Twelve. That’s a mighty large number, and it’s also the number of topics in the show notes for our return from yet another unintentional hiatus. While Henry lies in a field getting fried by the British heatwave, Xavier and Chris take cover in the depths of the night to talk about Apple’s mobile product lines and web ambitions, imminent announcements from Nokia and Motorola, new devices from Sony and HTC that are scaring Xavier’s wallet and leaked information about upcoming phablets from the Korean pairing of LG and Samsung. Chris goes on to wax lyrical about rap music while Xavier enthuses about The Last of Us while finding it horribly difficult (yet completely possible) to avoid spoilers. We also answer some user questions from Twitter, thanks to our wonderful listeners and #AskChris, which we’ve chosen to hijack.
This year was very out of the ordinary for Apple, at least in my mind. It started when the page went live on www.apple.com. The image was completely different, it was colourful, vivid. It used a light font. It screamed “this is new”. Rampant speculation occurs. Then WWDC rolls around.
I’ll start with Mac. Mavericks came out, starting a new line of names because they ran out of cats. In my mind, as I type this on Mavericks B1, this is a very major behind the scenes update, without much of a surface change. The battery life got a major upgrade, which should go hand in hand with some of the stuff that I’ll talk about later. iBooks for Mac is also great for a student like me. Maps is kind of unneeded, but also a nice addition.
Then they announced the new Macbook Air. Apple has been very slowly iterating on the leading ultrabook and all around laptop on the planet, and this year is a huge one. Intel’s new Haswell processors push the battery life up to a claimed 12 hours, but early testing shows that the battery actually far exceeds that, with The Verge gettings 13.5 hours and PCMag almost hitting 16. This is definitely a nice upgrade, especially when it goes hand in hand with Mavericks. Then they announced the new Mac Pro, which is an amazing feat of engineering even if it does look a bit like a trashcan.
Then, iOS 7. This is what everyone was waiting to see and boy did Apple deliver. In a mere 7 months they completely redesigned the OS from the ground up and threw in a few new features to boot. It is still very unfinished, as you can see from the icons on the homescreen, but it is a huge update that the Apple team working under design guru Jony Ive should be proud of. Let’s hope they keep working on it to make it even better. As an Android user it is tempting me to switch, even though it is apparent where some of the new design features came from (Android).
Overall, this was a great WWDC – one I think that Apple, for once, over-delivered on the hype. I’m looking forward to see how all of these products do in the real world, especially iOS 7. Who knows, I might get an iPhone 5S.
This week’s app of the week is Mass Effect: Infiltrator by EA, published for mobile platforms as a spin-off from the wildly successful game series. Set in the same universe and time period as the console games, you follow the story of Cerberus agent Randall Enzo, a veteran agent who ‘procures aliens for illicit experiments at a secret facility’. During the course of the game, Randall goes rogue and vows to take down Cerberus. You do this through an arsenal of weapons and biotic powers which, depending on how you use them, give you a number of different ways to kill the enemies which have you completely outnumbered. Each set of enemies you take down, depending on how and how fast you kill them, will earn you credits to spend on things such as armour and weapon upgrades for your character.
The controls of the game are fairly simple and are well explained at the beginning of the game. There is a massive contrast between combat and non combat controls, with the latter being fairly slow and relaxed while the other enables you to play lightning fast, taking down multiple enemies in rapid succession. Switching between weapons to get more style points for your kills and choosing which biotic powers to use is as simple as dragging in from the top corners of the screen, something which after a while of playing becomes almost automatic.
Overall this is a fantastic game which I would recommend to both fans of the Mass Effect series and just about anyone else who enjoys shooter games with a great storyline.
Mass Effect Infiltrator, Android (£3.71) and iOS (69p)
Download it from Google Play and the App Store
Another month brings another Apple event, and this time we expect to see a whole plethora of new and updated devices, spearheaded by the iPad Mini. Rumoured to have a 7.85″ 1024 x 768 display and a design similar to that of the new iPod Touch, this device looks set to sport a low price tag to take on the Nexus 7 and company. Rumour also has it that the existing iPad will receive a minor update with a Lightning connector and 4G in more territories (such as with EE in the UK) and the Mac family will get minor updates across the board, with the highlight being a 13″ Retina MacBook Pro. We also expect to hear a bit more about iTunes 11 tonight, but whatever happens we will be around to liveblog proceedings on this very page. Enjoy!
Apple has announced that it will be removing Google Maps from its native application in iOS and will be replacing it with its own mapping system with the upcoming launch of iOS 6 this autumn for iPhone 3GS onwards, iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod Touch (4th generation). It will include its own high quality 3D mode, and by all accounts it does pretty much exactly what Google Maps did, only in an interface that Apple think is far superior.
In the mean time, Google has been developing their own software on Android and both companies have been reported to have used fleets of planes that have ruffled the feathers of some privacy campaigners who complained having noticed an increase in airspace activity while tracking the movements of several large companies. Apple are set to create yet anouther easy to use and beautful app that will undoubtedly do its job very well. It is another example of Apple showing that making their products integratable with existing platforms is not the only field they are improving, but also the Apple universe that will one day probably be able to exist independently to every other system of computing there is. My concern is that Google has such a solid base, and with a single account you can connect all of Google’s existing services such as Gmail, Drive, YouTube and +, making them easier to use and more efficient for the user. That said Apple have added mapping support to Siri, the “eyes free” system which Apple is rumoured to have been working on with car manufacturers to develop add buttons for in new cars, allowing for a hands free, voice activated GPS and phone.
I think that Apple’s new mapping system will be good because things that come out of Apple are generally well received and the response by Google will probably improve on what they have now, which can only be a good thing for map users. If users wish to return to using Google Maps or use a different platform entirely, they should have the option to do it through the App Store, as there are a number of map apps available for the platform. Apple’s eyes free integration, however, is very promising, and it is very probable that it means Google Maps is on its way out for many Apple users. Apple’s initiative has yet again shown the company’s ability to remake everything in the image of their own minds.
This week’s app of the week is Monsters Ate My Condo, a game from Adult Swim for iOS and Android. The game is simple – various monsters want feeding, and you do that by feeding them apartments. If you make a chain of 3 or more condos of the same colour, you get a shiny bronze combo condo, and then you gradually get all the way up to diamonds. Feeding shiny condos to the monsters activates special powers, and the game ends when a monster is neglected and goes on a rampage or your tower block falls over. Add in some seizure-inducing colours, wacky animation, a blue unicorn that vomits rainbows and a fat lady that sings when the game is over, and you have yourself a ridiculously addictive game.