ecobee introduced the ecobee3 lite smart thermostat HomeKit support and a lower price tag than the standard ecobee3 on Monday. The lower cost model offers most of the features as its not-so-lite brother such as remote access and IFTTT support, alerts, scheduling, and comfort settings. It doesn’t, however, support room activity sensors. The ecobee3 lite is priced at US$169. You can pre-order today and it’ll be available on October 31st.
Pixar has a new short called Borrowed Time. Right up front, this 6 minute film is not for kids. It’s intense, emotional, sad, and—as SFist called it—lovely. Two of Pixar’s animators spent five years making it in their spare time, and according to a behind-the-scenes film, they made it specifically to dispel the idea that animation is strictly for kids. I’d love to know what you think about it.
Google is adding U.S. ballot information to search results in the run up to the presidential election in November. It starts with the ability to search for “who’s on my ballot” in the main Google search engine. Users who do so will be asked to provide the street address where they’ll be voting (i.e. it will be added to Google’s profile on you if that was somehow missing). Google Maps users will be prompted to use their Home address. You’ll then be given all the candidates on your ballot, as well as quick access to information on how to vote in your state and where to vote in your district. In my opinion Google is performing a huge service to the country with this feature. Watch the video for more information.
Facebook just made it easier to watch videos wherever you want by adding support for streaming to Apple TV. The change means you can use AirPlay to watch Facebook videos on your television while continuing to scroll through posts in the Facebook iOS app, or on the Facebook website. Video comments will show up on your TV, too, which means you can keep on top of what everyone is thinks during the next Presidential debate—assuming you’re into streaming that from Facebook. You’ll need to download the latest Facebook app update on your iPhone or iPad to stream videos to your Apple TV.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th, but we don’t have to wait until then to see a little more of what’s in store. Disney released a new trailer for the movie on Thursday that reveals a little of Jyn Erso’s background and taunts us a glimpse of epic space battles with X-wings and TIE fighters. We also get another Darth Vader tease, and there’s plenty more to get excited about, too. Based on the trailers we’ve seen so far, Rogue One is shaping up to be an awesome prequel to the original Star Wars movie.
After I posted the SHAPES Kickstarter on Wednesday, Father Gabriel Mosher tweeted me another cool cable organizer called Cloop XL. This is a different approach for cable management in that it’s a rubber strap with neodymium magnets that snap together and stay there. This particular Kickstarter is for a new, larger version called Cloop XL. It’s 115mm (4.6-inches) long, and can hold sturdier cables. This project has already raised $66,000, well over its $10,000 goal. Funding options that get you three or more Cloops, including a Cloop XP, start at $11 as of this writing, but you only have today to participate. There’s a ton of information there, too.
Check out SHAPES on Kickstarter. I’ve seen a lot of cable organizers and tamers and whatnot cross my desk. Most of them are quite clever and useful, but they tend to rely on me putting the end of a cable onto a magnetic base when I’m done with it. There’s a Kickstarter project called SHAPES that takes a different approach. Rather than being a catch-all for multiple cables, SHAPES is more of a holder for one cable, as shown in the video below. Each sphere or pyramid (I prefer the spheres, FWIW) holds one cable in place while allowing it to slide about when you’re using it. The company is trying to raise $20,000 with 28 days to go.
Check out this remarkable project Richard Clarkson is working on. It’s called Making Weather, and builds on Smart Cloud, a combination lamp and Bluetooth speaker designed to look like a cloud. As noted by The Verge, Mr. Clarkson is working with Crealev to turn this idea into an actual levitating cloud. Crealev has the levitation technology, which uses magnets to achieve the levitation effect. This isn’t a shipping product (yet), but the original Smart Cloud is ($3,360). But the demo video for Making Weather is intensely cool, and I wanted to share it. You can find more images and information on at Crealev’s site.
To the Bat-TV, Robin! Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders hit the iTunes Store on Tuesday. The 90 minute animated movie brings back the awesomeness of the 1966 television series, complete with Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their iconic roles as Batman and Robin, and Julie Newmar joins in as Catwoman, too. There are Bat-labels galore, plenty of campy jokes, and loads of fun. You can download Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders for US$19.99 so you can watch any Bat-time on your Bat-iPhone, Bat-iPad, and Bat-Apple TV.
Check out the GeeFi on Kickstarter. It’s a mobile hotspot its makers say provides unlimited 4G data in 100-plus countries. It will support up to 10 devices at a time, and it does this without you having to change out SIM cards are worry about local contracts. When the device is turned on, it displays a local wireless network with a password. Plug that into your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and you’re good to go. They also say it provides 150 megabits down and 50 megabits up—for $10 per day. The data plan is separate from the cost of the device. Funding options that get a GeeFi currently start at $120. They’ve already raised $141,000 dollars out of a $20,000 goal, with two weeks to go.
Today Phish released “Big Boat,” their 13th studio album, and it turns out one of the songs was recorded entirely on keyboardist Page McConnell’s iPhone. From Alan Paul, writing for the Wall Street Journal:
[Producer], Bob Ezrin gave the band members specific instructions: Learn and play 10 folk songs, then start writing, beginning with a folk song. Mr. McConnell’s effort, “Things People Do,” not only made the final cut, but the version included is his demo. Phish made multiple versions of the song before agreeing that nothing topped the original low-fi version, recorded on Mr. McConnell’s iPhone, sitting atop a Wurlitzer piano in his living room.
OK, we don’t have flying cars yet, but jetpacks seem to be closer than ever. Check out this video from JetPack Aviation showing CEO and Chief Test Pilot David Mayman testing out the company’s JB10 jetpack. The flight took place on October 1st in Monaco. Come on, how cool is that? The firm said it was filmed on an iPhone 6s, too.[Via Digg]
I stumbled on this awesome little project on Instagram from @Instructions (via IG’s “Videos You Might Like” feature). It’s a do-it-yourself charging holder for your iPhone made from stuff most of us have lying around. Pretty clever, I think. I’d love to hear from anyone who makes it themselves.
Writing for Fortune, Polina Marinova has gathered up confessions from venture capitalists who passed on companies that would become massive successes. It’s a fun read (via The Loop), but it’s also interesting. Included are comments about Apple. BVP partner Neill Brownstein called the company “outrageously expensive” before Apple went on to what was then the largest IPO in almost three decades. Another VC at BVP passed on Ebay, saying, “Stamps? Coins? Comic books? You’ve GOT to be kidding.” And yet another to Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin: “Kid, haven’t you heard of Friendster? Move on. It’s over!” Check out the full piece, because there are lots more.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and former CEO Steve Jobs were friends and worked closely at the company. When Mr. Jobs passed away after succumbing to pancreatic cancer five years ago, Mr. Cook had some big shoes to fill. He’s looking to the future as he steers Apple in new directions, but isn’t beyond looking back at their friendship—something he shared in an email to Apple employees. Mr. Cook called Apple, “Steve’s most enduring legacy,” and said his friend taught him life’s journey is the real joy, not particular events. You can check out his touching email at the MacGeneration website.
Feral Interactive announced pricing for ROME: Total War Thursday. The popular PC and Mac real-time combat and turn-based economy and politics game is scheduled for an “autumn” release. It requires iPad Air or newer or iPad mini 2 or newer. It’s been rebuilt for iOS, including developing gesture-based controls to replace the mouse-driven controls of its desktop beginnings. Between Civ VI for Mac and ROME: TW on iPad, I’m going to have very little free-time. In any event, it’s going to be $9.99 on iPad, and I can’t wait to see how it plays.
Peavey has an interesting piece of software called ReValver 4. It’s an exceedingly clever name, but its purpose is more clever. You can sample a guitar sound and ReValver 4 will turn that sample into a model for you. There are a lot of glorious guitar sounds out there, and ReValver brings them to you without a lot of muss or fuss. I haven’t personally tested it, but I’ve spent more than my fair share of time chasing down rigs used by particular guitarists over the years. ReValver’s approach is an intriguing idea—it runs on Mac and Windows. It’s a free download, with additional models available for purchase.
I am so stoked about this: Civilization VI for Mac is coming! Aspyr announced pre-orders on the Steam platform, with a free Aztec expansion if you pony up before it’s released. The Windows version hits Steam on October 21st. Aspyr said in a blog post that it was shooting for a same-day release for the Mac version, but that they were still working on it. Either way, it seems like Mac users won’t have to wait long. The blog post also noted that the pre-order page specifies Windows right now, but that if you’re pre-ordering from a Mac, you’ll be good to once it hits. I love the Civilization franchise above all other computer games. Civ VI looks super amazeballs, and I can’t wait!
Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted a lovely commemoration of Steve Jobs, who passed away five years ago today. It included a quote from Mr. Jobs, “Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” It also featured a beautiful photograph of Mr. Jobs I personally can’t remember seeing before. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years. I imagine I speak for many when I say Mr. Jobs is missed.
“Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Remembering Steve and the many ways he changed our world. pic.twitter.com/ONAuEoq3uU
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) October 5, 2016
iOS 10’s Photos app automatically groups together related images for you, and they’re easy to see with a simple gesture. Follow along with The Mac Observer’s video tip to learn how.