Recently, reports have been trickling out that Google and NASA are in cahoots on a secret project known only as “Google Planetary Ventures.”
Which got us thinking about the great mystique surrounding a secret project name—sometimes borrowed from Latin, sometimes a cheeky nod, but always conveying the gravitas of the situation. And more importantly, it reminded us of some of our favorites throughout history.
That iPhone 5 sure is a powerful, sexy machine.
But so is the entirety of Sony’s 1984 audio/visual collection, like the Beta Hi-Fi video cassette player which, as advertised, “blows you away” with its better-than-movie-theater sound. You’ll be “engulfed in the power and action of movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark… the pulsating rhythms of Flashdance… the dramatic intensity of An Officer and a Gentleman… the spectacular rock video of David Bowie.”
It’s basically all the troubling elements of the Apple fanatic in one object, right down to the “One More Thing” backdrop, just in case you want to stage your own keynote speech for the iCar. It also comes with a pair of apples (one with a bit missing), for reasons we can’t begin to fathom—and even more troubling, it looks like it’s sold out.
This Cease & Desist letter cannot arrive fast enough.
It’s been a long glorious weekend—even longer and more glorious if you get Columbus Day off—but it’s safe to say you’ve been a little distracted from current events. So we’ve got another weekly report for you, with the latest in porn-less prisons, would-be billionaires and some uncomfortable news about prostate screenings.
Two and a Half Men was the most popular sitcom on television last year, averaging 13.1 million viewers. In the 1987-1988 season, The Cosby Show averaged 30 million viewers. In fact, 19 sitcoms that year had more viewers than Two and a Half Men, including Night Court (20.2M), Kate & Allie (15.9M), My Sister Sam (15.2M) and ALF (14.4M).
With thousands of cable and DirectTV channels to choose from, along with Netflix streaming and AppleTV and the ever-expanding World Wide Web, fewer people watch the same shows.
We’re not much for the high-profile gadget hustle, which is why we’ve given the iPad circus a pretty wide berth this week. But we will say that, as men of style, we’re glad its’ not pocket-sized.
The past couple years have seen a flood of slightly-too-large plastic bricks arrive on the market, each indispensable enough to pose a serious threat the shape of the American pocket. In case you’ve forgotten, we’ll say it again: the less you have in your pants, the better they look. You’re running a risk with anything larger than a RAZR. (Remember those?) But that kind of logic doesn’t do very well against the draw of an iPhone.
Which is why we were happy to see this year’s gamechanger is too large to fit into anything other than a bag. Surely this time around, we could have a gadget that didn’t deform the world’s pant legs or violate any unspoken laws of decorum.
Then, of course, we saw this…
So far, iPhone cases tended towards the organic. We’d wager that most of the sleeves you’ve actually seen in use are either leather, woodgrain or some variation on matte black.
Which means the world of the iPhone case is ripe for a little new wave jolt.
This jagged black-and-white shell comes from Gareth Pugh, with a little help from Colette and AnOther magazine and a laptop case in tow. It manages to avoid both the usual organic patterns and the friendly-alien aesthetic you find at your friendly neighborhood Apple store, in favor of something that might be more at home on an album cover.
Let’s just hope your mp3 collection can keep up.
Full albums have had a rough time lately for lots of reasons—unlike mixtapes, they cannot convey how you really feel—but the shift to mp3s and iPods certainly hasn’t helped. Luckily for Pink Floyd fans, Apple’s getting ready to throw them a bone.
Jobs & Co’s upcoming tablet computer is being hailed as a potential savior for the album format because of its easy display of ancillary materials like virtual booklets, liner notes, and pictures of Brian Eno. All that extra swag will supposedly convince the youth to listen to long-players the way God intended, but we’re not so sure. Last time around, the industry didn’t have rap skits to deal with.
You can usually count on Apple to be at least one gadget ahead of everyone else. So now that iPhones are rendering the average iPod obsolete, it’s a pretty safe bet they’ve got a third item up their sleeve ready to change the game yet again.
It’s all still guesses, but the smart money is on a tablet computer dropping just in time for Christmas, codenamed Cocktail and resembling either an enormous iPod touch or a hyper-intelligent dinner tray. (The above pic is an unofficial rendering, naturally.) It’s a gadget type that’s been seen at press events for years now, most notably from Microsoft, but they’ve never quite made it into stores. More importantly, it’s the ideal tool for the artsy endeavors Apple specializes in—graphic design, software editing, digital collage, and so on—provided they can convince their users to get rid of that keyboard.
Navigating a major sporting event can be pretty bewildering if you don’t have the right equipment. But it’s nothing a Smartphone can’t solve.
This Android app from IBM gives you a guide to every taxi stand, restaurant, and bathroom, along with live feeds from every court giving a blow-by-blow for each match. And, in case you want something a bit more direct than Google Maps, it gives you all the info in a heads-up display through the phone’s camera. Think of it as the difference between “north-northeast” and “that way.”
Apple just finished their annual developer conference, where they rolled out a new line of MacBooks and the iPhone 3GS, but otherwise the pickings were pretty slim.
There were a handful of new features that non-Apple firms have been refining for years (voice commands, MMS, and remote medical tech among others) along with a long string of incremental updates, but the most impressive function was something they picked up from a 30 Rock episode. Absent-minded techies: your time has come.
Radio has had a lot of fun jumping into the internet age, but Sirius XM has come surprisingly late to the game. Their satellite radio app is gradually making its way to the iPhone, which is good news for anyone who’s already a subscriber, but the timing could be a bit better.
By now, Pandora and a few web radio apps have already staked out the iPhone’s music section, along with the iTunes, which enjoys a pretty serious home-court advantage. Sirius has volume on their side—hundreds of channels broadcasting 24 hours a day adds up to a lot of tunes—and enough resources to put together something genuinely exciting. As to what they’ll come up with…we’ll have to stay tuned.
Apple’s been pretty consistent with their store designs—hewing to the everything-looks-like-an-iPod school of interior design—but not everyone’s happy about it. Specifically, the kind souls in the Georgetown area.
In case you’re less familiar with our nation’s capital, Georgetown is the rigidly quaint high-rent district with lots that look more like J. Crew than Popular Science. So when the Jobs Army came a-knocking back in September ‘07, Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission turned them down flat. But give them credit for persistence: in the intervening 18 months, they’ve submitted three more designs, each of which has been subsequently turned down.
We’re not entirely surprised. Apple’s sleekness and Georgetown’s nostalgia are pretty tough to blend, but the surprising thing is how well the sketches end up bringing them together. Apple still has one of the best design teams in the country, so if anyone can do it they can.
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