Last August, a TCL executive confirmed that the company was gearing up to launch Palm-branded smartphones in 2018. Speaking to a trusted source, we’ve learned that one such device will be launching on Verizon in the second half of the year; at least, that’s the plan for now. Sadly, we don’t know anything about the phone itself at this time (well, we know it runs Android), but the fact that TCL is working with Verizon is telling.
In addition to our standalone articles covering the latest Apple news and rumors at MacRumors, this Quick Takes column provides a bite-sized recap of other headlines about Apple and its competitors on weekdays.
Thursday, March 22
Image Credit: MacStories
1. Erasing Complexity: The Comfort of Apple’s Ecosystem:MacStories editor-in-chief Federico Viticci explains how, after years of testing competing products and ecosystems, he has decided to fully embrace Apple’s ecosystem given the simplicity and integration of apps, services, and hardware.
It took me years to understand that the value I get from Apple’s ecosystem far outweighs its shortcomings. While not infallible, Apple still creates products that abstract complexity, are nice, and work well together. In hindsight, compulsively chasing the “best tech” was unhealthy and only distracting me from the real goal: finding technology that works well for me and helps me live a better, happier life.
2. Retro Review: 2009 Mac Pro in 2018:iMore‘s Anthony Casella examines whether the 2009 Mac Pro, upgraded with dual Radeon RX 580 GPUs, is still a capable machine in 2018 compared to a 2014 iMac and entry-level iMac Pro, based on transcoding HD video, rendering video in Final Cut Pro, and gaming.
Image Credit: iMore
Casella notes that his article isn’t intended to be a scientific comparison, but rather more of a fun project to see if a nine-year-old workstation can still keep up in 2018, if someone were to have upgraded its components over the years instead of buying a whole new system. His answer is very much “yes.”
And yes I say that it can hang with the latest and greatest systems. In some areas, like with openCL computation, we made it insanely fast. Much faster than an iMac and an iMac Pro. It some areas it plays in the ball park like when transcoding videos. Others seem to show it’s age like when exporting Final Cut Pro videos but it does not show it’s age when using a FCP workflow like editing, transforming and scrubbing.
Apple was widely rumored to embed Touch ID into the iPhone X’s display, but as it turned out, the company chose to ditch the fingerprint scanner entirely in favor of Face ID. And with a trio of new iPhone models with Face ID expected to launch later this year, it doesn’t look like Touch ID has a long future.
The Loop Bash at WWDC 2018: The party will be held at The Ritz, a nightclub around the corner from the San Jose Convention Center, on June 4, 2018, from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time. The Loop will make an announcement on how to RSVP for the party as WWDC draws closer.
Meet Haben Girma, a blind-deaf rights lawyer changing tech and design: Mashable’s Kerry Flynn interviews disability rights lawyer Haben Girma, who is deaf and visually impaired, about the need for more commitment to accessibility in tech by businesses and entrepreneurs. There are a few quotes from Apple’s accessibility director Sarah Herrlinger.
Clipboard API Improvements: Apple has added a new entry to its WebKit blog that provides a technical overview of recent improvements made to the Clipboard copy-and-paste API that enables web apps to more seamlessly integrate with native apps on macOS and iOS.
When it comes to weirdo NES games, mentions of A Boy and His Blob [$ 4.99] hit every possible piece of nostalgia I have for the era, like one of those YouTube videos of a guy playing unbelievable piano pieces utilizing all 88 keys. It was released in 1990, which meant I was old enough to understand most of the zany game elements, most of which hinged around feeding jellybeans to your pet blob which would then inexplicably cause it to transform into various different forms, which were then used to solve different platforming puzzles. For instance, if you need to go up or down, you’d toss your blob a licorice flavor bean and it’d morph into a ladder. It was (and still is) a super cool game mechanic, as you had a limited number of jelly beans so you needed to use them strategically.
In late 2009, a remake was released on PC and consoles (then later re-released in 2016 on current generation consoles) that I thought was just fantastic. They took the same mechanic from the original, and basically just totally spruced it up with new graphics, animations, and (of course) levels to play through. It was received generally well, and I had a great time with it.
Well, this morning’s surprise is that A Boy and His Blob is now available on the App Store. Without telling anyone, Majesco snuck this classic out that we found just paging through any new releases we might have missed. It seems like a pretty faithful port too, with the only real difference being the obvious addition to virtual controls.
I look forward to spending more time with the game to see how these controls end up holding up in later, more difficult levels, but so far I’m pleasantly surprised. The possibility of A Boy and His Blob was not even on my radar at all as a potential iOS release, making this a fantastic addition to this month’s onslaught of incredible titles to be released.
After teasing something called “Sega Forever” this entire month, today Sega finally unveiled what the heck this thing is: Sega Forever is a new initiative to bring classic Sega titles to mobile devices, and the first batch of 5 games has just launched in the App Store today. On the surface, Sega Forever sounds great. The selection of games can come from any of Sega’s game consoles from the past, meaning everything from the Sega Master System right up through the Sega Dreamcast. The games are released for free and supported with ads, but a one-time IAP may be purchased to disable those ads as well as provide offline saving. Finally, and perhaps best of all, is that all Sega Forever games will support MFi controllers, so those that own a physical controller can play these games the way they were originally designed, with physical buttons.
In practice, however, Sega Forever is pretty underwhelming, at least to start. Of the 5 games released today, 3 of them have already been available on the App Store from as far back as 2009. Altered Beast [Free], Phantasy Star II [$ 2.99], and Sonic The Hedgehog [Free] have all been previously released on iOS, and what’s nice is that if you owned those older versions the new Sega Forever versions are updates to the originals so you can actually hit the Restore Purchases option to unlock the ad-free versions of the game. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work, and does work in both Altered Beast and Phantasy Star II.
Sonic The Hedgehog seems to be having issues, though. Trying to restore purchases results in the game just hanging until the attempt finally times out. Luckily (for Sega, at least) you can still purchase a brand new ad-removal IAP if you’re really jonesing for removing ads, but those who purchased Sonic before will need to wait for Sega to hopefully fix this issue in an update. There’s precedence for this, as the exact same thing happened when Sonic CD [Free] went free with ads, and Sega released an update within a day that fixed the issue. Let’s hope for the same with the original Sonic The Hedgehog.
As for the 2 new-to-mobile games released through Sega Forever? Well, they’re both games that are fondly remembered for various reasons but neither has aged too well since their original releases. First is Kid Chameleon [Free], a pretty good platformer where the main gimmick was the ability to wear different masks in order to transform into different characters. Then there’s Comix Zone [Free], a side-scrolling beat ’em up that is remembered for its colorful visuals and its unique gimmick of having the game’s levels actually take place through comic book panels. This mobile version of Comix Zone was actually soft-launched about a month ago, and my verdict back then was that it was… just ok. It’s a bit finicky trying to control the game with virtual buttons, and there was a severe lack of bells and whistles to go along with the port.
In fact, that’s kind of my main complaint with all the Sega Forever releases so far: These are about as barebones as they come. Sonic The Hedgehog is an exception as it was already the fantastic Christian Whitehead remastered version, but the rest of the titles don’t feel all too different than they did when they released on iOS 7 or 8 years ago. MFi support is nice and cloud saving is cool, but even basic options for moving around virtual controls or adjusting screen size and resolution would be really appreciated. And those types of options are pretty expected nowadays when older games are re-released. Even worse is that it doesn’t seem like it would take much effort to add things like that into these games.
Now that Sega Forever has officially kicked off, I feel like the glass is exactly half full and half empty. I love the idea of it, and I fully support the pricing model of free with ads and the option to disable them for a one-time IAP. I’m also very excited to see games from systems other than the Genesis get released. But this first selection of games is pretty underwhelming, and while these versions certainly play better than those terrible ROMs wrapped in emulators versions from way back when, they’re still disappointingly barebones compared to most classic game re-releases. That could change by way of updates, and hopefully it does, but right now these games are about as basic as they come. We’ll continue to see how the Sega Forever intitiative evolves now that it has launched, and at the very least all of these games are free to download and check out, so if you’ve got a hankering for some classic game nostalgia give ’em a spin for yourself.