It’s like the whole Star Wars universe has been begging for a Han Solo movie, and it’s finally in production. Filming started this week in London, and the cast photo gives us a glimpse into the movie without giving anything away. The pic includes Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), and Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca). The cast also includes Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, and Thandie Newton all packed into the Millennium Falcon cockpit. Details about the movie are under wraps, but we do know it’s set for release on May 25, 2018. Hey Disney, now that the Han Solo movie is underway how about you get to work on the Boba Fett flick?
My free time over the weekend was taken up by a new iPhone and iPad game that just came out called Hidden Folks, so now I’m ruining your productivity, too. It’s a clever hidden object game with it’s own charm thanks to the hand-drawn graphics and sound effects that are clearly some guy who decided his mouth is a complete foley studio. His ba-doo-be-doop, skrintch, and pop sounds are important to the game, as are the little animations. Tapping objects triggers actions sounds and actions. Sometimes that’s clearing away a bush or moving a boat, and can reveal the elusive objects and characters you need to find. Hidden Folks is great for a quick diversion or a couple hours exploring new levels. You can get it for your iPhone and iPad at Apple’s App Store for US$3.99.
So it turns out you can run Doom on your Porsche 911. What’s that? You don’t have a Porsche 911? No worries, it will supposedly work on some other cars, too. No, really. YouTuber Vexal posted a how-to and demonstration of doing this terrible idea. I mean…you play by turning your steering wheel, accelerating, changing gears, and honking your horn. What could go wrong, right? By which I mean, don’t do this at home. Or anywhere. But do, absolutely, watch Vexal play the game. And if you’re wondering about that toaster in the passenger seat, be sure to watch Vexal’s video on modding a toaster to be a Doom controller…
Apple launched four new iPad commercials that respond to real tweets from real folks. The first (included below) is in response to a tweet about iPad not being a real computer. The second spot addresses a tweet about poor Wi-Fi. The third answers whether Microsoft Word is on the iPad (it is), and the fourth notes that iPads aren’t subject to PC viruses. The Twitter accounts are real (Tweet 1 account, Tweet 2, Tweet 3 account, Tweet 4), and The Verge reported that Apple contacted at least one of the tweeters before using their tweets. There’s almost zero chance Apple didn’t do so with all of them. But, Apple used actors to represent the Twitter account owners. It’s an interesting campaign. Some have already noted it’s reminiscent of Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign. More interesting, though, is that this is the first time I can remember Apple addressing questions like these, especially in an ad. The company is also leveraging social media, an area that hasn’t typically been a strong suit for Apple. They’re not my favorite spots from Apple, but they’re solid. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a major campaign.
We had a good discussion about Apple moving WWDC back to San Jose on Thursday’s Daily Observations. In that discussion, we talked about how much easier it would be for Apple engineers to attend an event in San Jose because it wouldn’t necessarily suck up a whole day and hours of travel. We also talked about proximity to Apple Campus 2.0, and the reality San Jose is less expensive. Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber discussed the move with Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller, who confirmed most of what we thought. Mr. Gruber also pointed out that Apple’s WWDC is a much bigger deal to San Jose than it ever was to San Francisco. He said Apple was working with San Jose’s mayor and others to stage events throughout the week, something San Francisco never did to my knowledge. Check out his piece—it’s a good read.
Get ready for Pokémon GO Gen 2 and 80 new monsters because Niantic plans to give us more characters we gotta catch by this weekend. The new monsters come from the Pokémon Silver and Pokémon Gold video games, so if you’re tired of the gobs of characters already available you’ll have plenty more to keep you roaming around your neighborhood. Niantic also rolled in new evolutions and Evolution items to collect, new berries, new avatars, and more. The updates are free, unlike the time we’ll all spend hunting for Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile.
The LEGO Batman movie is out, and it shows us just how important Siri is: She’s the computer system of choice for Gotham’s elite vigilante crime fighters. Luckily, we don’t have to live in Gotham, become emotionally scarred orphans watching our parents die, or spend gobs of money on devices named bat…something. We can get Siri to treat us like the bat heroes we want to be right on our iPhones. Just press and hold your iPhone’s Home button to activate Siri, and get your Batman on by saying, “Hey, computer,” or “Hey, ‘puter.” Siri will respond with bat-appropriate comments, first try.
Chuck Joiner asked me on to MacVoices to talk about Apple, the tech world, and politics. In this video podcast, I make the case that Apple is just plain too big to avoid politics. From regulations, to taxation policy, to international posturing, to the fact that Apple is worth almost US$700 billion, Apple can’t avoid politics. More importantly, the broader tech world itself that it increasingly intersects with tech. I think I spewed off about getting older and struggling to understand Millennials, too. It’s all kind of hazy, but that didn’t stop Chuck from making that part of his title…oh, and check out that key frame he picked. Why did I agree to do this show again? … Oh, right, because I luuuuurve me some Chucky J!
According to Home Media Magazine, “The free Movie of the Day app on Apple TV gives consumers a 24-hour window to buy some of the most popular movies from the Fox catalog for $4.99 to $9.99 — up to 75% off. Fox reports the app, previously launched for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, boasts a loyal following of close to 90% of monthly users returning and engaging with the app daily.” Upcoming dates and titles: Feb. 15-Deadpool; Feb. 16-Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters; Feb. 17-Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Feb. 18-Epic. Feb 14th launched with Kingsman.
Apple has FaceTime, Microsoft has Skype, Google has Hangouts, and now Amazon has Chime. They’re all video chat services, and now Amazon is in on the game across the Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. Chime is more business focused with features like 100-people conference call support and corporate directories. It’s free for one-on-one conversations, adds in screen sharing and the corporate directory feature for US$2.50 a month per user, and $15 a month gets you all that plus meeting scheduling along with video and audio recording. Apple doesn’t have much to worry about since FaceTime targets individual users, but Skype and Hangouts better watch out because Chime is clearly targeting their users.
You may known of my penchant for tower defense games, but I also have a not-so-secret love for arcade scrollers. The good news for your time-sucking pleasure is that I found a new one called Photon Strike. It’s a solid vertical scroller for iPhone an iPad (I played on iPad) with good graphics and fast action. In fact, it’s very fast. It’s similar to others in the genre. You have to steer your ship (with your fingers), firing as long as your finger is on the screen. Waves of enemies fly around the screen, and you have to shoot/avoid them. Powerups are available throughout each level, and you get credits for each enemy you destroy for buying upgrades. It’s free to download, but for real-world cash, you can get yourself a whole heap of credits. You can also watch videos for free credits. Every five waves there’s a boss at the end. It’s ad-supported, but the ads go away with any purchase (the ads are not obnoxious). That said, this is the kind of game where I’m happy to pay to unlock ads to directly support the developer.
Apple’s reality TV series Planet of the Apps is coming this spring and the first trailer giving us a glimpse into the show is out. It features Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gary Vanderchuk, and Will.i.am teaming up with app developers who make it through an escalator pitch phase to work towards landing US$10 million in funding and a featured spot on the App Store. Planet of the Apps will stream on Apple Music without commercials, and could give us an interesting behind-the-scenes look into the app development process. Still, based on the trailer—and keep in mind I’m not the reality TV demographic—Carpool Karaoke sounds a lot more interesting.
If your Mac isn’t working you make a Genius Bar appointment at your local Apple Store to get some help. That’s exactly what my good friend and British Tech Network host Ewen Rankin did—except his was a 30 year old Mac SE prototype. With the help of friends he got ahold of Mac OS System 3.3 on floppy disks—the operating system the SE originally shipped with—and then made his way to the Apple Store. The geniuses were more than happy to help out even though the Mac was older than some of them, and in the end they got it up and running. Sure, Ewen could’ve taken care of the Mac himself, but enlisting the aid of the Genius Bar wasn’t only cool, it was a great example of Apple’s customer service in action.
Apple has pushed the first trailer for Carpool Karaoke, the spinoff series being produced for Apple Music by James Corden and CBS. It features, “James Corden, Will Smith, Billy Eichner, Metallica, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Ariana Grande, Seth MacFarlane, Chelsea Handler, Blake Shelton, Michael Strahan, John Cena, Shaquille O’Neal, and many more.” It’s super fun, and builds a song with short samples from many episodes of the first season. Carpool Karaoke has been a huge hit for James Corden and The Late Late Show, and news broke late in 2016 that it would be spun off as a standalone show for Apple Music. My guess—especially after seeing this trailer—is that it’s going to be a huge hit for Apple Music, too.
Check out this recording of Steve Jobs’ NeXT keynote from 1992 (via Cult of Mac), where he introduced NeXTSTEP 3.0 (which eventually became OS X). Interesting tidbits from the spot include the 51 minute and 32 second mark, where he shows a feature that ended up being cut when Apple bought NeXT, distributed object inter-application and inter network communication. At 59 minutes and 53 seconds, Mr. Jobs shows off fast elliptical encryption built right into NeXT’s email system. That was also cut for the Mac. Then there was the bit about operating system-level the Renderman rending engine (nixed), and NeXTSTEP for Intel processors, which did eventually make it to the Mac. All these observations come courtesy of John Kheit, who used to work at NeXT. He called this one of Steve Jobs’s best keynotes and a must-watch for fans. I agree, though your mileage may vary. One way or another, it’s definitely good.
Tim Cook spoke to the students of the University of Glasgow this week. The hour long event included questions from faculty and students alike. Topics included President Trump’s travel bans on seven muslim-majority countries, the reach of the App Store, the environment, wealth inequality, education, balancing work and life, technology interacting with our bodies, Apple Watch, idealism, Steve Jobs’s influence over Apple today, styluses, and more. The video was posted by a student. The audio quality is poor, but the rules for the event precluded “dedicated recording equipment.” To that end, this video was recorded entirely on an iPhone 7 in the hands of a student 50-70 feet from Mr. Cook, and is stunningly good considering. In addition, note how quiet and respectful this audience of 800-plus students is.