Sonic Mania ➝

Timothy Seppala, writing for Engadget:

From the trailer below, Mania looks unapologetically old school, replete with chiptune music and the series’ trademark hyper-colorful pixel-art style. Three playable characters are on tap (Sonic, Tails and Knuckles) and in addition to a new move like the drop dash and new levels, Mania will apparently put a couple of twists on old stages as well.

This sounds like the kind of game I can get excited about. I was a huge fan of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic & Knuckles growing up and I wouldn’t mind reliving those memories with this.

Pokémon Go Isn’t the Solution to Nintendo’s Problems ➝

Chris Kohler, writing for Wired:

You can attribute the fluctuations to irrational exuberance on the part of investors, as Nintendo doesn’t publish Pokemon Go. It co-owns the rights to the franchise, and holds stakes in Go publishers Niantic and The Pokemon Company, so it is surely making some money from Go. But nobody knows how much. More to the point, Nintendo didn’t create the game, and so its existence doesn’t suggest that Nintendo’s management finally “gets it.”

I think this piece paints a gloomier picture of Nintendo’s future than I’d prefer. But I agree that we shouldn’t be treating Pokémon Go as the beginning of Nintendo truly understanding the mobile marketplace. The reality is that Nintendo had little —likely zero — to do with Pokémon Go’s development. My assumption is that this the game’s success will teach them that it’s okay to release some of their franchise games on iOS and Android, but I don’t expect the flood gates to open just yet. Things will probably get a lot worse before they get better.

Disable Find My Mac by Resetting NVRAM ➝

Adam Engst, writing for TidBits:

In essence, Apple stores the Find My Mac data in NVRAM, which is good for keeping it around even if the hard drive is removed, but bad in the sense that it’s easy to reset NVRAM — just restart while holding down Command-Option-P-R. A quick test confirmed the problem in OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and nothing has changed in the public beta of macOS 10.12 Sierra.

The only way to prevent this is to set a firmware password.

Backup and Restore in Ulysses ➝

Alisdair Daws:

Ulysses handles backups automatically. (My iPhone asked if I wanted to correct that to automagically. I was tempted.) The default setting is for Ulysses to keep hourly backups for the past 12 hours, daily backups for the past 7 days, and weekly backups for the past 6 months. You can also make a backup yourself at any time.

I’ve used Ulysses everyday for months and had no idea it was keeping Time Machine-like backups of my work. But I’m not surprised to hear that this feature exists — this type of attention to detail is the reason I chose it as my primary writing app.

Firefox to Start Blocking Flash Content in August ➝

Sebastian Anthony, reporting for ArsTechnica:

Firefox will begin retiring Adobe Flash on August 2 with the release of Firefox 48. In 2017, probably with Firefox 53, Flash plug-ins will require the user to actively click-to-play.

First we learned that Google Chrome was going to begin phasing out Flash later this year and now Firefox is following in their footsteps. This is a trend I can get behind.

Taking a Closer Look at iOS 10’s New Lockscreen ➝

Mike Bates takes a deep dive into iOS 10’s new Lockscreen — comparing it to previous iterations and discussing the easy access to common interactions.

Travel Kit Additions

In just a couple of weeks, my wife and I will be sitting on a beach in Jamaica on our honeymoon. And of course, I’ve been thinking a lot about the gear we’ll be taking with us on the trip. We previously purchased a Canon PowerShot G9 X to take pictures of our surroundings and a Lightning to HDMI adapter, so we could watch movies on the TV in our room. But Sunday night I ordered a few more products in an effort to further upgrade our kit.

All of these items should be arriving later this week and they may be the subject of a future review, if I feel there’s something interesting to say about them. But either way, I’ll certainly be sharing my first impressions on Twitter as the products arrive.

Mini Halcyon Organizer Pouch: we own two medium-sized clear pouches from Tom Bihn already and they’re absolutely fantastic. This is how we keep all of our cables and adapters organized inside of our Ristretto bag.

But we were looking for something a little bit smaller where we could keep all the items we want quick access to — headphones, lightning to USB cables, and so on. The Halcyon Organizer Pouch fit the bill perfectly and looks pretty stylish to boot. My favorite feature is the clip on the corner that we can use to secure it to the inside of our bag ensuring that it’ll never fall out accidentally.

Case Logic Ultra Compact Camera Case: This little camera case is nothing special. It’s big enough to hold our PowerShot G9 X and an extra SD card. It has a carabiner that we can use to secure it to the inside of our bag or on a belt loop.

I’m sure I could have found a camera case from a more high-end brand, but this one was advertised as being able to fit our camera. The last thing I wanted was to order something that I thought would fit, only to have it arrive and find that it’s either too big or too small. There’s not much time to order a replacement if it doesn’t work out, so I just went with the safe bet.

Herschel Supply Co. Anchor Sleeve: This is the item I’m most excited to get my hands on. Up until now I had been using an Incase sleeve for my iPad Air 2 that was designed to fit the original iPad. I’ve been meaning to buy a new one since I purchased the iPad last year, but it wasn’t until now that I had a good reason to.

The Anchor sleeve doesn’t have a lot of features, it’s just a single compartment with a zipper closure. There’s a lot of little design details, though, that made me choose this one over the other options. The fleece-lined interior, the rawhide zipper pull, and the striped pattern just inside the compartment makes this sleeve look like a high-end product, even though it’s available for only $30. That’s a small price to pay for such a stylish iPad sleeve.

Twitter Now Lets Anyone Request a Verified Account ➝

Nick Statt, writing for The Verge:

Starting today, the company will let users request a verified account on its website by filling out a form with a verified phone number and email address, a profile photo, and additional information regarding why verification is required or helpful. In defining who will get approved, Twitter still says “an account may be verified if it is determined to be of public interest.” Prior to today, Twitter tended only to verify public figures, brands, and people in media, politics, sports, business, and other high-profile sectors.

That line about “public interest” is going to keep normals from having verified accounts. Hell, they won’t even give the checkmark to Federico Viticci. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but I hope they continue to lower the barrier to entry.

Apple Begins Rolling Out iTunes Match With Audio Fingerprint to Apple Music Subscribers ➝

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn’t always match the correct version of a particular song. We’ve all seen the stories of a live version of a song being replaced by a studio version, etc.

Using iTunes Match with audio fingerprint, those problems should be a thing of the past.

It makes no sense that they launched Apple Music with the vastly inferior metadata matching system. I’m glad it’s finally being fixed, but this shouldn’t have been a problem to begin with.

Opera Browser Sold to a Chinese Consortium for $600 Million ➝

I was a huge fan of Opera in the mid-2000s, but I probably haven’t touched the browser in over five years. I’m not surprised they had to sell — the writing’s been on the wall for a while. There just isn’t much room for them when Chrome and Firefox make up nearly 90% of the market.

The New Glif, a Tripod Mount for Smartphones ➝

From the Kickstarter page:

Almost 6 years ago, we launched the Glif, a tripod mount for the iPhone 4, on Kickstarter. The response to our campaign was incredible, and it allowed us to build our company, Studio Neat. Since then, we have released several updates to the Glif, but we are back where we started, on Kickstarter, to launch the best version yet.

I love the quick release mechanism and multiple tripod mount locations. This is such a brilliant piece of kit.

How Apple Could Improve Family Sharing ➝

Jason Snell, writing for Macworld:

Family Sharing feels very much like a version 1.0, a first crack at the idea that people with their own Apple IDs also have intermingled real lives that should probably be intermingled digitally. Nearly two years after the release of iOS 8, however, not a whole lot has changed in the realm of family sharing. And it’s got some glaring deficiencies that really need to be addressed.

Jason runs down a few features that Apple could add to improve Family Sharing. And his list includes the one feature I want most — family photo libraries. It doesn’t make any sense that my wife and I have to maintain two separate libraries. It makes ordering prints, creating photo albums, and working on other creative projects significantly more difficult. I hope Apple fixes this soon.

Netflix Launches Flixtape, ‘Mixtapes’ for Movies and TV Shows ➝

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

Just in time for the weekend, Netflix today announced the launch of a new service called Flixtape, which the company describes as a way to make short playlists of your favorite Netflix titles. “It’s like a mixtape, but for Netflix,” the site explains. The new tool lets you create these lists based on a genre or theme of some sort, then share them with friends or family over text message, email or social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

This is one step closer to the feature I asked for a couple years ago — genius playlists.

Goolge Erases Writer and Artist’s Weblog Without Warning ➝

Mazin Sidahmed, writing for The Guardian:

Two weeks ago, writer and artist Dennis Cooper was checking his Gmail when something peculiar happened: the page was refreshed and he was notified that his account had been deactivated – along with the blog that he’d maintained for 14 years.

This is why I advocate for a reduced dependence on services controlled by others. And, at the very least, keep regular backups.

IDC Estimates That Macintosh Sales Slipped at Nearly Twice the Market Rate ➝

Nick Heer:

Apple’s sales decline is an 8.3% reduction compared to the year-ago quarter. Given that the most recent Macintosh news — the discontinuation of the Thunderbolt Display notwithstanding — was a spec bump of the MacBook, this is completely unsurprising. MacRumors’ own buyers’ guide shows a “Don’t Buy” indicator below every Mac except the MacBook.

I think the reduction in Mac sales can be primarily attributed to the recent lack of updates. Once Apple starts refreshing the lineup, sales will bounce back.

Fixing Media Controls in watchOS 3 ➝

Matt Birchler:

My solution is pretty simple, and is a combination of watchOS 2’s glance as well as iOS 10’s new Control Center. Instead of having a Now Playing app on the watch, why not bake those controls into the watch’s Control Center? Swipe up on your watch face currently brings up Control Center, so just add the ability to swipe right on Control Center to bring up media controls.

For some reason I thought this was a feature of watchOS 3, but as it turns out, that’s not the case. Count me in with Matt, though, I hope Apple adds this before the final release. It’s a better implementation than forcing users into their dock and would bringfurther uniformity to iOS and watchOS.

Here’s What Apple Really Meant to Say Today About Its Plans to Sell Web Video ➝

Peter Kafka, on the Hollywood Reporter’s interview with Eddy Cue:

Again, this doesn’t square with Apple’s longstanding efforts — led by Cue — to deliver a skinny bundle. I asked Apple to explain the cognitive dissonance, and they referred me back to the Hollywood Reporter piece.

So now that we’re done with that exercise, I’m going to suggest that there are some things Cue would say differently if he were speaking to someone privately, instead of in an on-the-record interview.

Kafka offers his thoughts on what Cue would have said if he was speaking more candidly, and I think it’s spot-on.

At ARM’s Length ➝

Jesper discusses the options Apple has for transitioning their Mac lineup to ARM processors.

Headphone Jack Theory

There’s been a lot of talk about the potential removal of the next iPhone’s headphone jack. Unfortunately, the vast majority of it has been overtly negative and has focused on the reasons why Apple shouldn’t make the change. But I thought it was worth while to share my theory on why Apple might be removing this ubiquitous hardware feature.

I get it, if you’ve spent a lot of money on high-end headphones, use standard audio cables to run music into your car, or frequently charge your device while listening, there’s going to be an annoying period of adjustment. But I don’t think it’ll last too long and I bet we’ll look back at the headphone jack and see it in the same way we do the parallel port. We’ve all lived through changes like this in the past — whether it be the transition to optical discs, USB, or Wi-Fi. In hindsight, all of these moves have been for the better and I think the end of the headphone jack will be no different.

I suppose the biggest concern about this move is that no one’s been able to come up with a good reason as to why users should get on board. They all talk about external digital-to-analog converters, simplifying the device with fewer ports, slightly bigger batteries, and so on. But until Apple actually announces an iPhone without a headphone jack we’re left to speculate about what it could mean. And unfortunately, in the words of Doc Brown, we’re just not thinking fourth dimensionally.

I have a theory, though, about why Apple would want to remove the headphone jack. I think they’re going to make a big push towards waterproofing their devices and I think removing the headphone jack is all part of their master plan to do it the right way.

There have been waterproof handsets on the market for years, but there’s always been problems with them. You can’t use the touchscreen while underwater — which limits its use as a waterproof camera — and they can only go to a certain depth for a given duration. Waterproof electronics are typically given a rating, which tells you how deep and how long it can be submerged.

As an example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is rated IP68, which means it’s safe up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. That’s great for accidental spills, but nothing I’d trust to take with me while swimming. I think Apple’s going to go bigger. I think Apple’s building a device that is designed to be taken swimming and the marketing will reflect that.

What if Apple is removing the headphone jack to further improve its potential waterproof rating and to make room for a brand new sensor? A sensor that’s capable of telling when you’re device is underwater and how deep it is from the surface. This would allow your iPhone to offer a warning when it’s going too deep or when it’s been submerged for too long. It could even automatically shutdown the device if it’s in danger — potentially saving it from harm after a few hours of drying.

This sensor would serve a similar role to the temperature sensors that iPhones already include — which allows the iPhone to display a warning if it’s too hot to operate.

But Apple wouldn’t stop there. Traditional touchscreen displays don’t function when they’re submerged in water, even if they’re waterproof. When water sits against a capacitive touch screens the device thinks that the entire screen is being touched at once — there’s no way for the device to differentiate between the water and your finger. As it turns out, Apple built technology into their iPhone displays last year that could help solve that problem — 3D Touch.

When you add 3D Touch to the conversation, things start to get interesting. The 3D Touch technology adds pressure sensitivity to a standard capacitive touch screen and Apple could pair it with the new water sensor to let users interact with their device while underwater. When the sensor determines that the iPhone is submerged it could begin treating 3D Touch presses as simple taps. This would turn your iPhone into an incredible underwater camera that could be used in your backyard pool or during trips to the beach.

Imagine the advertisements Apple could create showing a group of kids jumping into a pool holding case-less iPhones. Or one that shows parents photographing their child while learning to swim. These are the kinds of moments Apple wants to create with their devices and would be a huge selling point to help spur upgrades and lure new customers from Android.

Make no mistake, the ability to use your iPhone underwater isn’t something that you’ll use everyday. But I don’t think there are many features left to add that fit that bill. Apple has to do something to continue moving hardware forward and this is the type of feature that would demo incredibly well and would be difficult for other handset manufacturers to replicate. But more importantly, I think a lot of iPhone owners would be willing to give up their headphone jacks in favor of a waterproof device that they could take with them to the pool without fear of water damage.

Nintendo Is Releasing a Miniature NES With Thirty Built-in Games ➝

Andrew Webster, writing for The Verge:

Today the company announced what it’s calling the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition. It looks just like a NES, only a lot tinier, and it comes with 30 games built in. You can connect it to your TV via a HDMI cable, and it also includes a controller designed to work just like the iconic rectangular NES gamepad. (The new controller will also connect to a Wii Remote, so that you can use it to play Virtual Console games on a Wii or Wii U.)

Some highlights from the game list:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mega Man 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • The Legend of Zelda

The NES Classic Edition will be available November 11 for $59.99 and extra controllers will be sold for around $10.

The most exciting part about this announcement, for me, is that these NES Controllers can be plugged into the bottom of the Wii Remote. That means you’ll be able to use them to play Virtual Console games on the Wii and Wii U. I expect I’ll pick up a pair of these so my wife and I can use them to play classic Mario games on our Wii U.