Carrie Fisher: 1956–2016
We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Carrie Fisher, who in addition to being both a celebrated actor and author, is a cherished member of the Lucasfilm family. She was adored by all who knew her for her endearing personality and delightfully sharp wit.
Rest in peace, Princess.
Samsung Galaxy S8 reportedly removing headphone jack, home button
A new series of reports today from SamMobile, a blog that often provides accurate details on unreleased Samsung products, claims that the company plans to ditch both the 3.5mm headphone jack and the physical Home button on its upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone.
Back in September a rumor claimed that Samsung could possibly ditch the headphone jack as it was also apparently working on its own proprietary port to replace it. While the reports today from SamMobile confirmed the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, the fate of a proprietary port is unclear as a separate report from the blog confirms the S8 will indeed feature a USB Type-C port like the Note 7.
Having used the iPhone 7 since launch, I do not miss the headphone jack. The supplied adapter allows me to use my old earbuds, Apple includes a set of Lightning EarPods in the box, and Bluetooth is stable and convenient enough to get me through as well.
As for the whole listening and charging argument, I can get 10-15% power in a couple of minutes if needed and am not nearly so attached to what i’m listening to that I wouldn’t be able to unplug my headphones and charge if needed.
Android users, fear not. Life will go on without your precious headphone jack.
As for any potential of a proprietary port in the phones that follow the S8, I really hope they stay away from this. Apple’s Lightning port, and 72-pin before it, always made sense to me because of the ecosystem that Apple had created. Their own hardware with their own OS, they’d done it before with FireWire, why wouldn’t they create their own port for the phone? It’s certainly paid off for the company as Lightning is far superior to any of the offerings from Android phone makers, USB-C included.
But as badly as they seem to want to be, Samsung is not Apple and blazing its own trail by making a specialty port of their own just seems stubborn and will likely confused and frustrate their users.
Users bombard the App Store with negative reviews for Super Mario Run, stock drops
Disappointing early reviews and sales of Nintendo’s latest ‘Super Mario Run’ smartphone game have caused the company’s shares to fall by almost 16% in the past five days, while some analysts are also expressing concern over the game’s payment model, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. Although the company’s stock rose over 20% in the past month, the shares finished down 7.1% today in Tokyo Stock Exchange trading.
After playing the game, it’s easy to see why some people are frustrated. There are plenty of things that make Super Mario Run hard to recommend including the always-on internet connection, the weird fragmenting of data that requires users to download more of the game after completing the tutorial level, having to buy the game for each device you want to run it on instead of being able to share it via your family account, etc.
This probably wasn’t the debut many hoped Mario would have on the App Store.
Facebook’s Messenger app for iOS has become progressively more awful. Feature creep has compromised what was once a very simple, user-friendly app. I’d almost consider switching to Android just to be able to use Messenger Lite.
New doc takes a look at the Doom that could have been
Doom 4 was “a lot more cinematic,” and had “a lot more story to it, a lot more characters around you that you were with throughout the course of the gameplay,” id Software’s Marty Stratton says in the video. “It was definitely a twist on Doom that took it into a much more cinematic, much more scripted type of experience.”
It was “awesome,” in the words of Hugo Martin, formerly of Naughty Dog, who served the creative director on the 2016 release of Doom, but it didn’t fit the mold.
While I didn’t particularly enjoy the new Doom, id’s focus on delivering an amazing experience to the hardcore Doom fans is commendable. It’s rare to see a studio take a chance like they did and start to whole thing over to please the core fanbase. In all honesty though, I feel I would have had a better experience with this unreleased version by the sounds and look of it.
The full documentary is available to watch right now on YouTube.
Marvel moving Venom book to legacy numbering
May 2017’s issue of “Venom” will be numbered #150, a number taking into account all of the previous issues of “Venom” published across previous volumes.
I wish Marvel would figure out if they want to continue legacy numbering of books or not. This is a chore to keep up with and makes it really hard to recommend books to new readers.
Between the constant relaunching of titles and the weird X.1 numbering, it’s getting really hard to introduce people to comic books.
Google Play Music design overhauled, machine learning for better discovery
Play Music’s latest update blows up the concierge in favor of a new array of recommendations that pull from not only relevant activities (e.g., “focusing”) but also recent listening and recommended classics, new releases, and customized stations. In short, it’s pulling from a much wider range of sources. It’s also getting more use out of Play’s carefully curated stations, many of which where buried in some dark corner of concierge.
And the whole thing adjusts based on context, giving you different recommendations on your phone, on your computer, at the gym, and in the office.
The new Play Music is not only smart but also wonderfully simple, putting it all on one neat page. If you scan the recommendations without seeing anything that excites you, you can always click “I’m Feeling Lucky Radio” for a unpredictable custom radio station based on something it knows you like. Not feeling that, and you can sort by new and top releases, create custom radio stations, and more.
Google Play Music has long been my music streaming service of choice and it just got even better. This is a great update, both aesthetically to the design of the service and technically to helping find that next great song or album too.
Also mentioned in this piece:
Spotify has excellent playlists, including the personalized Discover Weekly, and it’s great at surfacing hot new music—and for some that will make it the best. It remains a step behind Play Music on contextual recommendations, however, and if you ask me, it’s lagging in interface too, especially after Play’s update.
Apple Music? It has a clunky interface, even after a big update, with often contrived playlists.
It’s not about who has the better library of songs anymore. They’re all practically identical. Now, it’s all about how easy it is to navigate and bring the most relevant music to the surface. I’ve switched back and forth through the different services over the past year or so and, as mentioned, Google’s interface, features, and ease of use have for a long time made it the clear winner in my books. Now, with this new update, it’s not even close.
After spending some time with the new Google Play Music interface, i’ve noticed a fairly major issue. On the mobile app, it’s become much harder to specifically have new albums surfaced than it is custom radio stations. I’ll get the occasional new release but otherwise it’s entirely radio stations built around my habits. As someone who rarely used the radio feature prior, this doesn’t really fit my routine. It’s not the end of the world, as I use the desktop player most often as well as the “feeling lucky” playlist generator, but definitely something i’d want to see addressed in a future update.
Google just updated Gmail for iOS
Gmail for iOS is getting a big revamp today in what Google calls “the biggest overhaul of the app in nearly four years.” While it’s largely an aesthetic change, there are a few interesting new features to note.
First up, that new look: it’s a lot more like the Android app, with ample use of red for a more Material Design.
Feature-wise, the main addition is Undo Send, which means you now have a life-saver for those times you email the wrong person and notice immediately after.
While it’s nice to see Google updating one of their biggest apps on iOS and adding the option to undo send, I’ve noticed a handful of issues and features that appear to be either missing from the previous version of the app or from the Android version.
These include being able to toggle sender images on and off (currently always on) and, much more importantly, force images to display in emails. While you were prompted at the top of the incoming email in the previous version, that option is missing in the new Gmail app which has left me with empty or broken emails on more than one occasion. Another issue I’ve been having is being constantly routed through the “unread” inbox. I never use that. Just show me everything when I open the app, read or not.
This is a much needed step in the right direction for the Gmail app but it looks like it’ll be a while before it replaces a much more feature-rich and stable experience you’ll get from something like Spark for iPhone or even bring it back on par with the previous version in terms of reliability.