Billed as a Scalextric for the 21st century, the Anki Drive allows you to control cars with your iPhone, and also throw weapons.
Using sensors and cameras, the cars are controlled by an app on the phones and are raced on a special playmat. Basically, it’s next level amazingness.
It’s now on sale in the UK for an unsnipular £180, and comes with two cars. If you want more cars, they cost £50 each. If the enterprise takes off – and look at it, of course it will – no doubt the price will come down.
Up to four players can race cars around the tracks, or players can go it alone and battle against the artificial intelligence, built into the cars. Brrr.
Here’s how it works: Within each car is a small camera that let them ‘see’ where they are going. This camera points straight down and looks through the track into the circuitry underneath. The track itself provides information for the car as to where it can drive. A 50 megahertz computer on each car monitors where it is on the track 500 times every second. This then feeds information to the motors in the two rear wheels so the car knows where to drive. Every two milliseconds they make an adjustment to the rear motors to stay on trajectory.
The track itself, about the size of a tabletop, can be rolled out onto any surface, and the matchbox-sized cars are then placed on the track and controlled by players using their chosen device.
Well, if anyone wants me to be their daddy, you know how to clinch the deal. GET TO IT.
The BBC, Channel 4 and ITV have all stumped up a new £100 million deal to secure Freeview’s future.
Part of this is down to them currently working on a secret project that is going to “kill YouTube” apparently, as internet connected TV sets become ever more popular.
The public service broadcasters, along with transmission company Arqiva, are investing the money in Freeview Connect, offering their TV channels and on-demand services – BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD – available as standard on smart TVs with broadband connections.
They are launching Freeview Connect after scaling back their investment in YouView, although they remain shareholders in the rival internet-connected TV service.
Freeview Connect (working title) will be positioned as a service that will make the best of broadcast and on-demand TV available free for everyone.
That’s quite good news for anyone who thought the future was going to arrive with YouView five years ago but didn’t.
Man, it’s like that whole jet packs thing all over again.
The news that Apple was buying Beats for $3.2bn broke a while ago, but after a few delays, the ubiquitous megacorp are due to put their hands in their pockets and actually buy it this week.
Maybe they were waiting for a cheque to clear?
Rumours that the deal had fallen through were rife, after the company announced the bid on May 8th, then went suspiciously silent. Actually, they’ve used this time wisely, by haggling the original price down to a nice round $3bn.
It could be that the drop in asking price was because Spotify, Beats Music’s main rival, has reached 10 million subscribers – and that could have given Apple a bit of leverage in the cash negotiations.
Anyway, it’s still a LOT OF MONEY, and there will be a big fanfare and announcement in time for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference next week. Beats founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre will apparently be in attendance, wearing outfits made of gold.
In fact, Dre will probably be extremely happy about the whole thing, seeing as he stands to gain $750m from the deal. No chance of anyone forgetting about him now, eh?
The folks at Virgin Media have teamed up with Eurosport so they can now offer all their TiVo customers a dedicated sporting app, in addition to the existing channels British Eurosport and British Eurosport 2.
As of today, anyone with Virgin Media TiVo will be able to access the latest sporting news and action through their TV courtesy of Eurosport.
Sadly, Eurosport isn’t very good, but still, better than a kick in the arse, eh? You still get the Giro and loads of tennis, but it isn’t much of a match for other channels if you’re after domestic football.
This new app means customers can watch video clips from the Eurosport UK website, which has sports news, interviews with athletes, footballers, tennis ball hitters, cycling and more.
“We are excited to be the home of all this summer’s live sporting action,” says Scott Kewley, director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media. “With even more great sport from Eurosport, we are delivering an unrivalled viewing experience for avid sports fans and the whole family to enjoy.”
Sky’s live streaming service Now TV, is not exactly popular with users at the moment. Customers have been left angry when the service cut out half way through someone having their knob chopped off with a sword in Game of Thrones, and there was a disastrous outage during the Premier League final stage, which caused a flood of complaints from fans.
Now TV also sent a very apologetic email about the technical faults that have plagued the service, which read:
‘We know NOW TV hasn’t been working as it should have been recently and we’re incredibly sorry for the interruptions to your viewing.’ They bleated.
‘We want to assure you that we’re working tirelessly on this complex technical issue. This is our top priority and the whole NOW TV team is focused on making sure we are doing everything we can to make things better. We’re sorry for not delivering the high-quality service you rightly expect from us.’
As well as the groveling, they’re offering a £10 voucher you can use at Sainsbury’s, Asda, Argos or Amazon. Is that good enough for you, telly addled proles?
What’s the betting that customers will soon be leaving in their droves?
They’re rubbing their hands together and laughing maniacally at Netflix today, as the live streaming TV behemoths celebrated profits of $53m (£32m) during the first quarter of 2014.
And to thank us all for devotedly putting them where they are today, they’re also considering a monthly price increase for new members. CHEERS! But it will only be ‘a dollar or two’, they say. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (who sounds like a Bret Easton Ellis character) has said that the price increase will help ‘acquire new content and deliver an even better streaming experience.’
Basically, thanks to the success of House of Cards, Netflix could show us their bumhole, fart the theme tune to Orange is The New Black and only show films in Swahili for a month and we’d still all love it. Shares are up 6%, the champagne is flowing, the bunting is up, and Kevin Spacey is looking rather smug.
However, globally speaking, HBO are still way ahead in terms of subscribers, with 130 million to Netflix’s 50 million. And will putting up monthly prices really increase their membership, or just send everyone scurrying to another service?
There’s been mass outages thanks to a bug, which is now being investigated by the BBC and Sky.
The error seems to only affect Apple iOS users of the apps, with users saying that they’ve seen messages about Client Server Certificate issues and the like.
Sky said: “We are currently experiencing an issue with Sky Go on iPhone, iPad and iPod. You will see a ‘Video Unavailable’ error message while trying to watch any content. We’re really sorry about the issue and we’re working very hard to get it fixed for you. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
BBC also acknowledged an issue: “We are aware of reports from users encountering an ‘Insufficient Bandwidth’ error message when attempting to play programmes through the iPad app.”
In short, it should all be fixed soon enough.
Until recently, the download feature has been limited to a few Android devices, but now, it is on offer to anyone running Ice Cream Sandwich, version 4.0, or later. That’s around 96% of Android users now able to download episodes of Coast and Pointless for offline viewing.
So what happened to change their minds? The notion that there are more Android devices in use than iPhones?
Not quite. Basically, the BBC has got a bit carefree and decided to stop extensive tests for all the devices.
“We believe that the vast majority of devices will enjoy a great video downloading experience. However, with more than five thousand different phone, phablet and tablet models able to install the BBC iPlayer Android app, there are likely to be a number of devices that exhibit bugs concerning download behaviour,” said Auntie Beeb.
“We can’t promise that we will fix every issue that is brought to our attention (there may be device limitations that prevent us from doing so) but we will seek to address problems according to the complexity of the issue, as well as the UK popularity and the user numbers of the device itself,” they added.
Google’s Chromecast is a pretty great piece of kit, allowing you to stream from your phone, tablet or computer, straight to your TV set. BT Sports users who only have the app, will now be able to watch live sports on their tellies, or stream full length films from YouTube.
The homepage, which you see on your screen when not in use, is a selection of typical vistas designed to exude calm through nature, is pretty and all, but not particularly useful (apart from having a clock on it).
However, that looks like it is about to change.
There’s weather related icons, as well as the current temperature in a given region, but mainly, it’ll tell you what it’s like outside – either coat weather, t-shirt weather and so on.
On top of that, there’s also code which looks like Chromecast will eventually give users the opportunity to have custom wallpapers, instead of the various streams and horizons which Google love so much.
While these aren’t hugely exciting, you hope that this at least vaguely points to the idea that Google are willing to do much more with Chromecast. You could use your TV screen for reminders, checking messages and whatnot. Basically, you could make your television set a second dashboard, which is exciting if you like that sort of thing.
Google are riding high on the success of their Chromecast dongle, which has sold millions and become the best-selling technology product on Amazon since its launch in the US last summer.
So now they’re going to do what Amazon and Apple did and launch Android TV. And although it’s yet to be publicly announced, they’ve rather Partridge-ly described it as an ‘entertainment interface’, rather than a platform. They’ve also said it will be ‘cinematic,’ ‘fun’, ‘fast’ and ‘fluid’ (ewww), ‘with the least amount of friction.’ (Wait a minute. We ARE still talking about TV, aren’t we?).
It looks the same as other ‘entertainment interfaces’ – a bunch of horizontal tiles you can swipe through with a remote control, which has a navigation pad which goes in four directions. You can scroll through apps, and third party TV streaming services like Netflix.
One of the big differences, though – this being Google – is the ‘search’ function. They’re hoping that they’ll do such a good job with their predictive recommendations that you won’t even need to search.
How this all chimes in with Chromecast, though, is anyone’s guess. Won’t it leave their dongle dangling?
After loads of speculation, Amazon has finally announced their plans for Amazon Fire TV. With their set-top box, you’ll be able to stream Amazon Prime video and, in the States, it’ll cost you $99, which is around £60.
Amazon Fire is based on Android and, according to a statement, it is three times more powerful than Apple TV. With it, you get a little remote which has all the relevant buttons, but also, comes with a built-in microphone so you can control Fire with your voice.
For an extra $39.99, you can get a game controller, which connects with Bluetooth and gives 55 hours battery life.
Amazon aren’t mucking about when it comes to streaming content. They’re offering their own services, as well as their competitors such as Netflix, HuluPlus, ESPN, Vevo, Crackle and Flixster.
Disney, Gameloft, EA, 2K Games, Sega, Ubisoft, Double Fine, and Telltale Games are all signed-up to develop games for Fire TV. The controller itself is based on the Xbox 360 controller. Perhaps not as pretty or robust, but decent enough to throw around while gaming.
Will it make Apple fans switch? Probably not. Will is challenge Chromecast? It isn’t really vying for the same market. However, it should sell reasonably well for those looking for something to enable streaming on their TVs and get mild distraction with games more akin to those you’d find on a tablet, rather than the PS4 or Xbox One.
We await news on when Amazon Fire TV will be released in the UK.
In a move that seems to have been devised by Mr Burns from the Simpsons, the UK Intellectual Property Office is proposing to update copyright law to make it legal, even though everybody ditched CDs and DVDs ages ago.
The IPO announced the news by printing it out on striped green perforated paper and faxing it.
They said: The changes make small but important reforms to UK copyright law and aim to end the current situation where minor and reasonable acts of copying which benefit consumers, society and the economy are unlawful.’
(But apparently it’ll still be illegal to make copies of your CDs and DVDs for friends and family. Hahhahaha.)
The government will actually be debating this in the Houses of Parliament next month, and if it’s agreed, the law will be changed in June.
I wonder whether they’ve heard about these great new things called 78s? You can play them on the gramophone, so I hear.
Firstly, it is being suggested that Apple are thinking of offering iTunes to Android devices. However, the amount of complaining people have been doing about iTunes recently, you have to wonder if any Android users will want to go anywhere near the service.
Apple need to do something though – according to figures, iTunes’ rates have declined while things like Spotify are doing decent business. Google Music is on the up also, so is there any need to offer iTunes to anyone not using Apple devices?
They’re also rumoured to be tinkering with their Apple TV service, presumably on the back of everyone dashing off to buy Google’s Chromecast (as well as Roku and a mooted Amazon service) and the success of Netflix and the like. Basically, it looks like they’re going to offer a new streaming service which could be integrated into a new version of their set-top box.
Apple have already revamped the online store and they are said to be looking at featuring gaming capabilities. They are also hoping to sign-up with a variety of internet providers where they hope to separate the new TV service from public internet traffic, in a bid to get rid of buffering during peak internet usage.
Relatively speaking, it hasn’t been a spectacular year for Apple and other companies have stolen a march on a variety of products and services. Looks like Apple are playing hardball again, pinning their hopes on entertainment services rather than brand new products (although, there is this). For those waiting for an iWatch, it certainly looks like Apple are holding off while they try and tie up people’s viewing and listening habits.