This Monday, June 6 Steve Jobs and company will take the stage at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference. It had previously been hinted that Apple would be diving into the worlds of iOS and Mac OS at the event, but now thanks to a brief but promising press release we know this: Apple will be unveiling the eighth major release of Mac OS X called Lion, the next version of their mobile operating system dubbed iOS 5, and iCloud, “Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.” All signs point to the company demonstrating a music locker service similar to Google and Amazon’s recent offerings, but this is Apple and you know Jobs has something magical up his sleeve. Per usual, keep it here for the breaking news come Monday. Though it might not feature the next iPhone, this keynote looks like it’ll be a memorable one. Apple–to the cloud! Full PR after the break.
In related Apple news, the iWork suite is now available for all iOS devices. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers can now be installed and run on iPhones and iPod touches, in addition to the iPad. Specifically they are universal apps that run on iPad and iPad 2, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, and iPod touch (3rd & 4th generation). They sell for $9.99 in the App Store, and if you currently own one or more of the apps on your iPad you can port them over to your other iOS device(s) for free. PR goodness after the break.
Today Conan O’Brien announced the name of his new TBS show. He pointed his followers on Twitter to his TeamCoCo website where a video (embedded above) greets his fans and reveals the “simple, pure” name of the show. “Spoiler alert: The words “Tonight” and “Show” aren’t in it”, Conan tweeted. On the site he says, “I was really pushing for “360 with Anderson Cooper featuring Conan O’Brien”, but no one had my back.” I won’t spoil the announcement for you, so click play! I cannot wait for the return of Conan. He comes back to the air November 8 on TBS. Look after the break for the official image of the show name.
It’s that exciting time of year again. E3, the world’s biggest and baddest video games trade show, is upon us! From Monday June 14 through Thursday June 17 [experience-it-all] is your destination for the latest coverage from the major E3 press conferences and the show floor. E3, which stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo, is not open to the public. In order to gain access into the show, you must be affiliated with the interactive entertainment industry. It has been a life-long dream of mine to attend E3, and now I’ve finally found my way in. I want you to live vicariously through me by checking into the site. Throughout the course of the week I will be reporting from the show floor providing developer interviews and hands-on impressions of the latest and greatest games coming soon to video game consoles, PCs, and mobile devices near you.
E3 brings together thousands of developers who are itching to show off their games to the world. First there’s “the big three” in Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. 2010 is the year of motion control; Microsoft will unveil the near-final version Project Natal, Sony will show off its latest foray into the motion scene with Playstation Move, and Nintendo will have to prove why Wii should remain the go-to console for interactive and motion-based gaming against the onslaught of competition. Then there’s the third-party developers including (but certainly not limited to) 2K Games, Capcom, EA, Konami, Lucas Arts, SEGA, THQ, Ubisoft, and Valve. The show floor will be packed with lavish company booths (and requisite booth babes) featuring game trailers, demos, and developers ready to answer any and all questions about their upcoming games. And I will be right there smack in the middle of it all, reporting all the latest news straight to you.
Here’s how it’s all going down. Things kick off Monday (6/14) morning at 10:30AM (PT) with the Microsoft press conference. Later that day is the “Project Natal” for Xbox 360 Experience show (read more about that here). Tuesday (6/15) jam packs the Nintendo press conference at 9:00AM, the Sony press conference at noon, and the opening day of the E3 show floor at the LA Convention Center. The convention center is stays open through Thursday (6/17). I will be on the show floor all three days with a broadcast crew, constantly pushing out posts with video and images of hands-on experiences and developer interviews.
[experience-it-all] @ E3 2010. Tell your friends.
From June 14 to June 17, your destination for E3 coverage is [experience-it-all].
Yesterday at the Game Developer’s Conference Sony finally made official the PlayStation Motion Controller as PlayStation Move. Dubbed the “next generation of motion gaming,” PS Move will take on Nintendo’s Wii-mote directly with a wireless Move controller and sub-controller (don’t call it a nunchuck). Paired with the PlayStation Eye (Sony’s webcam device for the PS3) the PS Move will become an “extension of your body” with near 1:1 motion precision and accuracy. Sony says the Move’s latency is about the same to that of its DualShock 3 controller (about a 1fps delay). The Move contains “advanced motion sensors, including a three-axis gyroscope, a three-axis accelerometer, and a terrestrial magnetic field sensor, as well as a color-changing sphere that is tracked by PlayStation Eye camera.”
So what differentiates the Move controller from the Wii-mote? The answer lies in the Z-plane. The PS Eye tracks the colored sphere at the front of the controller and can sense when you are moving closer to or farther away from the on-screen action. The Eye+Motion setup will be able to detect motion in 3D space (the Z-plane) far more effectively than the Wii-mote+Wii sensor bar configuration (especially if you don’t have the WiiMotionPlus add-on). Other differences from the Wii-mote: the controller and sub-controller wirelessly pair to the PS3 via Bluetooth, they are USB-powered (no batteries), and the sub-controller does not have a motion sensor (the Wii nunchuck does). Also, since the PS Eye can capture images and voice, augmented reality experiences can incorporated into games.
Sony’s plan is to market the PS Move not just to casual games but also to the rabid hardcore, FPS-lovin’ group of gamers. They’ve come out and said that 36 third party developers and publishers are on board to make games supporting the new motion controller, promising that over 20 games “that are either dedicated to or supported with the PlayStation Move platform” will release this year. At the GDC press conference Sony announced the following Motion-supported games, many with tentative titles: Move Party (collection of mini-games with augmented reality features); Sports Champions (think Wii Sports on the PS3; demos included table tennis, sword fighting, and archery); SOCOM 4; TV Superstars; Slider; The Shoot; Motion Fighter; Eye-Pet; and Brunswick Pro Bowling. Click here to see Joystiq’s hands on coverage of the games.
PlayStation Move will be made available for purchase in three ways come Holiday 2010: a starter kit includes the PS Move controller, PS Eye, and a game and will sell for under $100; you can buy the Move controller standalone; or you can get a PS3 console bundled with the Move controller. An exact launch date and definitive pricing details will surface as we get closer to the holiday season.
A motion controller for the PS3 is coming soon. Question is, how will it fare in competition with the Nintendo Wii and the forthcoming Microsoft Project Natal? Wii-like motion controls being implemented into both casual and hardcore games in high definition sounds tempting, but it all comes down to execution. If Sony lives up to its promise and makes sure to release a decent variety of motion-supported games inside the launch window the new controller will likely be embraced by many PS3 users. PlayStation Move will find a niche in the gaming community, especially with a sub-$100 price tag. Motion-detection offers a new way to experience video games; in particular it invites users to become more immersed in the games they play (like what 3D did with Avatar). With Wii living in the stone ages (graphics/lack of hardcore third party games support) and hype for Project Natal growing louder every day, the ball is in Sony’s court and it’s up to them to get this right.
Look after the break for the Sony press release and the Move introduction video. The gallery below contains the first official press shots of the controller and sub-controller.
President Obama shared the spotlight with Steve Jobs Wednesday when the State of the Union Address coincided with the Apple iPad announcement. You knew this mashup was bound to happen. (And it’s quite good, actually!)
Today Apple announced its latest technological advancement, the Apple iPad. Before I jump to my initial reactions let’s break down all the announcements from the keynote event led by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
The specs: The iPad features a 9.7 inch (1024×768 VGA) LED-backlit glossy fully capacitive multi-touch display with ISP technology (allowing for a wide 178° viewing angle); it’s powered by Apple’s custom-designed 1GHz Apple A4 chip (it’s a system-on-a-chip, packing the processor, graphics, I/O, and memory controller); it also includes a built-in accelerometer and ambient light sensor, AGPS, a digital compass, WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 2.1, and 3G (more on that later). It will ship with 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB solid state drives. Input and output includes a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, a 30-pin dock connector, a microphone, built-in speakers, and a SIM card tray. It supports the usual video, mail attachment, language, and accessibility extensions. It packs a built-in rechargable lithium-polymer battery that lasts up to ten hours with usage and supports over a month of standby life. It’s also environmentally friendly. It has a very minimalist design; the external controls include the on/off (or sleep/wake) button at the top, mute and volume up/down switches to the right, and the home button at the bottom of the face. It’s dimensions are 9.56×7.47, 0.5 inches thin, and it weighs 1.5 pounds.
The software: Although it was not specified, the iPad runs an updated and iPad-optimized version of the iPhone OS software, presumably version 3.2. When you press the home button you enter an all-touch experience that is extremely similar to what you find on an iPhone or iPod touch today. After you get passed the lock screen, you are brought to your customizable home screen. Jobs noted that users will have the option to change their background images with preloaded screens or their pictures. The iPad will ship with the following apps: mobile Safari, Mail, Photos, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, YouTube, iPod, Video, and Maps (powered by Google). All of these apps are similar to their iPhone/iPod touch counterparts; they have simply been modified and enhanced by Apple to perform on a larger touch-based device. Two noteworthy enhancements include menu popovers and split-view workspaces that really take advantage of the larger display. And thanks to the built-in accelerometer, all apps support landscape and portrait modes. Side note: If you own a Mac and use iPhoto, the iPad will recognize this and further organize your photos into events, faces, and places categories. Most apps support an “almost life-size” virtual QWERTY keyboard that pops up when it’s needed.
The iPad comes with modified but familiar iTunes and Apps Stores. It will run “almost all” of the current 400,000 apps that exist in the App Store today. It runs the apps unmodified in two ways: you have the option to use them in a tiny format (so you don’t lose pixel quality) or you can tap a “x2” button that expands and scales the app full screen by automatically doubling the amount of pixels. Apple was quick to note that an updated version of the iPhone SDK (available today) will give developers the tools to modify and enhance their apps for the iPad. This will allow devs to take advantage of the larger screen and more powerful internals the same way Apple did with their apps. The keynote featured modified apps from Gameloft (Nova), EA (Need for Speed: Shift), MLB.com At Bat, The New York Times, and a paint app with Photoshop-like capabilities called Brushes.
Apple introduced a few new apps themselves. iBooks is Apple’s new e-reader app that serves as a place to read your collection of books and a portal to Apple’s brand new iBookstore. Here you can browse, preview, and purchase books from HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillian, and Hachette Book Group. Apples notes that they welcome all book and textbook publishers to join this new outlet for readers. Pricing details were not enclosed, but a demo revealed a number of books costing $12.99 and $14.99. The eBooks support the popular ePub format and are a visual treat. Once you purchase a book it is placed on your Bookshelf. Simply tap a book’s cover to start reading. You can change the font, font size, and search the text for keywords. The sleek UI includes tap or swipe gestures for page turning. Apple also intro’d a new version of iWork, built from the ground up for the iPad. iWork’s Keynote, Pages, and Numbers can be used to create slideshows, documents, and spreadsheets, respectively, right on the iPad. They will be sold separately at $9.99 each in the App Store.
Syncing the iPad to iTunes with a PC or Mac is done just like an iPhone or iPod does it. You can sync photos, music, movies, TV shows, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, and apps to it via the included 30-pin connector to USB cable.
Internet access: Apple is giving the user two options here. You can buy the iPad with built-in WiFi or you can opt to purchase an iPad that packs both WiFi and 3G service. The 3G service will be provided by AT&T with two different plans: (1) up to 250MB of data per month for $14.99; (2) unlimited data for $29.99. AT&T also throws in free use of designated WiFi hotspots. The AT&T plans are prepaid with no contract, so you are free to cancel a plan at any time. You also have the leisure of activating the 3G service on the iPad without going to a store or calling a company. It was noted that international deals should be sorted out by June, all iPad 3G models will come unlocked, and they use “new GSM micro SIM cards.”
Pricing and availability: There will be a total of eight different iPad models on the market. The first group of three are WiFi only and include 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities priced at $499, $599, and $699, respectively. The second group of three are WiFi +3G and include the same capacities, each with a $129 price increase (so $629, $729, $829). The WiFi models will be available for purchase in about 60 days (late March) and the WiFi + 3G models will come soon after in about 90 days (sometime in April).
Accessories: Apple unveiled four accessories for the iPad. The first is a standard charging dock that doubles as a digital picture frame. The second is a keyboard dock ($69); it charges the device and also includes a full-sized physical QWERTY keyboard that attaches to the iPad via the 30-pin connector. The third is an Apple designed black case ($39) that can also be used as a stand for watching video. The fourth is a camera connection kit ($29) that allows you to import photos to the iPad via your camera’s USB cable or directly from an SD card.
What’s missing: Multitasking, camera(s), Flash video support, and HDMI out, for starters. We’ve come to accept that the iPhone and iPod touch cannot do multitasking, but there is no reason that the iPad cannot support at least two applications running at the same time. The powerful 1GHz chip can beautifully render HD video, load up and present pictures extremely quickly, and run graphics and power intensive games. For a processor that’s described as “a screamer,” the lack of multitasking capabilities is a real shame. How about a camera? Though rumors pointed to front-facing and standard webcam implementation, there should at least be one backfacing camera installed for video chat. And don’t tell me the the processor can’t handle that. The lack of Flash video support in mobile Safari is a real bummer; forget about watching Hulu videos on it. (This is Apple’s decision; Adobe is able and willing to share Flash software.) The inclusion of HDMI out would have made perfect sense. The device can play HD videos downloaded from iTunes; why not give the user the ability to extend their viewing experience to the TV? What of the newspaper/magazine digital revolution? I expected Apple to make a big push with partnerships with Time and The Wall Street Journal, formulate subscription-based models, and so forth. I guess things will start small with the intro of updated apps and this will eventually lead to more significant changes. Lastly there’s the decision to go with AT&T for data, again. The latest round of rumors were really pushing for an Apple-Verizon Wireless partnership for the iPhone and the tablet. Guess we’ll have to wait on that, too.
And that brings me to my initial reactions. Rumors of an Apple tablet have been swirling for years, nearly for a decade, in fact. All of us highly anticipated and theorized its pending existence as the never-ending rumors continued to pile up over the years. I imagined the mysterious Apple tablet to revolutionize the portable computer industry just as Apple forever changed the landscape of the mobile phone arena with the iPhone. Having watched today’s keynote in its entirety I was left surprisingly underwhelmed by the announcement of the iPad, though I do see a bright future for it. (Click here for more…)
Apple will be holding a special event Wednesday, January 27 at 10AM PST at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco. I think we all know what the big announcement will be: the oft-rumored Apple Tablet (aka iSlate aka Magic Slate aka iPad). The latest speculation believes Steve Jobs may announce one or more of the following: the tablet, a new iPhone, iPhone OS 4.0, and the next iLife suite. Obviously I have my money on the tablet announcement. The recent slew of rumors surrounding the tablet (including talks of Verizon and various book and magazine publishers involvement) has me really excited about this event. Be sure to check back here Wednesday evening for full coverage and a rundown of all pertinent announcements.
Today Google revealed its take on the operating system. And it’s called Chrome OS. What’s that you say? You’ve heard of Google Chrome, you are using it right now? Google Chrome is a browser, just like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox. What Google has announced is an operating system (think Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X) that runs in the Chrome browser skin. The desktop and the entire workplace resides in what looks very much like the Google Chrome browser you may be using today. The team at Google knows that when most people turn on their computer they go directly to their browser of choice to access the Internet. Their plan is to streamline this process by making the browser the home base of your computer.
Now let’s talk hard facts. Chrome OS is based on Linux and the current Chrome browser. It is entirely web-based and only runs web apps. All your storage will live in the Internet “cloud;” this means that all of your data (documents, music, pictures, etc.) will be stored online. Local hard drives will only be accessed to cache data and keep your computer speedy. Think of the cloud in the same terms you think of how your email is handled. You don’t download your email messages to your hard drive; it is all stored on the Internet, whether you use AOL Mail, Gmail, whatever. An advantage of an OS based on the cloud: You can take your virtual space with you everywhere; all you need handy is your login information and a Chrome OS-capable computer to sign in and access all your data. The OS itself is “light;” it will take just seconds to fully boot up your computer. And this is one of Google’s main goals: to get you on the Internet as fast and safe as possible. Speaking of safety, Chrome OS will be highly resistive to viruses and malware; Google has designed a security layer based on its own binaries and the OS easily upgradable with over-the-Internet updates for the entire OS.
I’ll let Will Ferrell and Adam McKay introduce the services to you.
Let’s get right to the details of the PS3 Slim:
- 32% smaller, 36% lighter, 34% less power than its chunkier brother, the original PS3
- Boasts all the same features of the bulkier PS3, so still no backwards compatability with PS2 games
- Adds one feature: BRAVIA Sync – you can browse the PS3 XMB with your Sony TV remote, PS3 will power down when TV shuts off (if both devices are connected via HDMI)
- Removes one feature: The ability to install an operating system (like Linux) is gone.
- Matte finish
- 120GB HDD
- 2 USB ports (down from 4)
- Price- $299; release date – early September
- UPDATE: According to Engadget, the power and eject buttons on the front of the console are physical buttons that press down now; the HDD is swappable; the PS3 logo does not rotate; feels siginifcantly lighter in hands compared to the old PS3. Also, according to Gizmodo, Sony plans to change the PS3 logo and reformat the PS brand name from PLAYSTATION 3 to Playstation 3. That’s better!
Arriving concurrently with the PS3 Slim hardware is the 3.0 firmware update:
- XMB redesigned
- Information Board replaced with “What’s New” – populated with news and information from the world of Playstation (latest and greatest games, videos, etc); you can launch immediately from recently played games
- Playstation Store game and video sections placed under the Games and Video icons in the XMB, respectively
- Animated themes are available in the PS Store (themes can change with time of day, etc.)
- Upper right hand corner – space for avatar, friend icon w/ # of friends online, mail
- More avatar selections available through the PS Store (free and premium)
- Available via a free download on September 1
At the GamesCon in Germany, Sony had additional announcements concerning PS3, PSP, and the Playstation Network (PSN):
- Effective today, all PS3 systems will cost $299; that is a $100 price drop. Once the PS3 Slim releases in early September it will take the place of its thicker older brother.
- Sony introduced Minis; they are “bite-sized” games that will be made for the PSP & PSP go! and will sell as digital downloads only in the PS Store. The titles will have a 100MB size limit. The first bunch of Minis will be made available on October 1, the same day as the release of the PSP go! Sony has planned to release 15 Minis for launch, and about 50 games for the remainder of 2009. Some of these games include Tetris, Field Runners, Hero of Sparta and Minigore.
- PSN video store and PSN cards will be available to access and sell, respectively, in Europe this fall. The video store will initially sell movies only, and will expand its library from there. The PSN cards will sell in 20 and 50 euros demoninations.
- Sony announced the PSP Digital Reader; the plan is to digitize a bunch of comics, sell them in the PS Store, and make them available to read on the PSP. Sony’s first major partner is Marvel and they plan to have “hundreds available, including the Marvel Comics stable.”
- Three new PSP color variations will be sold in Europe this November: “Turquoise” blue, “Lilac” purple, and “Blossom” pink.
See the galleries below for: (1) official PS3 Slim shots; (2) Engadget’s PS3 Slim unboxing shots
Look after the break for: (1) a video tour of the PS3 3.0 software; (2) firmware 3.0 full details; (3) a video of PS President Jack Tretton talking about the new announcements; (4) PS3 Slim spec sheet