‘Settlers of Catan’ Could be Niantic’s Next AR Game

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Niantic has had two popular AR games on its hands in the form of Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. What possibly be next? Maybe Settlers of Catan.

Late last month, the company behind Catan said during a board games conference in Germany that it was working on a “upcoming massively multiplayer location based game” (albeit with no mention of Niantic). Called Catan: World Explorers, they noted that it “transforms the entire Earth into one giant game of CATAN”.

Tech Columnist and Author Mike Elgan - TMO Background Mode Interview

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Mike Elgan on Background Mode.

Mike Elgan writes a popular weekly column for Computerworld, contributes news analysis pieces for Fast Company and SecurityIntelligence and also writes special features, columns, and think pieces for a variety of publications.

Mike tells a career story that started in newspaper publishing with QuarkXPress. Soon, he realized that what he loved was not covering local politics but rather the technology of the Mac, networking and printing. That launched his career writing about computer tech. In the 2nd segment we chatted about some of our favorite topics: dealing with information overload, Apple’s amazing U1 chip, Augmented Reality glasses replacing iPhones, and cars that sense driver emotions. Mike has an amazing vision of our tech future. Join us.

Apple Reality Composer Available on App Store

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The Apple Reality Composer app is now available on the App Store. It’s also included with Xcode so developers can build, test, tune, and simulate augmented reality experiences. Easily prototype and produce AR experiences directly in AR with no prior 3D experience. Drag and drop to place and rotate virtual objects to assemble your scene directly in AR or on the canvas. Build your scene by importing your own .usdz files or take advantage of the ready to use virtual objects in Reality Composer’s built-in AR content library, so you can get up and running quickly. Customize a virtual object’s size, style, and more. Add animations that let you move, scale, and add emphasis like a ‘wiggle’ or ‘spin’ to virtual objects, without having any animation experience. Add spatial audio, all of which can be set up to happen upon a user tapping on those objects, coming in close proximity with them, or other triggers. App Store: Apple Reality Composer – Free

iOS 13 Code Hints at Apple AR Headset With 'StarBoard'

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Code within iOS 13 hints at an Apple AR headset, with a codename called ‘StarBoard’ that can launch apps, similar to iOS’s SpringBoard.

Namely, internal builds of iOS 13 include a “STARTester” app that can switch in and out of a head-mounted mode, presumably to replicate the functionality of an augmented reality headset on an iPhone for testing purposes. There are two head-mounted states for testing, including “worn” and “held.”

Back to Hogwarts Brilliant Event Starts Tomorrow for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will host a Brilliant Event tomorrow called Back to Hogwarts. Players will get new Brilliant Foundables, earn Restricted Books, and more.

Week 1: Runs from August 13, 2019 (11 A.M. PT/2 P.M. ET) – August 20, 2019 (11 A.M. PT/2 P.M. ET)

Week 2: Runs from August 27, 2019 11 A.M. PT/2 P.M. ET) – September 3, 2019 (11 A.M. PT/2 P.M. ET)

Apple Stores Offer Augmented Reality '[AR]T' Walks

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Apple retail stores will begin offering [AR]T, Today at Apple augmented reality experiences featuring contemporary artists.

These experiential walks take participants through San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo as they encounter works by world-renowned artists, most of whom are working in AR for the first time. Works by Cave, Djurberg and Berg, Cao, Giorno, Höller and Rist connect participants to public spaces such as London’s Trafalgar Square, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens or New York’s Grand Army Plaza in Central Park.

Apple Killing AR Glasses and 'Product Design Troubles'

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A report from Digitimes has been making the rounds, claiming that Apple killed its AR glasses project. Jesus Diaz thinks that it speaks to Apple’s “product design troubles.”

The report came yesterday from Digitimes, which has a mixed track record through its sources in component and manufacturing companies. It contradicts Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst who in March claimed that supply sources confirmed that Apple may start producing AR glasses as soon as the end of 2019.

I want Apple Glasses to succeed, so I hope the report isn’t true. If Apple can pull off AR glasses that actually look like glasses, it would definitely be, to quote Steve Jobs, magical. I don’t think Apple is killing the headset entirely, but they might be setting it aside for now, like they did with the HomePod.

Minecraft Earth Registration Now Open

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Speaking of Minecraft, registration for Minecraft Earth is now open for those who have iOS 10 or later.

Alas, since it’s a closed Beta, registering doesn’t guarantee you access — but in its FAQ about the Beta, the team notes that they’re planning to open it up to “hundreds of thousands of players” eventually, so your odds of getting in probably aren’t too bad. You’ll need to be over the age of 18, have a device running iOS 10/Android 7 or newer, and a Microsoft or Xbox Live account to get registered.

The registration page is here.

Niantic Surprises Us: Harry Potter Wizards Unite Available NOW

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Niantic has decided to surprise us. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is available to download now, with the original launch date being tomorrow, June 21. I’ve spent a couple of minutes playing and reached level 2. Certain aspects of the game are slow, like UI-wise, like when you level up. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is set in J.K. Rowling’s fictional universe where players help protect the wizarding world from exposure to muggles. Players will use their smartphones to capture magical creatures running loose, hunt potion ingredients, and use portkeys to travel to popular locations in the wizarding world. Download it hereApp Store: Free

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Launches July 21

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Harry Potter Wizards Unite

Niantic announced that its upcoming augmented reality game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, will launch this Friday, June 21. In a press conference outside Universal Studio’s Wizarding World in Florida, Niantic said it would hold Wizards Unite events similar to its Pokémon GO Fests. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is set in J.K. Rowling’s fictional universe where players help protect the wizarding world from exposure to muggles. Players will use their smartphones to capture magical creatures running loose, hunt potion ingredients, and use portkeys to travel to popular locations in the wizarding world.

Behind the Scenes of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

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Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is an upcoming AR game from Niantic and WB Games San Francisco. The Dev Diaries are a new series that will feature a behind the scenes look at the people who created the game and stories that inspired it.

“It’s what everyone imagines when you read the Harry Potter books,” said Marigold. “You imagine the characters and world coming to life around you. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite takes this a step further and brings it to life in your world so that you can actually see all the magical characters and fantastic creatures all around you. It’s almost like you can reach out and touch them.”

Really neat to hear from the team, and I can’t wait for the game.

Apple AR Hiring Increases to 33 Positions Since Last Year

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Last May Apple had one AR job position open. It gradually increased to five by the end of 2018. Now, Apple AR hiring has increased to 33 open positions.

The hiring upswing is a clear sign that the Cupertino tech giant is looking to make AR a major part of its mobile iOS devices moving forward…Of the current 33 openings, the extreme majority — 30 — are located at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.

'Harry Potter Wizards Unite' Trailer Offers New Hints at AR Gameplay

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Niantic and Warner Brothers released a new trailer for their upcoming augmented reality game, Harry Potter Wizards Unite. I am super stoked about this game, as long-time listeners and readers will know, and this new trailer offers hints about what the game play might look like. The theme of the trailer is that magic has been intruding into the muggle world, risking exposure of the magically-secret wizarding world. The imagery and voiceover suggest that the job of players will be to handle these intrusions. But there’s also a good-wizard versus dark-wizard element to the game, too, which is even more enticing. That said—and as I noted in Monday’s Daily Observations—what the crap is wrong with someone choosing to play as a dark wizard! SMH…Anyhoo, the trailer is amazing, and it has me very excited. And I am now hoping even more that there will be a wand accessory players can use to cast spells. Come on Niantic! Don’t let us down! You can sign up for updates at the game’s website. Unfortunately, someone involved in this franchise made the unfortunate choice to allow pre-registration for the game itself to Android, a weird choice considering Apple’s lead in AR. Hopefully the kickback money was worth it, hey?