We’re living in strange times, people. The United States’ CIA Director is caught up in the middle of a story from the Real House Wives of the Pentagon; MySpace is back and is attempting to force us all to relive our embarrassing teen years of sparkling fonts and poor profile song choices; and the life of the only food that could survive a nuclear apocalypse – the Twinkie – has expired thanks to its parent company Hostess going out of business. It’s 2012 and maybe, just maybe, the Mayans were right. The world will keep spinning at least until December 21, though, and mobile tech shows no signs of stopping earlier than that. Here’s all the news and the best apps and games from the week of November 11-16, 2012.
5. iPad Minis hot commodity for consumers, crooks
Everyone wants to get their hands on an iPad Mini. It’s the typical rush that occurs any time a new Apple product comes out, no matter how ludicrous and unnecessary it may be. Though it didn’t launch in line with the WiFi iPad Mini or the fourth generation iPad, the iPad Mini with 4G LTE made its way to store shelves this week. They are likely to be a popular item this holiday season, and you’re going to want to get a jump on getting one. Take a cue from some thieves in New York who managed to snag 3,000 of the 7.9-inch tablets from JFK Airport.
4. Good guy Google
It’s hard to hate Google. Sure, it’s a tech giant with an eye on almost everyone and a nearly endless supply of money, but it seems like it has good intentions in everything it does. Take for example, the Google Free Zone. While it sounds like a dedicated area that bans Googling within it, it’s actually a free Internet access for people who want to check Gmail, Google+, and perform Google searches without being charged for data. If that’s not enough for you, check out the free update Google released for its YouTube app that turns Android phones into a remote control for Google TV. Maybe you’re more into gaming, in which case you should try to get in on the invite-only augmented reality game that Google developed. Oh, or maybe enjoy the new simplified ability to share apps over Google+. Google is like the stereotypical mad scientist with too much money that just develops absurd things for the sake of it. We’re sure there’s some sharks with laser beams on their heads somewhere in the company’s headquarters, though.
3. Microsoft’s OS is bloatware
One big complaint that comes with any portable device is that there isn’t really as much memory on it as the makers claim. While it’s not entirely true – usually the memory is there, just has some built in apps and the operating system occupying some of it – Microsoft has taken things to a whole new level by creating the first ever OS that may in fact be bloatware itself. It came to light that 13GB of every Surface tablet is dedicated to nothing more than Windows RT. This revelation has caused outrage among consumers, who are now suing Microsoft over the ordeal. Our suggestion to Microsoft: ship out 16GB microSD cards to make up for lost storage, but add in a PDF apology that takes up 13GB of space and cannot be deleted.
2. Research in Motion would like to remind you that it exists
Everyone remember Blackberrys? Research in Motion sure does. If you walk into its offices, it’s like walking back into 2008. “Single Ladies” is playing on repeat, the employees are still talking about how great “The Dark Knight” was, and there’s a big Obama “Hope” poster hanging on the wall – which is odd because the company is in Canada. In the real world, over four years have passed since the Blackberry was relevant, but RIM believes 2013 is the year of the comeback. The company has a press conference planned for January 30, 2013, and will ship out its product within a month of its unveiling. Expect the ad campaign to consist of timely references like Chuck Norris facts and De-motivational poster memes.
1. Too cool to text
Things go in and out of style incredibly quick these days, and the industry has a hard time keeping up. Samsung just announced a new member of its Galaxy family will come with a full sliding QWERTY keyboard. That launch comes just in time for a decline in SMS usage. Perhaps this is a bit presumptuous and hyperbolic, but texting is clearly dead and has no chance of coming back. Good thing we’ve got cameras with 4G connectivity to communicate with now.
Fresh New App of the Week
Pixlr Express (Free, Android/iOS): From Autodesk, the team behind Sketchbook, comes Pixlr Express. If you’ve used the Web version, you know what you’re getting here, but the ability to use it on the go in app form makes it a must have. Perfect for photo editing of any kind, Pixlr Express lets you take any image and improve it. Think of it like a totally customizable Instagram where you make the filter and can alter its effects any way you see fit.
DuoLingo (Free, iPhone): Learn a new language like it’s a game. Play games, level up, and compare scores with friends to see who would be better off if dropped in a foreign land with nothing but an iPhone.
ShoutOut Radio (Free, iPhone): Turn your music listening experiences into social hour with ShoutOut Radio. The app allows you to send and share music with friends via Facebook.
Fresh New Game of the Week
Crazy Coaster (Free, iOS): Remember Roller Coaster Tycoon for the PC back in the day? Crazy Coaster is clearly built on the same track as that classic title. Travel around the world building over-the-top coasters that only the most daring of thrill-seekers would ride. You’ll have to keep casual customers happy too, of course. You can’t be picking up pairs of dentures after every old person rides your fastest coaster. Your goal is simple – build an extremely profitable ride empire.
Cubed Rally Redline ($1, iOS): Like those old magnet powered race tracks that you may have had as a kid, but with 8-bit graphics and insane obstacles. The car keeps going on its own, but you have to keep it on track for victory.
Max Awesome ($1, iOS): Everyone that has ever dreamed of being a stuntman can finally live out their fantasies through this quirky title.