Gamers, take a trip down memory lane with three videos from Sony that encapsulate three generations of PlayStation. All three clips come in at under three minutes but they manage to successfully and succinctly relive the hype surrounding the launches and extended lives of the the original PlayStation, the PS2, and the PS3. The videos end with the hashtag #PlayStation2013 reminding us that this nostalgic look back comes at a time that is mere days away from the highly anticipated launch of Sony’s next home console and entertainment hub, the PlayStation 4. The announcement is expected to go down this Wednesday, so make sure to check back here for all the exciting details.
Embedded above is the first of three clips in Sony’s “Evolution of PlayStation” series and features the OG PS that released in 1994. After the break you’ll find the two others highlighting the massively popular PS2 and the still-going-strong PS3. (Click here for more…)
Last Wednesday Apple updated its MacBook Pro with Retina Display lineup with new processors and more affordable prices. The 13-inch MBP with Retina Display now starts at $1,499 (with 128GB of flash storage), and for $1,699 you can opt for a model with a new 2.6GHz processor and 256GB of flash storage. The 15-inch MBP with Retina also received a processor upgrades now featuring models complete with 2.4GHz quad-core and 2.7 GHz quad-core processors. Additionally, the Pro’s slimmer cousin the 13-inch MacBook Air also saw a price drop and now starts at $1,399 (with 256GB of flash storage). These new MBP and MBA models are available at these prices and with these specs today at Apple.com, Apple Stores, and authorized resellers.
J.J. Abrams and Valve’s Gabe Newell strike a deal to produce movies and games based on their respective projects [Update: video]
At this year’s D.I.C.E. summit (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain), co-founder of game developer Valve conversed with filmmaker J.J. Abrams about collaborating on future projects. Gamers and sci-fi fanatics alike, perk up. Newell and Abrams have expressed their interest in bringing some of Valve’s most popular titles–Half-Life and Portal, specifically–to the big screen. ”We’re going to try and figure out if we can make a Half-Life movie or a Portal movie together,” said Newell. Additionally, Abrams said that he’d be interesting in working with Valve to create video games inspired by Bad Robot films. Apparently this partnership has been in the making for awhile. “We sort of reached the point where we decided that we needed to do more than talk,” Newell admitted. Though details beyond these are sparse, this is something to definitely be excited about and when more comes through the pipeline you’ll know.
Update: The exciting announcement laid out above came at the very end of a rich 20-minute conversation during which the Bad Robot and Valve founders discussed storytelling methods in movies and video games. At first the two make friendly jabs at each other’s work but quickly the back-and-forth evolves into a stimulating discussion about the importance of the relationship between the viewer/player and the on-screen experience. Watch the full clip courtesy of D.I.C.E. after the break.
On February 6 Apple announced a new milestone for the company: more than 25 billion songs have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Store. That’s an incredible feat, one that the App Store hit right around this time last year. Phillip Lüpke from Germany was the lucky person who nabbed the 25 billionth track–”Monkey Drums” (Goksel Vancin Remix) by Chase Buch–and won himself a €10,000 iTunes Gift Card courtesy of Apple.
“We are grateful to our users whose passion for music over the past 10 years has made iTunes the number one music retailer in the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services. “Averaging over 15,000 songs downloaded per minute, the iTunes Store connects music fans with their favorite artists, including global sensations like Adele and Coldplay and new artists like The Lumineers, on a scale we never imagined possible.”
One wonders how long it will take until the Store surpasses 50 billion songs downloaded. Dubbed “the world’s most popular music store” I surmise the company will reach that goal sooner rather than later.
On the very last day in January, Sony’s PlayStation handle tweeted out the message “see the future,” providing a link to a website and a video (embedded above) teasing a major PlayStation related announcement coming Wednesday, February 20 at 6PM EST. Though the 45-second teaser doesn’t offer details, it’s certainly tantalizing enough to make you scratch your head and wonder what’s coming. The rumor mill is churning at full speed and rising to the top of the heap is that Sony is readying their next big console release, PlayStation 4. As these things go, time will tell what Sony has up its sleeve.
Grand Theft Auto V gets a release date, at last. The latest addiction from Rockstar Games is due out September 17, 2013 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The highly anticipated game has been pushed from spring to fall to allow for “additional development time” says the game maker in a press release.
“Grand Theft Auto V continues to push the series forward in new ways; Rockstar North are creating our deepest, most beautiful and most immersive world yet,” said Sam Houser, founder of Rockstar Games. “We are very excited for people to learn more about the game in the coming months.”
News flash: Apple is adding a new storage option for the iPad with Retina display. Come Tuesday, February 5 the new iPad will sell with 128GB of valuable space in black and white for $799 (Wi-Fi model) and $929 (WiFi + Cellular model). Once it’s out, the latest and greatest fourth-gen Apple slate will be available in 16, 32, 64, and 128 gigabyte variants. Perhaps this will pave the way for iPhones and iPods to finally see storage capacity bumps in the future.
Apple reports 2013 Q1 earnings: $13.1b profit, $54.5b revenue, Macs up 1%, iPhones up 58%, iPads up 26%, iPods down 19%
On Wednesday Apple reported its first quarter financial results and the company broke more records, naturally. Apple posted a $13.1 billion profit on $54.5 billion in revenue. Compare this to one year ago, that’s up from a profit of $13.06 billion on $46.33 billion in revenue. Says CEO Tim Cook: “We’re thrilled with record revenue of over $54 billion and sales of over 75 million iOS devices in a single quarter. We’re very confident in our product pipeline as we continue to focus on innovation and making the best products in the world.”
Now let’s break it down by product category. Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones in the quarter (compared to 37 million in the year-ago quarter); 22.9 million iPads (compared to 15.4 million); 4.1 million Macs (compared to 5.2 million); and 12.7 million iPods (compared to 15.4 million). The company’s “hobby” Apple TV sold 2 million units representing a 60 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter.
Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2013, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer expects revenue between $41-$43 billion.
Leading up to and following Apple’s quarterly financial results, its stock (AAPL) took a nosedive below the $500 threshold. Today, January 24, it dropped 63.51 points (12.35%) to $450.50 when the market closed. After hours it dropped another 2.13 points to $448.37. If there was a time to announce an exciting new product that promises to revolutionize the way we watch and consume TV content, that time would be now.
Microsoft’s more powerful version of its Surface tablet finally has a release date. Surface with Windows 8 Pro comes to market February 9. It comes packed with Intel’s Core i5 processor and it supports apps available in the Windows Store as well as legacy programs that run on Windows 7 and other previous OS’. More Pro advantages: this slate sports a 1920 x 1080 full HD display, 4GB of RAM, a fast USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, and a pen with Palm Block technology. The Pro starts at $899 for the 64GB model; alongside it is a 128GB model that will sell for $999. Unlike the RT version, the Pro doesn’t come bundled with a keyboard cover. The Touch Cover and Type Cover sell separately for $119.99 and $129.99, respectively.
In addition to fully fleshing out the Pro’s future release, Microsoft announced a new pricing option for the Surface for Windows RT. This is the 64GB model but it ditches the keyboard cover to sell for $599. It joins the standalone 32GB model ($499), the 32GB model with Black Touch Cover ($599), and 64GB model with Black Touch Cover ($699).
And there’s more. Microsoft is adding more to its Surface accessory lineup. Three new limited edition Touch Covers featuring funky designs in red, magenta, and cyan are coming soon; they’re priced at $129.99. Also on deck is a wireless Wedge mouse whose design is inspired by the modern look of the Surface; it’s priced at $69.95.
Take a look at the Surface with Windows 8 Pro, along with the new accessories, in the gallery below.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft Research unveiled one of their latest projects called IllumiRoom. Like most of their ongoing technological marvels of the future this one is quite fascinating so perk up. Imagine you’re playing a video game–let’s say Halo 4–and all of a sudden the on-screen action extends beyond the confines of your TV set. In an instant the mysterious jungles of planet Requiem surround you and you feel as if you’re truly immersed inside the captivating game developed with precision by 343 Industries. Microsoft’s IllumiRoom attempts ”to blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment we live in allowing us to combine our virtual and physical worlds.”
So how does it all work? A peek behind the curtain reveals two devices: the pairing of a Kinect for Windows camera and a projector. “Our system uses the appearance and the geometry of the room (captured by Kinect’s sensors) to adapt projected visuals in real-time without any need to custom pre-process the graphics.” Sounds simple now, doesn’t it? Unfortunately like most Microsoft Research projects IllumiRoom is only proof-of-concept, but with engineers working hard to make Kinect even more powerful and projectors keeping pace with high definition resolutions, the technology is there for this prototype to enter the marketplace. Let’s place IllumiRoom in the pile labeled “not if, but when.”
Watch Illumiroom perform its magic in the video embedded above; Microsoft ensures the action was “captured live and is not the result of any special effects added in post production.”
On Tuesday Mark Zuckerberg hosted a Facebook event to announce an exciting new feature for his prolific and widespread social network. It’s a new way to search inside Facebook and it’s called Graph Search. Essentially Graph Search gives Facebook users the ability to make specific searches across their network of friends. For example, enter the query ”my friends in New York who like Jay-Z” and a list of your friends with those specific qualifications will be provided to you. Initially Graph Search will focus on four main areas: people, photos, place, and interests. Here are a few more examples of queries you could use: “software engineers who live in San Francisco and like skiing,” “photos of my friends before 1999,” “Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India,” “movies liked by people who like movies I like.” As you can see some of these queries are a mouthful and can be very specific and Facebook is working hard to crunch all the data and develop advanced natural language recognition.
How will the new search be integrated into the site? “Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page. When you search for something, that search not only determines the set of results you get, but also serves as a title for the page. You can edit the title – and in doing so create your own custom view of the content you and your friends have shared on Facebook.”
According to the social network this new feature is guiding the company back to its roots. “When Facebook first launched, the main way most people used the site was to browse around, learn about people and make new connections. Graph Search takes us back to our roots and allows people to use the graph to make new connections.” How is Graph Search different from a typical web search? Facebook explains: “Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: “hip hop”) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that’s been shared on Facebook.” Additionally, Graph Search was built “with privacy in mind;” in other words, your privacy choices determine what’s searchable.
Currently Graph Search is in beta and initially it’s rolling out slowly to users who use Facebook in English. If you want to be one of the first to try it out, you can join a wait list. Facebook sees Graph Search as an ongoing project that will continue to develop and grow and get smarter as more people use it and provide feedback. Also rolling out to Facebook users soon is integrated Bing search. For now, check out some screenshots in the gallery below and click to Facebook to watch Zuckerberg and company discuss the bold new initiative.
This new search functionality aims to tap into the goldmine of personal information people share on Facebook and take social discovery to a new level. Visiting friends and family back east and want to plan a movie marathon? With Graph Search you can quickly find out which of your friends live nearby and figure out their movie preferences in one fell swoop. Finally, an intuitive way to take all of your Likes and interests and places and photos and put it to good use.
It feels like eons ago when video game developer Hideo Kojima debuted his Metal Gear spinoff game Metal Gear Rising at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. The slice-and-dice action game starring cyborg ninja Raiden is been in development for awhile and even saw a name change to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Kojima Productions failed to get the ball rolling, a deal was struck to have Platinum Games (Bayonetta) take over the reins and develop the game. Kojima’s team still remained heavily involved with the making of the title, however, as the game’s producer. Revengeance, which takes place four years after the events that occurred in MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots, retains Metal Gear DNA even though it plans to tell self-contained plot. Gamers can get a sense of the gameplay when a demo releases in one week on January 22. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance finally ships for Xbox 360 and PS3 in the U.S. on February 19. Preorder today.
Now sit back, relax, and hit play to watch the latest trailer for Revengeance, edited by Hideo Kojima himself. Like all of Kojima’s efforts this trailer is stunningly cinematic with gorgeous cutscenes and equally engaging gameplay.
At the end of the year Apple digs into its archive of music, movies, TV shows, apps, books, and podcasts to share with its customers its top-selling content. Since the iTunes Store and the App Store are so prolific these days, I deem it appropriate to take a look at what we bought up from Apple’s widespread ecosystem in 2012.
In the music department, Apple lists the 20 top-selling songs and 25 top-selling albums of the year. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” lands at #1 on the song list and rounding out the top 5 are Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Fun.’s “We Are Young,” Maroon 5′s “Payphone,” and Nicki Minaj’s “Starships.” Maroon 5 managed to land on this chart twice; “One More Night” comes in at #17. Also, Flo Rida’s hit singles “Whistle” and “Wild Ones” show their staying power securing the #9 and #10 slots, respectively. For the second consecutive year in a row, Adele’s 21 sits high as the most purchased album of the year; what follows is Taylor Swift’s Red, Mumford & Sons’ Babel, One Direction’s debut Up All Night, and Fun.’s Some Nights. The only artist to show up twice on this chart is Mumford & Sons; their 2010 effort Sigh No More keeps selling and fell in the #6 position.
In addition to these charts, Apple handpicks their own selections in a section they call “Editor’s Choice.” They named Frank Ocean Best New Artist and they had this to say about his much buzzed about release Channel ORANGE: “Deftly original, the brooding R&B outcast and Odd Future cohort spilled a can of stinging venom and vulnerability that spread worldwide.” Grizzly Bear’s Shields was awarded Best Album, Fun.’s infectious single “We Are Young” nabbed Best Song, and they enjoyed the fusion of country and gospel from The Lumineers so much to label their self-titled debut release Breakthrough Album.
The Hunger Games, Downton Abbey, Fifty Shades of Grey, Angry Birds Space, and YouTube dominated the other content categories. Click here to browse Apple’s Best of 2012 charts (the link opens in iTunes).
At last, Twitter is making it possible to go back in time and explore every single tweet you’ve ever tweeted into the Twitterverse. Starting today, the company is rolling out a new feature that allows you to download an HTML file containing your Twitter archive that contains all your tweets (including retweets) you blasted out since you signed up for the service. The archive loads in your browser and features an interface you are used to by now. A history of your tweets is organized by month, or you can use the search bar to find tweets with certain words, phrases, hashtags, or @usernames.
To access your archive, login to your Twitter account and go to Settings, Account, and scroll to the bottom where you’ll find a new option to “Request your archive.” Click the button and check your email for instructions on how to download and view your archive. According to the company this new feature is rolling out “slowly, starting today with a small percentage of users whose language is set to English.” So if you don’t see it at this very moment, be patient. For everyone else, the ability to download your archive will come “over the coming weeks and months.”
Now go on, memories await.
A new app is about to land on Wii U. Nintendo TVii, a second-screen experience that changes the way you “find, watch, and engage” entertainment content, was supposed to launch with the console in November, but it was delayed due to lack of app support. Now that Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video are available to download on the Wii U, the stars have aligned for TVii to launch at last. In short, TVii is a free service that functions as a “personalized program guide, remote control, and social second screen,” collating TV shows, movies, and sports from various content providers including the aforementioned video streaming services, live TV (cable and satellite providers), and DVRs powered by TiVo. In addition to searching across these services and watching content, you can make the experience social by commenting on what you’re watching and sharing your thoughts with friends via Miiverse, Facebook and Twitter. According to a new press release (in full after the break), the app will only support Hulu, Amazon, and live TV at launch; Netflix and TiVo integration “are expected in early 2013.”
Nintendo TVii comes to Wii U tomorrow, December 20, as a free download. Watch a demo after the break.
Update (12/20): As promised, TVii is now available on the Wii U. It isn’t delivered as a download however; simply fire up your Internet-connected console and you should find it hanging out in the home screen. In related news, Nintendo has specified that TiVo support is coming in January, with support for other DVRs coming “in the future.”
Google has whipped up an app called YouTube Capture that makes it super simple to record and share video from your mobile device. After downloading, installing, and briefing setting up the app, you are given the tools to quickly upload video to YouTube. After you shoot a scene, you can edit it before sending it off to the Internet. After giving your video a title, tapping the wand icon allows you to flip on or off color correction and stabilization; you can also trim the video and add background music provided by free YouTube Soundtracks. Tap the YouTube icon and you can control who sees your video online; the public setting allows anyone to search for and view your video, the unlisted setting allows only people with a link to your video to view it, and the private setting makes it so that only you can view it. The app also makes it easy to share your video with friends via Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. If you want to share video with your Twitter followers, for example, tap the Twitter icon, allow the app to access your Twitter login credentials, and poof your video is tweeted into the twittersphere.
It’s all rather rudamentary, but that is Google’s point with this app. Want to upload a video to the Internet and share it with your social circles? YouTube Capture will get the job done quick and easy. Download it today in the App Store. Coming soon to Android. Video demonstration after the break.
If you’re an iPhone owner and have been sorely missing Google’s dedicated app for Maps that Apple replaced with their own Map app when iOS 6 was released, well today’s you’re lucky day. At long last, Google has released Google Maps for iPhone and it brings back the glory of the old days; namely a vector-based map service you can actually rely on, Street View that provides 360-degree panoramas of streets and goes inside more than 100,000 places of business worldwide, detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest, Google local search that aids in discovering places to eat and shop with ratings and reviews, live traffic information, and directions for driving, mass transit, and walking. Pretty much everything you had been used to using with Google Maps on iOS.
But it doesn’t stop there. The most significant enhancement to Maps is turn-by-turn navigation with voice guidance, and it works just as advertised. Also, this latest version of Google Maps looks better than previous versions; it features a new design that’s sleeker and more streamlined than ever before. The map fills up the iPhone 5′s larger screen; a search box sits at the top for you to quickly input addresses and other queries to put Google local search to work; on the bottom left the “three dots” icon can be swiped to the left to reveal a list to enable live traffic, public transit, satellite view, and a quick link to the Google Earth app; if you’ve inputted an address or point of interest a swipe up from the bottom gives you detailed information about the location, including links to Save it, Share it, and enable Street View (swipe down to return to the map); at the bottom left resides the trusty “you are here” icon that when pressed will instantly locate your current position on the map (tap it again to enable smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views); and when you first open the app it asks you to log in with your Google Account so you can sync your searches, directions, and saved places between your computer and phone–score!
Though it doesn’t pack everything that its Android counterpart has (cashing maps for offline use is noticeably absent here), Google has does a fine job bringing back the glory and then some to Maps for iOS. If you’re obsessed with Flyover and prefer a map that is admittedly more pretty, stick with Apple’s offering. However, if you can live without those things (and Google’s offering doesn’t look so bad) it’s a no brainer that you should hide Apple Maps inside some folder and replace it with Google’s solution. Heck, even Apple CEO Tim Cook advises customers to use alternative map services while his company works out the innumerable kinks. Google Maps has proven over the years to be simple to use and extremely reliable, and that’s what it all comes down to, really. So watcha waiting for?
The new and improved Google Maps is now available as a free download in the App Store. It is compatible with iPhone 3GS and up, iPod touch 3rd-gen and up, and your device must be running iOS 5.1 or later. The app will work on the iPad, but note that it is not optimized for the original iPad and iPad mini screen sizes yet. Catch a fun clip from Google after the break.
Twitter is imitating its competition–namely Instagram, duh!–by giving its users the ability to place a variety of filters on top of photos. At launch a total of eight filters, “ranging from black & white to vintage,” are available to play around with. You can see how each filter affects a single image at once, or you can swipe through each one full-size. In addition to filters, the latest update to the app also brings auto-enhance and cropping for photographers looking to tweak their images on the go. Download Twitter in the App Store and Google Play today.
In related news, the character-limiting social networking company is introducing a new way to further personalize your profile page. Since Twitter’s inception users have been able to upload a profile picture and a background image for desktop tweeters to see. Now there’s a third option thrown into the mix: header photos. Now you can choose an image to display on your profile page that exists above your timeline and behind your profile picture. If you choose not to upload one, a static grey rectangle will house your profile picture, name, handle, about info, location, and website. To add a header photo, go to Settings, Profile. Once put in place, like your profile picture it will be viewable on mobile devices as well as the desktop interface. This was initially introduced in September, but as of December 12 it has rolled out to all users. So have at it!
Jump after the break to view two cartoony clips that explore Twitters new announcements.
On December 7 an energetic (is he ever not) Samuel L. Jackson hosted the 2012 Video Game Awards, this year celebrating its 10th anniversary. The game that won the most Vector Monkey trophies this year was The Walking Dead: The Game from Telltale Games. In addition to being crowned Game of the Year (besting Assassin’s Creed III, Dishonored, Journey, and Mass Effect 3), it also won Best Adapted Video Game, Best Performance by a Human Female (Melissa Hutchison as Clementine), and Best Downloadable Game. Developer Telltale Games was named Studio of the Year for making the title. Borderlands 2 came in close second taking home four Monkeys for Best Shooter, Best Multiplayer Game, Best Performance by a Human Male (Dameon Clarke as Handsome Jack), and Character of the Year (Clap Trap). Journey followed by winning Best PS3 Game, Best Independent Game, and Best Original Score (fun fact: the indie game’s composer Austin Wintory landed a Grammy nomination in the Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media category).
For the full list of winners, jump after the break.
Now in addition to handing out awards, game developers use the show as a platform to introduce gamers to upcoming titles and this year’s bunch was exciting and exhilarating as ever. The following games debuted never-before-seen world premiere trailers: South Park: The Stick of Truth (Obsidian Entertainment), The Phantom Pain (Moby Dick Studios), “The Last of Us” (Naughty Dog, coming out May 7, 2013), Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (Konami), Dark Souls II (From Software), Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington (Ubisoft), Gears of War: Judgment (Epic Games), Tomb Raider (Square Enix), Halo 4: Spartan Ops (Microsoft Studios), and BioShock Infinite (2K Games).
Watch all the VGA exclusive trailers after the break. (Click here for more…)
Even if you aren’t a Windows aficionado, you should take an hour out of your day to watch this. Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team, took the stage at UX Week 2012, a user experience design conference. His presentation is called “The Story of Windows 8,” it details how Microsoft reimagined Windows for the next wave of PCs. He travels back in time to 1992, the year the Start Menu, Taskbar, and many of the other familiar facets of Windows were born. “They were designed to help people do things with computers that they did in 1992, not necessarily with what people do today with PCs, tablets, [and] phones today,” admits Harris. And this is what compelled the company to radically re-engineer the OS. Many things have been updated and refreshed over the years from Windows 95 to Windows 7, but “the basic elements of the user interface have remained the same,” he explains. Instead of waiting to be engulfed by the modern, his team decided to reimagine Windows by defining what is modern.
Over the course of the presentation, Harris gives a grand tour of Windows 8, interweaving and fully detailing the OS’ design principles (namely do more with less, authentically digital, pride in craftsmanship, fast and fluid, win as one).
He makes it a point to highlight the progression of Windows and what makes the latest release stand out from all the others. But what’s most fascinating about this intellectual and informative presentation is its overall theme which Harris calls “familiar usurped by modern.” Before diving into the OS, he spans the video game, smartphone, and automobile industries to compare and contrast “familiar” products and ideas to “modern” ones. It’s a course in shifting the status quo, being bold by leading by example, what it means to think and be modern. For design enthusiasts it’s a captivating watch, and along the way you might just learn all about the painstaking, detail-oriented effort that went into the making of Microsoft’s new OS.