Super Mario Run doesn’t arrive for another few days, but when it does, you’ll need a constant internet connection to play the game. In an interview with Mashable, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed that due to piracy concerns, the latest installment of Mario doesn’t have an offline mode. The company is worried about piracy because the game will be available in 150 countries on devices that it doesn’t have direct control over.
“For us, we view our software as being a very important asset for us,” Miyamoto explained to Mashable. “And also for consumers who are purchasing the game, we want to make sure that we’re able to offer it to them in a way that the software is secure, and that they’re able to play it in a stable environment.”
The constant network connection will not only be used to save progress, but it will also sync that saved info across devices. Nintendo apparently wanted to make the World Tour available offline, but the technical hurdles to doing so and having it still play nice with the Toad Rally and Kingdom modes proved problematic.
“We wanted to be able to leverage that network connection with all three of the modes to keep all of the modes functioning together and offering the game in a way that keeps the software secure,” Miyamoto continued. “This is something that we want to continue to work on as we continue to develop the game.”
In a statement to Engadget, Nintendo said that Super Mario Run’s online connection allows it to “enhance the play experience.” An internet connection provides access to scores from other players’ Toad Rally challenges and handles new in-game events while you’re playing. The company also reiterated that being constantly connected lets users to link to a Nintendo Account so that saved progress can sync across all of their iOS devices. You know, if you need to switch from your iPad to your iPhone for some reason.
Super Mario Run arrives for iPhone and iPad on December 15th. While the game is free to download, you’ll need to hand over $10 to unlock all of its levels. Of course, with no offline mode, you won’t be able to play during your next flight or on a commute that takes you underground. Here’s Nintendo’s full statement on the matter:
Online connectivity allows us to offer a variety of features and services that enhance the play experience. Super Mario Run is not a static experience, but rather one that players can continue to return to again and again to enjoy something new and unexpected. For example, online connectivity can offer the following:
- Access to other users’ play data and scores for automatically generated Toad Rally challenges.
- In-game events that will offer players new challenges and rewards for a limited time.
- Linkage to Nintendo Account to access save data from multiple devices. For example, if players have Super Mario Run on their iPhone and iPad, they can share one save file across the different devices. However, this save data cannot be used with different devices at the same time.
There’s something more than a little magical about seeing the world in front of you being devastated by dragons or augmented with arrows pointing you to your next meeting. Alas, while mixing realities like that with our smartphones is already possible, the tech still is a long way off from reaching its potential — just look at early, disappointing efforts like Lenovo’s enormous Tango phone. Luckily, startups are chasing the mixed reality dream too, including one — Occipital — that has a solid track record of solving the tricky problems that pop up when blurring boundaries between worlds. That’s why the team’s new mixed reality, the Bridge, seems so impressive right out of the gate.
Oh, and another thing: it’s specifically for iPhones. For years now, most mobile virtual reality fun has been confined to Android, with cheap Gear VRs and Daydream Views making it easy to see what all the hype was about. While some VR games and apps exist for iPhones, Apple hardware historically hasn’t gotten the same kind of developer love as Android has. To Occipital, that smelled like an opportunity. The Bridge will go one sale to the masses for $399 starting in March, but developers and the adventurous can snag their Explorer Editions as soon as next week. To understand what you’ll actually get for your money, we’ll have to rewind a bit.
Three years ago, the company released the Structure sensor, a fascinating bit of depth-sensing tech that was originally meant to bring augmented reality experiences to the iPad. Mixed reality still seemed like a hard sell back then, but there no denying the sensor’s ability to measure the world around it was the real deal. To hear Occipital marketing chief Adam Rodnitzky tell it, the sensor eventually started being used by real estate agents, interior decorators and doctors, and after three years, the Structure was still excellent at its job.
So, with headsets being hawked alongside smartphones all over the place, Occipital decided to make their own — they took a Structure sensor, slapped a five-element wide-angle lens in front of it, and built a sturdy, balanced frame around it. Turning an existing product like the Structure into headset might seem like opportunism at its finest, but the end result has so much potential it almost doesn’t matter.
I played with one of the Explorer Editions recently, and it was more impressive — and elaborate — than I expected. You can pop an iPhone 6 (or newer, but no SEs) into the frame and a magnetically latched door keeps it in place. From there, you place the Bridge on your head as you would a crown, and use a dial in the back to tighten it. Yes, it sounds like a sort of torture device, but the system actually works like a charm. The only real problem I came across was that the lenses sit closer to your eyes than in most other mobile VR headsets — that meant they pushed right up against my glasses most of the time. It could’ve been worse, but Rodnitzky assured me future models wouldn’t smash my frames so noticeably.
Actually using Bridge was a much smoother experience. Occipital doesn’t have any launch titles planned for the Bridge’s debut, but it does come with a demo app that stars at adorable robot pet of sorts named Bridget. With the help of a Wiimote-like Bluetooth controller, I spent a good ten minutes tossing a virtual ball around the office and watching Bridget loop around coffee tables to retrieve it. Her understanding of the world around her was fueled by a depth-scanning session that only lasted a few seconds — once that was done, I had a mapped out a corner of our office with a level of precision that Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro wasn’t able to match.
That might not be the fairest comparison to make, though: for now, the Structure sensor’s software is only tuned to capture spaces of about 10 ft. by 10 ft., while Tango software usually tries to record whole swaths of a room at once. Structure’s scope might be more limited, but it does a much better job within those constraints.
After dropping that ball one time too many, Bridget was tired and needed to charge. The answer? To grab her power cord and connect it to something that lit up, like a lamp. This is what I so sorely missed when I played with Tango — I wanted to badly for someone standing next to a virtual dinosaur to be able to interact with it or to pluck a virtual domino off the ground. This was a pretty basic example, but the sort of object recognition the Structure can pull off was unexpectedly good for a headset.
Don’t think the Bridge is only capable of the usual augmented reality tricks, either: at one point, I was directed to drop a portal on the ground in front of me. Once I stepped into it, I found myself walking around inside a space station with a planet hanging lazily in the dark outside a hatch. A red mesh enveloped real-world obstacles, allowing me to dodge coffee tables and loungers as I (all too briefly) explored the station. After a few more moments of stumbling, that was that — demo over. I was just a little crushed.
With any luck, Occipital gets the sort of support from developers it’s been gunning for. The Bridge system isn’t perfect for a whole host of reasons, like the iPhone’s non-AMOLED display and the potentially big hit on the phone’s battery, but even the unfinished demo software was almost enough to make me toss the Phab 2 Pro in a desk drawer. The right kind of love could turn the Bridge into a must-have down the road — for now, I’ll just have to wait and hope.
News leaked in late August that chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and Apple were working shrinking the A11 processor set to go in next year’s iPhone down to 10nm. But to ensure it stays in business with the tech titan and other device manufacturers, TSMC is planning to build a new plant to build future chips at 5nm and 3nm sizes.
According to Nikkei Asian Review, TSMC announced the new $15.7 billion facility a day after Taiwan’s minister of science and technology, Yang Hung-duen, told local media about it. His ministry might select a site in Kaohsiung for the factory, which could start production as early as 2022.
That gives TSMC’s competitors a few years’ breathing room, but the race to smaller and smaller chips continues. While Intel claims it will produce a 10nm processor before its competitors, it conceded that production facilities equipped to pump out increasingly-smaller chips will only get more expensive. That’s why the company is slowing its two-year cycle “tick-tock” innovation cycle to reduce chip size every three years instead, focusing instead of improving internal architecture and performance in the interim.
But even that lead might not be enough: On a conference call back in January, TSMC said it has a plan to push out 7nm chips by 2017 and 5nm by 2020.
Source: Nikkei Asian Review
Rumors last month suggested Apple Music rival Spotify was in advanced talks to acquire audio distribution platform SoundCloud, but it appears discussions have ended after Spotify pulled out of the deal.
According to TechCrunch, though months of talks took place, Spotify ultimately decided not to purchase SoundCloud because of worries the acquisition would negatively impact its impending IPO.
Spotify hasn’t officially said it will go public in 2017, but there has been plenty of speculation, including a funding round with incentives tied to a listing. The source said Spotify went cold on SoundCloud because “it doesn’t need an additional licensing headache in a potential IPO year.”
SoundCloud, which allows users to upload, promote, and share audio recordings, would have allowed Spotify to add user-created content to its own music catalog, but Spotify would have needed to deal with licensing issues, something it did not want to do ahead of an IPO.
SoundCloud has upwards of 175 million total listeners a month, while Spotify has 40 million paying subscribers. Apple Music, Spotify’s main competitor, has been gaining subscribers steadily and as of December 2016, boasts 20 million subscribers.
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At an exclusive invitation-only lunch at an AI conference in Barcelona, Spain that took place on December 6, Apple head of machine learning Russ Salakhutdinov and other Apple employees talked about their work on artificial intelligence.
Quartz has obtained some of the slides that Salakhutdinov used during the presentation, giving us a glimpse at the advancements Apple is making in AI and machine learning.
Based on one of the slides, topics at the lunch were wide-ranging, including health and vital signs, volumetric detection of LiDAR, prediction with structured outputs, image processing and colorization, intelligent assistant and language modeling, and activity recognition.
One of the slides, related to Apple’s LiDAR work, featured a picture of two cars, but Apple engineers did not mention cars or any automotive research, such as self-driving vehicles. Another slide focused on Apple’s image recognition algorithms, which are able to process 3,000 images per second, twice as fast as Google’s capabilities. Apple’s work on smaller neural networks that can run directly on devices was also covered.
Another slide focused on Apple’s ability to build neural networks that are 4.5 times smaller than the originals with no loss in accuracy, and twice the speed. The technique, not unknown in AI research, uses a larger, more robust neural network to teach another network the decisions it would make in a variety of situations. The “student” network then has a streamlined version of the “teacher” network’s knowledge. In essence, it predicts the larger network’s predictions about a given photo or audio sample.
The discussion also covered some of Apple’s research focus areas:
– Deep generative models
– Model compression
– Holistic scene understanding
– Model reliability
– Deep reinforcement learning
– Unsupervised learning, transfer learning, one-shot learning
– Reasoning, attention & memory
– Efficient training on distributed computing
Going forward, Apple plans to allow its AI and machine learning researchers to start publishing papers, marking its willingness to contribute to the research community. Apple has always been notoriously secretive, but allowing researchers to publish could attract top talent that would not otherwise want to join the company.
A full rundown of the slides from Apple’s presentation can be seen over at Quartz.
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A smartpen that could already digitally measure pretty much anything will soon also be able to scan objects in 3D. Developed by Instrumments, a company made up of former Misfit creators, the impressive 01 pen will be getting a new app, adding the 3D functionality next Spring. This Pro App will enable users to roll the 01 pen over 3D objects, capturing contours and wirelessly logging and sharing the 3D data.
The update will come as a welcome relief for 3D artists, as it looks to make the long and painful process of modeling 3D objects significantly easier.
Alongside this new technology, the company has announced a variation on its 01 pen scanner, the 01Go. $50 cheaper than the 01, the 01Go works in the same way but does away with the pen functionality, making it a noticeably smaller and more portable scanner. Releasing on March 1st 2017, the 01Go is normally priced at $99, but is now available on their Indiegogo for $79 for a limited time.
The 01 launched in November for $149, thanks to Instrumments’ successful Indiegogo campaign, and is shipping now to early backers. While you can just purchase the 01 and 01Go from Instrumments website, backing the device on Indiegogo is the better option, granting you five-year free access to the Pro app. The Lite app will be available to everyone for free starting December 10 on both the Google Play store and the App Store. If you make the plunge, however, you can expect to part with extra cash for accessories like sleeves, ink, lead refills, and batteries, which are also available from Instrumments website.
It’s no secret that Flickr is popular with phone-toting photographers, but it’s now reaching a tipping point. The Yahoo-owned image service has posted its year in review, and it notes that 48 percent of photo uploads now come from smartphones. That’s a big jump over the 39 percent from 2015 — it’s now clear that you’re in the minority if you uploaded shots from a dedicated camera. The numbers for conventional cams aren’t exactly pretty.
The DSLR crowd was the hardest hit, as its representation tumbled from 31 percent in 2015 to 21 percent this year. Point-and-shoot use was down, too, to 21 percent from 25. About the only dedicated camera category left untouched was mirrorless, although its 3 percent is nothing to crow about.
When it comes to whose devices are at the top, it’s a familiar story. Of all photos with camera data attached, 47 percent were uploaded from Apple hardware — 8 out of the top 10 devices were iPhones. Canon was a distant second at 24 percent, and it accounted for the two other devices in the top ranks (the EOS 5D Mark II and Mark III). Nikon was third at 18 percent, leaving everyone else to fight for just 11 percent of the pie.
Flickr doesn’t usually elaborate on these stats, although you can point to a few factors behind the mobile shift. For one, smartphone image quality is quickly reducing the pressure to use dedicated cameras. DSLRs and mirrorless cams still take better photos overall, but a well-made smartphone shooter is frequently good enough for pleasing street shots and flower macros. The convenience of posting from your phone (especially with improving cellular data speeds) is hard to top even when a camera has WiFi, too. As for Apple’s dominance of the charts? Some of it comes through the Flickr integration that iOS has had for years, but it’s also helped by the iPhone’s popularity in the US and reputation for good (though not always best) photo quality.
Source: Flickr Blog
As Apple’s iPhone 6s is facing scrutiny in China over a battery issue that causes unexpected shutdowns, a Chinese consumer group has complained of a separate problem with the iPhone 6 – spontaneous battery fires.
According to the The Wall Street Journal, the Shanghai Consumer Council says it received eight reports from Chinese users claiming their smartphones spontaneously caught on fire, but Apple inspected the devices and says “external physical damage” is to blame.
Apple said it analyzed the affected phones and found that the fires followed “external physical damage.” The company encouraged customers with issues to visit an Apple store or contact company support.
“We appreciate that customers are more concerned than ever about the performance and safety of batteries in their mobile devices,” Apple said in a statement.
Given that the iPhone 6 has been available since 2014 and there have been no notable reports of device fires, Apple’s physical damage explanation rings true. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which had a true faulty part leading to fires, reports from around the world started flooding in just weeks after the device was released.
Complaints from Chinese consumer groups over iPhone 6s battery problems led Apple to introduce a repair program for iPhone 6s devices that unexpectedly shut down, and Apple has gone out of its way in China to explain the issue and assure customers that it is not safety related.
Apple’s repair program will see it providing new batteries to customers with iPhone 6s devices primarily manufactured between September and October of 2015. Just today, Apple expanded the repair program to encompass a small number of customers “outside of the affected range” who are also experiencing shutdowns.
On its Chinese site, Apple explained that the iPhone 6s shutdown issue was caused by exposure to “controlled ambient air” during the manufacturing process, which caused the battery to degrade faster than a normal battery.
Next week, Apple plans to introduce a diagnostic tool that will allow it to gather information and better manage battery performance levels to prevent shutdowns. With iOS 10.2 nearly ready to launch, it’s likely the diagnostic capability will be included in that update.
As Apple’s third largest market after the United States and Europe, China has become increasingly important to Apple over the last several years. Apple has made an effort to introduce a number of retail stores in the country, and it has made a $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing.
Despite its efforts, Apple has struggled in China. In Apple’s third quarter earnings report, revenue in China was down 33 percent year over year, dropping from $13 billion in 3Q 2015 to $8.9 billion in 3Q 2016.
Chinese officials have said Apple is “too deeply established in the country’s core industries,” and along with recent trouble over its iPhones, Apple has also struggled with its iTunes Movie and iBooks Store in China, which were shut down by Chinese administrators in April.
Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Buyer’s Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)
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Apple today officially launched Single Sign-on, the service designed to allow cable subscribers to sign in once with their cable credentials to gain access to all cable-restricted content in iOS and tvOS apps.
Single Sign-on is limited to the United States, and according to a support document, is available for the following providers: CenturyLink Prism, DirecTV, Dish, GVTC, GTA, Hawaiian Telecom, Hotwire, MetroCast, and Sling.
While Single Sign-on was introduced and tested in the tvOS 10.1 and iOS 10.2 betas, the feature was remotely released today to all iOS 10 and tvOS 10 devices. Using Single Sign-on does not require one of the betas, and is instead immediately available to all iPhone and Apple TV users running iOS 10 or tvOS 10.
With Single Sign-on, customers with a supported provider will use the Settings options in iOS or tvOS to sign in with their cable credentials. From then on, when accessing a supported app that requires a cable subscription, the app will ask to use the saved sign-on credentials.
To get to Single Sign-on on iOS devices, open the Settings app and scroll down to “TV Providers.” The process is the same on the Apple TV – open the Settings app and choose the TV Providers option to sign in.
Most cable channels and content providers offer individual apps on the Apple TV and iOS devices, but still require cable authentication before users can access content. Prior to Single Sign-on, customers were required to enter their credentials in each individual app, a frustrating and time-consuming process.
Single Sign-on will play a key part in the upcoming “TV” app that’s set to debut in iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1. The TV app serves as sort of an Apple-designed television guide that lets customers find new content and keep track of what they were watching across multiple devices.
At the current time, Single Sign-on is available to a limited number of customers, but its availability will expand as Apple signs the necessary deals with cable providers. Single Sign-on also requires apps to implement support for the feature, and many apps have not yet introduced Single Sign-on support.
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Apple recently made a quiet update to its Apple Support site, introducing a new feature that allows customers to find and schedule repairs for iPhones, Macs, and iPads from Apple Authorized Service Providers.
When troubleshooting a product, choosing “Bring in for Repair” after going through Apple’s support prompts now brings up all repair centers near a customer, including Apple’s own retail stores and retail locations where customers can get repairs from Apple Authorized Service Providers.
In addition to including all nearby Apple Authorized Service Providers, the new repair site also lists availability, so customers can find the fastest repairs and get same-day service in many locations. There’s even an option to book a repair right from the site.
Most of the time, getting a repair appointment at an Apple Store’s Genius Bar requires a wait of several days to a week, while Apple Authorized Service Providers have much more open availability.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, local Apple Stores do not have repair appointments until next week, but third-party repair shops like Best Buy, Clickaway, Mobile Kangaroo, and Computercare have appointments today or tomorrow.
Apple Authorized Service Providers have been officially authorized by Apple to perform repairs on Apple devices. Both AppleCare repairs and out-of-warranty repair services are available, but many customers may not be aware of local options outside of an Apple Store.
Apple’s new focus on third-party service providers may provide some much-needed relief for Apple retail stores that are unable to keep up with repair requests and it will ensure customers are able to get faster service.
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