How long before the Xbox is just a specialized type of home computer? Or is it one already?
Xbox head Phil Spencer let a juicy nugget slip in a recent Twitter conversation, confirming that support for mouse and keyboard controls “aren’t far away” on Xbox One. In the same thread, Spencer also notes that he likes “the idea” of streaming Windows games to Xbox One, but they “don’t have a plan yet.”
See for yourself:
@Tak225Th Still finishing Xbox to Win10 streaming right now. I like the idea of Win10->Xbox One streaming but don’t have a plan yet.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) July 21, 2015
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) July 21, 2015
This talk comes less than a week before Windows 10 launches on July 29. Microsoft’s latest operating system update features a bunch of gamer-friendly features, including the ability to stream Xbox One content to Windows 10 machines.
Keyboard support isn’t new for Microsoft’s consoles. The Xbox 360 featured limited support for USB-connected keyboards, giving users the option of typing out text in games and apps that require it instead of using the gamepad to pick letters off of a virtual keyboard.
Adding mouse support opens up a wide range of usage options for the Xbox One, especially if Microsoft allows Windows-to-Xbox streaming as well. Once you’ve got access to a keyboard and mouse on your console, a variety of applications — not just games — are suddenly on the table.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for more details, though with Win 10-to-Xbox streaming still being finalized, it’s a safe bet that mouse support specifics won’t be revealed until after the OS launches.
Search in the Vine app has long been a rather dissatisfying experience. You have two relatively bad choices to view results: Those who use Vine (handles, pretty much) and the tags on Vines. It makes discovery, something parent company Twitter now excels at, virtually impossible. You often could only find new Viners through a revine from someone you already followed.
In a new update dropping in the iOS App Store over the next few weeks (and Android soon after that), Vine will introduce searching for six-second videos using keywords, phrases and even hashtags that will actually reveal Vine posts instead of just linked Vine user handles and related tags.
The social video platform, which announced the update in a brief blog post on Tuesday, is also adding a pair of new feeds: top posts and recent posts. Both are actually filter views for the updated search so you can perform more efficient searches in Vine and then view the most popular results for that query (or the most recent six-second bits).
Vine has been quite busy. The company announced Monday that it would bring its six-second videos to the hottest new wearable on the market: the Apple Watch. We saw a brief demonstration during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco — so yes, you’ll soon be able to watch people do stupidly hilarious things on your wrist. Just don’t expect this search feature to show up there.
PayPal president Dan Schulman wants to make a payments platform that every merchant and consumer will use — regardless of device.
The 57-year-old executive, who previously spent four years at American Express, said as much on Thursday during a PayPal media event in San Francisco: “You’re going to see a fundamental change over the next three, five, 10 years, with more of it going to mobile and point-of-sale checkout.”
Schulman, of course, wants PayPal to lead the charge in that transition. As part of his strategy, the company announced on Thursday the ability to link its OneTouch web and mobile experiences, as well as an integration with Bigcommerce, an Austin-based startup that provides e-commerce and shopping-cart software.
OneTouch for the web, introduced in April, lets all 165 million PayPal users make purchases from third-party websites without having to go through the lengthy process of manually inputting their payment information.
The ability to link OneTouch web and mobile experiences means PayPal users don’t have to have the company’s app on their smartphones, provided they’ve already logged onto PayPal via any mobile device at least once before. Being able to link OneTouch on mobile and web simplifies the mobile-shopping experience for PayPal users.
“It’s a leap forward — all the consumer has to do is opt in,” Schulman said of OneTouch to Mashable in April.
Meanwhile, the Bigcommerce partnership is yet another way for PayPal to bridge the online-to-offline experience for merchants, by offering software that helps small businesses get online and running more quickly. Bigcommerce currently powers more than 90,000 stores in over 100 countries, and processes $5 billion in transactions annually.
PayPal vice-president Bill Ready also referenced Paydiant, the white-label payments and loyalty-rewards platform that PayPal purchased earlier this year for a reported $280 million. Ready did not elaborate on how exactly Paydiant would be used, but suggested its technology would help merchants and retailers engage with shoppers in-store well before checkout by potentially offering, for example, coupons and discounts on their smartphones.
“By the time you get to the register, you’ve missed [the] chance to influence consumer[s],” he explained.
In many ways, 2015 is critical for PayPal, which is being spun off from eBay later this year. Thursday’s event was an opportunity for Schulman to offer a look at his longterm vision for the company.
Although the 17-year-old payments business has long been eBay’s fastest growing business unit — with double-digit revenue growth year-over-year — that has slowed down, partly due to increasing competition on mobile from companies, such as Apple, Square and Stripe.
In fact, a recent study by 451Research comparing consumer interest in Apple Pay versus PayPal strongly suggested that as of March, more people planned to use Apple Pay rather than PayPal’s mobile offerings: 45% compared to 28%, respectively.
One of the big visual changes to Windows 10 is the re-addition of the transparent Aero Glass look from Windows Vista and Windows 7. “We’re trying to bring back some of that feel,” Belfiore said.
And it’s a good decision, as Aero Glass has aged far better than other UI paradigms. In fact, Apple embraced Aero Glass-ness with its latest desktop operating system, OS X Yosemite.
In addition to its Start menu, Microsoft is bringing back Jump Lists. Windows 10 will also use a new Spotlight feature to show users interesting images on their desktop’s lock screen and various Windows 10 apps. Users can then choose to install an app directly from the lock screen (this feature can be turned off).
Microsoft announced new ways for developers to get apps to its platform and inside the Windows Store.
Until now, developers have had to package their apps as Windows Universal apps for the Windows Store. While that’s fine for new apps written with more modern design language, traditional applications written in Win32 or .NET are unable to be added to the Windows Store.
That changes with Windows 10. Now, Microsoft is allowing developers to package their Win32 and .NET apps to sell in the Windows Store.
To ensure security, those apps will be run sandboxed, so they don’t harm other parts of the system.
This is big news for traditional app makers. Adobe has already said it will be bringing Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements to the Windows Store.
I was never a watch guy. The moment I bought my first cellphone, 15 years ago, I ditched my wristwatch, and I’ve never worn one since. I just couldn’t see the point — I could tell the time by looking at my cellphone, which was always with me. And soon enough, every decent phone had an alarm, a stopwatch, and everything else your average wristwatch could have, only better.
How come, then, the cellphone failed to kill the wristwatch? The reasons are many — the wristwatch can be a status symbol, a training partner, a diving computer. Above all, it’s a highly desirable, collectible gadget. As I’ve come to learn by reading extensively about the world of horology during the past few weeks, the Apple Watch and smartwatches in general are not about to threaten most — if any — of those niches.
Can a smartwatch afford to be expensive?
My interest was piqued when I read a bold report, in February, that Apple plans to manufacture 1 million units of the most expensive variant of the Apple Watch, the solid-gold Apple Watch Edition, per month. For comparison, all Swiss watchmakers exported 2.2 million units combined in February, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
The report is unconfirmed (and cites Apple’s booming market in China as justification for the figure), but as a thought exercise, let’s assume it’s true for a moment. Is Apple being realistic? I could understand the logic behind the cheaper models — a smartphone companion on your wrist which sets you back a couple hundred dollars might not be my thing, but I could see people buying it. But Apple Watch Edition — the gold variant with exactly the same software and innards, starting at $10,000? Save for those buying it purely as bling, how big can the market for a gold Apple Watch be?
So I started reading up on luxury watches — some of these are priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I wanted to know what drives someone to buy a gadget like that. Initially, it was frustrating, as none of it made sense. An automatic watch, which is less precise than a battery-powered, quartz one, typically costs much more. And all the extra functions — complications, as they call them in the world of horology — can be easily, and cheaply replicated on a digital watch.
To put it short, a $350 Suunto sports watch puts a $250,000 Patek Philippe to shame in terms of features.
Even worse, luxury watches in general aren’t good investments (though the aforementioned Patek Phillippe might be an exception there). Buy a $5,000 watch and it will lose value as soon as you exit the store — like a car — and it will just keep on losing value as time goes on, unless you’re a celebrity.
Realizing this, I thought I was in some sort of weird, inverse-logic land. My instincts told me that luxury watches really are, as they’re sometimes categorized, jewelry — pointless trinkets that serve only to show how rich you are.
A whole different ball game
But then, trudging through the immense swamp of watch-related blogs and forums, I started to realize that luxury watches today are a different breed of gadget than smartphones, tablets and even smartwatches like the Apple Watch. What makes them desirable is equal parts craftsmanship, design, precision, history, imagination and artistry. It’s not about what they can do: It’s about the effort, experience and knowledge required to make one.
Take this watch, for example — the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon. It has a chronograph (a stopwatch), a tachymeter (a scale that lets you calculate speed, though you have to do the math yourself) and yeah, it tells time. Its retail price is more than $10,000, depending on the variant. It can’t connect to your smartphone, you can’t change its face, it doesn’t have apps and it’s not upgradeable. And though parts of it are golden, it doesn’t have a gold case, like the Apple Watch Edition, which comes at a comparable price.
Omega Speedmaster ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ timepiece. Image: Omega
The devil, however, is in the details. This particular watch by Switzerland-based Omega is a new take on the original Omega Moonwatch, worn by Buzz Aldrin during his stroll on the moon in 1969. It’s powered by the Omega Co-Axial calibre 9300 movement — an advanced mechanical timekeeping mechanism created by Omega’s watchmaking masters that can’t be easily replicated or mass-produced on the cheap. Its hour, minute and chronograph hands are painted with Super-LumiNova, a strontium aluminate–based paint that shines brightly and beautifully in the dark.
You know how Apple puts special effort into the design of its products? Well, it doesn’t come close to the level of precision and the attention to detail needed to create this watch. Add to that its glorious history, and you got a very desirable collector’s item.
Apple Watch’s drawer
Does the Apple Watch really compete with the Omega or similarly priced luxury watches? In some areas, yes. A slab of gold on your wrist sends a message, and so does a luxury watch. It also connects you to a brand — Apple — which is what many luxury watchmakers do with certain models, like this Hublot.
But in all other areas, it’s not even the same type of device. In fact, in many ways the Apple Watch is the opposite of the most coveted luxury watches — it’s mass-produced, it doesn’t have history, it’s digital, it’s not hand-made by some expert watchmaker and, most importantly, millions of people will soon have one on their wrist. In the world of horology, being unique or a part of a very small group is desirable. Seeing everyone around you carrying the exact same hardware — gold case or no gold case — on your wrist is not.
More than one winner
So, budget permitting, which one would you buy — the Omega or the Apple Watch Edition? Regardless of your preference, the only proper answer for watch aficionados is: both. Watches are different than smartphones: You don’t just wear one until the next model arrives. You weigh your options, you do the research, you calculate your budget, you obsess about a timepiece, and then after you purchase it, your hunger is only satiated for a little while, until the next beautiful time-teller catches your eye.
Ever wonder why instead of the usual one or two options, Apple is offering dozens of different combinations with the Apple Watch? That’s why.
Apple is offering a multitude of options for its Apple Watch, including different sizes, materials and wristbands. Save for the almost certain initial boom (courtesy of Apple’s reality-distortion bubble), I can’t predict how well the Apple Watch will sell. Some reports indicate Apple expects to sell a huge quantity of Edition watches; others claim the cheap models are likely to get the most customers. But based on what I’ve learned about the world of watches, even if the Apple Watch absolutely kills it in the market, it will not make other watches obsolete. At best, it might become the preferable day wear timepiece of many; but I sincerely doubt watch lovers’ Rolexes, Zeniths and Hublots will be collecting dust.
The ultimate synergy?
Most watch enthusiasts already know all this. They already have an opinion about the Apple Watch, and they are very well aware at how different it really is from the haute horlogerie pieces they own or lust for.
But Apple covers a vastly larger demographic, and I bet even many gadget geeks don’t know much about what makes a luxury watch tick. Now — just as I did in the last few weeks — with the Apple Watch knocking on the door, many of them may learn about why it’s desirable to wear a watch, and those with the budget will also look into luxury watches.
The latest World Watch Report, a yearly publication by the Digital Luxury Group (DLG), sees increased interest in luxury timepieces in 2014. Contrary to the report mentioned earlier, DLG thinks 80% of Apple Watch sales will consist of cheaper units, priced below $700, meaning it shouldn’t hurt Swiss watchmakers too much.
With Apple’s enormous reach, it’s folly to think the Apple Watch will not affect the timepiece industry. It wouldn’t be too surprising if Apple sold more watches in 2016 than all the Swiss watchmakers combined. But the way Apple Watch compares with the luxury timepieces, I’m inclined to think it’s not going to hurt the industry; in fact, it’s likely we’ll all just be talking about watches a lot more in the years to come.
When Faith Lennox was nine months old, she lost her left hand. Now at age seven, she’s getting one custom made by a 3D printer. It’s called a ‘robohand’. She got to pick the colors and watch the printing process firsthand at Build It Workspace, a 3D printer studio in California.
Build It’s Mark Lengsfeld thinks the technology will revolutionize prosthetics, especially in children who outgrow prosthetic limbs or have trouble using them due to size and weight.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.
A San Francisco-based performance artist is seeking 50 high-end Apple Watches for her next project as a part of a statement on society’s obsession with massive commercialism and new technology.
Qinmin Liu, who moved to the United States from China in 2009, posted a Google Doc form online encouraging — or rather, guilt tripping — those who want to buy Apple Watch Edition models (which start at $10,000) to purchase one instead for her project.
So far, she has received pledges to contribute from people all over the world: 16 from the U.S., 8 from China, 1 from South Korea, 1 from North Korea and 1 from India.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that these donors will actually purchase one for Liu when they go on sale starting April 24 (preorders begin April 10).
“I couldn’t care less about the technology and price,” Liu said in a statement. “I care more about individual’s behaviors, and want to explore the relationship between desire and action. In 2012, a Chinese teen [sold a] kidney to buy an iPhone and iPad. […] Questions and concerns led me to spark a dialogue [about] Apple Watch.”
Lui said the project isn’t necessarily about protesting technology but rather a statement on how it impacts modern society. In the Google Doc, she calls those thinking about purchasing the high-end Apple Watch “evil and rich.”
“I think Apple is a phenomenon, and everyone is influenced by it. When I see people lined up and waiting for 8 hours to get a newest Apple product, I consider it is a performance from my artistic perspective. I don’t really care about Apple’s product, but I do care the motivations and desires and curiosity that influence human being’s actions.”
Lui said she hopes Bill Gates will donate, too: “He probably hates the Apple Watch more than anyone… but he is very supportive to art.”
The window to donate is open until June 1.