As jaw-dropping as the iPhone was upon its original release, the competition quickly caught up, exploiting things like Apple’s rigid no flash media policies. In all the commotion, Android quietly crept up as the leading antiPhone, capitalizing on features such as open software, multi-tasking and customization down to the core. I, myself, am included in crowd that jumped ship.
But with the latest keynote, the largest, most profitable tech company in the world has effectively delivered its deathblow to any and all opposition.
The longstanding complaint of iPhone users is that the pop-up style notifications were too intrusive and interrupted just about every other task. And you had no choice but to deal with it before resuming South Park. Well, no more. Now, like Android, but more streamlined, every notification is placed neatly at a bar in the top, available to be seen at your convenience without closing the app, reading the notification, re-opening the app, and resuming where you left off.
Already lightyears behind in the mobile race, the BlackBerry’s last claim to fame was BlackBerry Messenger, the exclusive messaging service that allowed users to communicate without taking up those precious text messages. Well, exclusive is now in the past tense. And just to stick it to RIM, you can can send a message from your phone, receive it on the iPad and reply on your iPod Touch. And everything syncs automatically. In short, BlackBerry’s time on this planet can likely be counted with two hands.
There are also many other new features most notably wireless syncing and downloading. The device is completely self-sufficient now and there is no need for a computer.
As of today, the pressure is on Google and especially RIM to find new ways to convince consumers not to pack their bags take their business to Apple.
Mark Jackson has agreed to a three-year, $6 million contract to coach the Golden State Warriors.
Jackson, who has no coaching experience, is one more signature hire of new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. After new executives Jerry West and Bob Myers took over in the Warriors front office, Jackson’s candidacy ascended from a large group of potential head coaches.
The Warriors are dedicated to spending money to hire a strong group of assistant coaches for Jackson, league sources said. The Warriors are trying to lure New Orleans Hornets assistant Mike Malone for Jackson’s staff, sources said. They clearly seem determined to outbid the Los Angeles Lakers, who want Malone for Mike Brown’s new staff. Malone met with the Lakers on Monday.
Jackson played 17 seasons as a point guard in the NBA and most recently worked as a TV analyst. He had interviewed for several coaching jobs without receiving an offer. He was in the running for the Atlanta Hawks job that went to Larry Drew a year ago, and also met with officials from the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers in recent years.
Jackson replaces Keith Smart, who was not retained by the Warriors at the end of the season. His contract also includes a team option for a fourth season.
Microsoft’s E3: A Bang for Kinect, a Whimper for Live TV
Good thing Microsoft had a packed line-up of Kinect games to show at its E3 press conference, because last week’s big rumor about live TV on the Xbox 360 turned out to be kind of a dud.
Kinect, the motion-sensing, audio-detecting Xbox 360 camera that launched last year, dominated the discussion at Microsoft’s press conference. I counted 15 announcements for games that will either support or require Kinect, plus a revamped console menu designed for gestures and voice.
The big showing for Kinect was expected, but I was surprised to see the directions in which Microsoft is taking the $150 peripheral. Several big-budget action games will include optional Kinect features. For instance, Mass Effect 3 will let players bark orders to their AI comrades, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will include a weapon assembly mode for swiping in new barrels and stocks.
Some future core games are being designed specifically for Kinect, including Ryse, a hand-to-hand combat game set in ancient Rome and Fable: The Journey, an on-rails action game in which players summon magic with their hands. Less impressive was Kinect Star Wars, a hack-and-slash game that seemed a bit laggy in the on-stage demonstration.
Still, Microsoft’s not letting the casual audience slip away. Kinect Sports is getting the sequel treatment with new games such as football and golf, and a new partnership with Disney will yield Kinect Disneyland Adventures, a virtual theme park with motion-controlled adaptations of popular rides. A Kinect game based on Sesame Street is also in development. I’m not sure where this sits on the casual-hardcore spectrum, but EA Sports will bring Kinect support to four of its games over the next year, including Tiger Woods, FIFA and Madden.
And then, there was Minecraft. Although it wasn’t demonstrated on stage, the build-your-own-world indie darling will land exclusively on Xbox 360 with Kinect support this year.
Outside of gaming, Microsoft will integrate the entire Xbox 360 dashboard with Kinect this fall. Previously, you had to use a special Kinect menu with limited features. The dashboard will also get content search powered by Bing and a YouTube app. Finally, Microsoft is finally harnessing the power of bedroom programmers, who can submit their own Kinect experiments to a new feature called Kinect Fun Lab. Microsoft demonstrated this feature with an avatar scanner and a 3D painting program.
Of course, Microsoft trotted out its usual exclusive games, including Gears of War 3, the rumored Halo 1 remake and an early Halo 4 teaser, but the other big news was an upcoming live TV package for U.S. users — or at least it was supposed to be. Rumor had it that Microsoft would introduce a new tier of Xbox Live service that included cable-like TV content. But the actual announcement was rather subdued, with only vague promises of news, sports and local channels to come. The only content partnership Microsoft announced is with UFC, allowing fans to order live fights and interact by predicting who will win.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Senate has passed a measure that allow schools to increase elementary class sizes and move quicker to dismiss teachers to help ease budget strains.
The measure must now pass the House. The Legislature is meeting in special session to pass new school finance laws to balance the budget. Lawmakers are reducing the state’s obligation to school districts by $4 billion.
Republican Sen. Florence Shapiro said the bill passed Monday would give school administrators more flexibility in adjusting to the budget cuts. Teacher groups argue smaller class sizes result in better education and oppose raising the limit.
The current limit is 22 students and has been state law for nearly 30 years. The proposed change would allow schools to seek waivers to raise the limit to 25.
Apple today introduced iCloud, a breakthrough set of free new cloud services that work seamlessly with applications on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC, to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and automatically and wirelessly push it to all your devices. When anything changes on one of your devices, all of your devices are wirelessly updated almost instantly. iCloud will be available this fall concurrent with iOS 5. Users can sign up for iCloud for free on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 5 or a Mac running Mac OS® X Lion with a valid Apple ID. iCloud includes 5GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. Purchased music, apps, books and Photo Stream do not count against the storage limit. Further updates regarding these latest developments from Apple are available through the official Apple website.
Former MobileMe Services – Contacts, Calendar and Mail—all completely re-architected and rewritten to work seamlessly with iCloud. Users can share calendars with friends and family, and the ad-free push Mail account is hosted at me.com. Your inbox and mailboxes are kept up-to-date across all your iOS devices and computers.
App Store and iBookstore – Download purchased iOS apps and books to all your devices, not just the device they were purchased on. In addition, the App Store and iBookstore now let you see your purchase history, and simply tapping the iCloud icon will download any apps and books to any iOS device (up to 10 devices) at no additional cost.
iCloud Backup – Automatically and securely backs up your iOS devices to iCloud daily over Wi-Fi when you charge your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Backed up content includes purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data. If you replace your iOS device, just enter your Apple ID and password during setup and iCloud restores your new device.
iCloud Storage – Seamlessly stores all documents created using iCloud Storage APIs, and automatically pushes them to all your devices. When you change a document on any device, iCloud automatically pushes the changes to all your devices. Apple’s Pages®, Numbers® and Keynote® apps already take advantage of iCloud Storage. Users get up to 5GB of free storage for their mail, documents and backup—which is more amazing since the storage for music, apps and books purchased from Apple, and the storage required by Photo Stream doesn’t count towards this 5GB total. Users will be able to buy even more storage, with details announced when iCloud ships this fall.
Photo Stream – iCloud’s innovative Photo Stream service automatically uploads the photos you take or import on any of your devices and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices and computers. So you can use your iPhone to take a dozen photos of your friends during the afternoon baseball game, and they will be ready to share with the entire group on your iPad (or even Apple TV®) when you return home. Photo Stream is built into the photo apps on all iOS devices, iPhoto® on Macs, and saved to the Pictures folder on a PC. To save space, the last 1,000 photos are stored on each device so they can be viewed or moved to an album to save forever. Macs and PCs will store all photos from the Photo Stream, since they have more storage. iCloud will store each photo in the cloud for 30 days, which is plenty of time to connect your devices to iCloud and automatically download the latest photos from Photo Stream via Wi-Fi.
iTunes – iCloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to all your iOS devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to all your devices. In addition, music not purchased from iTunes can gain the same benefits by using iTunes Match, a service that replaces your music with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version if we can match it to the over 18 million songs in the iTunes Store®, it makes the matched music available in minutes (instead of weeks to upload your entire music library), and uploads only the small percentage of unmatched music. iTunes Match will be available this fall for a $24.99 annual fee. Apple today is releasing a free beta version of iTunes in the Cloud, without iTunes Match, for iPhone, iPad and iPod