TechSpots

WWDC 2014 Keynote Speech Live Blog

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Apple’s WWDC 2014 keynote speech is the best, most informative part of the whole WWDC event. Most, if not all of the groundbreaking and surprising features will be released during the 2 hour long talk. If you want to watch the talk live go HERE, but if you can’t feel free to stay here, where I’ll be describing the talk with words and pictures for you.

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Apple’s WWDC 2014 – What To Expect

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Every year, the tech world explodes with a gigantic amount of rumors and speculations and concepts of what might come out of this years WWDC. Apple’s big developer conference always brings something surprising and amazing to the table, despite all the attention it’s getting. Last year, iOS 7 was announced, the biggest change to iOS ever. That one change boosted along the flat design movement, and the expectations are high for what will happen this year. Of course, another complete redesign probably won’t happen, as it’s to soon to throw another curveball that the industry, so what changes they actually did do to warrant the title of iOS 8 is still a mystery.

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Now, before I start, I want to warn you of something. Don’t kill the messenger, but there is a tiny, tiny amount of information about any of Apple’s software updates, which will reportedly feature in this year’s WWDC. Apple is known for their incredibly strict ruling about these kinds of things, so correct leaks are very rare. But, there is a general idea of what will come out, so I make what I can with what’s out there.

iOS 8

For instance, something that we are sure that will come out is iOS 8. Pictures of a big “8” banner, with a watery background, were taken at the site of the conference in the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California. As I said earlier, it’s way to early to redesign the system again, so the changes made will most likely by new features and improved specs.

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Speaking of new features, a pretty solid rumor has been going around about Apple’s delve into the health and fitness market, Healthbook. In a article by 9to5Mac, Healthbook was reported to have many functional abilities, such as heart rate, nutrition, blood sugar level and steps taken monitors. Because the iPhone M7 chip isn’t really capable of collecting all that information, (though a new chip they introduce theoretically could) it is assumed that Healthbook will be a hub for many other third-party applications and products.

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Besides that, there are some other smaller rumored features, such as iTunes Radio getting it’s own app, a Siri upgrade, a music recognition app in partnership with Shazam and a hinted at new mobile payment system. Other than the rumors that I’ve mentioned so far, Apple has kept it’s release pretty watertight. There are so many possibilities in this release, new features that could be added, it’s just the way Apple wanted it. A surprise to blow your brains out.

OS X 10.10

Along with iOS 8, we know that OS X 10.10 will also be released, in the same way we know iOS 8: a big “X” banner. Though unlike iOS 8, where the water backround doesn’t matter, OS X banners tend to relate to the name of the system. This year, the backround was of El Capitan, a gigantic rock formation in Yosemite, indicating OS X Yosemite or OS X El Cap.

Because of the last WWDC’s iOS overhaul, it’s expected that this year the OS X UI and design will get the attention. Most likely, the still slightly textured and skeumorphic OS X will look more like the flat iOS 7. Also, some of Apple’s own music and photo apps might get a redesign to match the overall flat design, but there is incredibly little known about OS X 10.10.

iWatch

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, Apple fans, but it’s looking like the hotly anticipated iWatch will not be released this WWDC. First of all, the WWDC is historically used for software, not hardware updates. Also, sources familiar with Apple’s general plans were reported to say that they will most likely not release the iWatch, just adding on to the already pessimistic attitude surrounding the release of the iWatch.

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An iWatch Concept

Even though the whole media industry is probably overdoing this whole thing, nobody can doubt the importance and excitement surrounding this release. After the software is sent out to the millions of developers out there, eager to get their hands on the new features and capabilities. The whole next year in tech may change drastically depending on what comes out of tomorrow’s keynote speech. On a completely separate note, make sure to check back here for the official Fast Forward WWDC 2014 keynote speech live blog at 10:00 to 12:00 AM PT!

TechSpot: Shaq-Fu is Back

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Back in 1994, EA and a couple other game developing companies decided to make a game drawing from the insane popularity of the basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, commonly known as Shaq. That’s how Shaq-Fu was born, and to be honest, it was a complete flop. Called the worst game ever. By the makers of the game itself. There is even a website out there called Shaqfu.com which is dedicated to collecting and destorying all copies of the original Shaq-Fu and stopping the production of the new one. 

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That’s right. Shaq-Fu is back. After 20 years since EA’s disastrous release of the game, Big Deez Production decided to team up with Shaq to bring it back. Supposedly, they had gone through many other Shaq themed games, such as Shaqman, O’Neal Of Fortune and Shaq To The Future, but ended up picking Shaq-Fu. This may seem like a bad (or at least misguided) choice, but Shaq and Big Deez seem set on recreating a better game and clearing Shaq’s name in the gaming community. On of their slogans is ” This time we won’t FU it up.”, poking fun at their previous failure.

Shaq-Fu is basically a fighter/beat-em-up type game. It is Shaq against some evil looking enemies, with your health bar at the top right and the enemy’s in the top right. With modern technology (such as 3D characters and better visual effects), if they do it right, the game could actually be good. So far, what they have put out looks cool. I mean look at this. Shaq looks like the Hulk. No wonder he’s funding this. Who, with the money, wouldn’t fund a game about themselves.

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Since Shaq is incredibly wealthy, he could easily pay for this game all by himself, with extra money to spare for his custom size 23 shoes, but they want to bring it to the public and show potential investors that they have the public interest. So Big Deez put it on Indiegogo, and I have to admit, they have some pretty sweet “perks”. For instance, for only $150, a motion capture artist will make a custom move based off of a video of yourself performing you move, or you can make a voice over for one of the characters. For 400, Shaq-Fu artists will create you likeness into a Shaq-Fu style character. Some of the rewards are ridiculous, though, like the $35,000 perk where Shaq will DJ your party. And someone payed for it.

The whole game is a big maybe. After the flop of the original game, it might be hard to convince people that this game is much better than it’s predecessor. The goal of Big Deez is “to build a game that would kick ass even without Shaq.” This wouldn’t really work, unless they got another celebrity to fund it, but well just have to wait until the release to see what they do and the quality of the game they create.

TechSpot: League Of Legends Spoken Word Poem

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Many times in technology do people bring together that normally doesn’t go together. In a video released recently, Jesse Chisolm bring together two different things that were never meant to meet, yet when they do, it turns out surprisingly well: League of Legends and Spoken Word Poetry.

In Chisolm’s video, he “raps” about his experience with the game League of Legends, and how he “loves League of Legends, but he hates playing the game”. I won’t tell you exactly what he says, because it is a great and well written video, but in general he talks about how the players on LoL have started to drift from teamwork over to selfishness. Games like League of Legends have been known for this type of jerky behavior. He is basically saying, in the coolest way ever, “STOP BEING JERKS!!!! Start acting better!”, to everyone on LoL. Props to Jesse Chisolm for making this video with the right message, and I hope you watch it and respect what he says.

TechSpot: Recon Jet – Augmented Reality For Athletes

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Recon Jet. Sounds futuristic, huh? Well, it is. Augmented reality used to be a figment of sci-fi writers imaginations, until Google gave tech companies everywhere hope that wearable technology and augmented reality is possible, and more importantly, will sell. A lot. More and more innovators and startups are diving into the ocean of possibilities with augmented reality, and more specifically, augmented reality glasses. Of course, Google Glass is just for the average Joe, not really developed for any certain profession or hobby. Recon Jet, on the other hand is. It’s developed for those of you out there who are healthily obsessed with sports.

There are many smartphone apps and watches that can help with the two sports Recon Jet specializes in: running and cycling. But Recon Instruments, the makers of Recon Jet said “Pfft, we can do better!” And, truthfully, they did. They blew away those petty apps and watches. And here’s why. Recon’s augmented reality glasses Recon Jet has everything an athlete could want. Starting with, of course, a map. When you are exercising, instead of going only where you know how to get back, you could potentially just go wherever you fancy and use Recon Jet to get back. If you bike to work, and you don’t pay attention and get lost, Recon’s got you covered.

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All the helpful stats and information that the other exercising apps and watches are all built in the Recon Jet, such as heart rate, time, distance, social rankings, social networks, vertical ascent, elevation and much more. Plus, more, all accessible right at the touch of the touchpad. While in the middle of an exercise or a race, knowing if you are slowing down or being able to see the exact race course so you don’t accidentally turn early and have to turn around is sometimes key.

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The Recon Jet

The Recon Jet’s hardware is a pair fancy polarized sports glasses with a small curving rectangle with a high resolution display screen. Unlike Google Glass, the screen is not opaque, though it is pretty small so it is not very annoying and doesn’t block your view. In the rectangle, there is a dual core CPU, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, altimeter, thermometer. So basically, it can track and tell you a LOT of stats.

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A Concept Of What Recon Jet Would Show When Playing Golf

Overall, these glasses are exactly what every serious athlete was hoping for. They are an athletes best friend. Ok, that might be going a little to far. But Recon Jet can also be used for other practices, such as surgery and as Recon CMO Tom Fowler said,

“I showed this to a U.S. Army doctor who had done a couple of tours in Afghanistan, and he said that if he’d had one in Afghanistan, people would have made it who, sadly, did not.”

These glasses make running and biking a better experience for the serious athletes all around. And if you are thinking about integrating technology in your daily workout by buying a fancy expensive watch or such devices, and are willing to cough up a couple hundred more dollars, the $600 Recon Jet is for you.

TechSpot: Phonebloks, A Could-Be Everlasting Smartphone

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When you get a phone, you know it may not last very long. You can easily drop it or leave it somewhere. Many companies offer cases to protect it, but most just don’t look good, and the look is half a phone’s worth. Plus, even if you do make it for a year or two, a new model will come out and you’ll throw yours away. That creates a lot of “electronic waste” that crowds landfills.  This is the problem that Phonebloks is supposed to help fix.

Phonebloks is a interesting concept for a phone that can last a very long time, because it has easily replaceable parts. But before I go into the actual design, remember that it only at concept stage, and is not yet designed to look as slick and as thin as possible. Anyway, the main design for Phonebloks consists of three layers. Of course, the first is the screen. In the middle, there is the motherboard, base, or whatever you prefer to call it. Third is the layer that sets Phonebloks apart from other devices.

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The Three Layers

On the back of the middle layer, there are holes, similar to breadboards for you engineers out there. For the device to work, you have to snap in little blocks that make up the whole of the phone. Each block represents a different part of a smartphone, and when you snap them in, the smartphone works. So whenever your phone slows up, or the screen shatters, you can just replace the block. Also, different companies make their own blocks, so you could (conceivably) get a Apple camera, a Samsung battery, and Nokia form factor.

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All The Capable Blocks

Another great capability of Phonebloks is that you can customize your phone. If you love to take pictures, upgrade your camera block while keeping your processor and storage the same, if you just upload your photos, anyway. Or, if you like to surf the internet or Instagram constantly, improve your antenna and Wifi blocks. You decide for yourself.  Overall, it is an interesting concept/prototype, with good intentions, despite a potentially high cost and questionable implementation.  We can just hope it actually comes to this crazy phone market and sells.

TechSpot: Apple’s WWDC 2013 Review Part 2 – OS X Mavericks

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OS X Mavericks, the new operating system for Macs, was released at the WWDC 2013. First of all, you are probably thinking one thing: OS X Mavericks? Well, Apple have decided to get rid of the Big Cats (I was hoping for OS X Domestic Cat) and replace it with places in their home state, California. And in case you didn’t know, Mavericks is a small surfing spot with giant waves. Anyway, OS X Mavericks hasn’t been completely revised like iOS 7, but it’s many built in apps have been updated and added. Here are the main updates Apple highlighted:

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The OS X Mavericks Slogan

iBooks

Finally! Apple have now made a app for iBooks on Macs. Why they didn’t do it in the first place, I have no idea. The new iBooks has added much more books to their collection, making for a complete experience. Also, if you’re a student, iBooks is perfect for you. They have revised textbooks so that you can take notes, highlight sections and more. You can even keep more than one book open for cross-referencing. Really, though, this app just completes the set and is a backup for when you lose you Kindle. If you’ve haven’t tried, it’s very hard to read on a computer anyway. But, it’s free and everyone loves free stuff.

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iBooks On All Devices

Finder Tabs and Tags

Have you ever been in the situation where you have a file in Finder, but you just can’t find it (which is ironic, because it is called Finder)? Wait a minute, why am I even asking this? Of course you have. Apple observed this, so they addressed the fact by adding tabs and tags. Tabs in Finder allow you to sort Finder into multiple sections, almost like folders except on a bigger level. Tags, on the other hand, let you sort though your files like Tweets. You can assign each tag a color, and when you go to save a document in any Apple software, there will be a tag option. Choose a tag, such as “important” or “fundraiser” and when you go into Finder, each tag will have it’s own page. Then, all your documents are easily sorted for you!

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Finder With Tags And Tabs

Notifications

Notifications is a iOS-like feature that’s new coming to Macs everywhere. Notifications alerts you with a little bar on the top of your screen when you get texts, email, website info like Facebook, or a variety of things. For things like texts and emails, you can reply right from the bar. Also, when you log on to the computer, all the notifications from when you were gone are there. This feature removes the need to move your hand an inch and waste 30 seconds, but we lazy humans like to have things right now, easily. I guess that’s not that much of a bad thing.

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A Interactive Notification

Maps

Maps has also been given a boost in OS X Mavericks (even though it’s not like anyone will use it). Real time traffic has been added, which actually is a really helpful tool to make your route. Also, Apple have added a Google Earth-like feature that allows you to fly over a “photo-realistic” world. Another helpful feature is that if you have a route set up on the computer, you can send it to your phone so you don’t have to set it up again.

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The Maps Flyover View

Safari

Safari has always been 3rd place to Firefox and Chrome in the browser race, but that doesn’t stop Apple. The new Safari has been given a Google Chrome-like front page with all the Top Sites. A sidebar has also been added, so whenever you’re browsing, you can open it up and go to your Bookmarks, Reading List or the new “shared links”. Shared Links takes all the Tweets that have a link to the website you’re on.

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Safari’s New Sidebar

iCloud Keychain

Just like iTunes Radio is late to the music streaming train, iCloud Keychain missed the password protection boat. The password protection business is already dominated by 1Password. Yet, here is iCloud Keychain. Keychain pretty much does everything 1Password does. It remembers your password, automatically fills them in (1Password doesn’t do that), and recommends safer passwords. Also, it remembers your passwords on all Apple devices (hence “iCloud”). This is the feature that makes iCloud Keychain at all useful, but then again, 1Password has a app to.

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Password Suggester In Action

OS X Mavericks isn’t as new and improved as iOS 7, but it has had most of it’s apps upgraded. Many features have also been added to make OS X Mavericks more like iOS 7, such as Notifications. Overall, OS X Mavericks is probably a good addition to the OS X line and smooths out the wrinkles in Apple’s classic design.

TechSpot: Chineasy Simplifies The Incredibly Complex Chinese Language

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Out of all the languages, Chinese is probably one of the most complex and hard to learn. In the traditional Chinese language, there is around 13,500 characters to memorize. But, if you’re a solar, you most likely know 20,000 characters. Really, though, you only need 1,000 to have a mostly complete understating of Chinese. As ShaoLan (the creator of Chineasy) explains in her TED talk, 200 characters will get you around easily enough in China. Chineasy uses only 8 basic characters to get you to the goal of 200. Easily.

Chineasy brings the pictograms out of the Chinese language. To an outsider (and even most people that can read Chinese), the Chinese is more of a art than a language. The symbols look like random lines placed around each other. But way back when the ancient Chinese designed these symbols, they actually thought about it. Chineasy cleverly illustrates 8 basic characters. Here they are:

The 8 Basic Characters

Even though they are self-explanatory (which is the whole point of Chineasy), this is what the characters mean from left to right: Fire, Tree, Son, Moon, Person, Mouth, Door, Mountain. Memorizing pictures for all 100,000 characters would not help that much, would it, though? Fortunately, that’s not how the Chinese language is built. For instance, if you take tree, and put another tree beside it, you make wood(s). Then, if you put a third tree on top, you get forest. You can do this for all 8 character, though not exactly in the same way (example: a moon plus another moon equals prosperous because Chinese believe that the moon brings prosperity). So when you’re done memorizing all these characters and their different versions, you will have memorized at least 70 – 100 words. But, it doesn’t stop there.

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The Character For Crater

The way chinese is built allows you to build off of the word you know by making phrases. Not in the English sense. A phrase would be a word like volcano. In Chinese you write it like “fire mountain” which uses the 2 basic words fire and mountain. Plus, to even add on that, there is the word crater, which is written “fire mountain mouth”. There are many many more phrases to follow, so many that they would easily get you to 200 characters. Once you have these characters, you will be able to get the main point of 40% of the Chinese newspapers and things like that. Defiantly good enough for a trip to China. Unfortunately, ShaoLan hasn’t made any real apps or courses yet for Chineasy. But when she does, it will make learning Chinese fun. And easy.

TOTW: FingerLink Makes Anything A Touchscreen

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Have you ever been in the situation where you think “Man, I wish I could copy words or pictures from a hand-written page without rewriting!” Maybe not, but it would be a really cool ability. You wouldn’t have to draw anything more than once. In the future, we will hopefully be able to do this with our minds, or maybe our Google Glasses. That is far away though (maybe the Google Glasses 3.0?). But Fujitsu is currently working on a product called FingerLink, and it is definitely the closest thing to having a superhuman ability.

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An Image Being Manipulated By FingerLink

At its current stage of development (which is far from complete), FingerLink would probably not be something meriting a place on your desk. First of all, it’s too big. For specialized needs, however, it could definitely be a valuable device. Because of its pinpoint finger accuracy, many apps will probably appear, such as the one I described above. Here are some of it’s main features:

 

Image and Picture Clipping

Image and picture clipping is a big part of FingerLink at the current development stage. You can take any surface, curved or flat, and easily draw a line with your finger. This will highlight a square of the surface and take a “picture” of it. Then, that picture will go off to the side of the screen to be used by who-knows-what-app. This could be valuable as a substitute for pocket or smartphone scanners, and is not limited by flat surfaces.

3D Display

This may sound crazy, but FingerLink is actually very good for inspecting (and sooner or later creating) 3D models. This is also one of the products current capabilities. You can manipulate a 3D model with your hand, a lot like Leap Motion. This could make 3D models MUCH easier to use.

Picture Hiding and Pop-overs

Another existing feature, picture hiding and pop-overs, is potentially important for businesses. It allows you to secretly add text and images to any surface, so when it’s put under FingerLink, they show up. This could be useful in real estate. When looking for a new house, people grab flyers of any house they see. On those flyers could be hidden pictures of the house and other details. See what I mean? Very useful.

Overall, FingerLink is a very cool device. Scanning may never be the same. Over time, product’s size will most likely shrink, making it even more practical as an everyday device. Its capabilities, on the other hand, will expand greatly. Right now, though, I may not need it enough to justify the price, which is well above a scanner and Google SketchUp. Improvements may be on the way though, so we’ll just have to wait until fiscal 2014, when it comes out, and see.

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