Have you seen Vogue's 73 Questions series? They send a production team into the home of a celebrity and ask them 73 questions in one take. It's fun, if you're into that sort of thing, but I just watched Taylor Swift's episode from April. At the very end, she's asked what the bravest thing she's ever done. She answered, "Writing the Apple Music letter," referring to an open letter she wrote to Apple criticizing the company's payment structure for artists on Apple Music. That was followed by answering it was also the most spontaneous thing she's ever done. With great risk comes great rewards, and that open letter has seemingly led to a collaborative partnership with Apple involving multiple commercials, a tour movie that opened exclusively on Apple Music, and unknown things in the future.
What happens when you mash up Star Wars and infographics? Only the most graphically awesome retelling of the movie ever. That's exactly what Martin Panchaud did with his retelling of the original Star Wars movie. You'll need to check it out in a Web browser. It's brilliant, it's beautiful, and Han shoots first.
Check out this great video iPhonedo posted to YouTube where he (re)creates the theme song for TV smash hit Game of Thrones. He uses the new Chinese instruments Apple added to GarageBand to do it, and part of the video includes instructions for enabling the new instruments on non-Chinese language devices. Those instruments aren't authentic to the actual theme song, but they sound great and it's a solid demonstration of just how much you can do on GarageBand on iPad.
Have you heard of JJ Lin? Singapore-born and based in Taiwan, he's an enormously popular performer and producer in that part of the world. He posted a video to his YouTube channel of him and his pal Apple CEO Tim Cook jamming in GarageBand with those new Chinese-music loops and instruments I wrote about yesterday. Mr. Cook serves as DJ in the piece, tapping loops to create the background music while JJ Lin plays the lead melody on one of those new instruments. It's fun, and it's a message aimed at the Chinese market. Also, note that JJ Lin posted it, not Apple and not Mr. Cook. Seems like Apple really is learning more about how to operate in that market.
Netflix wants you to know how fast your internet connection is, so came up with its own speed test website called Fast.com. It's a one trick pony in that you'll see just your download speed, which makes sense considering that's the part of your connection Netflix really cares about. What's nice is that you don't need to click any buttons to start or sift through ads trying to figure out how to start the test; just hit the Fast.com site and wait a few seconds while it does its thing.
Apple has been quietly adding engineers with experience in wireless charging, according to some LinkedIn sleuthing by The Verge. Over the course of the last two years, Apple has hired more than a dozen people in this field, including two from wireless charging startup uBeam in just the last four months. There's no telling what they're working on, but Apple already offers inductive wireless charging on Apple Watch, and Bloomberg reported in January that Apple wanted to do some kind of wireless charging solution for iPhone in 2017. Check out the full report at The Verge for additional information—the takeaway is that Apple is working on something in the field of wireless charging, and that's exciting, and it will probably be less dramatic, yet far cooler, than Nikola Tesla's wireless electricity transmission experiments more than a century ago.
"The idea was simple: wouldn’t it be cool if, at the touch of a button, you could change our sign?" Cabel Sasser explains the new building sign for Panic Software: "With the Panic Sign, I wanted to ... not just feel cool about seeing our name on a thing but also build in a little magic for the city, something special for the observant, curious, and knowledgable. And I thought we could take it one step further: we’d put the magic in your hand." And so they got to work building a lighted building sign, in Portland OR, that anyone can change with an app on an iPhone. There's a lot of interesting lighting technology and playfulness in this story, so check it out. It's very cool.
There's a Kickstarter project called f.lens that I find interesting. It's a lens designed to focus the LED light on the back of your smartphone while you're using it as a flashlight. It sticks to your device via magnets, making it easy to put it on and take off—it also means it works with a variety of devices. We've seen a lot of lenses for photography, but this is one of the first devices I've seen designed to help light going the other way. The video below shows it in action. The company doing this did an earlier Kickstarter project that met its goal and shipped—they have details on this project's listing. Funding options that will net you an f.lens start at €19 (US$21.54).
Taylor Swift has a new commercial out for Apple Music. Apple hasn't posted it to YouTube as of this writing, but Ms. Swift posted it to Twitter. In the spot, she revels in having a quiet night alone and proceeds to dance on furniture while singing along to The Darkness's "A Thing Called Love." Like one does. Fortunately, she's her usual adorkable self and it works. The spot ends with the tagline "Dance like no one's watching."
Google is making Web and data searching easier on our iPhones thanks to its new Gboard custom keyboard. Once installed, you can perform Google searches, find specific emoji, look up addresses, and more from any app that includes a keyboard. The idea is that you don't have to hop from, say, Messages to Maps to look up a location, and then jump back to paste the address in a chat. Gboard also includes Glide Typing so you can swipe from letter to letter to spell words, which is pretty cool. You can pick it up for free on the App Store.
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