FiLIP, a smartwatch and ‘locator’ for kids that takes helicopter parenting to an excessive level, is heading to AT&T’s lineup as an exclusive. As you’d expect from a device targeted to tagging kids, the FiLIP doesn’t come close to the functionality of something more grown-up like the Galaxy Gear. It’s mainly intended to be a colorful way to keep tabs on your kids, whitelist who can call their wrists, see their current location (via GPS, WiFi and cell tower triangulation), send texts and set safe zone parameters, so you know when you’re child is literally out-of-bounds. It’s the stuff of overprotective mothers’ dreams and, at some point in the “coming months,” those needy momagers will be able to pick it up for an undisclosed price with requisite data plan at AT&T. Basically, this is just AT&T giving that neurotic demo a heads-up — you know, plenty of time to add FiLIP to the ever-increasing to-do list. If you thought you had it bad as a kid, imagine what life’s going to be like for this upcoming generation. Show full PR textAT&T and FiLIP Technologies Team Up to Keep Parents and Kids in TouchFiLIP, a Wearable Locator and Voice Watch for Kids, Designed to Meet the Safety and Communication Needs of AT&T CustomersAT&T* and Filip Technologies today announced they are bringing FiLIP, a wearable device for the wrist that keeps parents and kids in touch at the push of a button, to the U.S. market in the coming months. Under an agreement with Filip Technologies, AT&T is the exclusive network provider for FiLIP and will provide distribution and billing services for the product.”FiLIP is exactly the type of device for which we formed the Emerging Devices team at AT&T. Filip Technologies is taking wearable device innovation in a new direction – going beyond the smart watch to solve a real problem for parents and make their lives easier,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president, Emerging Devices, AT&T Mobility.FiLIP focuses only on the features that parents want – location, voice calling, and direct messaging to their child. The parent remains in control at all times through an app on their smartphone, including the designation of five trusted contacts with whom the child can communicate. FiLIP also allows parents to set Safe Zones, triggering a notification if the child enters or leaves a designated area, and features an intelligent emergency procedure to locate the child and put them in touch with family if needed. FiLIP was granted FCC certification in July.”Our goal with FiLIP has been to create a product that empowers kids to explore their world while remaining in touch with those who care about them the most,” said Jonathan Peachey, CEO of Filip Technologies. “With their extensive wireless coverage, commitment to innovation and excellent customer care, AT&T is the ideal carrier to help us bring FiLIP to the U.S. market.”Additional details on pricing and service plans will be available in the coming months.For more information on Filip Technologies, visit www.myfilip.com. For the complete array of AT&T offerings, visit www.att.com.*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
Anyone on Twitter yesterday couldn’t avoid the rush of tweets about the iPhone 5c and 5s. NetBase is a social media intelligence company that checks the pulse of public opinion through Twitter and other social media, and they provided some data to TUAW about how the announcements were received. The company looked at public sentiment for Apple between September 1 and September 10, with almost 3 million mentions of Apple and new products leading up to the event.According to NetBase, between 10 AM and 12 PM PDT on September 10, there were about 600,000 additional mentions of Apple online, 99 percent of which were on Twitter. The iPhone 5s received the most positive discussion, with 71 percent of all tweets being favorable towards the new phone. The iPhone 5c received 63 percent positive tweets, the same as iOS 7.What’s most fascinating are the comments made about the products. On the positive side:iPhone 5s: looks, fast, battery, better than the 5, cameraiPhone 5c: inexpensive, beautiful & bright colors, Android-freeiOS 7: free, best on 5s, popular operating systemThe negative comments sound like they’re coming from Android fanbots:iPhone 5s: expensive, weird, slowiPhone 5c: not cheap, tacky colorsiOS 7: looks like s**t, rip off of Nokia Lumia, don’t careThe chart at the top of this post shows that the net sentiment regarding Apple rose slightly over the past 10 days; you can see a full-sized image in the slideshow below. Gallery: NetBase — Net Sentiment for Apple 9/1/13 – 9/10/13 | 1 Photos 1 Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, announced last week, received about the same level of positive response as the iPhone 5c, with 68 percent of 115,371 mentions expressing a positive feel for the device.
One saying I grew up hearing was, “Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it!” Well in this case, I couldn’t be happier that I did! After pleading the case for event encores in The Secret World, we actually have just that. Starting last Friday and lasting for two full weeks is a continuation of the Guardians of Gaia anniversary event. However, Gilded Rage is not an exact duplicate of the one enjoyed when TSW celebrated the one-year mark of its release; rather, it’s an additional performance after the main event with definite similarities to the original (fighting a golem!) as well as some distinct differences (fighting A golem!). And this is the place to get the scoop on all of it!Whether you missed the event the first go-around and you want to get in on the experience (and the AP!) this time or you are driven to complete the pet collection (gotta catch ’em all!), this is the guide for you. With tips, tricks, and valuable intel, you can make the most of this golden opportunity. To start things off, I just want to give Funcom a nice solid clap on the back. It appears devs did learn a thing or two from the last event and have avoided some of the pitfalls that besmirched Gilded Rage’s predecessor. For one, there was no Fusang part — with its restrictive queues — to prevent players from completing a piece of the event, such as obtaining desired lore. For that matter, there isn’t any lore, period. The entire thing takes place out in the world where anyone and everyone can go.Although Gilded Rage has been going on only a couple of days (as of this writing), things seem to be going pretty smoothly; there haven’t been any glaring issues to detract from the event. Of course, as with any massive world boss, there is also the battle of the lag monster, but there are steps that can be taken to minimize the chances of a still-frame fight. If you are experiencing really harsh lag and you’ve already lowered your settings, there’s another trick to making the experience run a bit more smoothly. Type in /setoption SpellEffect_DisplayLevel 4 (to turn effects off); /setoption SpellEffect_DisplayLevel 0 (to revert to the original settings). [Edit: Devs have now released a file that players can add to their game folders to reduce lag more.]I know I am not the only one who appreciates these little improvements. By way of example, here is just one comment I heard regarding the event, this one from Clerisy: “This event feels like they thought the anniversary event went over great and tried to improve it.” OK, now let’s get down to business. If you are familiar with the last guardian event, then you know the drill: The Gatekeeper wanders through the world and finds a nice place to spawn a big Guardian of Gaia, all in the name of protecting the earth. Of course, it just won’t do to have these behemoths lumbering around, so it’s the job of the bee-blessed to dispatch them. However, the spawned golem is a world boss and therefore they require many bee-blessed on hand to take them down. If you missed the last event, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. It’s about the AP and loot, baby! OK,OK, and the SP, too. And did I mention the loot?Basically, the whole event revolves around downing a world boss, the Guardian of Gaia. And because it’s a world boss, you get lots of XP when you defeat it, which translates to AP and SP. Gobs of AP and SP. Unfortunately, by the time you read this, the double AP portion of the event will be over (’tis a shame if you didn’t take advantage of it), but each world boss kill throughout the remainder of the event will net you a hefty chunk — enough to finish off decks or play respec if you so desire.Beating the boss also gets you some nifty loot. And unlike some games where loot — if it drops — is limited in nature and only a lucky few get something, in TSW all participants of the guardian battle get a Genizah of the Solar Metal loot bag. That’s because the bag is a quest reward. The quest is received as soon as the golem dies (as long as you got at least one hit on it) and then auto updates two seconds later. There is no cooldown timer on this mission.Every bag is guaranteed to have loot, though which loot is up to the RNG. Possible rewards include one or two signet bags, Black Bullion (one, two, or four), golden skull headphones, golden fiery eyes, a golden bowtie choker, one of the six piece of the golden golem pet (more on that later), or even a Shem of the Lunar Metal. That’s right — if you missed out on the shiny silver Fusang pet last time, you’ve got another chance. And even better, you don’t have to fight a Fusang queue to get it. However, you do have to appease the RNG gods somehow.As before, the loot bags themselves can be traded before they are opened, but the items inside (with the exception of the signet bags) cannot. As for the loot, so far it appears that once you have one of the character bound pieces, the bags won’t reward you with another. At least, of all the ones I have opened, I have never gotten a duplicate golem piece or clothing item. The shiny gold suit you see running around is available in the store only and for a hefty price now that the special is over. The golden top hat, however, is a reward for assembling the pet.Unlike the previous event, this event requires you to face only a single golem, the golden Samsu Nasiru (AKA Blingzilla to Kirsten Geary). But if you want the loot, you will have to face it many, many times. To participate, you can just go about your regular TSW routines and hope you bump into a golden behemoth in your particular dimension and instance. However, the chances of doing so are slim, and the chances of defeating one on your own are zero to none. To really get the most out of Gilded Rage, you need to join the crowd.To keep up on the various sightings of boss spawnings across the dimensions, you need to join a new chat channel made especially for the event; type /chat join gildedevent (and don’t forget to hit enter!). The very first time you join you might also have to open up your chat tab options and select subscribe channels > public groups > #GildedEvent. Now the channel should appear any time you join it.Once you’re in the channel, keep in mind that it is reserved for calling out boss locations and offering meet-ups for folks, so random chatter is discouraged. Sadly, in the few short days of this event so far, I have met a whole lot more jerks in channel than the entirety of the last event. Maybe it will mellow out after the double AP weekend, but so far it’s been pretty disappointing to find such snippish people being so rude to folks.If you’re a bit of a chatty-Cathy and you want to have more event conversations, there are other official channels for ramblings. Talking about loot goes in the #GildedTrade channel, technical help from other players can be found in #GildedHelp, and random chatter goes in, you guessed it, #GildedRandom. To join, just do the same (without the ) that you did for the event channel, substituting whichever channel’s name you desire.Once you know where a boss is, how do you get to it? Using the speed travel known as meet up. You can meet up with other folks simply by adding them to your friends list then selecting meet up under their name; this will transport you to that person’s exact dimension and instance. You should be able to now use the coordinates (or follow the crowd) to the boss. If you end up at the Agartha entrance of the zone far away from the boss location or you travel to the loc and there is no boss in sight, chances are the particular instance was full and you were put in another. Just watch for another call-out and move on to the next boss. You can also compare your current instance and server by pressing shift+F9 and your location will appear in chat. (That’s also very handy when you find a guardian and you want to enlist the help of others to smack it down.)My extra tip for you: When you see a large part of the crowd at a distance, take that as a cue that you probably should too. Golden Boy has the same upheaval skill that the Fusang golem did, and it flings you up and incapacitates you while itEarlier I mentioned that to get the next (final?) pet in the Gaia event collection, you have to do a lot more than just luck out and get the little shem in a loot bag. In fact, you have to collect all the parts — a right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg, torso, and head. Once all the pieces are gathered, open the crafting interface (default “y”) and place all the pieces in the correct order to assemble your new Shem of the Solar Metal. Basically, just make it look like a doll: Put the head in the crafting grid, then underneath that put the torso with the right arm to the left and the left arm to the right. Finish up with the left leg under the left arm and the right under the right. Click assemble and you should have a shiny new pet.As you all probably know, I went straight for the pet. But in the process, I also got some nifty clothing items and a ton of new abilities. What I don’t seem to have is the self control to stop as long as the event is going, so if you see Emylia online, feel free to say hi and I’ll help you through the event. Remember, it disappears in less than two-week’s time now, ao go get in while the getting’s good. Happy hunting everyone!Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos — the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ and Justin every Monday as they infiltrate The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and they’ll jump on the case!
Ruhka’s Demonic PalaceI am not a social person – I like calm and quiet surroundings and I tend to not talk to people much – however, I am nowhere near as anti-social as I used to be, mostly because through the social aspect of WoW and raiding with my guild I have created a lot of my social skills. Without the friendly chatting and banter during raids and the casual conversations in guild chat, I don’t know what I would be like today. Having that environment inWoW where there were people I could chat with and hang out with really helped my issues with socializing. Astalnar at Cogitationes AstalnarisIn all those years I played WoW, I finished high school, am about to wrap things up on university. SoonTM. Really. I promise. I met numerous people, both good and trolls. With some of those people We are still friends, even now when some of us moved to other games. We still stay in touch, play Chivalry, League of Legends or whatever the flavour of the month is.Mangkepweng at WoW’s The Thing …I was in law school at that time. WoW released its first expansion and experienced WoW players are already raiding Black Temple. I was playing at an Internet Shop in Katipunan (iHooked) and was mindlessly levelling my Human Warlock when this little guy approached me and started to converse about playing WoW. He convinced me to transfer to Coilfang because there is a Filipino guild there. The little guy turned out to be Toto, the guild master of the biggest Filipino guild there (Katipunan). Since my Human Warlock was only level 30+ at that time, I decided to re-roll a new toon in Coilfang and the rebirth of Mangkepweng happened.pyrephoenix at Corhi, casually.I still work for the company I did when I started, though these days it’s in a completely different capacity. Most of the people I worked with who played as well when I started have moved on. One lives in North Carolina. One lived with him for a while and moved back to start playing again. Another is happier playing Final Fantasy 14 and Guild Wars 2 these days. I now have three children; the middle one was only a few months old and the youngest was still just a twinkle when I bought the game. Now our oldest has a level 80-something paladin and druid, the middle one just likes rolling orcs and making fun of them, and my youngest will watch over our shoulders and cheer. My partner let herself get talked into starting a toon “for something to do with me”… these days she’s progression raiding with an amazing guild (9/14 SoO), while I sit in the background waving a little ‘go team!’ flag.JeffLaBowski at SportsbardWarcraft has had a big impact on my life. I have met some really cool people online and even talked to some on vent and phone conversations. I have since started this here blog, which gets me to write on a regular basis. Something I wasn’t doing. I still need to become more disciplined in my writing (because I do want to do it professionally at some point). I have written probably 500+ poems and 3 novels, which still remain unpublished. So this is nice to be able to blog about WoW and the occasional sports or entertainment topic.AkiresBlizzard has created a world that I will never forget, and in many ways has defined who I am and who my friends are to this day. To many, this isn’t just a game, it’s a life experience. Talk to anyone who played from close to the beginning, and they’ll all tell you that.saandstormI started playing right after the gates of AQ opened. I bought WoW sort of as a Valentines Day joke for my partner who was looking for a new video game to play after getting bored with Diablo II. I had never seen an MMO before and watched him play for a good two weeks before he said: “Get Your Own Game!” Fast forward to today, we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary and we both have been playing WoW for most of our relationship.Ron2I’m mostly the same guy was five years ago, with the same family, house, and job; that’s not too surprising since I was 30 and married before I first set foot in Azeroth. I have, however, started and finished my Master’s degree in that span, and learned to play the violin and piano reasonably well.Otto SchwarzmillerDec 15 2004.I had to wait a couple weeks after it launched because I was in a training class in the Army. Since that time I deployed to Iraq, got out of the Army, got my Bachelors degree, got a good job, got married and Im now looking into buying a house.I dont raid like I used to back in the classic/TBC era, but WoW is still a part of my gaming life.Patrice AnneWell, it has been a very long, glorious ride. Started playing shortly after wow went live, way back when hunters (my first toon) used mana and arrows (or bullets), and when hunters had to tame a beast to teach that skill to their own pet. Lots has happened since then; lost a fiancé (wow geek-who taught me how to play), had three major car accidents, almost finished college, contracted pneumonia from a client, moved from Illinois (and the dreaded snow) to beautiful North Carolina (yeah, no snow); met a wonderful guy (another wow player), life is good.Jack RobbEarly May 2009. I’ve told the story here before-best friend wanted to do RAF, told me I just needed to stay long enough for her to get the mount, nothing more, since I had all too frequently asserted I wasn’t going to play WoW since it consumed everyone I knew. Four and a half years later, she’s taken several long breaks from the game while I became a progression raider and guild master.To be fair, though, she got the mount.BulliwyfthetankWoW has helped pull me out of some tough spots in my life, has brought 2 of the most important people in my life to me, and has given me hours upon hours of solid entertainment.I one day hope to meet Chris Metzen, Greg Street, and Mike Morhaime so that I can shake their hands and thank them for making such a wonderful game and more importantly an amazing story that has brought so much happiness to me and my family.I’ve got the warm fuzzies now.If you have any suggestions for future Community Blog Topics, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.
members to its Transformer family back at Computex, and now at IDF 2013, the company’s added yet another, called the Transformer Book T100. It’s got a 10.1 inch 1366 x 768 IPS display, 31Wh battery, quad-core Bay Trail-T Atom CPU and runs Windows 8.1. There are 32 ($349) and 64GB ($399) storage options augmented by one free year of ASUS’s WebStorage service and a micro-SD reader, plus 2GB of RAM to keep things running smoothly. Connectivity includes micro-USB, micro-HDMI, and a single USB 3.0 port in the detachable dock. The T100 arrives in stores on October 18.Company CEO Johnny Shih, calls the T100 a transformation of the ASUS’s venerable EeePC line. You see, with the EeePC, compromises were made to hit its $399 price point. Naturally, the T100 makes no such compromises, according to Shih, and in fact, he calls it a “game changer for mobile devices designed to achieve ultimate mobility.” Do we agree with his glowing assessment? Read on for our hands-on impressions. Gallery: ASUS Transformer Book T100 press shots | 5 Photos 5 +1 For the price, the T100 has some very solid hardware. While the whole chassis is constructed of plastic, the tablet portion has a glossy, metallic paint finish with vaguely visible concentric circles emanating from the centrally-located chrome ASUS logo that hearkens the firms Zenbook lid designs. Meanwhile, the dock is finished in a soft touch paint, textured to feel like finished metal. Both halves of the T100 are solidly built, with zero flex in the keyboard deck or the tablet itself. We rather liked the soft finish of the dock, but the tablet portion, as you might expect gathered fingerprints as easily as did the glossy screen. Gallery: ASUS Transformer Book T100 hands-on | 20 Photos 20 +16 During our brief time with the device, we found that the T100’s key buttons have a surprising amount of travel, and we imagine they’ll work well for plowing through emails. Given the lackluster performance of many Windows machine trackpads, we were also surprised to find that the T100’s pad was glitch free — two finger scrolling and regular mouse navigation went off without a hitch. Audio output from the stereo speakers was predictably tinny, but could be cranked up to a fairly high volume. Overall, we were impressed by this newest Transformer, as it delivers some solid hardware at a very reasonable price.Show full PR textASUS Transforms Expectations for Mobile Computing with New Transformer Books at IDF 2013Transformer Book T100 and Transformer Book Trio combine the productivity features of a laptop with the flexibility of a tabletSan Francisco, US (September 11, 2013) – ASUS today showcased two new Transformer Book ultraportables at an ASUS product launch event during Intel® Developer Forum (IDF) 2013. The event was hosted by ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih and featured special guest Tom Kilroy, Intel Vice President. Transformer Book T100, and Transformer Book Trio are the latest models in a wide range of mobile and desktop computers from ASUS that will transform your expectations about technology.”The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is the perfect transformation of the Eee PC with full compatibility, detachable touch screen, immersive entertainment and enough battery for all-day computing,” said ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih. “It is truly a game-changer for our mobile lifestyle.”The ASUS Transformer Book T100 and Transformer Book Trio both feature a two-part dockable design that combines the productivity features of a laptop with the portability of a tablet and the flexibility to switch between the two in an instant. Transformer Book Trio goes further still, with a keyboard dock that packs its own processor, so it can be used as a self-contained desktop PC when its display is detached for use as a tablet.Transformer Book T100- high-mobility notebook and tablet combinedASUS Transformer Book T100 is a 10.1-inch ultraportable with an Intel® Atom™ ‘Bay Trail’ quad-core processor and detachable HD display that can be used as a standalone Windows 8.1 tablet. Featuring a sleek design and durable finish, Transformer Book T100 is not only one of the lightest ultraportables currently available at just 2.4lbs, but also one of the lightest 10-inch tablets around, at 1.2lbs.Transformer Book T100 features the new Intel AtomTM Bay Trail-T Z3740 quad-core processor for smooth multi-tasking performance and incredible energy efficiency that can last up to 11 hours1 on battery power. The lightweight keyboard dock features precision-engineered keys designed for comfortable extended use, a multi-touch touchpad with full Windows 8.1 gesture support and USB 3.0. Transformer Book T100 features a brilliant HD 10.1-inch tablet IPS multi-touch display with wide 178-degree viewing angles for razor-sharp images. Transformer Book T100 features Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 with full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, the perfect productivity solution for both school and work.The new ASUS Transformer Book T300 is a larger version of the T100, with a detachable 13.3-inch Full HD IPS multi-touch display that acts as a standalone Windows 8 tablet. Powered by a 4th generation Intel Core processor for seamless multi-tasking performance, Transformer Book T300 has up to eight hours battery life and features a sleek metallic design with a durable soft-touch finish.Transformer Book Trio – laptop, tablet and desktop PC in one sleek designASUS Transformer Book Trio features a sleek and durable metallic design powered by a 4th generation Intel® Core™ processor for seamless multi-tasking performance and outstanding energy efficiency in Windows 8 laptop mode. When it’s time for entertainment to take over from productivity, the 11.6-inch Full HD IPS display detaches from the ‘PC Station’ keyboard dock for use as a multi-touch Android tablet with its own Intel Atom™ dual-core processor.With the display docked, Transformer Book Trio can switch instantly between Windows 8 and Android 4.2 by pressing the dedicated ‘Trio’ key on the keyboard, with data shared between the two operating systems via the tablet’s storage. Unlike other dockable ultraportables, Transformer Book Trio’s PC Station is not dead weight when the tablet display is detached. With an external display connected via Mini DisplayPort or Micro-HDMI, the PC Station can be used as a self-contained desktop PC featuring Windows 8, which means two people, in two different places, can use the Transformer Book Trio at the same time.AVAILABILITY & PRICINGUS Pricing for Transformer Book T100: MSRP $349 (32GB) / MSRP $399 (64GB)For other markets, please contact your local ASUS representative for further information.1 Specifications and product availability are all subject to change without notice and may differ from country to country. Actual performance may vary depending on applications, usage, environment and other factors.
Visiting the arcades of the otaku hub Akihabara, it struck me that beyond the many fighters, rhythm games, and prize collection machines lining their halls, I was seeing a pattern repeat itself. Tucked away in each one were several Puyo Puyo variants, and right by them the Tetris machines. Seeing this, I wondered why Puyo Puyo Tetris hadn’t been made before. Maybe, like Sonic and Mario teaming up recently, I wasn’t appreciating the rival puzzle games’ long history.Nonetheless, playing the newly unveiled crossover at the Tokyo Game Show a couple of days later, it was immediately clear how much sense this mashup made. Based on time with a seemingly limited demo, Puyo Puyo Tetris looks to offer simple, cute, but engrossing arcade puzzle fun. Quite appropriately, the two play styles just fit next to each other. The demo at Sega’s booth let me play single games against an AI opponent, either using a Puyo Puyo table against the AI’s Tetris table, or vice versa. The booth had the game running on 3DS and PS3; apart from cosmetic differences I saw obvious differences in gameplay between the two platforms.In both cases, the basic gameplay and how it intertwined with a versus mode was familiar. In the Tetris version, clearing lines allowed me to pile garbage blocks on the opponent’s Puyo Puyo table, while matching four or more adjacent colored blobs laid garbage lines on the opposing Tetris table.If that sounds a little unbalance – to deal with garbage blocks rather than lines – bear in mind the Puyo Puyo table was much shorter in length than the Tetris table, and that Tetris players could hold a block, something Puyo Puyo players couldn’t – at least in the demo.Even against an AI opponent, I found both variations an enjoyable challenge. Essentially it was like playing a versus mode in either classic game, but the option to either go with Puyo Puyo or Tetris should spice up versus play. My hope is the full version explores the idea of mixing up the two games a bit more, but even if it doesn’t, the basic, core gameplay works. The game is detailed as 1-4 players, suggesting at least a bit more to what I saw at TGS.Puyo Puyo Tetris will come to Wii U and Vita as well as PS3 and 3DS when it launches in Japan next year. There’s no news on a Western version as yet.
gdgt tracks price drops on thousands of products every day, and twice a week they feature some of the best deals they’ve found right here. But act fast! Many of these are limited-time offers, and won’t last long.Today’s hottest deals are the highly-praised Samsung Galaxy S 4 at the lowest price we’ve seen, as well as a Belkin Surge Protector available for a song. Join gdgt and add the gadgets you’re shopping for to your “Want” list. Every time there’s a price cut, you’ll get an email alert! Samsung Galaxy S 4Price: $129.99 with 2-year Verizon or AT&T contract (Regularly $200). Free shipping. 5 percent surcharge for non-Costco members.Buy: Costco (AT&T version, Verizon version)Samsung’s flagship has dipped to the lowest price we’ve seen. And despite it being sold at warehouse wholesaler Costco, you don’t have to buy a 12-pack of them to get a discount. The phone earned a 92 gdgt Score, garnering praise for its thin and light form factor, sharp display, impressive speed and touch-free controls. This is your phone if you’re a Samsung devotee, unless you’re holding tight for the Galaxy Note 3.Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Swivel Charger Surge ProjectorPrice: $10.18 (Regularly $22).Buy: WalmartThis compact, capable surge protector can safely charge up to five devices — three through standard outlets and two via USB. There’s also a USB to mini-USB cable included and, even though most devices have ditched that for micro-USB, we’re sure you’ve got something lying around that you can plug into it. Customers are singing the praises of this charger, which can actually rotate 360 degrees to fit into any cramped outlet you may find in your hotel room.Seiki 39-inch 1080p 60Hz LED HDTVPrice: $289.99 (Regularly $380). Free shipping. Deal expires Friday.Buy: KmartSure, it’s an off-brand set better suited for a smallish apartment or large bedroom than a serious home theater set up, but you can’t argue with the price. Most comparable models from better-known companies cost about $100 more. Besides, the trio of HDMI inputs give you enough room to hook up a cable box, a game console and a Blu-ray player (or an Apple TV or a Roku, if that’s your thing).Samsung 64-inch 1080p 600Hz Plasma HDTVPrice: $1,268.45 (Regularly $2,200).Buy: AmazonPlasma HDTVs have generally fallen out of favor, but the format’s defenders swear by its rich, lifelike colors. Plasma’s general lack of popularity has caused prices to plunge, making it possible to dig up dramatically discounted giants such as this. Of course, there are drawbacks. For one, this monstrosity weighs in at almost 77 pounds — so hire a couple of friends to help you move it and get a seriously sturdy TV bench. Secondly, there’s only two HDMI inputs, so we hope you’re not big on choice.Inspiron i15RV LaptopPrice: $349.99 (Regularly $450) In-store only.Buy: OfficeMaxThis Inspiron laptop is plenty capable and as impressive a bargain as any of last month’s back-to-school deals. The i15RV, with its 15.6-inch LED backlit display, USB 3.0 connectivity and a 500GB hard drive quickly sold out online, but remains available for in-store pickup. Just remember, it’s great for term papers and spreadsheets, not so much for playing Bioshock Infinite in your down time. Verizon owns Engadget’s parent company, Verizon Media. Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.
Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.- F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Crack-Up”While I make no claim to being even a second-rate intelligence, I am occasionally capable of holding opposed ideas. I wrote last week that the destruction of the Vale was going to happen. That it was necessary, to end the reign of the Sha of Pride over Pandaria itself and the stagnation it allowed to fester in the heart of the island continent for over ten thousand years. I still believe that to be true.But something can be necessary and still be horrific, and moreover, still someone’s fault. What happened in Pandaria, the escalation of the Horde and Alliance conflict that led to the Vale’s destruction, may have been necessary. That doesn’t excuse us for having helped make it happen, for failing to find a better way. For failing to even try to find a better way.One of the arguments advanced after the Siege of Orgrimmar is over is the concept that the Alliance and Horde strengthen one another, that if one side were to utterly win and destroy the other, it would be weakened for the loss of that which it tests itself against. To this I make a counter response – there are many ways to strengthen one another. The Horde and the Alliance have ever only found one – to wage war upon one another – and it sweeps with the scythe of destruction. If one is to say that each is the stronger for having endured it, it is a strength palliated by periods of weakness, like a man or woman enduring a long illness or a poisoning. You may well indeed be stronger for it, but what good is that strength if it is always spend fighting the same malady? The Alliance and Horde grow stronger only to again hurl that strength against one another, and crush not only each other but everything that gets in their way. Wrathion may well be wrong – it may not be the best path to pick a side and propel them to a pyrrhic victory over the other – but this pointless conflict between the Horde and Alliance makes each side stronger for no purpose but to continue the conflict. It is not strength at all, as Xuen points out, but power. In order for it to be strength it must be used for a better end.Always you speak. Never do you listen! You ignore the lessons of Pandaria!You see, there is balance in all things. Wisdom etched in our very fur: Black and white, Darkness and light.When the last emperor hid our land from the rest of the world, he also preserved the homeland of our ancient enemy, the mantid. Why did he do this?He did so to keep the land whole. Living with the mantid for ten thousand years has made us both STRONG.So it is with your Alliance and your Horde. They are not strong despite one another; they are strong BECAUSE of one another.You mistake your greatest strength for weakness. Do you see this?- Tong the Fixer to Wrathion, Judgment of the Black PrincNow, I said that the Horde and Alliance have ever only found one way to strengthen one another, and that through conflict with each other. I said this because they’ve never willingly joined forces – the Third War, you might cite, or the Might of Kalimdor. The Third War was ultimately imposed upon them by the meddling of Medivh, and while the Might of Kalimdor was a brief shining moment of cooperation between the two factions, it was motivated by the machinations of the Cenarion Circle and Bronze Dragonflight in the face of the menace of C’thun and the rising Silithid menace, marshalled and directed by the Qiraji. But, too, cooperation between Horde and Alliance, although fleeting, are not in of themselves the only other option to all-out war between them.We’ve had fits and starts towards other kinds of relationships between them. The trade between the Horde and Alliance that was suspended during the Cataclysm, for one – it benefited both sides without implying anything like a joint venture or a cooperative union. The Alliance and the Horde do not, in fact, have to like one another. They do not have to form some gigantic Alliance-Horde military, or become one entity, or even engage in regular conferences. Simple economic exchange between the two factions did more to keep relations on an even keel before the Cataclysm than anything else.In order to discover how else the two factions could potentially benefit one another, of course, we’d need them to explore these possibilities. They would at least need to talk long enough to get some ideas of what they want from one another. It has been this utter failure to look for any other path that has led to the Vale’s destruction, and that collective guilt rests on all our heads (admittedly, not equally so – it’s fair to point the finger more at the Horde than the Alliance in this regard).I find myself neither agreeing with Wrathion nor wholly with Tong. Frankly, why does he believe the Horde would fall into line so easily? Why does Wrathion say “the rest of the Horde would have caved eventually, and what is eventually to a black dragon? Can we trust his perspective? He talks about the casualties in trying to take Thunder Bluff, when as many have pointed out, Lordaeron is by far the tougher nut to crack, with an army of fanatically loyal undead and the means to make more of them through the Val’kyr that serve Sylvanas. Assuming Wrathion is even correct that the Alliance would in time be triumphant, how long would it take, how many lives would it cost, and what shape would this victorious Alliance be in afterwards? Wrathion seems to me to be totally underestimating how awful this war would be, if waged to its ultimate conclusion.But Tong’s statement about the Horde and Alliance seems fraught with difficulty to me. As I’ve said before, what good is strength if it is constantly utilized against one another? If the Horde is strong, it is a strength we’ve seen to be fragile – the bonds of loyalty between the Horde’s people are tenuous and frayed, a bundle of sticks tied with rotten twine, easily snapped apart. And if the Alliance is strong, it is a strength that does not act until compelled to – the strength of a herd that does not pull in tandem, which fights to scatter and stand alone, which must be cajoled and cudgeled to act in its own best interests. A wise man once said that perfectly symmetrical violence never solved anything, and in this case, the strength of each of these factions is wasted effort, two great beasts butting heads endlessly.However, I accept Tong’s basic idea that the Horde and Alliance do not, should not need to be made into one, that Azeroth doesn’t require a one-world power standing astride its continents. While I question some of his assumptions – have the mantid and the pandaren really made one another strong, trapped in their pocket of stagnation for ten thousand years – I do accept that there are always more ways to achieve an end than simple annihilation of your opposition. There are middle paths to find, compromises to be reached, if you have the courage to reach them.It’s long past time for these two to find something else to do, if I may be frank. Each has become more like the other – the Horde is now, at last, an Alliance of independent peoples coming together under a single leader for the good of all, while the Alliance has found a singular unity and strength under the leadership of a battlefield general, forged in war – it’s time for them to explore ways to strengthen themselves that leave that strength available to be used. Xuen has spoken – “Strength used in the service of others is twice as powerful as strength spent on one’s foes.” It’s long past time to imitate the action of the tiger.While you don’t need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider’s Guide to Warcraft Lore.
Playlister service yesterday, the BBC’s now said it’s launching later today. The beta web client won’t just work nicely on PCs, it’ll also be optimized for mobile browsers, and instead of a dedicated app for the service, Playlister will be integrated into the iPlayer Radio app “over the coming months.” Using the web platform, you’ll able to add music to personal playlists from any of the BBC’s radio stations, as well as tracks that’ve featured on TV shows aired on any of the Beeb’s channels. As we heard yesterday, those playlists can then be exported to YouTube, Spotify or Deezer for listening. Having seen a brief demo, adding, managing and exporting is all pretty simple. You may not find all the tracks you’ve added on every service you export to, but it’s clear about how many are missing — you’ll shortly be able to play around with it yourself, of course. Soon, you’ll also be able to follow your favorite BBC radio DJ’s and see what they’re adding to their own Playlister mixtapes. This is just the start, apparently, as the BBC says many other features are to be added in the future.Update: Live!
While living alone in the woods must come with its own set of problems, it must be doubly difficult when strangers are constantly looking for ways to sneak into your house. Such is the premise in Knock Knock, a new game from Russian development studio Ice-Pick Lodge Game Development.Knock Knock follows a hermit-like protagonist called The Lodger, who lives in the middle of the woods and engages in deadly games of hide-and-seek with supernatural home invaders. These uninvited creatures, who emerge from the forest and descend upon the hermit’s home every night, sneak in through open windows and cracks in the walls. While running around and fixing these breaches, The Lodger must evade these uninvited guests until the sanctuary of sunrise arrives.There is randomized item generation in each play session of Knock Knock, and The Lodger only has five item slots with which to equip found goods. On top of that, these creatures are always aware of The Lodger’s position, so finding some closet and hiding until dawn is not an option. The Lodger must always be on the move.Ice-Pick plans to launch Knock Knock on the PC, though a launch window has yet to be determined. Gallery: Knock Knock | 27 Photos 27 +23 Show full PR textBackstoryIn November of 2011, Ice-Pick Lodge recieved an anonymous email suggesting they produce a game based on files attached to the message. Everyone gets these “I HAVE A GREAT IDEA FOR A GAME” emails, but this one was a little different.The attachment was an archive containing 19 files titled “lestplay” including snippets of text, scraps of an audio recording, and fragments of video footage, all with a very oddly-worded message written in a disturbing style. Ice-Pick Lodge was unsettled. Something sinister seemed to be lurking beneath the surface.The stranger begged them to complete the project he’d started, but also let them know that while it may explain the calamity that befell whoever compiled the ominous archive, the same fate might befall them. Yet he offered creative freedom and clearly believed in what he was saying.While the team was fed up with mysterious emails with great new ideas, they still decided to give it a whirl and see what would come of it because this, at least, wasn’t the 10,000th great new MMO idea, and there was always the chance of tempting fate itself since they’d be the first people to play the game.Game ConceptA wooden house stands in the forest. A single man lives there.The house recieves visits from unusual guests that knock on the window inviting this strange hermit to join them in a game of hide-and-seek. To win, simply remain alive and maintain your sanity until sunrise. Approaching the Visitors head-on is a dangerous idea.As soon as the first Visitor emerges from the forest, the countdown begins. Every passing hour brings them closer to the house, and the house’s walls offer no sanctuary. Something is already inside. Something is opening the window and banging around in the kitchen. Something controls the cellar and attic. Floorboards creak softly deep in the bowels of the house.The Visitors are well aware of your position, so you must make your rounds of the house and find the breaches that let the creatures inside while doing your best to mend them.You may come across some useful items that might help your survival, but those items are always random and your inventory is limited to 5 slots, so your gear changes by night.Survive until sunrise and the monsters disappear, but if they get you before the sun peeks over the horizon, well, just the idea is terrifying.DetailsFill in the gaps. The house aids the Lodger, but must be repaired and maintained.Seek. The Lodger lost something very important. The reason for what is happening is somewhere inside. Everything can be explained, you need only find the key and bring it to light.Wait. In this game, you must watch and listen carefully. Inspect and scrutinize everything. You only need to last until sunrise.Follow the rules of the game! Of course, as you play the game, the game also plays you.Pertinent DetailsTitle: Knock-KnockDeveloper: Ice-Pick LodgePublisher: Ice-Pick LodgePlatform: PCGenre: ???Release date: TBA
Global warming is almost certainly the fault of human beings, a new report by the United Nations climate panel states. It offers 95 percent certainty of that assertion, based on “some 2,500 pages of text and…millions of observations and over 2 million gigabytes of numerical data from climate model simulations,” and it cites over 9,200 scientific papers (75 percent of which are from the last three years). The report also suggests “substantial and sustained” efforts to reduce greenhouse gas production; greenhouse gases (everything from water vapor to nitrous oxide) are the primary cause of the greenhouse effect, which destroys the Earth’s protective ozone layer.Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are the main culprits causing the Earth’s ozone to deteriorate. CO2 levels have risen by 40 percent “since pre-industrial times,” much of which was absorbed by the Earth’s oceans (about 30 percent), resulting in rising acidity levels. Moreover, due to that absorption, the oceans — specifically the upper ocean (0 to 700 meters) — have been warming since the 1870s.As one might expect, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the UN’s climate change panel) suggests a greener lifestyle worldwide to help roll back the compound effects of global warming. A Tesla for each of us, perhaps? But even if we all go super green and massively cut back on greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, it sounds like humanity won’t see the positive for quite some time. “As a result of our past, present and expected future emissions of CO2, we are committed to climate change, and effects will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 stop,” co-chair Thomas Stocker says.
We’re not too far off from our Engadget Expand event taking place in New York City November 9th and 10th. While you can get your own tickets at a rather low price, we’re always in the giving mood around here at Engadget and want to offer some lucky readers gratis tickets. All you have to do is enter using the widget below.a Rafflecopter giveaway The Rules:Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above only. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win.Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), we really do love all of you.Winners will be chosen randomly. Five (5) winners will receive one (1) ticket to Expand New York (valued at $30). This doesn’t include transportation, lodging, etc.If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted, otherwise, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email or Facebook login.We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.The full list of rules can be found here.Entries can be submitted until October 7th at 11:59 AM ET. Good luck!
Hasbro recently announced a new line of toys for an upcoming mobile game in the Angry Birds series, Angry Birds Go. The toy manufacturer’s brief description of the game notes that the series’ iconic birds and pigs “have jumped into karts to battle it out in a calamitous downhill race to the finish,” indicating that Angry Birds Go is a kart racer of some sort.Hasbro’s Telepods and Jenga toy line includes nine separate sets with the Angry Birds Go theme, ranging from $5 packs to full $30 game sets that feature pirate ships, trophy cups and towers to knock down. The Jenga toy sets include codes for in-app content to be used in Angry Birds Go, whereas the Telepods sets have toy bases that “teleport your kart” into the game. That certainly sounds like Angry Birds Go is hoping to fling its way into Skylanders and Disney Infinity territory. Show full PR textHasbro Announces New TELEPODS and Jenga Gaming Experiences Based on the Upcoming ANGRY BIRDS™ GO!™ Mobile Game From Rovio EntertainmentPAWTUCKET, R.I. – September 24, 2013 – Ready. Set. Go! New this fall, Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) introduces the ANGRY BIRDS GO! TELEPODS™ and JENGA product lines, launching in support of Rovio Entertainment’s highly-anticipated ANGRY BIRDS GO™! mobile game. On the heels of the globally popular ANGRY BIRDS phenomenon, a new ANGRY BIRDS story has come to life with ANGRY BIRDS GO! where the birds and pigs have jumped into karts to battle it out in a calamitous downhill race to the finish.Initially introduced with Rovio’s ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS II® on September 18th this year, the TELEPODS platform allows for a seamless integration of physical characters into the mobile gaming experience. The technology behind the TELEPODS platform allows players to “teleport” their physical ANGRY BIRDS GO™! karts into the digital game using their mobile devices .Hasbro’s ANGRY BIRDS GO! JENGA gaming line offers innovative, face-to-face play based on the mobile game. Kids can take on the villainous pigs with exciting kart racing action, bird-launching fun, and iconic JENGA block toppling action.Both the ANGRY BIRDS GO! TELEPODS™ and JENGA product lines are available at major retail locations beginning on October 1, 2013, with the mobile game following later. Consumers can check www.Hasbro.com for TELEPODS smart device compatibility beginning on October 1.The 2013 ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! TELEPODS™ line from Hasbro features the following products:ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! TELEPODS™ PIG ROCK RACEWAY™ Set(Approximate Retail Price: $29.99; Age: 5+; Available: Fall 2013)Race head-to-head to topple the pirate pigs! Slingshot your kart through swinging obstacles and avoid the pigs to be the first to the finish line. Continue the racing action on your mobile device by using the included TELEPODS base to teleport your kart into the new ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! app. Set includes two karts featuring favorite ANGRY BIRDS™ characters, one of which is exclusive to this set.ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! TELEPODS™ DELUXE Multi-Pack(Approximate Retail Price: $19.99; Age: 5+; Available: Fall 2013)Make your starting line more exciting by adding five karts to your collection! Race them against each other and then continue the racing action on your mobile device by using the included TELEPODS base to teleport your kart into the new ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! app. Each multi-pack includes two pig-themed racing targets and five karts featuring favorite ANGRY BIRDS™ characters, one of which is exclusive to this set. Each pack sold separately.ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! TELEPODS™ DUAL LAUNCHER Set(Approximate Retail Price: $14.99; Age: 5+; Available: Fall 2013)Birds and pigs start your slingshots! With the DUAL LAUNCHER Set you can send your karts racing towards the included target. Continue the racing action on your mobile device by using the included TELEPODS base to teleport your kart into the new ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! app. Set includes one exclusive kart featuring a favorite ANGRY BIRDS™ character.ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! TELEPODS™ Multi-Pack(Approximate Retail Price: $9.99; Age: 5+; Available: Fall 2013)Cross the finish line in style with two new karts for your collection! Race them against each other and then continue the racing action on your mobile device by using the included TELEPODS base to teleport your kart into the new ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! app. Each multi-pack includes two pig-themed racing targets and two karts featuring favorite ANGRY BIRDS™ characters, one of which is exclusive to this set. Each pack sold separately.ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! TELEPODS™ KART Pack(Approximate Retail Price: $4.99; Age: 5+; Available: Fall 2013)Collect your favorite ANGRY BIRDS characters and their unique karts with these single-packed racers. These packs are a great way to start your to the ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! TELEPODS™ collection! Race them against each other and then continue the racing action on your mobile device by using the included TELEPODS base to teleport your kart into the new ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! app! Each pack sold separately.The fall 2013 ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! Gaming line from Hasbro features the following products:ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! JENGA® PIRATE PIG ATTACK™ GAMEAge: 8+; Players: 1-2; Available: Fall 2013; Approximate Retail Price: $29.99Set sail as you battle pirate pigs in the new ANGRY BIRDS GO! JENGA PIRATE PIG ATTACK GAME. Race head to head against your rival to destroy the pirate ship! Slingshot your kart down the slope to capture the victory flag and take down the pirate pigs. Players can also unlock ANGRY BIRDS GO! in-app content with a special code in each pack.ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! JENGA® TROPHY CUP CHALLENGE™ GAMEAge: 6+; Players: 1-2; Available: Fall 2013; Approximate Retail Price: $19.99Get ready for some serious racing as you battle for the cup in ANGRY BIRDS GO! JENGA TROPHY CUP CHALLENGE. Launch your kart into the Trophy Cup to take on the pigs. Players can also unlock ANGRY BIRDS GO! in-app content with a special code in each pack.ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! JENGA® TOWER KNOCKDOWN™ GAMEAge: 6+; Players: 1-2; Available: Fall 2013; Approximate Retail Price: $14.99Stack up your tower in the new ANGRY BIRDS GO! JENGA TOWER KNOCKDOWN GAME. Send your kart flying to knock down the tower and capture the pigs. Players can also unlock ANGRY BIRDS GO! in-app content with a special code in each pack.ANGRY BIRDS™ GO! JENGA® ROWDY RACERS™ GAMEAge: 6+; Players: 1+; Available: Fall 2013; Approximate Retail Price: $9.99Collect all six ANGRY BIRDS GO! JENGA ROWDY RACERS characters to use throughout the ANGRY BIRDS GO! JENGA line. Each collectible character comes with its own kart, launcher and JENGA blocks to send the kart crashing! Players can also unlock ANGRY BIRDS GO! in-app content with a special code in each pack.Angry Birds™ & ©2009-2013 Rovio Entertainment Ltd. All rights reserved.About Hasbro, Inc.Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) is a branded play company dedicated to fulfilling the fundamental need for play for children and families through the creative expression of the Company’s world class brand portfolio, including TRANSFORMERS, MONOPOLY, PLAY-DOH, MY LITTLE PONY, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, NERF and LITTLEST PET SHOP. From toys and games, to television programming, motion pictures, digital gaming and a comprehensive licensing program, Hasbro strives to delight its global customers with innovative play and entertainment experiences, in a variety of forms and formats, anytime and anywhere. The Company’s Hasbro Studios develops and produces television programming for more than 170 markets around the world, and for the U.S. on Hub Network, part of a multi-platform joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK). Through the company’s deep commitment to corporate social responsibility, including philanthropy, Hasbro is helping to build a safe and sustainable world for future generations and to positively impact the lives of millions of children and families every year. It has been recognized for its efforts by being named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” and is ranked as one of Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s “100 Best Corporate Citizens.” Learn more at www.hasbro.com.About Rovio Entertainment:Rovio Entertainment Ltd is an industry-changing entertainment media company headquartered in Finland, and the creator of the globally successful Angry Birds™ characters franchise. Angry Birds, a casual puzzle game, became an international phenomenon within a few months of its release. Angry Birds has expanded rapidly into multifaceted entertainment, publishing, and licensing to become a beloved international brand. Rovio’s animated Angry Birds feature film is slated for July 1, 2016.www.rovio.com
MacTech Conference, and as in the past, you can find some of us in attendance. If you haven’t checked out MacTech Conference 2013, this year’s speaker lineup is (as usual) fantastic — including keynote speaker Jacqui Cheng from Ars Technica, and an incredible cast of IT leaders, as well as developers from around the world. Not to brag, but I’ve made it on the speaker list too, so you can hear me talk about things in person instead of on a podcast!This year’s event has not only a new venue, but also an expanded schedule, a wide array of pre-conference workshops, more sessions, more labs, more certifications and a new Vendor Forum.Here are the two most important things to know about MacTech: You’ve heard me talk about the “hallway track” at conferences, and particularly for developers and IT folks, this hallway track is second to none. So not only do you get to hang out and chat with awesome attendees, but you also get to do it over some of the finest food available at any conference I’ve attended. Organizer Neil Ticktin has said on more than one occasion, “You will never walk away hungry from a MacTech event.” Truly, if you are hungry at MacTech, you are actively doing it wrong.Not only is the conference full of great material, but also this year, MacTech has added four full-day pre-conference workshops. They are: iOS Development 101 by RayWenderlich.com; Mastering Auto Layout for developers by Rich Warren; The Automation Mindset-Scripting, Command Line, and More by Scott Neal; and iOS Mobility Solutions by Russell Poucher. Pricing for the pre-conference workshops is currently US$299, and includes lunch. Early Bird pricing of $999 for the three-day conference will end Monday, September 30. However, as a TUAW reader, you can save an extra $100 — but you need to act quick. Discounted hotel guest rooms are selling out fast, and you don’t want to miss out!
As you might expect, overnight some smart folks wrote some smart posts about the smart things going on in Cupertino (our wrap up of the event can be found here). Yesterday I went on local TV to talk about the 5c and 5s, and as I drove away I realized that I hadn’t had time to chat about CoreMotion, new camera modes and a half dozen other things Apple announced yesterday.To a casual observer, iPhones are improving in an iterative fashion. If you look a bit deeper and consider Apple’s business, its purpose and its plans — well, things are much more exciting than most people realize. Apple keeps integrating hardware and software in key ways that leave competitors behind.It’s OK if most people don’t “get it.” But I do take exception when otherwise smart people begin grousing about how “Apple hasn’t done anything new since Steve Jobs died” because that is both false and misleading. First of all, neither invention nor innovation began with Steve Jobs and it didn’t die with him. Apple’s core reason for existing is to make the best products it can. Everything I saw yesterday was an affirmation of this.CostSpeculation was the “c” stood for “cheap”, but the iPhone 5c is not a cheap phone. As Ben Thompson points out, it’s actually a bit pricey, especially compared to some Android models. Ben goes on to explain that Apple will sell a bunch of these, and the 4S is now the “cheap” iPhone. Beyond that, he makes an excellent point about the underlying message from yesterday’s dog-and-pony show: Apple is still cool. The “c” stands for colors, and Apple has another cool product that comes in colors called the iPod — a device that became revolutionary when coupled with the iTunes Music Store. As Wall Street, jaded tech writers and the like keep worrying about whether Apple has lost its mojo, Tim Cook made it abundantly clear that Apple isn’t giving up ground in the cool department by kicking off the event with the iTunes Music Festival wrap-up and ending the event with several songs from Elvis Costello.How is having music in your DNA not cool, again? This is why people stand in line for the iPhone. Samsung can poke fun all it wants, but it’s the sort of eat-your-heart-out parody that makes me feel badly for them, like the kid who wants to be cool and tries to make himself cool by making fun of other people.Beyond “cool” (whatever it means), what about features? Tim Cook explicitly said Apple doesn’t cram features into a phone; the alternative approach would harken back to the boxed software days when applications like Microsoft Money and Intuit’s Quicken would battle with bullet-point feature sets in an effort to woo customers. I’d like to think we’re beyond this, but the market still rewards the “L@@K NEW!” mentality of feature-hungry bargain-basement consumers — aka the “lowest common denominator.” Is it any wonder Android’s market share is larger than iPhone? Of course not, just as the streets are not teeming with BMWs or Mercedes.The point is, if you want a great experience, you buy Apple. If you just want features, choose your poison. And what about that experience?SimplicitySmall touches mean everything when a human uses something. Apple excels at the small touches that add up to make something special. The 5s has an amazing camera, a way to track motion without nuking the battery, a new-to-Apple security technology, and an insanely powerful processor. What that means to, say, my parents, is that they don’t have to worry about washed out or miscolored pictures when using the flash. My mom can probably skip that Fitbit upgrade she was pondering. The passcode-entry aggravation that might have her avoiding any on-device security can be simplified and superseded with a single finger’s touch. And while they won’t be gaming soon, the fluidity and speed of the OS and apps will be a noticeable improvement (they are using a 4S currently).Federico Viticci wrote a lengthy piece on these small touches, and how Apple is able to integrate hardware and software in such a way that the device has a seamless operation you just don’t get with most Android devices. Consider, as he does, the Touch ID technology. Apple integrated this to make the experience for customers a better one than they had before. As Viticci points out, when you add iBeacons microlocation awareness into the mix, things get really interesting and even more seamless. With those two building blocks, you can verify who you are and your device can interact with objects in real space. This tech has a while to go before customers experience it, but when they do I predict there will be very little head-scratching and confusion and more embracing of the “Internet of things” — all of which is designed to make our lives better, simpler.I’m sure some tech writers will look at Touch ID as a gimmick (or worse, uncritically repeat absurdities about “Apple is sending your fingerprints to the NSA!” — assuming Touch ID works through the same local tech as device passcodes, security maven Rich Mogull explains that Apple’s passcodes and print data are hashed in a way that prevents their extraction). Worse, they will see it as a useless feature added on in desperation. Fact is, for the average consumer who tires of constantly typing in passwords, it will be a welcome relief. And for the millions of iPhone users who don’t have a passcode at all, it will be a major security upgrade.If you were holding out for NFC, you’re not getting it. NFC is hardly “simple” and support isn’t going to be forthcoming. While I’m sure Apple has toyed with it, the company has made the decision that it doesn’t line up with its core values (yet) and so it wasn’t in the new iPhones. Until that tech becomes easier to use or more prevalent, I wouldn’t expect to see it in Apple’s gear.Right and Wrong-ThinkingThe bottom line here, and one people miss all the time, is that Apple designs products for people. Not pundits or analysts or even day traders. As Tron “fights for the users,” so does Apple. You may feel that Apple deliberately creates “lock-in” to the iOS/Mac/iTunes ecosystem as a business strategy, but frankly, my Ogg Vorbis loving friends out there (you know who you are), every smart consumer electronics business is rapidly trying to do the same thing. Windows is not Mac is not Chrome OS is not Kindle, etc. You opt into an ecosystem and largely, through convenience or inertia if not through conscious choice, that’s where you stay. I know the world my kids grow up in will be less interoperable when it comes to media, but more interoperable when it comes to services — and I think I’m OK with that.When pundits try to push a point about “feature sets,” however, they are missing the entire point. Witness this post by Doc Searls called “Apple Rot” wherein he tries to make the “Apple is doomed!” argument that has played out for many years (not coincidentally, immediately after Steve Jobs died, but certainly frequently brought up long before then).Notice how Doc’s bullet points are remarkably like the feature bullets on the back of a box of Quicken from 1999? Doc is worried that Apple is merely updating things incrementally, and despite not using the worn-out term “breakthrough product” (whatever that means), that’s exactly what he feels is missing. Apple isn’t innovating. Apple is just iterating. Well, yes. But do we worry Mercedes will disappear because the company has yet to introduce a flying car? What’s the last category-redefining washing machine you couldn’t wait to try? And yet people still buy them — the mind boggles.Doc is falling into the feature trap. I’m not sure if he missed Tim Cook’s note on features, but the point of Apple is to make great products. If that means the iPhone just needs some spiffing up, because adding 30 more things (20 of which aren’t ready for prime time) would be a waste to consumers, then so be it. My parents don’t care about NFC. They don’t want to wave their hands over their phone like an idiot to go to another photo. They sure as heck don’t need a “phablet” device that covers half their face. Apple isn’t about cramming features into phones — nor is it about creating a nonsensical new product simply because it is new. iWatch? Give me a break. It’s not time yet.The DeltaWhere Apple ends and Android (and others) begin has to do with the will of the creators. I honestly get the feeling certain features in Android devices are just trial balloons. And while Windows Phone seems compelling (I would personally be willing to try one for a while), stuff like a 41MP camera in a phone is mere gimmickry. Apple does things because the creators in the company and the management of the company want to do them, and ultimately because the guiding principle behind Apple is to make the experience for the consumer, on balance, better. That doesn’t mean catering to every single need of every single human on Earth, although surely that is what Wall Street and pundits have come to expect.The delta in the jaded expectations of writers and the joy of consumers is vast. I have witnessed people jumping from feature phone to iPhone or cheap Android to iDevice and see the delight in their lives as a result. They don’t wax poetic about the A5 processor, they don’t rave about the Retina screen, they just know “it’s so much easier to do X with this iPhone.”Look, I suffered through a lot of interfaces in my life. Remember DOS? Remember GEOS? Remember Windows Me? Never mind all the software we consumers are forced to suffer through today in the form of lazy website designs and poorly-planned enterprise applications. We do suffer them because we have to.Apple is aware that people do not have to suffer through a phone’s interface. They have choices. Typically the limiting factor for consumers all over the world is money. On this, Apple is unwilling to compromise, and that’s why it remains the King of Consumer Experiences. Steve Jobs cooked that into the DNA of the company, and Tim Cook — a leader in his own right — continues to carry that banner. And by the way, Apple will be making three iPhones in 10 colors, so how’s that for choice?Say what you want about Cook’s leadership, cite all the market share analysis you like, but unless you’re pointing to a product with a more integrated, easier-to-use experience than what Apple offers, you are pointing in the wrong direction. In my humble opinion, Apple is going in the right direction.