Super Mario Run has garnered as many as five million downloads and US$5 million in revenue in just the first 24 hours since the game launched. VentureBeat rounded up estimates from three third party app metric services, with two of the three offering estimates in that range. If accurate, it would represent a 20% conversion rate of people who have download the free-to-download game. Nintendo gives users access to three levels, plus a tiny taste of the boss level, in the free download. For $9.99, users can unlock the whole game. $5 million is not a lot of money to a company like Apple—and Apple’s cut would be roughly $1.5 million—but it’s likely to be significant for any gaming company. Especially in the first 24 hours. Mobile gaming is big, and Apple has been pushing Super Mario Run hard (as Jeff and I discussed in Friday’s Daily Observations). It would seem that Apple’s user base is responding well to that push. Just for fun, the game’s trailer is below.
When Firewatch launched on Steam back in February the internet pretty much went crazy over the game, and now it’s available as a native Mac title. The game tasks you with solving a mystery while working as a firewatcher in Wyoming. The graphics are beautiful, the story is intriguing, and the only help you get comes from another firewatcher talking over your portable radio. Firewatch costs US$19.99 on Apple’s Mac App Store, and if you haven’t played it yet get ready to have a very unproductive weekend.
Mario fans, Nintendo Mobile and Apple have posted a video of Mario-creator Shigeru Miyamoto drawing the character on an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. The game launched Thursday exclusively on iOS, and Apple has been pushing the game hard. In this video, you see Mario and other characters from the franchise take shape on the iPad screen. Apple also published a blog post about the video and featured it on the company’s website. To me, drawing/art is voodoo. I can’t do it. Watching the process of an iconic figure taking shape is plain fascinating to me.
Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot are pretty cool, but what if you don’t have one yet—or aren’t home to use yours? That’s where Astra comes in. It’s an iPhone app that links to your Amazon account so you talk talk to Alexa just as if you’re right in front of your own Echo. The app lets you do pretty much everything your Echo or Echo Dot can handle, except for music playback or reading audio books. You can also remotely control your Echo-aware smarthome devices with your voice, which is worth the app’s US$0.99 price tag all by itself. You can get Astra at Apple’s App Store.
My favorite accessory for my iPads has been the line of Brydge aluminum keyboards. These are first-class, full featured, Bluetooth keyboards that use a unique, secure hinge attachment to the iPad. The result looks a lot like a MacBook. Now, Brydge is offering reduced prices at Best Buy only starting 12/15. I’ve reviewed these keyboards in the past and love them all. The link here is to the latest reviewed product, the Brydge 12.9 for the iPad Pro 12.9-inch. Here are the new Best Buy prices. These new prices will propagate to all sales locations over the next week.
- iPad mini 2 and mini 4 keyboards (BrydgeMini and Brydge 7.9) US$99 (was $129)
- iPad Air, Air 2 and Pro 9.7 (Brydge 9.7) to $129 (was $149)
- iPad Pro 12.9 (Brydge 12.9) $149 (was $189)
One of the things I miss most about my Zenith now that I wear Apple Watch almost exclusively is the deployant clasp. This is a kind of buckle that folds/unfolds and closes with a snap. A quality deployant clasp is…simply lovely to use. With my Apple Watch Series 2, I have a nylon strap (that I like) that uses an old-fashioned buckle. It’s like I’m some king of animal, or something. And yes, I’m so kidding, but I love a good deployant clasp. A friend was shopping for third party Apple Watch straps and pointed me to Monowear’s Leather Deployant Band. At $89.99 (currently on sale for $71.99), it’s inexpensive for a real-leather strap with a deployant clasp (YMMV on whether that’s inexpensive). I haven’t tested one yet, but I’m intrigued. I like the stitching, and they do a variety of metal finishes and leather colors.
The Apple Support app for the iPhone and iPad is now available in the U.S. App Store, making it easier for Apple product users to schedule Genius Bar appointments and get other help. The app lists all of the Apple products registered to you, offers tips and suggestions, schedule repair appointments, schedule support calls, and more. The app is a free download at the App Store and in addition to helping you out it’s a shocking reminder for how may Apple products we’re buying.
The Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro may be functional, but it can be fun, too. Henry Franks makes that point perfectly with his Pac-Man clone, called Pac-Bar, for the Touch Bar. It’s just like the classic arcade game, complete with Pac-Man and his “wokka-wokka” munching sound, ghosts, and music. The maze is a little limited since you can only go left or right, although the intersections do jump you to either end of the Touch Bar. You’ll need to use your MacBook Pro’s arrow keys to play—sorry, no touch controls here. Click the Clone or download button on Henry’s Github page get Pac-Bar.
Turning your new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar into a piano may not be practical but it is pretty cool, and that’s exactly what Touch Bar Piano does. The app lets you choose between 128 different instruments, and you can play chords, too. Touch Bar Piano is a free download, and while it isn’t the same as using an actual piano, it’s a cool example of the creative ideas developers are finding for the Touch Bar.
A bearded fellow named Bruce Talbot has a nifty project on Kickstarter called Control. It’s a wooden ergonomic grip for Apple Pencil. It comes in three colors, Black Limba (which is actually the light-colored one), Ebony, and Padauk (the darker, reddish color). I’m a terrible artist, but I love Apple Pencil. I can’t imagine making it more comfy to hold will make me any better, but it would make it more fun. The device is designed to accommodate different grips and can sit anywhere on the barrel. Mr. Talbot has an existing business called ninepen that makes wooden pen products, including fancy ones designed to hold nibs. He’s trying to raise $16,500, and has a long way to go as of this writing. Funding options start at $23.
Apple has four new commercials for Apple Watch Series 2 (AWS2): Apple Watch Series 2 — Go Play, Apple Watch Series 2 — Go Run, Apple Watch Series 2 – Go Dance, and Apple Watch Series 2 – Go Out (below). Each has a theme of “go” do something, and each features Apple Watch being opened as a present. It’s a sharp, fast, double jab of a message. The ads also feature music with aggressive beats, and they’re probably aimed at a younger audience. Unlike other recent branding spots, these ads feature a lot of shots of AWS2 being used to do something. Play music, buy with Apple Pay, activity tracking, Breathe, receiving iMessages, and more. For those keeping score at home, my favorite song in the four spots is Realligator by MagnusTheMagnus.
Check out this working reproduction Joyce Byers’s wall from Stranger Things. I say working, but I don’t mean you can communicate with people stuck in the Upside Down. But you can write messages to it using an app. It was made by members of Makerologists, a Seattle-based maker group. Each bulb is period correct (C9 incandescent bulbs, according to Makezine), but behind the wall are modern components controlled by an Arduino so that one can send messages to it. It debuted earlier this year at the 2016 Portland Mini Maker Faire, but is making a splash today after appearing at Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. Wallpaper and wainscoting are on fleek, and the whole thing looks great. There’s a lot of information on Makerologists’s Facebook page. The Makezine article above has good info, too.
If you don’t know the Super Mario Bros. theme, odds are you’re in one of those South American tribes that hasn’t ever had contact with modern man, which also means you’re missing out on one of the most awesome thing of this week: Super Mario Bros. creator Shigeru Miyamoto playing the game’s theme song. He teamed up with The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’s band, The Roots, and it’s more fun than a bag full of Koopas. Check it out, and if you aren’t smiling along with Shigeru then you’ll probably fail the Voight-Kampff test, too.
YouTuber colinfurze did what any Star Wars fan would do: he built a 5.5 meter (18 feet) high AT-ACT in his back yard. I love all the projects this nut job builds—he’s awesome—and this one is truly spectacular. It’s a scale model of a scale model on the outside, and on the inside it’s a Star Wars fan club house. In the video below he gives us a great tour, and he also has a behind-the-scenes video of how he built it.
There’s a project on Kickstarter called HyperDrive that raised more than $341,000 in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. It’s a USB-C hub from Sanho for MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. It’s similar to the 5-in-1 HyperDrive from the same company we had a deal on a few days ago, but this new one in development has even more ports. All told, it has HDMI, USB 3.1 x 2, microSD/SD, Thunderbolt 3, and USB-C. It’s designed to plug into both your MacBook Pro USB-C ports and take the place of any dongles you might need. As of this writing, there are still a few pledge slots for $69 that will net you one, but those are going fast. Sanho has blown by its funding goal of $100,000 by 3X, and there’s still 39 days to go on the campaign. Clearly, there’s a demand for this product in the Mac community. Check out the promo video.
Staying on top of all the great books coming out is pretty hard, which is why we’re glad when NPR’s Book Concierge list comes out each year. The 2016 list is out with more than 300 titles worth checking out. The book suggestions are divided into categories such as Biography & Memoir, Eye-Opening Reads, Kids Books, Funny Stuff, and more. Be sure to check out Staff Picks for a great go-to list of book suggestions. Each title includes iBooks and Amazon, local library, and independent book store links so you don’t have to go hunting. Links to previous Book Concierge lists are there, too, in case you want even more suggestions.
Super Mario Run launches next week on December 15, but you can try it out in Apple’s retail stores now. A demo version is running on iPhones and iPads in the stores starting Thursday morning so you can get a sneak peek before it hits the App Store. Nintendo made the announcement on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and he got to play a level on the show. Super Mario Run is the first mobile game to feature Mario. It’ll cost US$9.99 and you can sign up on the App Store to be notified when it’s available.
I love Rube Goldberg machines, and according to Guinness World Records, we have a new largest one in the world. It was built by Latvian e-commerce company Scandiweb in (and for the people of) Riga. It’s purpose—aside from beating the world record—was to light a Christmas Tree. The video (below) is 4 minutes and 44 seconds, and most of it is the machine doing its absurdist thing. One of the things I like about this one is seeing the process. It’s an enormously long Rube Goldberg machine, but most of it consists of individual panels of multiple steps. Make the panels work and then “all” you have to do is worry about connecting those panels. One way or another, it’s a fun watch. Check it out. The link is to Guinness’s webpage for the record.
The Kanex GoPower Plus Batter Space portable battery. What I like about it is that it has a built-in charging cable. The main cable is a microUSB cable for Android users. But it comes with a Lightning adapter that slips over that microUSB plug, and both just tuck away in the body of the battery. It comes in Space Gray or Gold and has a capacity of 8,000mAh. It’s $59.95.
Smile’s PDFpen and PDFpen Pro gained Retina MacBook Pro Touch Bar support on Tuesday so users can edit documents with finger taps, and PDFpen Pro users can edit Table of Contents, too. PDFpen and PDFpen Pro are PDF document editing and creation apps. Users can add and remove pages from documents, edit text, and and remove images, create PDF forms, OCR scanned text, sync files via iCloud and Dropbox, and more. PDFpen 8.3 costs US$74.95 and PDFpen Pro 8.3 is priced at $124.95. The updates are free for version 8.x users.