TIME apps

Microsoft Wants to Change Everything You Know About Email

Josh Edelson—AFP/Getty Images The Microsoft logo is seen before the start of a media event in San Francisco, California on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

"No subject lines, salutations, or signatures”

Microsoft is reportedly working on a next generation email app that will strip away subject lines, greetings and signatures, and display only the text users need for a rapid fire conversation.

Microsoft has not formally introduced the new messaging app, though an announcement labeled “Microsoft Confidential” did briefly crop up on its public website, which was spotted by Twitter user @h0x0d on Tuesday. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on app.

The announcement described a new mobile app called “Flow,” which was designed “for fast, fluid, natural conversations.” The app enables the user to draw Outlook emails into a new display, reminiscent of an instant messaging window.

“Only conversations started in Flow and their replies show up in Flow,” reads the announcement, but the thread will also be stored in the user’s Outlook account, potentially replacing scattered email chains with a tidy stack of messages.

The app would give Microsoft a unique entry point into a fiercely competitive market for instant messaging services, such as Slack and Microsoft’s own Yammer. Rather than “kill” email with instant messages, Flow appears to marry the two forms of communication. And that’s a match Microsoft is eager to make if it wants to ensure Outlook doesn’t get left behind in the craze for chattier communications.

TIME Video Games

10 Tips for Mastering The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

It's massive, it's gorgeous, but it's by no means easy

CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launched this week. The epic, sandbox-style roleplaying is, well, everything. It’s Skyrim plus Grand Theft Auto V plus Red Dead Redemption plus Nintendo’s upcoming version of Zelda for the Wii U.

The Witcher 3 is the “biggest open-world roleplaying game of the year, one of the most critically acclaimed in years, and the final act of a trilogy that since the first act arrived in October 2007,” according to TIME’s Matt Peckham. Also, it’s not very easy. The Polish developer’s saga about a cat-eyed monster slayer—available for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC—is an acquired taste, both in terms of narrative and game mechanics. Players are only beginning to unpack everything hidden inside the game. But here are a few tips and resources if you’re just digging in.

Change the difficulty if you’re stuck. Luckily, you can alter it in the settings menu at any time.

Choices have consequences. Taking a little extra time to help out an NPC can yield results far down the line. Likewise, being brusque or unhelpful can hinder your progress. Choose wisely.

Listen or read the dialogue—all of it. Seems obvious, but it can be tempting to skip through the often-lengthy jags of NPCS. Most of the time, the dialogue contains useful quest hints that can cut down on the time it takes to complete them. They’re usually quite funny too.

Blow the doors off. Many objects—such as doors or weak rock walls—can be destroyed by using the Aard sign.

Be greedy. As you wander the world, you’ll be presented with a prompt to loot, well, just about everything. Do so, aside from the occasional haul from chest, even smaller batches of loot will turn up useful crafting and alchemy items.

Orient yourself. Perusing notice boards in the game’s various hamlets and towns also reveals nearby points of interest with side quests and other activities.

MORE: 5 Reasons People Love The Witcher So Much

Rely on your senses. Your Witcher senses to be specific. Even when you’re not on a quest that requires detective work, they’ll help you spot loot-able items in the environment.

— Booze matters. Alcohol can be used to recharge your store of potions when you’re mediating/resting.

— So do trophies. They’re for more than just show. Always have one trophy equipped as they provide useful bonuses at zero cost.

Patch up your gear. Items can be repaired (for a cost) at blacksmiths. Purchasing a few repair kits to fix up your gear mid-quest is a wise move.

For more help, the subreddit on The Witcher has tons of very useful information. Kotaku has an extensive guide here, as does IGN.

TIME Security

5 Easy Ways to Avoid Getting Hacked at ATMs

A customer uses an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a Lloyds Bank branch, a unit of Lloyds Banking Group Plc, in London, U.K., on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. The U.K. government sold about 634 million pounds ($987 million) of shares in Lloyds Banking Group Plc, cutting its stake to less than 20 percent a week after elections. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
Jason Alden—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP. A customer uses an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a Lloyds Bank branch, a unit of Lloyds Banking Group Plc, in London, U.K., on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

That ATM you’re using may not be safe.

As my colleague Daniel Roberts points out, citing a report in the Wall Street Journal: “withdrawing money from an ATM is more dangerous than it’s been in a long time—specifically, the worst it has been in two decades.”

The story features some alarming statistics from credit-scoring company FICO. Security compromises of debit card data that have been traced to ATMs on-site at banks rose 174% from the beginning of the year to April compared to the same time last year. And off-site ATM fraud spiked 317% in that time versus the same period last year.

In other words, criminals are having a heyday. So how can you remain safe when banking on the go? Here are Fortune’s top tips to keep you from getting ripped off:

1. Cover up your personal identification number

Shielding the ATM keypad as you type in your security code will help prevent onlookers from glimpsing your PIN. It’s a simple solution but one of the best ways to thwart so-called shoulder surfers from stealing your passcode. (Be careful of video cameras, too.)

2. Check for compromised machines

One of the most popular means by which criminals steal payment card data is through a device known as a “skimmer.” A crook will plant one of these gadgets on the “swipe” or “dip” port on an ATM, where it may read the magnetic strip on your card and rip its data. The thief can then create counterfeit cards, or use the card information to make purchases online.

3. Use ATMs on bank premises

ATMs that are on-site at your bank are less easily tampered with than ones outside. Just look at the numbers provided by FICO, as mentioned above: 174% increase in compromises for bank-based ATMs versus 317% increase for the rest.

4. Limit your exposure

Using ATMs less frequently will lessen the risk that you’ll encounter a bad machine. Try taking out larger sums of cash less often, or conducting more business at the counter or via mobile apps.

5. Promptly notify your bank of any bad transactions

If you suspect that something is amiss, call your card-issuing bank immediately. Many of them require that you notify them of unauthorized transactions within a 60-day period after you receive your banking statement.

Heed this advice, and stay safe out there, friends.

TIME streaming media

Everything You Need to Know About the New Spotify

The new Spotify goes way beyond music

In a press event on Wednesday, streaming service Spotify made one thing clear: it’s no longer just for music.

CEO Daniel Ek said the firm’s mission is to find the perfect content—whether audio or video—for every moment of its users’ days. Ek and Spotify executives unveiled a new version of the service that tailors playlists for individual users. The new version also incorporates podcasts into its app. A so-called “video capsule” will make videos from partners such as Comedy Central, Vice News, and The Nerdist available as well.

Highlights from the announcement included:

— Media partners include: ABC, BBC, ESPN, NBC, TED, MTV, Maker, Slate, Fusion and E!

— A new running menu changes the way people use the app. The company says it can detect a runner’s tempo and immediately start playing songs that match.

— The new Spotify is rolling out US, UK, Germany, and Sweden beginning May 20.

— Ek said the focus on custom playlists will allow it to better target ads.

— Spotify is also partnering with fitness brands like Nike and RunKeeper to better integrate apps.

— D’Angelo and Questlove performed to play Ek out.

Spotify is retooling as it faces more competition in the streaming market. Though Spotify says it accounts for more than 50% of the streaming market, new services have recently launched or are preparing to launch to take on its dominance. Jay Z’s Tidal is trying to attract customers with exclusive music videos and live concerts. Later this summer, Apple is widely expected to unveil a new streaming service based on Beats Music which it acquired as part of $3 billion buy of the headphone-maker.

TIME Gadgets

Here’s When You’ll Be Able to Buy an Apple Watch in Stores

Apple Watch in Stores by June, Tim Cook Says
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.

They're currently available only through online order

The Apple Watch will be on sale in stores by June after previously being available only through online order, CEO Tim Cook said during a recent trip to China.

Cook also confirmed for the first time that the June in-store rollout will include China, 9to5Mac reports. Some early online orders for the Apple Watch have been pushed back to June, which means new customers won’t have to wait several months to bring the smartwatch home. It also means that anyone looking to purchase the Apple Watch now—shipping dates are in July—might be better off waiting until the device becomes available in a nearby Apple store.

The June target for walk-in purchases is consistent with what Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, told Apple Store employees in April, weeks before the Apple Watch first became available.

Read next: 7 Most Surprising Things About Owning an Apple Watch

TIME Video Games

Nintendo Actually Just Hired Bowser to Head Sales

No word on whether the new executive will give a fiefdom to his seven children

For Nintendo lovers, Bowser is the ultimate baddie, the fire-breathing lizard king that has absconded with Princess Peach since the 1980s. For some Nintendo employees, Bowser is now their boss. And not a video game boss.

Nintendo of America announced today that it had hired Doug Bowser as VP of sales. Before joining Nintendo, Bowser worked at Electronic Arts.

It has been a bust few months for Nintendo, a one-time video game leader that had had a tough few years, marked by disappointing sales of its WiiU console. In March the company announced it was finally ready to embrace mobile games, meaning Mario and friends could be on your iPhone soon.

You can read the full press release here.

TIME apps

Google Plus’ Best Feature Is Coming Back From the Dead

CeBIT 2012 Technology Trade Fair
Sean Gallup—Getty Images A worker prepares the Google stand the day before the CeBIT 2012 technology trade fair officially opens to the public on March 5, 2012 in Hanover, Germany.

Its photo features could get spun off into a new service

Google Plus as a social network may be dead, but its widely acclaimed photo sharing service may soon have a second coming.

Google will unveil a new photo service at its developer’s conference next month, Bloomberg reports. Photo storage, editing and sharing has long been a standout feature of Google Plus, prompting the company to break out a standalone team last year to focus on releasing photo products to a wider audience. Google Plus’ photo features were essentially borrowed from Picasa, a Google-owned photo suite the company has largely neglected since Google Plus first launched.

A company spokesperson declined to confirm Bloomberg’s report.

TIME Gadgets

You’ll Never Guess Who Just Perfected the Keyboard


Consider eating and typing solved

KFC is furnishing some German diners with Bluetooth-enabled paper keyboards so they can type into their phones and tablets with greasy fingers, obviating the need to hose down their devices with liquid detergent after lunch. It’s a brilliant, weird, slightly disturbing development.

The rechargeable “Tray Typer” replaces the usual piece of paper that comes atop food trays agh the fast-food chain. The product was developed by a company called Serviceplan and used by KFC as part of an ad campaign. Maybe the best thing about Tray Typer is that it’s reusable — after being wiped down, of course. Serviceplan claims that during the campaign in Germany, every single Tray Typer was taken home by consumers.

It seems unlikely that KFC will make Tray Typer a mainstay in its restaurants. It’s basically a constant reminder of how greasy its food is. Not that people don’t realize this, of course, but it’s usually not anything a food company, even one that’s essentially in the grease business, wants to continually highlight.

The Verge called the Tray Typer a “first world solution to a first world problem.”

This isn’t KFC’s first foray into the peripherals business, or even the strangest. In Japan last year, it offered keyboards, mice, and thumb drives in fried-chicken.

TIME Internet

This Website Name Is Causing a Major Controversy

And, no, it's not pornography related

Does the domain ‘dot sucks’ belong on the internet?

That’s the question that members of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, and even of the organization that approved it in February—the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann)—are now asking.

Some call the domain extortionary as it’s forcing businesses and others to pay a premium for “[name].sucks” website addresses—for fear that another malcontent will come along, snap up the name, and employ the site as a digital pillory for that brand, person, or firm. Whereas a typical new domain might cost less than $100, Vox Populi, the company that owns the rights to sell “dot sucks” domains, suggests $2,499, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Icann says it approved the .sucks domain because no one objected,” the Journal reports. “Now, it says doesn’t have authority to block the domains or control the pricing.”

Those limitations led Icann last month to ask governmental authorities such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of Consumer Affairs in Canada to investigate Vox Populi’s practices. In fact, the controversy has flared just months before a proposal by the Obama administration would pass Icann’s regulatory responsibilities to “an undefined, international, ‘multi-stakeholder’ body,” the Journal reports.

Not only does the future of “dot sucks” hang in the balance, so does the power of the non-profit partnership that has managed web domains for nearly two decades. Already, buyers have claimed such websites as “starbucks.sucks,” “jpm.sucks,” and “reeses.sucks,” according to the Vox Populi website, and top searches include: “TaylorSwiftsCat,” “YourMomma,” “Racism,” and “This.”

Here are the companies most sought after for a “dot sucks” address, according to Vox Populi:

  1. Apple
  2. Google
  3. Microsoft
  4. Facebook
  5. Comcast
  6. Walmast
  7. CocaCola
  8. McDonald’s
  9. Sony
  10. Amazon

A full list of available web domains approved by Icann can be found here. A quick skim through the catalog reassures one that “dot sucks” is likely the most controversial—certainly more so than “dot boats,” “dot cricket,” “dot ninja,” or “dot guitars.”

Second-most? Probably “dot exposed.”

The Vox Populi website—www.nic.sucks—advertises its intention to “foster debate and share opinions.” That seems to be working.

TIME Internet

Reddit CEO: We Are Not a ‘Completely Free-speech Platform’

You can't post whatever you want, Ellen Pao says

Reddit, the self-described “front page of the Internet” isn’t a place where you can post anything you want without consequences, its new interim CEO says.

Ellen Pao told NPR this week that “it’s not our site’s goal to be a completely free-speech platform. We want to be a safe platform and we want to be a platform that also protects privacy at the same time.”

Pao’s comments are likely upset a number of “Redditors,” who see the largely anonymous platform as a place where any opinions or material can be shared, with few exceptions—child pornography and other illegal materials, for existence. Reddit users, fairly or not, have a reputation for leaning libertarian when it comes to the free flow of information and ideas.

But that freedom can get ugly, with misogynist and racist “subreddits” popping up frequently. Pao—who was the plaintiff in an ultimately unsuccessful gender discrimination case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins—said a case-by-case determination would be made for how to deal with pages like that.

“The question is whether it would make them fear for their safety, or the safety of those around them or where it makes them feel like it’s not a safe platform,” she said. “Somebody expressing ideas that aren’t consistent with everybody’s views is something that we encourage.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

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