Flying cars have been an unfulfilled fantasy for many decades. On the other hand, small jet-powered helicopters, the kind TV stations use for traffic monitoring, are still fairly expensive to buy and retain a trained pilot. But what if one could super-size an electric drone, make it large enough to seat two humans, and take advantage of the flight stability and easy of flying of a drone? Then you'd have the Volocopter. Here's an article and embedded video that shows the flight tests from late last year. I can think of all kinds of things one could do with such a machine, assuming it's not outrageously expensive. Farmers could monitor and treat remote crops. Emergency services could deliver food and medicine to places cut off by floods. You name it. It's not the classic flying car, but a whole new kind of thinking ... with zero emissions.
What happens when you mix cool music, guitar solos, mountain adventures, multiple dimensions, some action, and a little bit of narrative to bind it all together? You get The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti from Beethoven & Dinosaur for Mac and PC. It's an amazingly beautiful game that feels like a wild romp with David Bowie, The Beatles, and a little Pink Floyd for good measure. The downside is you can't play it today; the game is raising US$35,000 on Kickstarter and the developers expect it to ship in August 2017. Assuming they hit their funding, and the game lives up to its imagery, The Artful Escape should be well worth the wait.
Steve Wozniak took part in Reddit's Formative Moments series, videos made with the help of Google Cloud Platform. In Woz's 6 minute and 48 second episode, he walks through some of the early days of being an engineer, including his formative moment when he realized the microprocessor was "just like those minicomputers I used to design in high school." You know, as one does. He also talks about building a Tic Tac Toe machine when he was a kid (come on!), and his passion for designing Apple ][. Long-term Apple followers might not hear a lot new in this, but Woz's enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring.
Vice's Noisey has published an interview with Zane Lowe, the creative head of Apple's Beats 1. The 10 minute piece looks at the former BBC DJ's roots, how he feels about his new home in Los Angeles, his love of music, and some of the interviews he's done. It also shows us that Zane Lowe is very good impressionist. Who knew? Check it out. (Warning: there is some profanity in the video.)
Charlie Rose interviewed Sir Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer of Apple. The interview spends time on Apple's product design philosophy and his early experiences with the late Steve Jobs, including the ways in which Steve Jobs pushed back on Sir Jony's innate desire to be nice about everything. It's a wonderful 35 minute interview hosted by Hulu, which unfortunately requires Flash. You can also view it in Chrome, which has its own built-in implementation of Flash.
Sorting through the arguments for and against Apple creating a hackable version of iOS for the FBI—and by extension, the bigger question about encryption—is pretty complex, but John Oliver has done a brilliant job of sorting through the issues. His 18 minute monologe deconstructs the situation surrounding the government's push to erode encryption and Apple's resistance to writing the code the FBI wants. It's absolutely worth watching, but it does include NSFW language, so keep that in mind when you click the Play button.
Cosmic Watch just crossed my desk, and I think it's cool. It's an astronomical clock for iPhone and iPad that features a real-time world clock, the ability to travel backwards and forwards in time to see planetary positions, find planets, and see the solar system from a geocentric point of view. That last concept, BTW, is apparently called digital orrery. Who knew? Cosmic Watch is priced at $3.99.
I found a fun app today called Fotomoji. It takes a photo from your iPhone or iPad photo library, or from your camera, and transforms it into a mosaic made entirely of emoji. Useful? Hardly. Fun? Absolutely. One of the example images on the App Store is Edvard Munch's painting The Scream made entirely of the screaming emoji based on the painting. There's something meta in that for sure, but I shall saddle you, dear readers, with a Fotomoji of me. The app is free, but in my brief testing it was pretty aggressive in showing ads. Have fun!
Writing for The Verge, Russell Brandom has penned an excellent look at the differences between the FBI's job and the tasks set for the NSA and CIA, and how those differences put the two camps at odds over Apple and iPhone encryption. It's excellent piece, and if you are following the fight between the FBI and Apple, I recommend it in full.
Sacha Baron Cohen has channeled Apple's fabled keynote to promote his newest movie, The Brothers Grimsby. In the promo video, Mr. Cohen—best known for his characters Borat and Ali G.—tells an appreciative audience about a new character with 12 percent more likability than "the Borat" and 15 percent more idiotic than "the Ali G." Largely channeling the cadence and rhythm of Sir Jony Ive, Mr. Cohen says, "We've created a very thin veneer of satire and plot that's so thin, that it's actually the smallest and lightest and most confusing plot that's ever been released from a major studio." As with all things Sacha Baron Cohen, some parts are sure to offend someone, but I think it's the best Apple keynote spoof to date. I'm using the tweet announcing the video to embed it because that version is mostly censored. There's an uncensored version on YouTube if you'd prefer "25 percent more expletives."
TMO Weekly Sponsor
TMO Daily Observations 2016-05-05: Dave’s iPhone SE Surprise, LAPD iPhone Hack
The iPhone SE may be small, but it packs a lot of power in its tiny case. John Martellaro and…
ACM 358: The Devil’s Advocate, Apple Scaling, and Tim Cook’s Speeches
John "The Devil's Advocate" Kheit joins Bryan and Jeff on this special episode of The Apple Context Machine. They discuss…