigating the way the search giant bundles its apps onto Android devices in response to a complaint by Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine, according to The Guardian.

Yandex is taking issue with the fact that smartphone makers have been blocked from pre-installing the company’s services, which compete with Google’s, on Android phones in the country. Google restricts which apps can be pre-installed on the most popular version of Android. A fully open-source version of the software, which is used to power mobile operating systems used by Amazon and Xiaomi, is freely available but doesn’t include access to the Google Play store.

Google has faced legal scrutiny in multiple markets for the way it controls the Android ecosystem. In Europe regulators are reportedly planning to launch a formal inquiry into Google’s mandates regarding pre-installed apps, according to Reuters. In the U.S. a lawsuit claiming that Google harms smartphone buyers by forcing Samsung and others to pre-install Google apps on their Android phones was dismissed by a federal judge last week.

Read next: Why Chevron Is Helping Fund STEM Education

TIME the big picture

Why Chevron Is Helping Fund STEM Education

Chevron Posts Heavy Decline In Quarterly Profits
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images The Chevron logo is displayed at a Chevron gas station on May 2, 2014 in Greenbrae, California.

Chevron's STEM efforts should serve as a benchmark for other companies, says analyst Tim Bajarin

Over the last year, I’ve become more interested in the Maker Movement and programs that focus on STEM education — science, technology, engineering and math. Like many people, I believe the U.S. education system needs to do more to get kids interested in math and science, as technology sits at the heart of new job creation and is impacting our lives in ways none of us could have imagined 50 years ago.

I shared my thoughts in a TIME column last May about the Maker Faire, a very interesting program that has sought to bring technology closer to kids. The Maker Movement is quite exciting, and dedicated Maker Faires are popping up in many places around the world that emphasize how people can create all types of things from scratch and learn a great deal in the process. The movement has its roots in tech hobbyists circles, where people were using things like Raspberry Pi motherboards to create various tech gadgets. However, Maker Faires now include things like knitting, bee keeping, organic gardening and just about anything that involves making things.

At the beginning of the new school year last fall, I visited a unique STEM program that the San Francisco 49ers, with help from Chevron, created in their new stadium in Santa Clara, California. In a piece I wrote for TIME on the project, I shared how the 49ers were bringing 60 students to the stadium each school day to run them through three distinct activities related to STEM.

Here’s a short excerpt from that article that explains this program:

Each day during the school year, 60 kids from one of the various schools in the Bay Area are brought to Levi’s Stadium in one of the 49ers’ official team buses. They are then broken up into three different groups of 20 each to rotate through three distinct activities.

The first activity features a full tour of the stadium, focusing on the engineering involved with creating a stadium. It shows off the green aspects of the stadium, including a visit to the garden on the roof as well as a look at the solar panels and how they’re used to create energy. The tour also demonstrates how clean technology is used to irrigate the field in order to care for the grass and turf.

The second activity takes place in the new 49ers Museum and includes lessons using various games and interactive screens. Students learn how engineering and math are used to create 49ers football equipment, and how physics is applied to things like passing, kicking and running. The day I was there, they also included a section on careers in math and science. The third activity takes place in an actual high-tech classroom that’s built into the new 49ers Museum. This classroom has multiple screens as well as half a dozen touch-based video worktables created by Cortina Productions. They serve as interactive teaching tools that the students can use to do various projects. For example, one class might teach how a helmet is engineered. Another might be on the physics of throwing a ball, explaining how a physical object like a football deals with airflow, throwing mechanics and force, and how each impacts the direction and length of a throw.

The class on applied mathematics explains angular attack and game geometry as well as teaching about statistics, using the Super Bowl and its various Roman-numeral numbering schemes as part of the lesson plan.

I find the use of sports metaphors to explain physics, math and science a fascinating way to bring these subjects alive for kids. Since then, I’ve looked for other examples of how sports can be used to get kids interested in STEM. The folks from Chevron shared another sports example with me a few weeks ago.

At the recent AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament, Chevron put up a huge tent in their area dedicated to STEM education. Inside, it had special areas where kids could learn about various aspects of golf, including the math and science that goes into a golf swing, the physics involved with hitting the ball and how air flow impacts its speed and direction, as well as lessons on agronomy, or the science used to create a golf course.

Hundreds of kids from the Monterey Peninsula were brought to the golf tournament to go through the “STEM Zone,” as Chevron called it, to do hands-on experiments and learn first hand how math, science and technology impact the sport. They also got to participate in some fun video projects. All of the kids I talked to at the event were having a great time learning about science in this most interesting way.

I had chance to speak with Blair Blackwell, Chevron’s manager of education and corporate programs, and asked her why the company was so interested in STEM education. She told me: “Chevron is an engineering company at heart, and needs well-qualified people in the workforce to hire as part of their team today and in the future.”

Chevron’s backing of various STEM programs around the world comes from over 100 years of early workforce development commitment. As one of the biggest companies in the world, Chevron needs to have an educated talent pool to draw from at all times. Chevron will spend $30 million in STEM-related programs in 2015 and has another $130 committed to STEM and other educational projects over the next three years.

The more I look into various STEM-related projects, the more I see major companies that need tech workers putting a lot of money and effort behind them. Many companies, like Intel and Boeing, for example, are doing the same as Chevron and backing STEM education in a big way. Many other tech companies are putting money and effort around the Maker movement too. Here in Silicon Valley, you need a serious education in math, science and engineering to get hired for key jobs at any of the Bay Area tech companies. And as more companies integrate technology into their work flow, the need for STEM-trained workers will multiply. That’s why it’s so important that Chevron and hundreds of other companies today work harder to get STEM programs in schools — and bring these programs to inner city areas where they can reach kids at all socioeconomic levels.

I’m impressed by Chevron’s financial commitments to STEM education as well as the amount of talent, effort and passion it puts into these specialized programs. I hope its efforts serve as a benchmark for other companies who help make STEM education central in schools all over the world.

Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry.

TIME Companies

Apple’s Crazy-Expensive New Data Centers Will Be Totally Green

Apple's European headquarters in Cork, southern Ireland.
Paul Faith—Getty Images Apple's European headquarters in Cork, southern Ireland.

The company’s biggest ever investment in Europe anticipates a massive rise in demand for cloud-based services

Apple Inc. said it would spend 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to build two data centers in Europe that would be entirely powered by renewable energy and create hundreds of jobs.

The investment, Apple’s biggest ever in Europe, will power Apple’s online services, including the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri for customers across Europe.

The new centers are intended to meet what is expected to be a massive rise in demand for remote data storage in the medium-term, as both consumers and businesses come to depend more and more on Cloud-based technology.

The investment is set to be evenly divided between Athenry in Ireland and Viborg in Denmark, with the Irish government confirming that €850 million would be spent in Ireland. The two data centers are expected to begin operations in 2017.

“We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet,” CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

In a sign of how important Apple’s investment in Denmark was, the country’s trade and development minister issued a statement mirroring that of the iPhone maker’s, adding the two data centers would be among the largest in the world.

Ireland’s government also reacted to the announcement, saying 300 jobs would be added in the county of Galway during the multiple phases of the project, a boost as it seeks to cut the unemployment rate below 10 percent this year.

“As the Government works to secure recovery and see it spread to every part of the country, today’s announcement is another extremely positive step in the right direction,” Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said in a statement.

The tech blog Gigaom speculated that the decision could boost the company’s appeal to business customers, which are more inclined to insist on local storage of data for their software solutions, particularly since the disclosures made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In Germany in particular, the Snowden leaks have made public and government opinion openly suspicious of U.S. companies abusing the vast amount of data they hold.

A spokesman for Apple declined to comment on whether issues around privacy and regulation had played any part in the decision to locate the centers in Europe, rather than the U.S..

In addition to privacy and legal issues, the biggest concerns that affect such choices usually include things like electricity prices and low network latency (the ability of local internet infrastructure to handle massive traffic volumes at high speed), according to analysis by consultants Gartner Inc. Gartner also points out that locating centers in a colder environment (and both Ireland and Denmark fit that description) can cut running costs significantly, given the amount of power needed for cooling.

Denmark also has some of the lowest electricity costs in the E.U., thanks to massive (and generously subsidized) investment in wind power in recent years which means that the country is often a net exporter of electricity.

Ireland’s electricity prices are only in line with the E.U. average, according to Eurostat data, but the company already has an extensive footprint in the country after previous investments. The company’s relations with Ireland have, however, come into question. The E.U. last year opened an inquiry into Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland, alleging that its tax treatment was so generous as to constitute illegal state aid. That investigation is still ongoing.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Smartphones

This Is the Best Look Yet at Samsung’s Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung says it has "six appeal"

Samsung has been teasing its new Galaxy S6 smartphone in bits and chunks ahead of its official reveal next month. But the best look yet just came by way of T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

Sunday night, Legere tweeted a link to a T-Mobile page to sign up for more info about the new Samsung flagship phone’s availability on the carrier. At the top of the page sits a side view of what’s presumably the new phone, along with the caption “Six Appeal.”

The T-Mobile photo gives a pretty good view of the Galaxy S6’s curved display, a feature Samsung first introduced on the Galaxy Note Edge phablet. Unlike the Note Edge, however, the Galaxy S6 is rumored to have curved displays on both sides of the device, not just one.

We’ll know more about the Samsung Galaxy S6 when the company finally unveils it on March 1.

Read next: This Is Microsoft’s New Plan to Invade Your Smartphone

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Security

This Is the Best PC Security Software You Can Buy

bitdefender-ts-2015
Bitdefender Bitdefender Total Security 2015

Bitdefender Total Security 2015 tops the list

Security software should ideally be easy to use and should detect and remove every piece of malware — all without slowing your computer down or sounding false alarms. It should also tackle all these tasks without disturbing you with constant update notifications.

The reality is that perfect antivirus software doesn’t exist yet. In fact, the recent cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment confirms that. The FBI said the attack “appears to have been conducted using techniques that went undetected by industry standard antivirus software,” according to USA Today.

But that doesn’t mean the industry stops trying to provide consumers with the best security solutions. After all, even antivirus software that may not protect you against every single threat out there is better than going completely unprotected altogether.

We analyzed the best free and paid security software for Windows-based computers that closely matched the “ideal” solution, calculating test results from independent security experts, consumer sites, and technology specialists. Paid software had to not only meet top security ratings, but it had to cost less than $100 per year, be marketed for personal computers, and offer coverage for multiple PCs. And for freeware, we wanted something that had equally strong ratings, was easy to use, and offered a little something extra over the other freebies out there.

Here are our picks.

Best Paid Antivirus Product: Bitdefender Total Security 2015

Today, all of the best security suites offer strong protection against malware, trojans, and viruses while minimally slowing down your machine. They block or warn you about malicious websites and downloaded files, and safely quarantine items that can potentially wreak havoc on your PC. Many offer parental control features that track the activities of underage users and block unseemly URLs. And even consumers’ shopping habits aren’t ignored, as many top products store your login credentials and payment information so you can virtually shop ’til you drop without entering your credit card number umpteen times.

Overall, some paid products implement these features better than others, and in our findings, Bitdefender Total Security 2015 outperformed the rest. It offers some seriously strong security protection in an easy-to-use interface, all without slowing down your machine.

Testing

While independent anti-malware research lab AV-TEST hasn’t evaluated Bitdefender Total Security 2015, it has reviewed Bitdefender Internet Security 2015, which uses the same antivirus technology (minus some additional features, like anti-theft protection and online storage). In AV-TEST’s reviews, Bitdefender Internet Security 2015 obtained perfect marks for protection and performance, meaning it protected against malicious software 100% of the time and never slowed down the computer (on average, security software slowed things down by four seconds). And while Bitdefender never erroneously detected a website as suspicious, it did once falsely detect legitimate software as malware during system scans, placing it well below the industry average of nine false positives.

In PCMag’s tests, Bitdefender Total Security 2015 scored 4.5/5 in both antivirus protection and overall, earning it an “excellent” rating and an editor’s choice award. (For comparison, AVG Internet Security 2015 scored 3.5/5 and Norton 360 scored 4/5 in antivirus protection.)

When tested by AV-Comparatives, another independent testing group, Bitdefender again fared well. It was one of three paid consumer products — AVG Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security being the other two — that never wrongly blocked any programs. While Bitdefender ranks similarly with other top brands, it moves ahead of the pack because it costs less and subscriptions cover multiple PCs. (AVG Internet Security is $54.99 for just one PC, while Bitdefender Total Security and Internet Security are $89.95 and $79.95 for three PCs, respectively.)

Features

The web-based MyBitdefender Dashboard is the central control for all Bitdefender-registered devices, letting you scan and fix security issues remotely. You can even track your lost or stolen laptop, tablet or phone, locking or wiping missing devices using the Anti-Theft dashboard feature. Many competitors, like Avast, Kaspersky, and Panda offer anti-theft features, but they’re designed for recovering Android phones and tablets, not PCs. With Bitdefender, however, even your PC is recoverable.

There’s a weekly security report that provides a snapshot of the total number of issues fixed to date, while the updated security widget on your desktop tracks your security-related tasks in real time and sends notifications to your PC about the latest events reported by Bitdefender. And if you want to quickly scan a file or folder, you can simply drag-and-drop it into the widget. This quick option is great for when you don’t want to spend the time to open your security suite, search for the file, and scan it like with other programs.

Bitdefender’s handy Vulnerability Scanner takes the guesswork out of keeping up with the latest security patches or wondering if your password is weak. The feature regularly scans your computer for possible vulnerabilities, indicating the number of risks posed by outdated apps, weak passwords, or missing security patches. The report will also offer recommendations and solutions for each vulnerability.

While other products like McAfee Antivirus Plus also have a vulnerability scanners, it’s hard to find a program that scans the strength of your passwords like Bitdefender does. Generally, consumer security suites just offer password management tools that save your login information for various sites. For instance, Kaspersky’s free version of its Password Manager offering does store login credentials and can even generate stronger passwords, but it’s not designed to evaluate the passwords you already have. So if you want both a vulnerability scanner and a password evaluator, then Bitdefender is the way to go when it comes to preventing threats that could arise thanks to outdated software or poor passwords.

Threats that don’t originate from your PC are extinguished by Bitdefender as well. Viruses can covertly enter your PC via flash drives, for instance, but Bitdefender wards off such threats with its USB Immunizer, a feature that prevents auto-run malware from launching on your PC from a connected drive or memory card.

Additional features include a virtual file shredder that ensures no traces of your deleted files remain on your PC, a two-way firewall that protects you even over Wi-Fi networks, and file encryption to secure your confidential files in an encrypted vault. There’s also a top-rated anti-phishing feature that blocks malicious websites; PCMag ranked it highly because it outperformed Norton 360 (anti-phishing tools traditionally never come close to Norton’s accuracy, but Bitdefender scored five percentage points better than Norton, according to PCMag).

System speed

If you’re noticing your PC is acting sluggish, you can speed things up with Bitdefender’s OneClick Optimizer feature. OneClick will analyze your machine for disk, registry, and privacy issues, and then start the optimization process, which includes disk cleanup (removing Windows junk files, like Windows cache), registry cleanup (removing corrupt registry entries) and privacy cleanup (clearing your download history, temporary files, and more).

There’s also the new Startup Optimizer feature, which minimizes boot time by managing programs that launch at startup. Norton 360’s Startup Manager is similar, although Bitdefender’s version is better because it actively monitors how long it takes your device to start and how much time it takes each program to launch. To fully optimize your PC’s performance, you can enable the Bitdefender Profiles feature, which ensures that your PC performs its best based on a particular type of activity. You can choose — or let the software auto-detect — work, movie, and game modes, for instance, preventing popups or system updates from happening. While other security suites offer similar use-based optimization, it’s typically limited to gamer mode and often must be manually enabled.

Speaking of interruptions, some of the most common security product annoyances are the repetitive alerts. Bitdefender brought the Autopilot feature — which makes optimal security-related decisions without interrupting you — back from last year’s lineup and enhanced it for Total Security 2015. That means no more pop-ups and nothing to configure. If there’s a critical function disabled, such as the Bitdefender two-way firewall, Autopilot will fix it.

Online safety

For those who like to shop online, Bitdefender’s password-protected Wallet feature is a secure solution for storing your credit card details and important passwords, automatically filling in the pertinent fields as you browse and storing your credentials for new sites on the fly.

Bitdefender’s lineup also includes a fraud-warning feature that will alert you if Google and Bing search results or Facebook links are unsafe before you click on them, and will block access to infected links you accidentally click. AV-TEST found that sister product Bitdefender Internet Security 2015 — which uses the same technology — never wrongly detected a website as suspicious.

Parental controls

If you have little ones accessing the Internet, you can take advantage of the advanced parental controls settings that block inappropriate content, limit access based on hours you set, and even let you monitor their location, online activity, text messages, and calls when paired with the Parental Control app for Android. You can access your control settings online from your MyBitdefender account, which is a nice touch.

Similar to too-basic password management, other security systems can come saddled with flawed parental controls. For example, Trend Micro has a very basic parental control system that just that filters web content and offers time scheduling. To match the more advanced controls you get with Bitdefender, you’d have to install additional software. PCMag reports that once Trend Micro’s Online Guardian for Families is installed, it’s still riddled with flaws. For example, Online Guardian doesn’t run independent of web browsers, so if a child accesses the Internet via an off-brand browser, they’ll be able to view any web page they want, regardless of the limitations you set.

However, a real competitor to Bitdefender’s parental control features is AVG Family Safety, which is browser-independent. PCMag points out that AVG’s feature can even let older children with an approved password override site blocking so they can access sites that may be deemed inappropriate for their younger siblings. AVG Family Safety is actually a separate feature that costs an additional $49.99 per year for three computers, though. At that price, it’s more cost effective to opt for a full suite with robust parental control features, like Bitdefender.

Overall

Bitdefender Total Security 2015 is overflowing with features. It runs fast and light, and sports a straightforward interface that ties nicely into online controls accessed in the MyBitdefender hub. And most importantly, it’s a high-quality protection suite at a fraction of the cost of its competitors.

Bitdefender Total Security 2015 costs $89.95 for a one-year subscription that covers up to three Windows PCs (currently available on Amazon for $53.97). Bitdefender Total Security Multi-Device 2015 costs $99.95 for a one-year subscription that covers five devices, Mac and Android included.

The Best Free Option

We also went hunting for the best freeware out there. In reality, free security suites don’t exist, but free antivirus offerings are pretty common. You generally get bare-bones features, such as a system scanner, a scarce interface with little context (and riddled with popups asking you to upgrade to a paid version), and adequate to good antivirus protection.

For most consumers, though, adequate doesn’t cut it. So we searched for a product that was easy to use, earned superior security ratings in its class, and offered a bonus feature or two to put it over the top. In that search we narrowed it down to a product that was the pioneer in its industry: the first free cloud-based offering that not only sets the bar among freeware protection, but even outperforms a few paid providers.

Panda Free Antivirus (formerly Panda Cloud Antivirus) is as good as it gets for Windows freeware. It has a simple interface and is very effective at detecting malware, spyware, and viruses. As the first free cloud-based antivirus software on the market, it’s got a few nice tricks up its sleeve. You’ll need to install a small program that runs on your PC and connects to Panda’s cloud engine, but setup is a breeze and to make PC users comfortable, Panda mimics Windows 8’s tiled look once it’s running.

Cloud power

Most security programs use cloud-based technology one way or another to detect threats. Many connect to servers to update their software or to maintain a real-time database of active malware threats; Panda Free Antivirus is no different. It’s an entirely cloud-based program, so there’s no need to worry about installing updates or configuring your machine aside from the one-time installation of the connector software. And its offline cache of active malware signatures ensures you’re protected even when you’re not connected to the Internet.

In recent comparative tests by independent labs, Panda Free Antivirus led the pack in protection. It scored 100-percent protection rates in AV-TEST’s results. And in AV-Comparatives real-world testing, Panda scored highest among its freeware counterparts, even outperforming a few paid software programs, including AVG Internet Security, McAfee Internet Security, and Sophos Endpoint Security 10.3. And in PCMag’s tests, it scored a perfect 18 points in protection, performance, and usability along with Bitdefender and Kaspersky.

Panda Security’s latest creation, the XMT engine, is a type of smart engine that offers a higher level of efficiency and greater malware detection rates. Panda has made XMT available on all of its products, including Panda Free Antivirus, which promises to scan your computer 50 percent faster than its predecessor while minimally impacting system overhead. While the industry average for slowing down a machine was four seconds in AV-TEST’s findings, Panda only slowed things down by three seconds.

Other features

As an added bonus, Panda Free Antivirus packs a rescue-drive creator. If malware prevents you from booting up a particular machine, you can create a bootable USB rescue drive that scans and removes viruses from the infected machine. There’s also a USB Vaccine feature, which scans flash drives and can prevent infected ones from automatically running programs.

While the rescue drive feature and autoplay disabler are nice touches, you miss out on Panda Antivirus Pro’s features, including firewall protection and chat-based support. And if you want some mobile protection for your Android device, you’ll need Panda Mobile Security, which is $14.99 per year.

Panda may be free, but it isn’t perfect. In AV-Comparatives’ tests, it occasionally wrongly blocked safe Internet domains or downloaded files. The average score for wrongly blocked files was 18; Panda scored a dismal 46. But in AV-TEST’s results, it didn’t wrongly block websites, and it only blocked one legitimate software download. However, Panda was twice as likely to wrongly detect legitimate software as malware during system scans.

Overall

Better safe than sorry. If you can handle some false alarms, Panda Free Antivirus‘s impressive protection rate and real-time malware database places it ahead of its freeware competitors. And its bonus security features are practical additions you’ll be glad to add to your computer’s arsenal. It’s the go-to solution for free antivirus protection.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Security

This Is the Best Mac Security Software You Can Buy

avast_free_mac_security_boxshot
Avast Avast Free Mac Security

Avast Free Mac Security 2015 is the go-to free software

Many Mac owners may be under the impression that their computers don’t need antivirus protection. They’re inherently safer, right? While there are fewer Trojan horses, viruses and worms designed to attack Macs than PCs, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to infection.

“Many threats, like phishing, don’t care whether you’re running Windows or a Mac,” says Christopher Budd, global threat communications manager for Trend Micro.

In fact, a serious threat to Macs was verified as recently as December 2014, according to the National Vulnerability Database. To combat this threat, Apple issued its first ever automatic security update for Mac computers in December. (Previously, Mac users would initiate the security updates themselves.) The bug, CVE-2014-9295, could enable hackers to gain remote control of machines through a vulnerability with the network time protocol, or NTP, which synchronizes a computer’s clock. It was serious enough that Apple didn’t want to wait for users to fix it themselves, according to Reuters.

With even one threat on the table, protection is needed. So we set out to find the best Mac antivirus software out there. We reviewed security lab results, interface accessibility data, and product feature ratings from independent experts and websites to recommend our favorites.

We placed an emphasis on performance and security over a trunk full of features. To find the best freeware, it had to meet top-notch security ratings while still offering a few perks. For paid software, we decided it had to not only achieve high security ratings, but it had to cost less than $100, offer a one-year subscription with multi-device protection, and be designed for home use.

With that, we narrowed it down to our two security software picks — one free, one paid — for 2015.

The best free Mac security software

Avast Free Mac Security 2015 is the go-to software for protecting your Mac without spending a penny. It’s a simple, on-demand scanning platform that can complete four different types of scans: Full System Scan, Removable Volumes Scan, Home Scan or Custom Scan. While the variety is useful for performing different system checks, it lacks the scheduled scans feature that many busy consumers want. Nonetheless, its simple-to-use interface, strong all-around coverage, and anti-spam features still pull it ahead of other free offerings.

While it’s not perfect at detecting all intrusions, independent security researcher AV-TEST reports that it gets the job done — after all, it’s free. In testing, it performed the highest among its freeware counterparts, detecting 97.4 percent of all on-demand threats (above the average of 80.8 percent). It even outperformed some paid competitors, including Kaspersky, which only detected threats 93.2 percent of the time. It also held its own with paid offerings when it came to minimizing system slowdown.

Once Avast detects something suspicious, it locks it away in a quarantined area called the Virus Chest, where you can choose to restore it if it’s a falsely-identified file, or delete it altogether. And like most of its competitors, Avast also detects Windows malware.

Generally, free security packages are pretty bare bones in their features. But Avast takes the freeware landscape to a new level by offering an anti-spam tool, which is uncommon among its freeware competitors. Similar to paid versions, Avast monitors incoming web data — through its Web Shield and Mail Shield features — like malicious links or attachments, and flags and isolates any threats it finds.

Additionally, in early 2015, Avast will include the industry’s first four-pronged home network security system. The system’s Home Network Security scan can identify misconfigured Wi-Fi networks, routers with weak passwords and compromised Internet connections. The SecureDNS feature encrypts the Internet traffic between Avast-protected devices and Avast’s DNS server to prevent users from being directed to malicious sites. A new Smart Scan feature will integrate all on-demand scans into one (antivirus, Home Network Security, junk-file cleaning, and software update scans) to meet your security needs.

Rounding out this four-component security system, Web Shield will get an upgrade to be able to scan securely-encrypted sites for malware and threats. Web Shield will accomplish this by detecting and decrypting TSL/SSL protected traffic in its web-content filtering component for any threats, Avast says.

The best paid Mac security software

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac offers greater security than its competitors at a comparable cost. It’s $59.95 for a one-year subscription, which covers up to three Macs.

Some Mac antivirus protection products tout just the “Internet security” feature and neglect the rest of a computer’s needs. Or for “total” protection, you’re limited to protection for just one device and it costs 50% more than standard protection. Bitdefender balances cost and protection in the same product, offering coverage against adware, polymorphic viruses, spyware, trojans, worms, and more.

Bitdefender has a simple interface that’s easy to understand. If your Mac’s safe, you’ll know it because a green checkmark in the status bar will tell you so. If a security issue is detected, the status bar turns yellow and offers tips on how to quickly fix the issue.

To scan your Mac for possible threats, you have four options: Scan Critical Locations, Full System Scan, Scan a Custom Location and Continuous Scan. Scanning critical locations checks for malware in your vulnerable hotspots, such as documents, downloads, attachments, and temporary files folders. The full scan checks for malware on the entire system, including connected mounts, like external drives. You can hide certain folders and drives from Bitdefender’s watchful eye by adding them the exclusions list, or choose to scan a specific location, such as a once-hidden external drive.

A downside is that you can’t schedule scans. Instead, Bitdefender includes Continuous Scan mode, which keeps the software running day and night in the background. On the plus side, you’ll always have the most up-to-date protection because it’ll automatically update its virus-tracking database in this mode. (If Continuous Scan mode is off, you can still update the by going to Actions > Update Virus Database.) And you may never even know it’s there: in the third-party lab tests, “Bitdefender hardly slows the system at all,” says AV-TEST.

If you share files with Windows users (or your own PC), you’re covered as well. The software detects Windows viruses on your Mac, and while these threats can’t affect your Mac, you can still pass them on to Windows computers on the same network if you’re not protected.

Bitdefender also automatically scans any files you download for security threats, alerting you when a problem is detected. You can track and adjust these alerts since they’re fully integrated into your Mac’s Notification Center (go to System Preferences > Notifications).

For security on the web, Bitdefender connects its free TrafficLight extension, which monitors your web traffic and blocks any malicious content. It also notifies you of worrisome websites in your search results (with a red dot), and detects and blocks suspicious links it finds on Facebook and Twitter. TrafficLight detects “trackers” as well; code snippets that track and analyze browsing behavior. All scans happen in the cloud, so the extension offers a strong layer of protection without slowing you down. TrafficLight is available for Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari.

While Bitfender excels at malware protection, it’s still lacking in a couple of areas. For example, families may prefer a security suite with parental controls added in. But OS X’s complementary parental controls system already lets you manage and monitor your child’s computer use, interactions and Internet activity (to access this feature, go to System Preferences > Parental Controls).

It’s also missing its own firewall protection, but again, your Mac already has its own firewall tools to stop malicious network traffic. Plus, in third-party lab tests, some of Bitdefender’s competitors that do offer firewall protection actually performed poorly at malware detection tests. (For example, Symantec only detected threats 54.7 percent of the time, compared to Bitdefender’s 100 percent, according to AV-TEST.) So we’ll take greater malware protection and speedy performance over additional bells and whistles any day.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games You Should Play This Week

Alto's Adventure, Grudgeball and Swap Heroes 2 are our favorites

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.

  • Alto’s Adventure

    Alto's Adventure
    Alto's Adventure

    While magnificently designed, Alto’s Adventure is also a rare runner game that incorporates objectives other than simply moving forward and earning points. Play as the snowboarder Alto and make jumps on difficult courses while leading your team through the frozen wilderness — and don’t forget to rescue those llamas.

    Alto’s Adventure is $1.99 in the App Store

  • Bob’s Space Adventure

    A modernized 8 bit-style arcade game in which you take a character through space to blast aliens. The developers have even organized a championship with a cash prize, so as you go fight off wave after wave of baddies before finally being outnumbered, you might actually put yourself in the running for a cool $100,000.

    Bob’s Space Adventure is free in the App Store

  • AdVenture Capitalist!

    Adventure Capitalist
    Adventure Capitalist

    AdVenture Capitalist! is a great little game about humble beginnings at a lemonade stand. Gradually grow your operation until you’re at the top of the capitalist chain. If you’re any good, you’ll be able to expand your empire to include other shops and operations — just remember to keep track of them all. It’s SimTower for the capitalist set.

    AdVenture Capitalist! is free in the App Store

  • Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere

    Grudgeball
    Grudgeball

    Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere

    Play as the characters of Cartoon Network’s much-adored Regular Show in the dangerous game of Grudgeball. Picture it as a game of dodgeball against all of your camp counselors. You can fire at opponents, block their balls, and counter-attack. However, the real fun is unleashing each character’s special Grudgeball move, as well as playing against friends using the same device.

    Grudgeball: Enter the Chaosphere is $2.99 in the App Store

  • Swap Heroes 2

    Swap Heroes 2
    Swap Heroes 2 Swap Heroes 2

    One of the more endearing RPGs available for iOS, Swap Heroes 2 has players assemble a team of heroes to go on quests. The game is slow-paced, but as you engage in a series of battles against opponents and complete a variety of missions, you start to feel like a ringleader of an old school gaming squad. It’s not as customizable as most console-based role playing games, but it has plenty of options for choosing your own path toward the final battle.

    Swap Heroes 2 is $2.99 in the App Store

TIME Tablets

Watch Apple’s New Oscars iPad Ad Featuring Martin Scorsese

It features Martin Scorsese

Five years after Apple’s first iPad ad debuted during the Academy Awards in 2010, its new iPad Air promo will again screen during the Oscars on Sunday and tout its filmmaking abilities.

The one-minute spot features students from Los Angeles County High School of the Arts as they make films using iPads—from writing to shooting, scoring to editing—while famed director Martin Scorsese narrates, via excerpts from his inspirational commencement speech to the NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2014.

“It’s the same for all you, all of us,” Scorsese says. “Every step is a first step. Every brush stroke is a test. Every scene is a lesson. Every shot is a school. So let the learning continue.”

Read More: Modern Family Episode Shot Almost Entirely on iPhones

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