Allison Sheridan is on the show today. We’ll cover the big GamesCon announcements like Skylander, how Viv will beat Siri’s pants off, and why women spend more money on and are more loyal to mobile games. Won’t you join us?
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Microsoft delivered a slate of Xbox news at GamesCon in Cologne , Germany. CNET compiled a list of the announcements. The Xbox will get an exclusive on “Rise of the Tomb Raider” set to arrive in late 2015. The Xbox One will get DLNA support for media centers as well as the ability to playback media from USB. Two new bundles are coming. An all-white Xbox One with “Sunset Overdrive” will sell for $400 w/o Kinect on 10/28/ and “Call of Duty Advanced Warfare” with a specially skinned Xbox One and 1TB hard drive arrives fro $500 November 3. Among several other game-related announcements, the Halo 5: Guardians beta begins December 29.
Bloomberg has talked with the secret society of “people with knowledge of the matter” and THEY say Apple’s suppliers have started manufacturing new 9.7-inch iPads. A new version of the 7.9-inch iPad mini is also entering production. A different group known as “people familiar with the situation” have said Apple will make announcements on Sept. 9.
Lyft gave some data to CNN which apparently shows 177 Uber employees ordered and canceled more than 5,000 rides from the rival company since October 2013. Lyft drivers complained that even when they don’t cancel they sometimes take short low-profit rides in which they try to convince Lyft drivers to come work for Uber. Uber told Ars Technica the claims are “patently false,” although Uber does run promotions to get riders and driver to convince other drivers to come work for Uber.
GigaOm reports Apple is the latest in a string of tech companies releasing diversity reports. Of Apple’s 98,000 employees, 55% identify as white, 15% Asian, and 7% black. 70% are male, which is about the same as Google and Facebook. If you don’t count retail stores, 35% of Apple employees are women, but if you further limit it to tech roles, it drops to 20%. In Apple’s leadership team, 64% are white, 21% Asian, and 72% male.
Wired has an excellent Steven Levy write-up about Viv Labs attempt to make a truly intelligent digital assistant in the mode of Siri. Viv’s cofounders Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham all created Siri. For two years they’ve been working on Viv. The difference between Viv and Siri is that Viv should be able to learn on the fly and understand requests it wasn’t pre-programed to. For example take “Give me a flight to Dallas with a seat that Shaq could fit in?” Siri would search the Web for keywords. Viv will generate its own program to link information from Kayak, SeatGuru and an old NBA Media Guide. Viv is designed on three pillars: It will be taught by the world, it will know more than it is taught, and it will learn something every day.
BBC News reports that Activision’s putting out a version of Skylander for tablets. Skylander is a free game where kids unlock in-game content by buying RFID enhanced action figures and placing them on a base station,— which IN TURN unlocked 2 billion dollars in sales for Activision. The tablet version will also be free. To use the figurines, you’ll need a new version of the portal base which connects by Bluetooth. The app comes out for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire in October.
Sony had its share of Gamescon announcements in Cologne as well. The company announced it sold 10 million PS4 consoles worldwide. Sold not shipped. A new feature called “Share Play” will come inSystem update 2.0 and allow your friends to join a game or take over the controls from anywhere even if they don’t own the game. NBA2K, Towerfall and Child of Light were all mentioned as implemtning SharePlay. Europe got a couple announcements. PlayStation Now the game streaming service, won’t arrive until sometime in 2015. However, Sony’s PlayStation TV, essentially a Vita in console form will come to Europe November 14th for99 euros.
News From You
ancrod2 posted the Washington Post story that the US FCC has established a task force to study misuse of surveillance technology that intercepts cellular signals to locate people, monitor calls, and send malicious software. The tech described is an IMSI catcher often called “Stingray” and is widely used by police and intelligence services. The devices work by mimicking cell towers. The FCC wants to determine the extent to which criminals and foreign intelligence services use the technology against US citizens.
Hurmoth pointed out the 9to5 Mac story that the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced the USB Type C connector is ready for production. The new smaller USB port features a reversible connector. Its powerful enough that one design can work for both PCs and mobile devices. The spec allows for 10 Gbps speed and USB Power Delivery of up to 100W.
habichuelcondulce and TexasTeacher both submitted links about Tim Davis. Who is Tim Davis? Well, if you’re one of the many people who’ve been feeling a little empty inside because there’s been no outrageous Comcast customer service call lately, Tim Davis is your new best friend. Davis moved to a new apartment, and chose to self-install his Comcast wireless equipment. Everything worked just fine for a few weeks. Until it didn’t. A Comcast technician was dispatched, and discovered a problem with the wires outside. Since the problem was out of Davis’s control, he was told there would be no cost to him. On a call. Which he SECRETLY RECORDED. Then he got the bill. And lo, there were charges. Almost two hundred dollars worth, including a failed self-install. So Davis called again. And things did Not Go Well. But that crafty Tim Davis, he had a SECRET RECORDING, which he played for the Comcast rep. And only because of this SECRET RECORDING, he got his money back. So Comcast customers, perhaps its time to start SECRETLY RECORDING every single call you make to Comcast. Ever. Needless to say the link to this SECRET RECORDING will be in the show notes.
Plug of the day: The Sword and Laser Anthology collects 20 amazing stories from new writers in the Sword and Laser book club audience. 10 SciFi and 10 fantasy stories with an introduction by Patrick Rothfuss. Get a copy at the Sword And Laser Store.
Pick of the Day: MouseWait via Producer Jennie.
Producer Jennie has returned from conducting very important business at Disneyland. While she was there she relied heavily on The Mousewait app.——— If you’re in the US and headed to Disneyworld in Florida or Disneyland & California Adventure in Anaheim, CA, the MouseWait app uses close to real-time data from their dedicated social community to post wait times and fast pass availability for every ride and popular food spots in both parks. The app also features an overall crowd index, a programmable To-Do list and a lively community posting advice. I rigorously field-tested the app, on our past two trips and found it impressively accurate. The app is ad-supported and free, and available on iphone for both parks and on Android just for Disneyland so far. If you want to learn more about it, check out mousewait.com