Apple’s original TV series Planet of the Apps is on the hunt for developers willing to share their app design process on the small screen. There’s an open casting call on the show’s website and they’re looking for coders in Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York to participate. Only 100 slots are available, and you’ll need a beta of your app ready by October 21, so get coding. You can apply for the show at the Planet of the Apps website.
Talk about having your finger on the zeitgeist, Funny or Die pushed a video Tuesday called “‘Pokémon GO’ Personal Injury Lawyer.” The name says it all, but note there is mild profanity. Enjoy.
Want to build and program your own robot? UBTECH has you covered with their JIMU MeeBot Robot. You can create your own robot design with the included building block-style elements and motors, them program it to do your bidding. JIMU is designed to be an educational tool, but that doesn’t mean only kids can get in on the action. You won’t be able to make a robot army programmed for world domination, but you can build some fun designs and learn more about coding, too. the JIMU MeeBot kit will be available at Apple Stores starting July 12 for US$129.99, and an add-on kit with more parts and design ideas will be available for $69.99.
There’s a new Kickstarter project called Thunder Drive. It’s a tiny portable SSD that works with Thunderbolt or USB (including USB-C). That makes it small, fast, portable, and daisy-chainable. According to the company, two drives can deliver up to 2,000GB at 1,100MB/s on Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C. Thunder Drive is available in capacities from 64GB to 1,000GB (just shy of a terabyte), with funding options for a 64GB device starting at $99. There’s also a super early bird special for $3 (!!) on a smaller 8GB model called Thunder Thumb. There’s lots of information on the Kickstarter listing.
This is one of the nerdiest and most intensely cool anecdotes I’ve ever seen. It turns out you can do quick and dirty conversions of miles to kilometers using the Fibonacci sequence, as noted on Reddit and tweeted by Cliff Pickover (and spotted by The Loop). Redditor almightybob1 said, “The Fibbonacci sequence goes 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 etc etc. Skip the first few terms and…” With that information below, check out the chart included by Mr. Pickover below. How awesome is that?
— Cliff Pickover (@pickover) July 2, 2016
PDFPen is on my short list of must-have apps for the iPhone and iPad, and version 2.5 is even more useful because it adds Apple Pencil support for the iPad Pro. The app is a PDF viewing and editing powerhouse, and thanks to this update it also supports viewing file attachments, playing audio annotations, and validates digitally signed documents, bringing it in line with PDFPen 8 for the Mac. PDFPen 2 costs US$19.99 on the App Store, and version 2.5 is a free update.
Matthew Roberts posted new drone footage of construction efforts on Apple Campus 2.0 to YouTube (via The Loop). It not only shows massive progress on the site, it’s also captioned with helpful details about the things you’re seeing. The footage is up close and personal, enough to wonder what new case law might be established if Apple had blasted the drone out of the air. I always enjoy these drone flyovers—it’s super awesome to be able to follow along as this soon-to-be-iconic building takes shape.
With Independence Day coming up on Monday, we have a three-day weekend ahead of us in the United States. If movies are more your thing instead of picnics and fireworks displays, check out The Matrix Trilogy on Apple’s iTunes Store. The package includes all three movies in HD, plus extras, for US$14.99. The only question left after picking up the bundle is red pill or blue pill?
Steve Jobs was an amazing individual. Most of us remember the great product demos, awesome devices, quips like “It’s about the music, stupid,” and other fun things. We’ve also heard infamous examples of Mr. Jobs being angry on the job; but in honor of the iPhone’s 9th birthday on Wednesday, former Apple PR executive Natalie Kerris reminded that Mr. Jobs got angry in public, too. The video she linked to is a compilation of Stevenote moments when that anger came out. Like everything with Steve Jobs, I love watching him in action. It’s always interesting.
In honor of today’s 9th anniversary of the original iPhone launch: Steve Jobs PISSED OFF moments (1997-2010) https://t.co/yRpJgldIDF
— Natalie Kerris (@nataliekerris) June 29, 2016
Last week Tapbots added Timeline Filters to their Tweetbot Twitter client for iOS, allowing you to control what you see — and what you don’t see — in your Twitter timeline. Today they enhanced those filters even more with the ability to use “OR” and quotes. This means you can Filter out “holy war” OR emacs to be sure not to unintentionally boil your blood while otherwise enjoying Twitter (I’m assuming we’re all vim users here, right?!?). You can download Tweetbot from the App Store.
Version 5.0 of Amazon’s Kindle App for iPad and iPhone adds Page Flip, a new and natural way to navigate through books without losing your place. If you’ve ever been frustrated having to flip to see a map or something on another page, Page Flip solves that problem. Just tap in the middle of your screen to activate Page Flip and skim around until you find what you want. When you’re finished looking, tap again and Page Flip will offer to return you to your original spot. Even better, Page Flip remembers the locations you have flipped to, allowing for easy bouncing around. The updated Kindle App is available for free in the App Store.
LEGO and Star Wars are a match made in heaven, which makes it pretty awesome that LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. You can play as Poe Dameron, Rey, Finn, BB-8, Han Solo, Kylo Ren, and more in adventures on Jakku, D’Qar, Takodana, the Millenium Falcon, and Starkiller Base. There are puzzles to solve, space ships to fly, battles to fight, and plenty of things to build. The game includes the first chapter for free, and additional levels and character packs are available as in-app purchases. Clear your afternoon, and may the Force be with you.
Check out Cozmo, a robot from Anki, the folks who made their name with the race cars you control with your iPhone. Cozmo “talks” using sounds that remind me a little of R2D2—but only in spirit—and it has a display for a face that emotes. Anki says Cozmo was designed with hundreds of emotions, and he is designed to play with you, or with his “Power Block” accessories. In the video, the designers and engineers talk about how sound is a huge part of how the device interacts with the world, including a bit where he snores while charging. Speaking of which, he’s self-charging. That’s just awesome. Setup and control (when Cozmo isn’t acting autonomously) is handled through an iOS or Android devices, and Cozmo ships in October of 2016. Retail is set at US$179.99. but Anki has a pre-order price of $159.99.
Google announced a new “research project” called Bloks, a wonderful concept that brings programming to very young kids with real-world block-like components. It’s an ongoing project that Google is opening up to the world, but the company is starting with electronic boards and programmable pucks. Brain Boards are built from Raspberry Pi Zero boards and can be used to power anything you could power from that device, like robots or switches for real-world devices. The pucks are essentially instructions, including on-off switches, directions, or volume controls. When used in sequence, they can send instructions to the Brain Boards. And it’s all hands-on for young kids. They can collaborate in ways they never could with any programming thing based on a screen and/or keyboard. I love it. It’s an entirely different approach from Apple’s Swift Playground, and I think they’re very complementary.
What started in 2008 as a small media server project today has matured into version 1.0. The first public release of Plex Media Server happened two years later in 2010, and it has been growing ever since, now used by milliions of people. The changes rolled into the 1.0 release aren’t all that major – certainly nothing more than any other Plex Media Server release we’ve seen recently – it’s the version number change itself that is significant.
Version 1.0 shows Plex’s commitment to ship software that no longer has the assumption of being beta, communicating reliability and predictability for customers. I’m a long-time Plex user and now with both iOS and Apple TV client apps it really is a best-in-class product. Many of its features are available for free, though a paid PlexPass is well worth your money if you want to view your content offline or on your mobile devices. Congrats, Plex! Thanks for doing what you do!
Check out Ingrein, a very interesting clock designed to help you detach from our devices. The clock is made of real (reclaimed) hardwood, and it has a built-in “LCD screen and light and sound sensors to interact with and display information from your smart devices and favorite apps.” The idea is that you limit what gets sent to the device to those things that are really important so that you can get your face out of your screen, especially when you’re with other people. It’s a very cool idea in theory, and I’m wondering how well it will work in practice. This product is funding through Kickstarter, where it already met its funding goals. Funding options starting at $299 are still available.
IK Multimedia announced iKlip A/V on Thursday. This is a broadcast mount for broadcasters and videographers to shoot with iPhone. It features an integrated high-quality mic preamp (with phantom power, too) and a built-in wireless receiver, which means you can monitor sound as you record. It’s powered by two AA batteries. We all know that iPhone is being used to take more and more videos (and photographs), but equipment like this really helps blur the edges between professional applications and the rest of us. The device is available now for $179.99.
As if we couldn’t be any more excited about “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Entertainment Weekly just dropped a Death Star-size surprise in our laps: Darth Vader is in the movie. Since this movie chronicles the events leading up to the original 1977 Star Wars movie, it seemed pretty likely we’d see everyone’s favorite Sith Lord, but now it’s official. Hopefully Vader will make more than a cameo appearance because it would be frakking awesome to see him in ruthless bad-ass mode instead of the emo Vader we got in “Return of the Jedi”. Rogue One hits theaters on December 16, so clear your schedule now.
BusyCal is the go-to workhorse calendar app for the Mac, and now version 3 is out with new features like calculating travel time, an improved menubar view, and tasks tied to specific times. What’s even cooler is that BusyCal is finally available as an iPhone and iPad app, so you can use the same familiar views on all of your devices and get event and task alerts on your Apple Watch. We’ve been testing the Mac and iOS versions for a few weeks and are pretty impressed. BusyCal 3 requires OS X El Capitan and costs US$49.99, or $29.99 for upgrades. The iPhone and iPad version costs $4.99 and requires iOS 9.3 or later.
Propellerhead shipped Reason 9 on Tuesday. The newest version of the digital audio workstation and sequencer adds two main features: Players automate and process MIDI input, and Pitch Edit, a pitch editor designed for vocals (think Melodyne or Auto-Tune). There are other new features, too, including Bounce In Place, new visual themes, and reverse MIDI clips. On the content side, Reason 9 adds more than 1,000 new “cutting-edge” sounds, and Pulsar dual channel LFO, a rack extension that was previously available only as a stand-alone $49 purchase. I love Reason, especially for sequencing. It’s powerful software, and Propellerhead makes it ever-more capable with each new release. Reason 9 is priced at €405/US$449, while upgrades from any previous version are €129/$129. Propellerhead also has a stripped down version called Reason Essentials 9 priced at €120/$129. The software shipped today and is available now.