Apple working on dedicated iOS game controller?

Pocket Gamer:

Long rumoured – and hoped for – GDC 2013 has finally provided confirmation that Apple will release its own dedicated game controller.

Of course, there’s no official word yet, but Apple has been active during the conference talking to developers about its plans and ensuring plenty of games will support the joypad at launch.

A potential controller for the Apple TV? I’m not convinced Apple is releasing a controller since the Apple TV is often seen as an accessory to an existing iOS device that runs the game.

Still, with the Ouya console coming soon, a console running Android that’s around the same price point as the Apple TV, opening it up with a conroller and the ability to play iOS games without the need of a separate device does sound a little more plausible, but not any more likely.

Up—-date: Dalrympled.

Jessops plans Apple-inspired relaunch tomorrow

The Verge reports on the re-launch of Jessops, the UK high street camera retailer which recently went into administration and is now backed by Dragon’s Den / Shark Tank investor Peter Jones:

As part of its relaunch, Jessops is set to offer a number of former employees their jobs back, hiring around 500 staff to run its stores. The company also hopes to mimic Apple’s retail success by introducing new “play tables,” where customers can test and compare cameras, and has announced plans to create a Jessops Academy, which will offer one-to-one tuition and the option to reserve and collect online items.

This is an interesting strategy that very much mimics the best features of Apple retail that have proven hugely successful, and if there’s one consumer product that could benefit drastically from Apple’s approach, it’s the camera.

Unless you visit your local independent camera store (which are rare nowadays due to companies such as Jessops and Currys putting them out of business in the first place) then testing a camera involves getting into all sorts of odd positions since the camera is firmly attached with various cables and plastic fixtures to the table. You can’t hold it naturally in most places and you spend more time worrying about whether the alarm is going to go off than if the camera feels good and takes good photos. There’s no memory card fitted and you’re stuck with the lens attached to the body (which can be frustrating if it comes as a twin-lens kit) so even if you take a few pictures, you’re usually still left with the last one in the buffer to view anyway.

I’d be interested to know if they’re also planning to allow lens testing without having to bring in a camera body.

Microsoft is no longer the enemy

Brent Simmons writes for Macworld explaining that the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft doesn’t really exist anymore.

Most importantly, Windows is no longer a threat to the computers we love. Not the teeniest, tiniest bit.

The Internet, standard file formats, and smartphones changed all this.

It used to be that you could live in an all-Microsoft world—and this was staggeringly common in the corporate world. You’d use Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, Exchange, and Sharepoint, and your in-house developers would use SQL Server and Visual Studio. All Microsoft all the time.

It’s a great piece and really delves into why Microsoft is not the Microsoft that Apple spent years campaigning against.

I use Office 365 for my email, willingly, because Microsoft Exchange is a fantastic mail solution, and I own an Xbox 360 which I’ve had since launch. iCloud even runs on Azure, a Microsoft cloud platform.

My only critique of this article is that I can’t remember the last time I met an Apple user who was anti-Microsoft. Apple users have moved on and the “war” that these so-called die-hard fans are waging is now firmly between Android and iOS.

Ash Furrow crowdfunding his new book “Your First iOS App”

Ash Furrow:

I’m asking for money to cover my expenses for a 4-month long process of writing sample code and tutorials, and to complete editing. I have experience estimating the time it will take to get me there, and while this is an optimistic goal for the length of book I want to write (200 pages), I’m confident I can reach it.

In exchange for $9, you’ll get a free copy of the book once I’ve finished publishing it. I’ll also list you as a sponsor in the sample code. For $18, not only will you get the book and a special thank-you, but you’ll also receive access to a private GitHub repository to see updates to the sample code and markdown chapters as I write them. You can even submit pull requests to help improve the book!

If I don’t reach my goal, I’m going to write as much as I can anyway. I want to cover everything from a very simple app to a well-designed one using complex libraries like Core Data. If I don’t reach my goal, I won’t be able to write those chapters.

Backed.

Vanity Fair interviews a hipster to ask about his iPhone

Vanity Fair interviews Path’s CEO Dave Morin about what he has on his iPhone’s home screen. My particular favourite question and answer was this:

Background: The Tetons.“They remind me of home and my values. The mountains are soul.”

Interestingly, Vanity Fair’s column about “My Phone” have an extra question that is obviously aimed at something the interviewee wants to make known:

Most Surprising App on Home Screen: Operator.“It’s a custom-designed, one-of-a-kind bespoke app I had built for my assistant and I to communicate and collaborate through.”

Whether through his own answers or how the interview was written, it just makes him sound like a bit of a douchebag.

Rise of the Silver Surfer

“If there’s two things I wish I could’ve done sooner, the first is give up smoking and the second is buy an iPad.”

My grandmother said that to me during a visit last year, all the while looking down at her iPad, swiping through page upon page of archived census information about a great, great uncle she was researching. The iPad had given her the ability to trace family history with exceptional detail, something that had been a passion of hers but one severely limited without Internet access. To say the iPad has revolutionised her life is probably not that far from the truth.

You see, long before the iPad, the closest my grandmother ever had to a computer was in the early nineties when she purchased an Amstrad NC100, a portable word processor that could run off a few AAs. It was a device aimed at those who didn’t want (or need) an expensive laptop but still required a portable typing solution.

It was basic, even by early 90s standards, but it was easy to use (the advertisements Amstrad ran in the newspapers even used the slogan “If you can’t use this computer in 5 minutes, you’ll get your money back”). Instead of fumbling with keyboard shortcuts or a menu hierarchy, certain keys were colour coded so you’d actually press “yellow” and “red” to access the word processor. Sufficed to say, with that level of ease at which you could just start writing something, my grandmother went on to use it as a word processor daily for almost 7 years.

Sadly, the Amstrad eventually stopped working and wasn’t replaced. It had been long since discontinued and by then computers were even more complicated than ever before so the thought of having to learn how a real computer works was a little too daunting for her to consider. The years past, technology evolved, until one day she decided to find out what this Internet was all about.

At the advice of certain family members who shall remain nameless, she bought herself a sub-par Windows laptop from the local Tesco supermarket in 2005. After several dreary weeks trying to learn a whole new concept from various different people, all with their own ways of doing things (imagine trying to learn the guitar by visiting a different tutor each week), she gave up, tired and frustrated, and the laptop was retired to a drawer where it remains to this day.

The problem with desktop computing in general is that there is still somewhat of a prerequisite to know how an operating system works. Go to the OS X Mountain Lion page on Apple’s website or Windows 8 on Microsoft’s. The first thing you’ll see on both is that they advertise “what’s new” – a comparison of what this latest version has over the old one. But what if you’ve never used the old one? Apple offer an amazing training experience through their Personal Training service at your local Apple Store… if you’re able to get there. You might be lucky and have a couple of Apple Stores all within driving distance or you might be unfortunate enough that it’s just too far away to attend.

My grandmother isn’t particularly tech-savvy but she’s very smart, she just has about as much interest in how technology as automobiles. She doesn’t really care how it gets her from A-B as long as it does. There are a lot of people who just want to get into the internet without feeling like they have to earn a degree in computer science.

The complexities that put off more mature users from desktop computing don’t exist in iOS, the experience was designed from scratch to be as user friendly as possible. Examples of this include the lack of a filesystem, only one app on the screen at any one time and little in the way of customisability. Some people would see these as a limitation, that because the device is extremely powerful it should do all these fancy things, but I disagree. What we might see as a limitation, others would see as a lack of complexity.

For users who just want to do something with their iPad, they just see each icon as a task, not an app or a feature. They just want to press a button to go on the Internet (Safari), a button to send an email (Mail) and a button to write a letter (Pages, though up until recently my grandmother was writing letters to send using Notes, complete with Marker Felt font).

It’s often assumed that a device lacking in certain features is always at a disadvantage but the fact that the iPad, and iOS in general, has started off small and only adds features that are truly useful to everyone (not just nerds). Samsung’s marketing department can mock iPhone and iPad users all they want about the fact their parents use iOS devices but I’d say that speaks volumes about the wide range of users Apple’s devices can provide for.

My grandmother became very interested in what the iPad could do for her once my mother and her began looking up old family history via census information and wedding certificates together. This was one of the reasons she’d been wanting to get online for a long time but was always put off by the aforementioned complexities. It was because of the simplistic nature of iOS that she picked up using my mother’s iPad surprisingly quickly. So much so that she ended up buying one herself only a few weeks later.

Nowadays my grandmother spends most of her days (and nights) on the iPad1. She’s been so engrossed with it that she has invested in the entire ecosystem such as buying an AirPrint-compatible printer and making FaceTime calls whenever she can. She’s even joined Facebook, regularly shops and banks online, books flights and has even started selling items on eBay. I’d wager that she uses the iPad more than most of us yet if you ask her what malware is, she’d have no idea.

  1. I suspect giving up smoking has helped with this since using the iPad occupies your hands.