AnkiDRIVE announced OVERDRIVE on Monday, the next version of the company's artificial intelligence-driven race car toys. AnkiDRIVE cars drive themselves around a track, and users control throttle, weapons, and defenses through their iPhone. It's a whole big thing that earned the company some time during Apple's 2013 WWDC keynote presentation. OVERDRIVE moves the system away from the flat oval track of the first system by giving users track sections they can construct in any way they want. It's going to be released in September of this year, and it's expected to retail for US$150. Check out the promo video below.
Sling TV announced their USD$20/mo package for television programming which was warmly received by cordcutters in January. Sadly it was invite-only so people interested had to sign up and wait to hear back. That is, until Sunday evening. Sling has now removed the invitation requirement and anyone interested can now sign up for a 7-day trial, then subscribe to various packages and add ons which include sports broadcasts (long a hurdle for cordcutters). From the front page, just click on "Start your 7 days free" and walk through the setup process to get access to television on a Mac or Windows machine, iOS/Android devices, and Roku box now, coming soon to Amazon Fire TV/Stick and Xbox One. Currently the service is US-only and only works on one device at a time, but even with everything added the subscription comes in at $35/monthly, quite a bit less then most "standard" cable subscriptions.
So this P.R. guy sends me a 10,000mAh battery that has two USB ports, an LED flashlight, and an LCD display. It takes a long time to charge fully -- at least 10 or 12 hours -- but it will recharge an iPhone four or five times or an iPad at least twice. It can even recharge two devices simultaneously. And unlike some batteries, which use proprietary ports for recharging, this one uses an industry standard Micro-USB cable. It works great but I didn't intend to write about it. It was pricey at $49.99 and had nothing special going for it. Then I got an email from the PR guy that changed my tune. Starting today, for one week, you can get one at Amazon.com for just $19.99. And it's eligible for Amazon Prime, so if you're a member (and I am), two day shipping is free. At $50 it was unremarkable; at $20 and free Prime shipping, I'm considering ordering (another) one or two...
Alex Seropian is a legend in Mac gaming lore. The cofounder of Bungie made games like Marathon, Myth, and Halo—the later of which was turned into the Xbox's flagship title when Microsoft bought the company. Mr. Seropian has a new studio called Industrial Toys, and the company released its first title Thursday, Midnight Star. Available for iPhone and iPad, the company is billing it as, "the sci-fi shooter re-imagined for touch." Midnight Star is a freemium game, meaning it's free to download and play, but some content and various boosts are available through in-app purchases. The game is making quite a splash, and you can get a look at the gameplay in the trailer below.
HTC has gotten its corporate derriere handed to it on a paper plate by Samsung in the Android space. And though the company was a powerhouse in the feature phone market (back when that was a thing), HTC has struggled from day one against Apple's iPhone. But that all changes today—oh, it was actually January 29th. OK, then, that all changed last week when HTC brought out the big dogs to go after Apple. That's right, I'm talking thermonuclear war. HTC released a rap video with an itemized critique of Apple's shortcomings in the smartphone space. I know what you're thinking. You're saying, "Oh, no they di'n't!" But yes. Yes they did. "Your phone was all glass/Why you change your tune now?/Your chip is slower/Plus you'll never touch our BoomSound." How can Apple ever recover from such a devastating attack?
Today Sonos, makers of wireless Hi-Fi speaker systems, introduced a limited-edition version of their popular PLAY:1 speaker aimed towards jazz aficionados. Dubbed the Sonos PLAY:1 Blue Note Limited Edition, this speaker features a custom navy-to-light blue color fade, in line with the Blue Note label colors, plus a full year's worth of access to exclusive Artist Selects playlists. These playlists were all personally curated by musicians and producers including Don Was, Terence Blanchard, and Robert Glasper, and are sure to be of interest to all jazz lovers and beyond. Additionally, this special edition speaker comes with the Tune-in powered Blue Note on Sonos radio station built into the main menu (and accessible by all your connected Sonos units once you add the Blue Note edition to your system), and all Sonos-owning jazz lovers can enjoy the Born in Blue and Blue Note 101 channels on your existing Sonos today via TuneIn. The Blue Note PLAY:1 will be sold exclusively on Sonos.com for US$250 while supplies last. Only 4,100 were made. Visit Sonos.com/BlueNote for on-sale dates and details.
Apple has remade its popular 'The Song' commercial for the Chinese market. As in the English version of the commercial, a young girl in China is listening to a record from her grandmother's generation. She rips the recording, and uses her Mac to add guitar accompaniment and a backing vocal track. She then leaves it for her grandmother to find and listen to it on her own. Re/code pointed out that the commercial is, "aware of Chinese culture without resorting to token motifs (no lanterns, dragons or other clichés)." It was produced by a Chinese team of filmmakers for the Chinese market. It's a further indicator that Apple places much value in the Chinese market, even while the Chinese government is wary of the U.S. company.
I, Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus, would like to officially announce the nomination of the Batmobile iPhone Case for "Dorkiest Product of 2015," in spite of it being only the second month of the year." It's an iPhone case shaped like the Batmobile. One of the Batmobiles, at least, making it both dorky and cool. I wouldn't use one if you paid me, but rumor has it that our own Bryan Chaffin really, really wants one [I do - Bryan]. Here's the Japanese video promoting the case—Toxel has more info.
It's no secret that I'm a big time LEGO fan, and that I love the LEGO IDEAS kits other fans design. The downside to IDEAS is that so few of those amazing designs ever make it to production. PleyWorld felt the same, so they created their own LEGO design submission system where every kit that meets the minimum vote requirement gets made. The company also gets that not everyone has the money to buy every kit they want—or the space to store them—so you can buy or rent, almost like a Netflix for LEGO. You'l find plenty of spaceships and cars, but there's also a lot of cool and creative building, character, food, and animals to choose from, too. Even if you don't pick up any kits from PleyWorld, it's a great place for inspiration when you're trying to find new builds for the bricks you already have.
A new drone flyover of Apple's spaceship headquarters—Campus 2.0—catches us up on the construction progress. The video was posted to YouTube by user myithz, and was filmed in 4K video. It shows the parking structure that is going up, more foundation work, and the beginnings of construction within the trough of the Death Star ring. I personally can't get enough of these flyovers, and they just keep getting better in terms of their quality.
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