Oh Silicon Valley, how we have missed thee! Season 4 is nigh, judging by the new trailer, and it looks delightful. My favorite moment has to be Erlich Bachman mansplaining the concept of mansplaining to Monica and Laurie Bream, 😂😂😂
I’m a sucker for clever representations of the periodic table of elements, so of course I just love the Element Blocks Kickstarter project. Think of it as a physical version of the table with elements you can actually pick up and hold. Element Blocks includes four blocks: iron, copper, aluminum, and titanium, along with a machined display stand. The blocks are about an inch on each side and are at least 90% pure, and their element symbols and weight are laser engraved. The project has already reached funding levels with about two weeks left to go, and you can get yourself an Element Blocks set for US$38.
Mac Geek Gab listener Alex points us to a fun Mac Terminal command called “banner”, and its usage is simple. Launch Terminal, type ‘banner’, hit enter, type some text, hit enter again and voilà! You get a sideways banner of your chosen text fully suitable for printing on your favorite dot matrix printer.
Apple’s brand new (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 sports a cool looking red body with a white display bezel—no black bezel option is available, which we think is a crying shame. To drive that point home, JerryRigEverything tore apart a red iPhone 7 and gave it a black display. It looks great and it’s a DIY project JRE details in a video. In this case, DIY assumes you have a black iPhone 7 sitting around, all the right tools, and aren’t afraid to accidentally destroy two iPhones. Still, seeing a working black bezel red iPhone is pretty awesome.
Nintendo released Super Mario Run 2 for the iPhone and iPad just in time for the weekend. The update for the Mario runner game lets you unlock more levels without paying by completing a Bowser challenge, adds new Yoshi colors for Toad Rally and makes it easier to win rally tickets, and improves overall game play. You can download Super Mario Run for free, and unlocking all of the levels costs US$9.99 as an in-app purchase.
Apple’s promised Swift Playgrounds 1.2 update is out with localized support for Simplified Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Latin American Spanish. The iPad app teaches coding skills for Apple’s Swift language so you can design you own apps for personal use or sale on the App store. It includes lessons and examples, along with templates to get you started on your own projects—and now you can learn in five more languages. Swift Playgrounds 1.2 is free and requires an iPad running iOS 10.0 or newer.
It’s March 24th, and that means you can finally buy Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Apple’s iTunes Store. Rogue One details the events leading up to the original Star Wars movie and follows the Rebels tasked with stealing the Death Star plans from the Empire. The movie is available in HD and SD, and includes plenty of extras. You can get your copy for US$19.99.
Check out Airpod Skins, which the company described to me as “minimal color protectors for apple AirPods.” I’m sure there are folks who would be interested in helping to protect the finish of their AirPods, but I thought they simply look great. They’re a simple wrap available in a dozen colors, with some of those colors involving a fade from top to bottom. They’re priced at A$8.25 and are available now. Each order includes two sets, too.
Daptly launched a new product for the smart home called Daptly Display. It was built for a specific consumer in mind—people frustrated with voice-only assistants and want visual cues. Enter the Daptly Display, a smart mirror that acts as a gesture-controlled interface. Amazon Alexa is built in, and the interface is for people who aren’t ready (or don’t want) a voice-only future. As well as acting like a fog-resistant mirror, you can use it as a photo frame, by uploading photos from your phone or choosing among Daptly’s 50,000 photo collection. It’s an interesting take on user interfaces, one that borrows from science fiction while harnessing existing technologies. Check out the promotional video below, and decide if you want to reserve a Display. The device will sell at US$799, but you can get US$200 off if you reserve soon.
Have you ever wished you could explore the underwater realms and get amazing pictures and videos? If so, a drone on Indiegogo might be right up your alley. You control Gladius with your iPhone or iPad. The drone uses a unique semi-tethered connection system. A floating buoy communicates wirelessly with your iPhone or iPad, while a tether runs from the buoy to the drone. Therefore, the drone can dive up to 100 meters deep with a horizontal range of 500 meters. Gladius features an on-board 1080P/4K underwater camera to take high quality photos and video and can live-stream in HD. Finally, the underwater camera has low-light adaptable sensors, and LED lights on either side light up a wide 135º angle. The retail price for Gladius will be US $1,399. You can reserve yours on Gladius’s Indiegogo campaign for as low as $599.
It’s no secret I have a serious love for LEGO, so it’s great when someone turns me on to something that makes my bricks even cooler—like Brixo. The LEGO-compatible bricks they designed are metal coated so they conduct electricity, which means you can drive motors and turn on lights in your creations without needing any wires. They designed bricks with lights, sensors, switches, motors, and batteries so you can build most anything you can imagine. Brixo’s kits start at US$35 and they’re available for pre-order now.
Apple has a new commercial promoting its Spring 2017 collection of new Apple Watch bands. The spot hasn’t appeared on YouTube yet, but it is available on Facebook. In 15 seconds, the commercial flashes through the new bands launched on Tuesday and encourages people to “choose a model” and “try a band.” It was posted with the tagline, “New Apple Watch bands are here. Explore the possibilities,” Also, it should make my friend John Kheit sit back and blow bubbles of contentment until the cows come home. Or until this week’s episode of Pop.0, whichever comes first.
Check out Apple Stores Worldwide, an “Interactive map showing the impressive expansion of Apple stores” by Retale.com. It’s a map of the globe that shows the year-by-year expansion of Apple’s fleet of retail stores. Each one blossoms like a nuclear hit in a war game, and you can hover over any one of them to get details about the store. Apple’s foray into retail is one of the biggest corporate success stories of the last 15 years, and seeing it play out over the course of a few seconds is interesting. In the screenshot below, I highlighted a random store in Brisbane, Australia.
Flickr is great for storing and sharing photos online, but what do you do when you want to download them to your computer? Turns out that’s exactly what my friend Peter Cohen wanted to do, so he figured it out using Flickr’s own tools as well as third-party apps. Spoiler: If you have a huge image library you should use the third-party apps. Peter wrote up what he learned on the Backblaze blog, and it’s totally worth checking out.
Check out iSkelter’s Slate 2.0, a ventilated lapdesk designed for Apple’s MacBook line. iSkelter has a number of products for Apple users, as well as a large ventilated laptop desk designed for PC gamers with ginormous PC laptops. The ones aimed at Mac users include slots to hold an iPad (or book or whatever), and you can choose to get it with a mousepad, a naked work space, or a white board(!!). They’re made from bamboo, and are priced starting at $59.95. Models with a mousepad are available through Amazon Prime for $69.95.
Netflix is introducing a new “SKIP INTO” button. It lets you skip the opening credits of your TV show. It works on all episodes of most TV shows except the first episode. After all, you should at least be able to see it once, with the actor and director names in the beginning. Netflix usually already skips the introductions if you’re binging a show. It happens automatically if you watch a TV show and let the app automatically play the next episode. Nevertheless, it’s still a handy option, and it even works on shows where the credits play after several scenes, called a cold open or teaser. Right now the feature is only available on Netflix’s web app, but the company may roll it out to other platforms later on.
Uber has been delivering punishing, but self-inflicted wounds for weeks now. This week, the company can add the bad PR of a ride that ended in a fireball. A literal fireball. Firstly, the Uber driver in the car shown below—and his passenger—walked away with minor injuries. Secondly, the driver of a car hit moments before—and not shown in this video—did receive more serious injuries, according to local TV station KOMONews. The video below was captured by surveillance cameras when the Uber driver came speeding through a Seattle gas station, striking a gas pump and causing a fireball. On a side note, how amazing is gas station technology that the whole place didn’t go up in flames? Uber wanted folks to know this particular driver has been removed from its app. So there’s that.
Home virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and to a lesser extent, Apple’s Siri, are loved by some and feared by others. Here at TMO, our staff falls on both sides of that line. Most of us love Amazon’s Echo/Dot/Alexa, while I personally hold my nose at the underlying technology and fear its potential for home surveillance. I should add that most of our staff also think I’m flat out wrong. Note that I’m OK with that. Of all the virtual assistant companies, only Apple has a stated position of protecting our privacy, but the company also hasn’t released hardware like Amazon Echo or Dot. Online comic strip XKCD took a snarky, succinct— and yet oblique—look at the subject. I’d love to know what our readers think.
We write here a lot of about small drones. Amazon wants to deliver packages with drones. Drones have taken breathtaking aerial views of Apple Park. But what happens when one of the larger drones accidentally slams into a human being? Time for the automotive crash-test dummies to step up and tell the story! Well, the instrumentation does. Bloomberg has a great story on “Crashing Drones into Test Dummies for Safety” Watch a drone disintegrate as it strikes a crash-test dummy. It’s a battle of the bots. All for human safety, of course.
With our first glimpse of iOS 11 most likely coming up in a few weeks at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference, it’s fun to look at features we’d like to see in the next version of the iPhone and iPad operating system. Jacek Zieba put together a video showing many of those features in action, and it’s pretty compelling. How about a pop-up menu from the control center’s WiFi icon showing available networks, or group FaceTime video chats? We’d love to see more useful in-app screen controls and that option to clear app data and caches easily, too. But true multi-user support? Apple isn’t going there.