Category: Links

Apple Arcade is a home for premium games that lost their place on mobile

Andrew Webster, writing for The Verge:

For more than six years, designer Zach Gage has been toying with an idea for a game where players explore dangerous dungeons, but did so through various cards stacked in a grid, rifling through piles to heal or fight a monster. It’s an idea he played with endlessly, until around two years ago when he turned it into a functioning prototype that he’d show only trusted friends.

But Gage wanted to do something bigger than he was used to. He made a name for himself with twists on existing games like Sage Solitaire and Really Bad Chess, but he also typically developed games solo. His new idea, he thought, would be perfect for a bigger production, with lots of great art to showcase monster designs and spell cards. The problem was that the state of premium-priced games on mobile was becoming increasingly dire, which made investing a lot in the game a risky proposition. Then Apple Arcade came along.
“Basically once Apple got in touch I was like, ‘Oh! Yes! This is the perfect time for me to make this game,’” he explains.

The final product, Card of Darkness, was one of more than 70 launch titles that debuted alongside Apple Arcade last month, and to develop it Gage collaborated with indie studio Choice Provisions and Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward. All told, around 10 people worked on the game, which now sits alongside new releases from the famed indie studios behind games like Monument ValleyAlto’s Adventure, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP on Apple’s fledgling subscription service.

Apple Arcade — and in particular the funding from Apple — has given mobile developers the freedom to think big without having to worry about how they’re going to make that money back. With the premium market all but untenable for everyone but the biggest games, Arcade has now become a home for mobile games that otherwise might not have existed on the platform. “It’s creating a space where you can take risks,” says Andrew Schimmel, producer at Alto developer Snowman. “You don’t have to think about the monetization model as you’re designing.”

The biggest announcements from Amazon’s fall 2019 hardware event

The Verge:

Amazon’s huge 2019 hardware event has wrapped up. The company announced 15 new products, including the Echo Buds truly wireless headphones, the Dolby Atmos-equipped Echo Studio speaker, and the Echo Frames, which have built-in microphones so you can chat with Alexa.

A few of the announcements were minor revisions, like the Echo Dot smart speaker with an integrated clock, and the Alexa Smart Oven that can convection bake and air fry food items (in addition to being a regular microwave).

But there were more than a few unexpected surprises, including the Echo Loop smart ring, the new, affordable Eero mesh Wi-Fi router, the Amazon Fetch pet tracker, and more.

The Echo Frames, Echo Loop and the Echo Buds are the three items they announced today that look the most interesting.

Apple scraps Richard Gere drama ‘Bastards’

Hollywood Reporter:

Picked up straight to series late last year, Gere was set to star as one of two elderly Vietnam vets and best friends who find their monotonous lives upended when a woman they both loved 50 years ago is killed by a car.

Gordon and Leight collaborated on two scripts and, sources say, were met with notes from Apple about the show’s tone of vigilante justice. Sources say Gordon did not want to focus on the larger metaphor of friendship between the two Vietnam vets and wanted to focus on the darker elements of the series, with Fox 21 executives backing the veteran producer.

Leight departed shortly afterward and Apple, which multiple sources note is looking for aspirational programming, wanted to ensure the series was focused on the heart and emotion of the central friendship.

Hello, Computer: Inside Apple’s Voice Control

MacStories:

The Voice Control feature we know today has lineage in Apple history. One of the banner features of the iPhone 3GS, released in 2009, was Voice Control.

The official reason Apple created Voice Control is to provide yet another tool with which people with certain upper body disabilities can access their devices.

There is also opportunity for Voice Control to have relevance beyond the original intended use case. It might find appeal to people with RSI issues, as using one’s voice to control your machine would alleviate pain and fatigue associated with using a keyboard and pointing device. Likewise, others might simply find it fun to try Voice Control for the futuristic feeling of telling their computer to do stuff and watching them respond accordingly. Either way, it’s good that accessibility get more mainstream exposure.

iPad Pro USB-C Hubs: The Best, Worst, and Weirdest Options

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

The iPad Pro’s single USB Type-C port is one of my main frustrations about an otherwise truly stellar piece of technology. You get to use it for one thing at a time, be it charging, using the USB-C headphone adapter, or plugging in a range of dongles (and soon, mercifully, external hard drives). I ask: can any device be “pro” if it has just one lonely port?

Thankfully, the jack-of-all-trades nature of USB-C means that you can use USB-C hubs to get those missing ports back — and then some. Apple provides very little guidance on which hubs work the best with the 2018 iPad Pro; all the company really says is that hubs and docks should both work over the USB-C connection. None of the products I tested had a badge on the box to indicate MFi / Made for iPad certification, but they all functioned (mostly) as expected.

Apple updates MacBook Air and MacBook Pro for back-to-school season, kills off MacBook

Apple:

Apple today updated MacBook Air, adding True Tone to its Retina display for a more natural viewing experience, and lowering the price to $1,099, with an even lower price of $999 for college students.

[…]

In addition, the entry-level $1,299 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest 8th-generation quad-core processors, making it two times more powerful than before. It also now features Touch Bar and Touch ID, a True Tone Retina display and the Apple T2 Security Chip, and is available for $1,199 for college students.


Apple has also killed off the 12 inch Macbook in this release, but they are keeping the third generation butterfly keyboards.

John Gruber On the Post-Ive Future of Design at Apple

John Gruber:

I did a brief chat with Rene Ritchie for Vector, his YouTube show, over the weekend. I thought it was a great little interview — far more condensed than my own podcast, and with a full transcript to boot.

One key point that I missed in [my first take on Ive’s departure] is that having design chiefs Evans Hankey (Industrial Design) and Alan Dye (Human Interface Design) report directly to COO Jeff Williams does make sense organizationally. What I had missed is that coincident with the announcement of Ive’s departure, Apple promoted Sabih Khan to senior vice president of operations.

Apple hasn’t had an SVP of operations since Jeff Williams held the title, back when Tim Cook was COO under Steve Jobs. Back then Williams ran operations while Cook ran the company and Jobs devoted his remaining time to new products.

After nearly 30 years, Jony Ive leaving Apple to start new design firm

Chris Welch, writing for The Verge:

Apple’s chief design officer Jonathan Ive is departing the company, bringing an end to a tenure spent crafting some of technology’s most influential products, including the iPhone. Ive is leaving his official role at Apple “to form an independent design company which will count Apple among its primary clients.”

The company is called LoveForm, and Ive will be joined by famed designer Marc Newsom on the new venture. Despite stepping down from his executive position, Ive and Apple both claim he will still work “on a range of projects with Apple.”

Ive is one of the world’s most esteemed industrial designers and has worked on products including a wide range of Macs, the iPhone, the iPad, the Apple Watch, and more. He also designed the company’s “spaceship” Apple Park campus.

Most recently, Ive voiced a design video about the new Mac Pro launching later this year. 

Interesting, and best wishes to Jony on his new edeavour.

Federico Viticci: ‘initial Thoughts on iPadOS’

Federico Viticci:

When I published my Beyond the Tablet story a few weeks ago, I was optimistic we’d get a handful of iPad-related features and optimizations at WWDC. I did not, however, foresee an entire OS designed specifically around iPad. And the more I think about it, the more I see iPadOS as a sign of Apple’s willingness to break free from old assumptions and let the iPad be what it’s best at: a portable computer inspired by the Mac, but based on iOS.

I’m back home after a fantastic week at WWDC, and I’m now in the process of sifting through the surprising amount of new software features Apple unveiled in San Jose. It’s going to take me a while to digest all that’s new in iOS 13 and Shortcuts2; of course, you should expect my iOS/iPadOS 13 review in the fall, and we will share more hands-on articles and editorials on MacStories and Club MacStories throughout the summer. For now though, after using the iPadOS beta on my 12.9″ iPad Pro for a few days, I’d like to share some initial considerations on iPadOS and what it means for the future of the platform.

[…]

Since the iPad launched almost 10 years ago, its iOS foundation has been a double-edged sword: on one hand, building iPad on top of iOS gave Apple a head start in terms of performance, app ecosystem, and security that other tablets couldn’t match; on the other, an already-solid iOS foundation may have been the excuse to not aggressively pursue more advanced functionalities.

Apple has only itself to blame if certain segments of the tech press have been calling the iPad “just a big iPod touch” for years, even though it clearly wasn’t.
iPadOS suggests that the company has identified a new path for the iPad as a third platform that combines well-trodden ideas from macOS with the intuitive, nimble nature of iOS. To a certain extent, this was true of iPad before, particularly since the days of iOS 11, but calling it iPadOS shows a renewed commitment that may provide the necessary impetus for more consistent updates over the next few years.

Ultimately, a new name on its own doesn’t prove that Apple is more serious about a platform than before, which is why we should focus on the actual features that will launch with iPadOS later this year. And from what I’ve seen and discussed so far, it looks like Apple is ready to begin the iPad’s next decade with a promising new strategy: inspired by tradition, but still uniquely iPad.