Three new iPads rumoured for March 2017, including bezel-free 10.9-inch iPad Pro

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

Apple will launch a trio of new iPad Pro models in March, including refreshed 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch versions and an all-new bezel-free 10.9-inch model, according to Barclays Research analysts… the analysts said the 10.9-inch model’s borderless design will allow for it to be the same physical size as the current-generation 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Oh snap!

I’ve been trying to live an iPad-mostly lifestyle for the last few months, with a 12.9-inch iPad Pro replacing my 15-inch MacBook Pro for portable computing. I’m glad to hear the big Pro is slated for an update next spring. I want the biggest iPad screen available for the best split-screen multitasking experience on iOS. I also hope improved versions of the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil are in the cards as well; I’d love a Smart Keyboard with a function row for Home, Spotlight, Music controls, etc. and an Apple Pencil that’s lighter and maybe adds an eraser.

However, I’m gonna be super tempted by the bezel-free 10.9-inch iPad Pro. Imagine that: a big piece of glass that’s all screen. Hot damn. I’ll have a hard time weighing the desire for the hot new iPad over the added benefit of the larger screen size.

The Verge reviews Microsoft’s Surface Studio

Tom Warren, The Verge:

Microsoft’s exciting Surface Studio unveil has been compared to Apple’s disappointing MacBook Pro launch, and with good reason. Many creatives I’ve spoken to about the Surface Studio have said the same thing: why isn’t Apple doing this? Apple seems to be forcing creatives to choose an iPad Pro for touch and pen, but the powerful and professional apps just aren’t there yet on iOS, and it’s not clear if companies like Adobe are willing to rewrite their software to be just as useful on an iPad Pro. Microsoft has realized the potential in the market to reach out to creatives who feel abandoned by Apple, and it’s an influential crowd that could be swayed over by devices like the Surface Studio.

I consider myself one of those creatives questioning Apple. I’ve been trying to use my iPad Pro as a laptop replacement, and while it does a lot of things well, I find myself more and more tempted by Microsoft’s Surface Book and Surface Studio. The Surface Book is a beautifully designed hybrid that offers a great physical keyboard and touchscreen tablet combo, and the Surface Studio brings intimate touch controls for drawing and editing to the desktop. The iPad Pro can’t deliver those things yet and no Mac ever will, so now I’m left tempted by Microsoft hardware I want running an operating system I absolutely do not want. I wonder if Apple cares? I hope they do, and I hope iOS gets even more capable on the iPad in the coming years. Maybe someday we’ll even see a desktop-sized iPad.

As for the Surface Studio, it looks absolutely gorgeous, and I think a ton of creatives should and will buy it. Props to Microsoft for stepping their game way up lately. It’s exciting to see!

Mario, Skyrim, Splatoon rumoured for Nintendo Switch launch, Zelda and Mario Kart soon after

The line-up of launch games for Nintendo’s hybrid Switch console is coming into focus, thanks to new leaks from reporters Laura Kate Dale and Emily Rogers, both of whom have proven accurate in the past.

According to Dale’s latest intel, the new 3D Mario game teased in Nintendo’s Switch reveal trailer will be released on launch day alongside the new console. Unlike Super Mario 3D World for Wii U, the new Mario title will reportedly feature a 3D hub world leading to different stages, with a gameplay style similar to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. Dale reports the game will feature a multiplayer co-op mode as well.

Nintendo are also planning to release a Switch bundle with an updated version of Splatoon packed in, according to Dale. The new Splatoon game is said to include additional single player content and a head-to-head multiplayer mode with each player using their own Switch system. Similar to the launch of the Wii U, the Splatoon bundle would represent the “premium” Switch bundle, accompanied by a cheaper “base” SKU.

Additionally, Dale confirms that Bethesda are developing a version of Skyrim for Switch, as seen in the console’s reveal trailer. Skyrim is expected to be available for Switch on day one.

Finally, new information from Emily Rogers sheds some light on Mario Kart for Switch. The title will reportedly be a remastered version of Mario Kart 8, including all of the DLC from the Wii U version, in addition to new tracks, new characters, and a battle mode. Development on Mario Kart for Switch is believed to be complete, and the game is expected to ship “within the first three months” of the Switch’s launch, according to Rogers.

Unfortunately, Rogers and Dale are both hearing that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will not be ready for the Switch’s launch in March as previously expected. Citing reliable sources, Rogers reports that localization of the new Zelda title is taking longer than expected as Nintendo works to make the game “as bug free as possible” for launch. Rogers believes Breath of the Wild is likely to be released in summer 2017, and Dale claims that Nintendo still plan to release the game for both Switch and Wii U despite the delay.

Twitter is trying to fight their abuse problem

Twitter announced new tools today to help fight harassment and abuse on their platform, including a feature to mute keywords, phrases, and entire conversations, and easier reporting tools. However, this is the most important update:

And finally, on enforcement, we've retrained all of our support teams on our policies, including special sessions on cultural and historical contextualization of hateful conduct, and implemented an ongoing refresher program. We've also improved our internal tools and systems in order to deal more effectively with this conduct when it's reported to us. Our goal is a faster and more transparent process.

Tools have never been the biggest roadblock to dealing with abuse on Twitter. It was shocking the number of times people would report clearly abusive users or tweets, only to be told the case was reviewed and Twitter found no problem. Clearly there was something wrong on the support end at Twitter, so it's important they make sure their staff are properly educated and equipped to do their jobs. Reminding everyone of the specifics policies, and laying down a new mandate, should go a long way to solving some of their issues. I hope this sticks.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appoints Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, has been named Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues.

“We have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada – from enshrining equality rights in the Charter to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. But the fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work still needs to be done. Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it.” – The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Very proud of my country and my Prime Minister today.

❤️💛💚💙💜

Nintendo’s Super Mario Run launching on iOS December 15th

Nintendo announced this morning that Super Mario Run – their famous mascot's first game for mobile devices – will be released on December 15th for iPhone and iPad. Super Mario Run will be free to download, allowing players to try out its three different modes, while the full game can be unlocked with a single $9.99 USD ($13.99 CAD) in-app purchase.

Nintendo announced Super Mario Run on stage at Apple's iPhone 7 event back in September. The game puts an "endless runner" twist on traditional side-scrolling Mario levels; Mario runs forward on his own, and players tap to make him jump over obstacles, squash enemies, and collect coins.

Super Mario Run will be available in 151 countries at launch and includes English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Russian, and traditional Chinese language options. While Super Mario Run will be exclusive to Apple's iOS devices for now, Nintendo previously confirmed that an Android version will be released in the future.

A letter to today’s young people

Marco Arment:

Whether they vote that way or not, far more Americans believe in progressive, liberal, inclusive views than regressive, aggressive, conservative ones.
Young people know this better than anyone, because young people are overwhelmingly liberal, even more than older people. That’s not because you’re inexperienced — it’s because you’re right.

The next four years will be hard for a lot of people in the United States, and their friends around the world. People will get hurt. Progress will be reversed. But humanity is resilient. The right side will fight, and the right side will win again.

Thanks for writing this, Marco.

The Verge hands-on with “ridiculously fun” Snapchat Spectacles

Bryan Bishop, The Verge:

What’s it actually like to record and watch snaps recorded with Spectacles? Here’s the great news: both are incredibly fun, and will only become more so as people get used to how they should actually use Spectacles. Given that Spectacles are sunglasses — and relatively unobtrusive ones at that — there’s nothing distracting or odd about having them on in the first place. And capturing is so dead simple it lets you grab moments without even having the chance to overthink or plan. It promotes a kind of spontaneous, in-the-moment capture that the ritual of grabbing a phone and launching an app really can’t match.

Near-instant capture of spontaneous moments, in a fun and approachable package – that's the genius of Spectacles that Google missed completely with Glass. Spectacles even fix the one problem that Google never addressed with Glass: circling the camera in bright yellow so it stands out, and putting a glowing light on the front so people know when you're recording.

I'm not the biggest Snapchat user, but I'm itching to try a pair of Spectacles for myself. I love the very-fitting ephemeral retail strategy Snap have adopted for the Spectacles launch, which has succeeded in drumming up all the hype, although with the holiday season in full swing I can't help but wonder why Spectacles aren't available to buy online. These would be the absolute hottest Christmas item. Maybe supply just isn't there right now. Regardless, I'm certain this is merely the beginning of Snap's hardware ambitions. Mark my words: Spectacles will be huge, and I expect them in different sizes and colours sooner rather than later.

Imagining the future of the Mac keyboard

Jason Snell, Macworld:

You can’t operate a touch-screen keyboard by feel, because the act of feeling it causes it to react… Unless you built in pressure sensitivity that would allow that surface to react differently to hard typing taps. Again, it’s a bit of a leap, but Apple already has pressure-sensitive technology in the iPhone’s 3D Touch and in the Mac’s Force Touch Trackpad. If Apple could build a surface that would let you run your fingers over it until you received physical feedback that your fingers were in the proper typing orientation, it could work.

I’ve never liked the idea of replacing the Mac keyboard with a completely flat touchscreen. Thumbs and small phone touchscreens make great friends, but I’ve spent the last month trying different physical keyboard with my iPad Pro so I could write longer pieces more comfortably.

I’m jealous that I didn’t make the connection Jason does above, because it makes so much sense and the stage is already set. Combine 3D Touch and the Taptic engine to build a touchscreen Mac keyboard that allows you to lightly brush your fingers across the keys, get slight taptic feedback as you go to “feel” the keys, and tap harder to actually press a key. Genius.

As things stand this would still be a little difficult to pull off; 3D Touch needs to advance to better tell the difference between a finger lightly at rest and a full on tap/press (just try invoking “wiggle mode” on the iPhone 6s or 7 homescreen and you’ll see what I mean). We wondered on Pivot this week about the future of the Mac and iPad lines and how each would advance to become more like the other in the coming years. A 3D Touch + Taptic keyboard could be an interesting direction for Apple to investigate, and it would allow them to bring a fully customizable, context-aware keyboard, not to mention a much larger touch canvas, to the Mac.

Viticci on Apple’s W1 chip and wireless headphones

I’m late to this post by Federico Viticci at MacStories, but his experience with the Beats Solo3 and W1 chip caught my attention:

In everyday life, this means I’m no longer managing my headphones: I just wear them and switch between devices as needed. Most of the time, I’m listening to music or podcasts on my iPhone, and I select the Solo3 from Control Center (or the Music app). When I find the occasional YouTube video I want to watch on my iPad, I open Control Center, tap the Solo3, and I’m connected. I don’t have to worry about Bluetooth’s notorious instability; it’s like Continuity for headphones.

I have been wearing wireless earbuds for two years now, and I’ve come to vastly prefer wireless over wired. That said, I have had my share of Bluetooth connectivity issues, particularly lately as I’ve had to replace my beloved Jaybird BlueBuds (killed by the washing machine) with a cheaper Mpow pair.

It sounds like Apple have managed to build something very special with the W1, vastly improving upon the pairing process, delivering a more reliable connection, and enabling easier device switching. That’s why I can’t even consider buying expensive wireless headphones without the W1 chip; regardless of their sound quality, lack of physical controls, and somewhat goofy design, I’m really damn excited to buy AirPods. If I don’t like those or they don’t fit, I’ll be buying Beats.