TIME snapchat

Snapchat’s Secret To Winning The 2016 Election

Snapchat Raising Money That Could Value Company At Up To $19 Billion
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Snapchat thinks it has a better chance at making kids care about politics than traditional media, so it’s planning to provide content around the upcoming 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The ephemeral messaging app is currently looking to hire a content analyst for politics and news who will curate photos and videos about the presidential race, and other news events, for the app’s “Our Story” section, according to a job listing first spotted by TechCrunch.

The Our Story feature, which debuted in 2014, lets users submit “snaps” from a particular event to a community-wide collection of content that all users can view. The idea here would be to use it to present content from debates, rallies, appearances, and so on to help users follow along.

Snapchat could have a clear advantage in targeting younger voters, and could let candidates pay to show political campaigns to its users. In late March, college campus-focused anonymous app Yik Yak showcased the reach of such hip social media apps when Texas senator Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign at Liberty University in Virginia. Students took to the app to share and discuss the announcement. While the app automatically inserts users into their own campus’s conversations based on location, it does let users switch to other locations to eavesdrop, so to speak, on conversations which is how the discussions came to light to the media.

TIME Video Games

Why Destiny Players Are So Mad About Red Bull

Bungie

Bottoms up, Guardian

Remember that old Red Bull slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”? Well now Red Bull gives you an exclusive quest in Activision’s Destiny, too.

The kicker: you have to buy specially detailed cans of the $2 to $3 popular caffeine, taurine, B-group vitamins and alpine spring water concoction. (You don’t have to drink it, of course.)

The quest, according to Red Bull’s marketing site, is “a never-before-seen, multi-stage mission in The Taken King that will test the speed and strategic abilities of Destiny players in new ways.” The Taken King is developer Bungie’s third expansion for the game, unveiled earlier this month at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles and due out September 15.

The cans will also include bonus XP (experience points) to “help players prepare for the epic quest,” says Red Bull, adding that the marketing push “leverage themes of speed, tenacity and strategy inspired by the energy drink.” Let’s think about the subtext for a moment: buying an energy drink makes you a better killing machine with the athletic output of a person in a chair pushing buttons. The medium is the message!

The bonus XP, which basically ups your XP grabs for a limited period of time, can be redeemed and used from July 1. The new quest itself should be available on or around The Taken King‘s release date.

Destiny, developed by an iconic studio (Marathon and Halo‘s creators) and mega-hyped by one of the largest game publishers in the world, started out as a slightly better than average shooter last fall. It has since, inch by grinding inch, developed into a pretty good one. It’s also sold a bazillion copies, with substantially more registered users (in the vicinity of 16 million) than World of Warcraft when we were at peak World of Warcraft (about 12 million). The Taken King is thus poised to be a major event by forces of numbers alone.

The trouble is, one of Destiny’s weaknesses is that it’s partly a game about doing the same thing over and over. Singular content is thus paramount. Maybe the new Red Bull mission turns out to be tedious rehash. Or maybe it’s totally fantastic. No one knows. But if it’s the latter, I suspect you’re going to have some pretty peeved players.

Is this the future DLC-ification of “leveraged” non-gaming IP? Is the future of nickel-and-dime gaming additives the subsidization of not-universally-beloved corporate mega-brands throughout the food, automotive, banking and big box retail industries?

To be fair, given Red Bull’s move into eSports in recent years — specifically its Red Bull Battlegrounds competition — the deal seems less out of left field than slightly irritating. In the world of inexplicable corporate gaming team-ups, this one has at least that connection to fall back on. And if you’d rather sidestep the Red Bull deal entirely, it sounds like the quest may be available after an exclusivity period that’ll run from September 18 to December 31.

TIME the big picture

Here’s Why Fitness Trackers Are Here to Stay

Fitbit Inc. Chief Executive Officer James Park Interview
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images James Park, co-founder and chief executive officer of Fitbit Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

Doctors and insurers love them

After Fitbit held an explosive IPO last week, some observers asked if the wearable health movement is sustainable, or just a flash in the pan. I’ve been studying the market for some time, and I believe most signs point to wearable health tracking having serious long-term potential. In 2014, 90 million of the devices were sold, and demand continues to be strong. The folks at eMedcert have collected some more interesting data points as well:

  • The annual smart wearable healthcare market volume will grow from $2 billion in 2014 to $41 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 65%. (CDW Healthcare)
  • Over 80% of consumers said an important benefit of wearable tech is its potential to make healthcare more convenient (PwC)
  • 68% of consumers would wear employer-provided wearables streaming anonymous data to an information pool in exchange for lower health insurance costs. (PwC)
  • The wearable band market grew by 684% on a worldwide basis in the first half of 2014 compared with the first half of 2013. (Canalys)
  • Today, 1 in 5 American’s own some type of wearable technology. (PwC)

When Fitbit, Jawbone and other health wearables came out, many viewed them as passing fads. But they struck a real chord not only with those who regularly exercise, but mainstream consumers too. In a recent New Yorker article by author and humorist David Sedaris, he chronicled his love/hate affair with his Fitbit. His tongue-in-cheek commentary chronicles his obsession with having to continue to beat his step record:

“I look back on the days I averaged only thirty thousand steps, and think, Honestly, how lazy can you get? When I hit thirty-five thousand steps a day, Fitbit sent me an e-badge, and then one for forty thousand, and forty-five thousand. Now I’m up to sixty thousand, which is twenty-five and a half miles. Walking that distance at the age of fifty-seven, with completely flat feet while lugging a heavy bag of garbage, takes close to nine hours—a big block of time, but hardly wasted.”

Perhaps the most important thing that Fitbit and other wearables have done is bring the importance of physical activity to the forefront. Using a Fitbit or similar device makes monitoring one’s health part of a lifestyle. My Apple Watch, for instance, has a feature that reminds me to stand up and walk around once an hour. Doing so is becoming second nature to me now, while in the past I would sit and write for hours on end, never even leaving my chair unless I had to use the restroom.

Dedicated health wearable devices that monitor your steps, calories burned and more have become cheap enough — under $100 in many cases — that many more people can now afford them. Smartwatches, meanwhile, are on track to become an even more important category, as they include health-monitoring features while adding more versatility to the overall wearables market. However, it will be the health industry that makes wearables go truly mainstream.

According to Orange Healthcare, 88% of physicians want patients to monitor their health parameters at home. Health insurers, meanwhile, are making wearable health monitoring a key tenet of their plans. As one HMO executive told me, it’s much cheaper to keep a person healthy then it is to make them better once ill. By 2018, 70% of healthcare organizations worldwide will invest in consumer-facing technology, an IDC Health Insights report found. And CDW Healthcare says wearable technology could drop hospital costs by as much as 16% over the course of five years, while remote patient monitoring technologies could save the healthcare system $200 billion over the next 25 years.

Lowering health care insurance premiums and cutting hospital costs will provide the real fuel for health wearables’ fire. Obamacare has put healthcare on the front page, insuring that people, at least in the U.S., will become more health conscience. And if health wearables are prescribed or recommended by people’s doctors or health insurers, more Americans will start using them. That’s why the health wearable tracking market is here to stay.

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 Gadgets

6 Secret Tricks You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do

Apple's I Phone  : Launch at Apple Opera Store In Paris
Chesnot—Getty Images A Woman checks the iPhone 6, on the day of its launch at the Apple Store Opera on September 19, 2014, in Paris, France.

Your phone is about to get way more useful

The iPhone always seems to have a new trick up its sleeve. Tucked away in the device’s myriad menus, there’s probably a setting or two you’ve never played with that could make the device even more useful. That’s to say nothing of the numerous gesture-based controls Apple tucks away in its mobile operating system, many of which may not be readily apparent. Chances are you could be typing faster, taking better pictures and noticing more texts with these hidden wonders.

Here, we uncover six lesser-known iPhone tricks that you can use every day:

Take Pictures Using Your Headphones

Pressing the volume-up button on Apple’s official headphones will snap a picture with the iPhone’s camera app. This is a useful trick if you’re setting up your phone on a tripod or want to ensure your shot is steady, as you won’t have to press a button on the screen to take a photo. You can also take a picture by hitting the volume buttons on the side of the iPhone itself.

Shake to Undo

Typed an error into a text or email? Simply shake the iPhone to bring up the option to Undo your last action. The gesture works in iMessage, Mail and other default apps, but developers can also implement the feature, so try it in all kinds of different apps.

Take High-Quality Photos

There’s an easy way to automatically make your iPhone camera take better pictures. With the Camera app open, select HDR On at the top of the screen to take a high dynamic range picture. An HDR photo takes three pictures of a scene and combines the best parts of each to make an image that best captures what the human eye sees.

It’s especially useful for landscapes, pictures in sunlight and photos in low light. If you’re not sure when an HDR photo is appropriate, select HDR Auto at the top of the Camera app, and the iPhone will automatically determine when to use the feature.

Enable Read Receipts

If you want to receive a text from a friend, not reply for a while, but let her know you read it, read receipts are the feature for you. The iMessage function lets other iPhone users know exactly what time you read their texts, similar to how BlackBerry’s BBM worked. To enable the feature, go to Settings, scroll down to Messages and toggle on “Send Read Receipts.” Rumor has it that the upcoming iOS 9 will also let people tailor which friends receive read receipts and which don’t.

Create Keyboard Shortcuts

You can create custom text shortcuts for long words or phrases you often use, like an email address. In the Settings menu, select General, then select Keyboard, then Add New Shortcut. The first field will ask for the long phrase you want to use and the second field will ask for the shortcut you want to stand in for the longer phrase. After the shortcut has been saved, if you type it into iMessage and press the space bar, it will automatically transform into the longer phrase.

Make your phone flash for text message alerts

Sometimes a phone vibration or chime isn’t enough to alert you to a new text message. You can use the iPhone’s LED flash as another alert signal. Simply open the Settings menu, select General, Select Accessibility, then toggle LED Flash for Alerts on.

TIME Advertising

This Site Is Running Facebook Ads About Creepy Facebook Ads

"They told us you're single in NYC"

When ad-free social network Ello launched last October, it got instant hype and attention as alternative to Facebook. At its peak — while still in invite-only beta — the site had 34,000 people requesting invitations per hour. It was growing so quickly that it was the victim of a cyberattack in its first weekend.

But as can happen with anything viral, Ello lost steam. And now the network that aims to challenge Facebook has launched a new ad campaign to reach more users—on Facebook.

Beginning Wednesday, Ello is running Facebook ads that target you based on your browsing history and other metrics that Facebook tracks. As a Mic story about the strategy points out, the advertisements “tell you what Facebook’s advertisers can learn about you.” If Facebook knows you’re single, you might see an Ello ad that says, with a person peering out from behind a window, “They told us you’re single in NYC.” Photography lovers could see one that reads, “Photography is better without ads.”

Ello.Ads.Press.Release_single

These creative promotions will pop up on Twitter and Tumblr soon as well—and on some physical billboards (remember those?).

In short, the ads are quite aggressive, but in a visually attractive, winking fashion. They hint, not so subtly, at abandoning Facebook, the very place where you’d be seeing these ads, in favor of free, cleaner, artsier pastures. Indeed, while Ello has lost some of its viral steam in the past months, it has continued to attract people from the design community. When CEO Paul Budnitz spoke to Fortune last year, he name-dropped accounts like those of Duane King and Greg Foley, both of whom almost exclusively post photographs or color schemes, as some of his favorite pages. If Ello remains a home just for the art-inclined, Budnitz and his colleagues have said, that’s fine by them.

“Ello’s not for everyone—that was never our intent,” Ello cofounder Todd Berger has posted to his own Ello page.

Ello.Ads.Press.Release_adult

Until now, Ello, which is a registered “benefit corporation,” has not spent money on advertising. But the company is beefing up its marketing. It also rolled out a mobile app in April and landed $5 million in new funding. Later this year, it reportedly plans a commerce offering wherein users will be able to sell items to their followers (think Etsy).

In recent interviews, Budnitz has tried to distance Ello from the label of an anti-Facebook network. But the new ads make their statement pretty clear: Facebook is creepy, and it isn’t free, and it isn’t pretty.

Ello.Ads.Press.Release_free

If it seems extremely ironic that a company seen as the anti-Facebook is advertising on Facebook, Budnitz told Mic that it’s simply a case of Ello utilizing the best outlet it has to reach new users. “Facebook is by far the best advertising platform ever invented,” he told the site. “I don’t think it’s a social network, but as an ad platform, I couldn’t ask for something better.”

TIME Netflix

Why Activist Investor Carl Icahn Dumped His Last Netflix Shares

Key Speakers At The Robin Hood Investors Summit
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Robin Hood Investors Conference in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014.

Carl Icahn announced on his Twitter Wednesday that he’s sold his last Netflix shares.

Icahn Enterprises, which owned about 1.4 million Netflix shares at the end of 2015’s first quarter, made the move after Netflix announced approval of a 7-for-1 stock split, according to CNBC.

Per the publication:

The split will come in the form of a dividend of six additional shares for each outstanding share, Netflix said. It is payable on July 14 to stock owners of record at the July 2 close. Trading at the post-split price will start July 15.

CNBC reported, too, that Netflix stocks dipped slightly after Icahn’s message on the social media service.

Here’s Icahn’s Twitter message announcing the decision:

Netflix has expanded in recent years becoming not only a streaming service for television and film, but also a developer of new movies and TV shows.

TIME Lexus

Lexus Built The Second-Coolest Thing From ‘Back To The Future’

Ok, so it’s not a time-traveling Delorean, but this is still pretty cool: Lexus has built an honest-to-God hoverboard.

Now, you can’t buy the floating skateboard just yet, but it is a working prototype, powered by superconductors and magnets, according to Bloomberg. Marty McFly, the hero of “Back to the Future,” famously rode a hoverboard in the second installment of the trilogy, released in 1989.

Right now the hoverboard has only been tested in Japan, but Toyota, Lexus’ parent company, plans to bring tests to Barcelona soon. Here is a video of the hoverboard in action:

Toyota has also considered how to bring this technology to cars, Bloomberg notes.

TIME Video Games

Movie Theaters Are Turning Into Video Game Arcades to Make More Money

Full frame of movie audience wearing special 3D gl
J. R. Eyerman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett ull frame of movie audience wearing special 3D glasses to view film Bwana Devil which was shot with new natural vision 3 dimensional technology.

Imagine playing games with a few dozen of your closest friends

A few years ago, an old-school video games arcade called Rusty Quarters in Minneapolis closed its doors for good. I knew about it through a local close friend, who’d regale me with tales of the place’s retro pleasures: Centipede, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Jr., Joust, Ms. Pac-Man — “Our childhood,” as one of the owners put it in a 2013 Indiegogo pitch to keep the biz afloat.

I never got a chance to visit Rusty Quarters before it shuttered, and I’ve long recognized that the days of plunking quarter (or tokens) into imposing cabinets housing tube screens with vector graphics and devoted system boards are mostly well behind us. But the L.A. Times has an interesting piece up Wednesday about a theater-related gaming push that could fulfill a related longterm (and as yet unfulfilled) dream I’ve nurtured for decades.

Imagine playing Minecraft on a movie screen. And not just you playing by yourself in a dim lit theater, but you alongside dozens of other players, collaborating in realtime by way of laptops operated from the comfort of cozy theater seats.

Despite the annual record-breaking revenue figures you hear trotted out when blockbusters like The Avengers 2 or Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, movie theater attendance has plummeted over the past decade, reports the Times. That’s partially why ticket and concession prices are going up. What else to do with all those warehouses of multistory screened cinematic entertainment, then? Supplement with video games, of course.

The Times reports that some theaters are turning to video games, among other non-movie events, to get more people in the building. On the gaming front, think League of Legends, a popular online real-time strategy game (and mega-popular e-sports entry) in which teams attempt to destroy each others’ bases and champions by deftly plying elaborate offensive and defensive tactics.

My dream was always to play a game like Super Mario 64 on a screen the size of a small building, but therein lies a paradox: some of the most amazing single-player experiences would by definition be too indulgent to justify, contradicting the financial imperative to fill up the house. But multiplayer experiences like Minecraft, or League of Legends? It sounds like the sky’s the limit, and if the concept fires the imagination of gamers attracted by the more immediately social, face-to-face, event-style experience of “theatergaming,” maybe even coming soon to a theater near you.

TIME Apple

Apple Just Signed a Major Deal for its New Music Service

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Opens In San Francisco
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue speaks during the Apple WWDC on June 8, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

More artists are coming to Apple Music

Just days before its June 30 launch, Apple has signed on thousands of additional independent record labels to participate in its new Apple Music streaming service. Record company Beggars Group and independent label network Merlin have agreed to sign their artists — including Adele and the Arctic Monkeys — onto Apple’s platform.

The indies had been holding out because Apple initially didn’t plan to pay artists during a three-month free trial period. Beggars Group publicly spoke out against the policy last week, but it wasn’t until Taylor Swift penned a widely shared blog post calling Apple out that the tech giant backtracked and changed its policy. Apple will now pay artists even when customers aren’t paying during the trial, but the company hasn’t said exactly what the royalty rate will be.

After the free period, customers will have to pay $9.99 per month for Apple Music. Apple will share at least 71.5% of its revenue with artists, according to the New York Times.

TIME Video Games

3 Tips to Actually Enjoy Batman: Arkham Knight on PC

They're pretty basic, and won't provide the comprehensive relief PC players deserve, but they're all we've got until publisher Warner Bros. fixes its mess

Having trouble getting the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight running optimally? You don’t say.

For reasons unclear to all save actual PC owners, sadly accustomed to studios releasing unfinished versions of games that work just fine on consoles, the PC version of Arkham Knight has all sorts of problems. Low-res textures, sluggish frame rates, and a cache-related glitch Kotaku claims can prompt the game to delete itself.

To Rocksteady’s credit, the studio’s Arkham community manager has acknowledged complaints are coming from enough people to warrant the following PC support forum disclaimer:

We’re aware that some users are reporting performance issues with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight. This is something that Rocksteady takes very seriously. We are working closely with our external PC development partner to make sure these issues get resolved as quickly as possible.

Note the part about an “external PC development partner.” Translation: Warner Bros. outsourced the PC port. There’s nothing wrong with that in principle, but in this case the disparity between platforms looms large: I can confirm that the PlayStation 4 version, which I’ve had for a while now (reviewed here), was blemish-free from start to finish, and I’m seeing the same reports from Xbox One owners.

If you’re stuck playing the PC version, the following fixes may mitigate some of the issues until Rocksteady (and that “external PC development partner”) gets a patch or three out to rectify the situation.

Update your graphics card drivers

Self-evident, but worth a double-check in case you hadn’t seen that both AMD and Nvidia released updated Arkham Knight-optimized drivers on Monday, June 22. Players have reportedly been experiencing performance issues on both GPU manufacturers’ hardware.

Tweak a simple game file to unlock the frame rate

For some reason, Arkham Knight for PC shipped locked at 30 frames per second. I prefer 30 fps for my own reasons (don’t bother arguing!). But options are our friends, so here’s how to unshackle the frame rate:

Locate the game configuration folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Batman Arkham Knight\BmGame\Config\), then open the following file in a text editor:

BmSystemSettings.ini

Scan for the line “MaxFPS=30″ then change “30” to whatever you’d like the frame rate cap to be.

Ix-nay the intro movies

The intro movie plays every time you launch the game, whether you button-mash or no. To fix this and get the game’s menu screen to load promptly after you’ve watched the intro, navigate to the game’s movie folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Batman Arkham Knight\BMGame\Movies) and locate the following files:

Intro_BM3Logo_fire.usm
nv_logo.usm

Slap new extensions on the end (after .USM), say something like .BAK, so you can easily find and restore everything if you change your mind down the road.

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