Showing posts with label itunes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label itunes. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

"Agatha All Along" tops iTunes charts

Agatha All Along, the satirical theme song written by Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen) from Marvel Studios' WandaVision, has topped the iTunes charts.

"I don't understand it. I know, it's amazing. It's so crazy. Seth, what's happening?" Kathryn Hahn (Agatha Harkness) speaking on the Late Show with Seth Meyers.

"I don't have social media, so the whole thing was like filtered down through all this," Hahn continued. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me?!' It's so funny. Meanwhile, I'm outside scooping dog crap, scooping cat crap. The whole thing is so bonkers right now."

"It's wonderful to see that it's inspired so much interest in the fans," WandaVision director Matt Shakman told Entertainment Weekly (EW). "We share the various memes and stuff on TikTok among the cast and crew and writers. It's so wonderful that we made this thing with so much love and passion, and it has been received with so much love and passion by the fans."

The WandaVision director teases how Wanda Maximoff's (Elizabeth Olsen) story will continue in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

"We were trying to tell a complete story in terms of the narrative around Westview, N.J., and we hope that there's some resolution to that story, and that it is satisfying and also surprising for the fans," Shakman told TV Line. "But Wanda will continue into Doctor Strange [in the Multiverse of Madness], and there's a lot more to her story to be told, so this is only one part of a very complicated and very rich life."

WandaVision concludes this Friday on Disney+.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Apple to announce Smart TV partnerships at CES

Ahead of this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Apple and Samsung announced a strategic partnership to add iTunes Movies and TV Shows and AirPlay 2 to Samsung Smart TVs released in 2018 onwards.

Further to this. The Cupertino-based company will announce further manufacturer partnerships during CES. This is expected to include LG, Panasonic and Sony.

The move outside of Apple's ecosystem is forward-looking and taps into the company's investment in original content to compete with rivals including Netflix and Amazon Prime, spearheaded by a collaboration with director JJ Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Apple Music is already available as an Alexa skill in the US and AirPlay 2 is coming to third-party speaker manufacturers including Bose this year.

What are your thoughts on Apple's streaming strategy? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

After The Ending Podcast: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released in cinemas last December. As the dust settles around director Rian Johnson’s divisive sequel, Phil Edwards, founder of Live for Films, speculates on the future direction of the Star Wars franchise.

Guest post by Phil Edwards

Still unsure about Star Wars: The Last Jedi? It certainly split the audience. I have seen people saying it is the best one since The Empire Strikes Back, while others feel it is an abomination. I fall somewhere in the middle - I was disappointed, mainly due to some lazy storytelling that could have been fixed with a couple more drafts (my full review is here).

We have got Solo: A Star Wars Story this summer, which is going up against Avengers: Infinity War. A win-win situation for Disney, but what about Star Wars: Episode IX?

All we know is that JJ Abrams will be writing and directing it. During the coverage of The Last Jedi, we learnt that Rian Johnson was given a clean slate, meaning there is no set plan in place for the last part of the new trilogy. A surprising development to be sure. That does mean it can go anywhere. Will JJ Abrams simply do a Rian Johnson and ditch plot points set up in The Last Jedi, or will he go somewhere new?

While we wait for any news, my good friend Mike Spring and I put together our thoughts on what could happen in Episode IX for an episode of our After The Ending podcast.

We are going to have to wait until the end of 2019 to find out if we got anywhere near what actually happens, but it was good fun to think about it.

You can listen to it below or head on over to iTunes.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Tom Baker back as Doctor Who in Shada

Tom Baker has reprised his iconic role as the Fourth Doctor in the upcoming Shada this December.

Shada, written by the late Douglas Adams, is an unfinished story, due to strike action, from 1979. Whilst the serial has been released in a variety of formats previously. This is the most comprehensive reconstruction to date.

“When I was doing Doctor Who it was the realisation of all my childhood fantasies… so I took to it like a duck to water and I still do,” Baker said of his return to the role onscreen.

“Doctor Who was more important than life to me – I used to dread the end of rehearsal… that’s why I can’t stay away from it.

“Shada was one of my favourite Doctor Who stories. I have many fond memories of shooting the location scenes in Cambridge, and it was disappointing not to finish the story in studio. I’m so glad that BBC Worldwide have found a way to bring fans a complete visual version.”

Baker was last seen onscreen as the Curator in Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary special, alongside Matt Smith and David Tennant. His audio adventures continue with Big Finish and he's also starring in that other sci-fi franchise so beloved by fans (myself included). Star Wars.

My earliest memory of watching Doctor Who is The Sontaran Experiment and the Fourth Doctor is my favourite incarnation of the beloved time traveller. So, seeing Baker back is extra special at a time of renewal for the long-running BBC sci-fi series. Jodie Whittaker becomes the first female Doctor during Peter Capaldi's regeneration story this Christmas.

Shada is available to pre-order on DVD and Blu-ray disc and is released on 4th December. Or download the serial from iTunes today.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens maybe a 3-disc release

The release dates for Star Wars: The Force Awakens on digital download and Blu-ray disc are subject to continued speculation and rumour whilst the movie continues to play in theatres.

If these rumours turn out to be true, then digital pre-orders will available to download and view from services such as iTunes as early as 15th March and the 3-disc release will be available from 5th April.

In the meantime StarWarsNewsNet has shared what appears to be a list detailing all the special features:

*Secrets Of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey
*The Story Awakens: The Table Read
*Building BB-8
*Crafting Creatures
*Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight
*The Visual Magic Of The Force
*John Williams: The Seventh Symphony
*Deleted Scenes
*Force For Change

Star Wars News Net got hold of quotes from two of the film's editors, with one of them, Mary Jo Markey, saying that fans shouldn't expect a lot of additional scenes: "There aren’t a lot. There’s one with Harrison Ford, there’s one with Rey, but there aren’t a lot. I think there are maybe seven or eight."

And even those won't add much to the story that isn't already there, says editor Maryann Brandon: "I honestly think that what is in the film is exactly what needs to be in the film, and what isn’t remains fun but not necessary."

DK Books' Star Wars: The Force Awakens visual dictionary is replete with insightful suggestions of deleted scenes including a Snowspeeder chase, popularised by merchandise, and Snowtroopers storming the Millennium Falcon. An invaluable reference and highly recommended.

None of the information regarding the home retail release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been confirmed. I'll update once an official announcement has been made.

You can pre-order Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray disc and digital download.

Will you be buying the movie digitally or on Blu-ray disc? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 21 February 2014

LOVEFiLM Instant merges into Amazon Prime

Amazon is pulling no punches in its streaming war with Netflix. The company is rebranding LOVEFiLM Instant as Amazon Prime Instant Video and adding rental and digital purchases for the first time from February 26th. This will include new movies such as Captain Philips and Despicable Me 2, taking the fight to Blinkbox, iTunes and Sky Store.

"Consumers will be able to shop for what they want, read what they want and watch they want anywhere at any time," said Tim Leslie, vice-president of Amazon Instant Video for the UK and Germany.

Existing Amazon Prime customers can enjoy Amazon Prime Instant Video for £79 per year, which includes unlimited one-day delivery and access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. It's worth noting renewals and new signups will be charged £49 before February 26th. LOVEFiLM Instant members can continue to subscribe on a monthly basis for £5.99.

Amazon is investing in original content too. Unlike Netflix, Amazon Originals allows subscribers to vote on their favourite pilot episodes prior to commissioning a full season. Chris Carter (creator of The X-Files) has joined the fray with his spectacular misfire. The After. This tedious and wholly derivative paranormal drama is blighted by excessive swearing. Netflix's House of Cards is in no immediate danger of tumbling down.

The subscription service also exclusively streams History's Vikings, which is a lavish, if languid, drama series and somewhat overshadowed by Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic. Season 2 starts streaming on Amazon Prime Instant Video at the end of February.

“Millions of customers in the US have streaming video included as part of their Prime membership and they tell us they love the combination of unlimited delivery, the ability to borrow Kindle books, and convenient access to thousands of the most popular movies, TV shows and exclusive videos”, said Greg Greeley, Vice President of Amazon Prime. “We are delighted to be bringing that same combination of services to the UK, providing members truly unique benefits they can enjoy every day of the year.”

Rumours suggest the feted Amazon TV box will debut in March! Is there room for another streaming device in an already overcrowded market?

All apps will be updated to reflect the rebrand next week.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Game of Thrones soundboard on the App Store

Winter is Coming! HBO's Game of Thrones is television gold and was my favourite new drama series of 2011!

Immerse yourself in the sounds of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and relive your favourite sound bites from the first season of HBO’s epic depiction of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novels.

Featuring classic moments from key characters, this official HBO application allows you to browse quotes by character and by episode, playing them back over-and-over.

The Game of Thrones soundboard includes quotes from:

* Ned Stark (Sean Bean)
* Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley)
* Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)
* Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy)
* Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)
* Jon Snow (Kit Harington)
* Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)

... and many more!

Game of Thrones S1 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from March 5.

Download Game of Thrones (iTunes)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A Charlie Brown Christmas on the App Store

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!"

Help Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the entire Peanuts gang as they struggle to find the true meaning of Christmas. Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown, narrates the rebirth of the 1965 animated classic as an interactive storybook complete with original scenes and dialog and digitally remastered illustrations, animation, and music optimized for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Play Schroeder's piano, finger paint with the gang, go carolling with the Peanuts choir, and participate in the Spectacular Super-Colossal Neighborhood Christmas Lights and Display Contest to unlock decorations for your very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree! With something to discover on every page, this is one interactive Peanuts adventure you won't want to miss this holiday season!!

* Original dialogue from the 1965 animated classic
* Captivating narration by Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown
* Charming soundtrack featuring music and sound effects from the original show
* Decorate your own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree
* Participate in the Lights and Display Contest to unlock rewards
* Educational features such as word and note highlighting to help improve reading and musical skills
* Hear individual words spoken with the tap of a finger
* Touch and drag objects to make them “spring” to life or tilt to watch them slide and move
* Objects that literally pop out of the page to delight you and your family!

A Charlie Brown Christmas (iTunes)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Spielberg: The Man, The Movies

He's the most famous director in movie history, whose creations have poured out of the cinemas into popular culture. But what goes on inside his head? What drives him? What is the key to Steven Spielberg? Covering his career, his movies, his relationships, and his extraordinary gift, Empire Magazine celebrates - with dazzling photographic evidence - Hollywood's most beloved director in this unique special edition.

Updated for 2012, this new iPad edition of Empire’s Spielberg celebration features:

– Original trailers from every single title in the director’s filmography.
– In-depth critical appraisals of all of his films, from 1971’s Duel, right up to the present day.
– Detailed features covering topics from Spielberg’s early Super 8 movies to his experiences in TV, making the Indiana Jones saga and more.
– Behind-the-scenes ‘making of’ features on some of the director’s biggest films.
– Interviews with key Spielberg collaborators.
– A special Q&A session with the director himself answering questions from some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
– Exclusive video interview with Spielberg and director JJ Abrams.
– Selected clips from classic Spielberg movies.
– Exclusive photography

Thursday, 6 October 2011

RIP Steve Jobs; visionary co-founder of Apple

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life ... Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” - Steve Jobs

RIP Steve Jobs. Thanks for co-founding Apple and changing the way we use technology forever. I'll never own a PC. That is all.

Friday, 2 September 2011

4oD now available on all iOS devices

Following the re-launch of 4oD on, Channel 4 launches a free to download, bespoke 4oD iPhone app and updates its existing iPad app. 

Available to download from the app store on Friday 2 September the 4oD catch up app will allow viewers to catch up with Channel 4 programmes from the last 30 days wherever they are, on whichever iOS device they own.

Both the 4oD iPad and 4oD iPhone applications can now be browsed in 3G, with video playback only available when a Wi-Fi signal is accessible to ensure the quality of the viewing experience isn't affected.

A search functionality has been included in the 4oD iPhone app and added to the 4oD iPad app, enabling users to find their favourite programmes by typing in the name of the show in the new search menu. 

For the first time, there will also be a direct link to Channel 4's content on iTunes, offering users the chance to download to own Channel 4 shows. Costs will apply for this service.

Helen Walker, 4oD Product Manager comments: "We're delighted to bring 4oD to our viewers with iPhones and iPod Touches, and to offer our existing iPad users an update to their app, with a new carousel and ability to now browse the app over 3G".

The app was designed by Nice Agency - specialists in the design and development of innovative cross-platform applications - who were also responsible for the 4oD Catch Up app for iPad.

Download 4oD Catch Up (iTunes)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

THX inventor to join Apple

Leo Laporte tweeted that Tomlinson Holman (inventor of the THX sound system) is purportedly joining Apple to head up the Cupertino-based company's audio division.

This is amazing news!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Star Wars games being pulled from the App Store

Josh Shabtai, Falcon Gunner’s creative director and head of Vertigore, recently wrote in a blog post that due to THQ’s deal with Lucasfilm coming to an end, THQ will have to withdraw Star Wars: Falcon Gunner from the App Store.

"In the end, I shouldn't be upset: I'd literally been dreaming about making a Millennium Falcon arcade machine for more than 27 years. THQ and Lucasfilm gave me and Vertigore the chance not only to realize this vision, but also to produce the first augmented reality Star Wars game, um, ever.

"But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad. Especially when I knew what we had planned: An awesome iPad 2 version. An Android version. Visual interaction in AR mode. And last but not least, a Battle of Endor update, complete with an interactive backing track from Nien Numb."

Shabtai speculates that other developers, tied to the THQ deal, may also find their titles disappearing from the App Store in the coming days, suggesting Lucasfilm is planning a franchise-wide reset for Star Wars on iOS. Perhaps EA will handle future tie-in games? The company already works with Star Wars franchisee Hasbro. Or LucasArts may go it alone on the App Store.

Whatever the outcome. You may want to download Star Wars games, published by THQ, before March 31st.

Download Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner (iTunes) before its gone forever...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Sony announces Apple TV rival

Today Sony announced a standalone network media player, based on the company's acclaimed BRAVIA Internet Video service, retailing for £120 when it goes on sale next month in the UK.

The SMP-N100 will wirelessly stream LOVEFiLM and catchup channels, including Demand Five, 4oD, ITV Player and BBC iPlayer, anywhere in the home.

DLNA-friendly with access to Sony's video-on-demand service, Qirocity, the SMP-N100 is making a royal bid to dethrone the recently refreshed Apple TV in UK households.

Readers will be familiar with the machine's menu screen. The SMP-N100 uses the same XrossMedia Bar (XMB) as seen on a wide range of Sony's 'house of brands' including PlayStation and BRAVIA.

Given that Sony's latest range of Blu-ray disc players include BRAVIA Internet Video, for as little as £99, the SMP-N100 could be a hard sell unless Sony undercuts Apple TV's £99 price point. Where's Freeview+, which is available on PS3, Sony's other Trojan Horse, via PlayTV?

What do you think? Is the SMP-N100 a worthy challenger to Apple TV and its iTunes ecosystem?

Another contender for the multimedia crown, YouView (formerely Project Canvas), is on the horizon...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Do the new iPods deliver?

Pre-order new iPods from and

Guest post written by Andrew Lewin

So Apple have unveiled the most extensive revamp of their iPod range this week. And yet, despite being an Apple fanboi going way back (before iPads, iPhones, iPods or even iMacs) I find myself in an odd fugue state of indifference, topped off with the first early warning signs of anxiety about Apple’s direction and future.

Last year the company unveiled the fifth generation iPod nano, and I was so excited that I had bought one within a couple of days. Far from being a rash decision, I can happily say that I’ve used the nano virtually every day of the year since and certainly never regretted the purchase.

The new nano is the most far-reaching redesign in the 2010 iPod line-up revamp, changing it to a square touchscreen device that continues Apple’s strategy of progressively cascading the ‘touch’ paradigm through its line-up. The touchscreen is clearly the thing to have these days and anything else with physical buttons and sliders is starting to look a bit tired and old hat: users used to iPhones start prodding the screen and wondering why it’s not working, until they reload the old and dated way of doing things back into their brain. And there’s no doubt that the simple clickable scroll-wheel – so effective when first introduced – is now creaking under the weight of finding ways to access all the gazillion new features that have crept onto the iPod since its launch.

So the addition of touch technology brings a little of that Apple glamour and pizzazz back to the nano, and helps stop it being potentially overlooked in a crowded market. But the sixth generation nano’s touchscreen implementation seems a rather halfway house solution, because the screen – while looking at first glance like the iPod touch/iPhone iOS – is purely cosmetic. It doesn’t run iOS and can’t have apps added to it, so it’s a bit of sleight-of-hand that doesn’t really hide the fact that its beauty is barely skin deep, and I suspect this limitation will disappoint as many people as the redesign will delight. In addition, the screen is now rather too small to easily navigate through lots of music, and the touchscreen makes it hard to use when out for a run or any other time you can’t stop, take out the nano to look at and fiddle with.

But the main reason I’m disappointed in the new nano is that it removes video capability. I’m not referring to the video camera/recording per se – I’ve not used that very often on my nano, but on the other hand it does nicely fit a gap in functionality on my old iPhone 3G phone – but I do find the removal of a much-touted fifth generation feature to be a somewhat retrograde step. No, my main complaint on video is that the new iPod nano can’t play video. At all. No more vodcasts, no more watching TV programmes recorded through my Elgato tuner (which I’ve gone a fair amount of over the year.) That’s a real drawback, actually a dealbreaker for me. Why remove that feature? Not being able to pack in the video camera hardware into the diminished casing I can understand, but how can the nano software suddenly lose the ability to play video after all this time?

At least the new nano retains its FM radio, which I was particularly excited about with the fifth generation last year. I actually feared that it, too, would be swept away by the change in physical form, so it’s nice to see it retained. It actually makes me surprised that the revamped iPod touch is singularly lacking an FM radio chip in its latest incarnation. Otherwise, the new iPod touch delivers everything that was expected – in particular the front-facing camera and the Facetime video conferencing capability. This was an absolute top priority for Apple, because establishing Facetime as a video conferencing standard needs it to be on more devices than simply the top-of-the-line iPhone 4, and so this iPod touch brings it “to the masses” – or at least as mass as it’s ever likely to get.

The one thing that surprises me with the iPod touch upgrade is that its appearance looks … Well, pretty much the same as the previous model. Apparently it’s a little thinner, but not by so much as you’d notice. That means the general overall aesthetic is still the same as the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and fairly close to the iPad. What it’s not like, however, is the iPhone 4, and that leaves the iPhone 4 looking like the odd one out: “one of these things is not like the other ones.” As a result, its sleek, metal, sharp-edged design looks rather un-Applelike against the carefully curved other models in the mobile range. Now it could be that Apple just wants the iPhone 4 to remain unique and special, or it could be that the iPhone 4 style simply doesn’t work well with an ultraslim physical form. But by leaving the iPhone 4 looking so different, it does raise the suggestion that someone, somewhere has already decided that it’s not the future of Apple’s mobile devices and that the iPhone 4 design has already been consigned to the “lame duck” category of history.

Because it’s true, Apple do make mistakes when it comes to product design: and you only have to look at the overhaul of the iPod shuffle to see this. The new model is fairly square, with buttons on its front face, while the previous model was longer and thinner with all the controls on the headphone lead. But look a generation back from that, and you’ll find that the 2008 shuffle is squarer, with buttons on its front face … Exactly like the 2010 model. Okay, the new model is thinner, and brings in the VoiceOver technology lacking from the 2008 model, but in all other respects this is one of the clearest examples yet we’ve had of Apple holdings its hands up and admitting “yeah, sorry about that 2009 model, it was a complete dog.”

Having the courage to own up and backtrack is actually quite laudable, but what’s missing here is that Apple seem to be completely out of ideas for what to do with the product than put it back to how it was before they broke it. A first sign of Apple’s design maestros running on empty? Or simply an illustration of how difficult even Apple finds it to deliver striking products to their usual dazzling standard at the low-cost end of the market?

You sense that Apple would love to just do away with the shuffle – that the new iPod nano touchscreen is really where they see this part of the market, being quite small enough (in fact – rather too small, especially for a touchscreen device). But the shuffle is a key part of Apple’s business strategy, its low price protecting the iPod range from the attacking hoards of budget MP3 players that are out there. In the same way, Apple clearly hate having to continue the iPod classic line and would love to get rid of it and have the iPod touch as the unchallenged king of the iPods, but they can’t – 128Gb RAM chips are proving elusive, and so the hard disc technology of the iPod classic is necessary for those music obsessives that need over 100Gb of storage on their device. But for the meantime the classic is a necessary evil, and so it sits in Apple’s product line-up, looking old and tired and neglected – just merely indispensable at the same time.

There were a few other launches at Apple’s September 1 event other than the refreshed iPod line-up: the next iPhone operating system, iOS 4.1, was announced – and top of the list was a fix for using it on the old iPhone 3G hardware. This (even more than antenna-gate, which was massively overhyped by blogs and media) has been a real black mark against Apple of late: when iOS 4.0 came out, the 3G was still part of the current iPhone range being sold by Apple. Even if that was only for a week overlap, there were still people buying a new phone on up to a 18 month contract who instantly could not use the current recommended OS for it without serious performance issues. It’s one thing to remove support and deprecate an out-of-date product, but to make a model obsolete while it’s still in your retail line-up is reprehensible.

There’s also the Apple TV, but outside the US this is rather hobbled by international licensing deals and consequently still feels like a dispensable sideline for Apple. What’s raised most eyebrows about Apple TV in the UK has been the price – the £99 matching the $99, the first time we’ve seen pound/dollar parity. The Apple TV seems a bit of a blip on Apple’s pricing, but other Apple prices are also skyrocketing (the new nano is about 25% more than the old one, for example) and even Apple seem to be getting a little uncomfortable about how this is coming across, carefully adding information to their UK Store pages detailing how much of that is down to sales taxes (VAT) and import duties. While it’s true that the pound has fared poorly on the money markets in the last year, and VAT will be going up to 20% in January, it’s still astonishing just how much Apple are hiking their prices, while all the other IT retailers are slashing prices to nothing (for example, under £300 for a laptop) – but then, Apple sales are exploding despite the price, so maybe it just shows that Apple know more about this than I do. Or indeed most economists do! Apple seem happy shooting for the premium crowd, where “if you need to ask the price, you can’t afford it” – but will this last or prove to be a bubble?

And there was also the launch of iTunes 10, the latest version of Apple’s media player/manager. Here’s a program that urgently needs a complete reboot – it’s got large, bloated, confusing and disorganised over the years as more and more demands and features have been foisted upon it. For a simple media player, the amount of system resources it hogs these days is astonishing. But instead of tackling all of this, Apple have simply landed it with another whole chunk of stuff to take care of – this time social networking via music, a network they call Ping. I can honestly say that another social network was not something I was thinking as being missing from my life, and while it’s been hailed as “the final nail in MySpace’s coffin” I can’t help but think this is far too little and far too late in the day to be getting into this game. Then again, I’d have said the same about Apple’s clearly doomed attempt to infiltrate the mature mobile phone market just before they launched the iPhone, so if anyone can pull off the impossible then it’s Apple.

However, there are a few things about iTunes 10 and Ping (other than feature-bloat) that make me scratch my head and worry that Apple are starting to falter at keeping all these plates spinning. Early users of Ping have been trying to set up user accounts … And finding that their avatar pictures don’t appear, until they have been “approved”. It’s Apple’s control tendencies showing again, mixed with the same puritanical streak that sees them censor anything remotely smutty or sleazy from the App Store. But having to get an avatar approved by the all-seeing Apple? Even for committed Apple fanbois this is surely a level of central control beyond a joke. And for everyone else, is this a network that you’d be happy joining? Apple clearly don’t have a grasp on social media or understand that it cannot be directed and controlled without killing it off. On just this one piece of early evidence, I have grave doubts Ping will ever make any impact and that it may quickly whither and die, much as its original foray into online communities, eWorld, similarly suffocated and died.

The other point about iTunes 10 is a very, very minor one: they’ve moved the three buttons for closing, minimising or expanding so that they now run vertically like traffic lights – instead of horizontally, as they appear on every other piece of software on the Mac OS. It’s a OS interface constant, a standard, so that everyone knows where the buttons are, what they do, how they work. And Apple have mucked around with this for no good apparent reason, but just because they felt like it. Interface designers know that you don’t monkey around with such things on a whim, so what are Apple playing at?

It is, as I have already admitted, a very minor detail. And yet there is something about it that seems telling to me, where such attention to small detail that used to be the defining characteristic of the company. And it’s in this and in the other parts of the iPod line-up covered in this article, either through highly uncharacteristic carelessness perhaps simply from being overstretched. The volume of output from Apple over the past few years has been astonishing, and we’re talking about a company a fraction of the size of Microsoft – which had been all but inert for years now, God alone knows what all those people are doing up in Seattle. Apple’s “start-up” size has worked for them over the years but now it might be catching up with them, the cracks showing as they take on more than they can carry, and as a result some of the plates can no longer be kept spinning: just look back at the iPhone 4 antenna-gate problem, the early iPad wi-fi problems, the issues with iOS4, the fact that iWorks hasn’t had a major upgrade in two years, and then add the sense that the latest iterations of products frankly aren’t as interesting or innovative as we’re used to from Apple. Too much to do, too little time to allow for innovation and inspiration.

And also … I do wonder whether any of this might stem from Steve Job’s medical leave last year. There’s things here that I wouldn’t have expected Jobs to let go through if he’d been in charge at the time, little slips that would have had him been in a rage and demanding to fix. Maybe the experience has changed him, and that infuriating, dynamic, demanding, contrary, driving, unique, charismatic dynamo at the heart of Apple is no longer the force it was. And if Apple’s core starts to falter, then will Apple itself decline and fall in turn?

Or perhaps this is just a simple blip, and all will be well with the Applesphere next time around. Let’s hope.

Andrew Lewin works for COI, a central government department, as a web developer/project manager/social media advisor and technical consultant. He was creating e-zines before anyone started calling it "blogging", and was setting up Fantasy Formula 1 sites by twisting blogging software such as Movable Type and Wordpress into being content management systems before it became all the rage and standard operating procedure. Andrew can bore for England on all aspects of online accessibility, usability and interface design, and has worked in and around the media for twenty years since starting in production and IT support at the magazine publishers H Bauer. That started a lifelong love affair with Mac-products, with a proudly PC-free computer purchasing history that started with a Mac IIsi in the dark days of Apple without Steve Jobs. Andrew now lives in south west London with a thoroughly modern iFamily of Apple products - iMac, iPhone, iPod and of course iPad: all of whom get on very well together, keep Andrew in line and tell him what to do. Andrew blogs at "Let me think about that..." (where this post originally appeared) and at "motorsport.ind".

If you would like to submit a guest post, please email.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

SEGA's Shining Force arrives on the App Store

SEGA's Shining Force (iTunes), a classic turn-based RPG from the 16-bit era, arrives on the App Store with my unreserved recommendation!

SEGA's Genesis/Mega Drive emulator for iPhone has met with controversy from enthusiast gamers, and I've eschewed all the releases until now! Shining Force runs perfectly on my iPod touch (2G). However, is it too much to ask SEGA to release special editions with hi-resolution graphics?

How about Phantasy Star next?

Shining Force should satiate RPG fans until Secret of Mana is released!

US App Store: Shining Force
International: Shining Force

Friday, 23 July 2010

Jedi Junkies

Jedi Junkies, produced and directed by Mark Edlitz, is a one-of-a-kind, feature film about the world’s most dedicated Star Wars fans.

From lightsaber wielding martial arts academies to a filmmaker who built the world’s only life-size Millennium Falcon, from a Monster Garage-esque sculptor whose professional livelihood is building custom lightsabers to metal-bikini wearing dancers who embody Slave Leia, the film offers viewers a rare glimpse into rabid fans’ personal and professional self expression that borders on obsession.

The film also gives viewers the perspective of celebrity insiders including G4’s Attack of the Show host Olivia Munn, Phantom Menace actor Ray Park (Darth Maul), Celebrity Fit Club's Dr. Linda Papodopolis and Blair Witch Project director Ed Sanchez.

See what the critics are saying about Jedi Junkies:

Digital Movie Reviews
"Even modest Star Wars fans will enjoy this documentary. The folks profiled here are extreme in many ways, but they’re also very entertaining. You’ll marvel at them, either out of admiration or out of disbelief."

Clive Young, Author, "Homemade Hollywood"
"Check it out. If you’re a Star Wars fan, or just like gazing at Olivia Munn — you’ll dig Jedi Junkies."

Jedi Junkies is now available to rent or buy on iTunes and Amazon.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Star Wars: The Battle for Hoth

"Just in time for the 30th anniversary celebration of The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: The Battle for Hoth offers an exciting, strategic gaming experience for fans of the original Star Wars series," said Adam Comiskey, Vice President, THQ Wireless.

Star Wars: The Battle for Hoth, a tower defence game, will be released on July 15th.

In the meantime download Star Wars: Trench Run (iTunes)! THQ Wireless is about to unleash Trench Run 2.0, a significant update that uses the iPhone or iPod touch as a wireless controller whilst the player uses a Mac or PC browser to play the game. This will be, controversially, available as an in-app purchase!

Monday, 24 May 2010

No objection! Phoenix Wright for iPhone

Capcom has released Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (iTunes) on the App Store!

Capcom has successfully brought its Mega Man, Resident Evil and Street Fighter franchises to the App Store.

Phoenix Wright continues that trend and is almost a direct port of the Nintendo DS classic - including original art assets. Capcom has rightly, in my opinion, eschewed DLC (and micropayments) by including all 5 original cases (internet connection not required) for an incontestable bargain price of £2.99.

Hopefully Capcom will release further games in the Phoenix Wright series and an iPhone exclusive in the future.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Twitter for iPhone

Yesterday Tweetie 2 was removed from the App Store following Twitter's acquisition of Atebits last month. This prompted speculation that Twitter for iPhone (AKA Tweetie 3), the free official Twitter application, would appear on the App Store imminently. According to various online sources it's still propagating on the App Store.

Will Twitter for iPhone (iTunes) witness the demise of third-party applications, particularly as Tweetie was regarded as the best Twitter client for iPhone with high profile support from celebrities?

For the record I have had a love hate relationship with Tweetie, Twitterrific and Echofun! All of which have been halfway houses.