Aside from making gamers wait for the elusive Episode 3 and purposely poking at us with Black Mesa Source, Valve always has something interesting up their innovative sleeve. After rumors of the Steam Box turned into the company denying us any announcement at E3 (aside from CS:GO), the gaming community was left wondering what would be next for Valve.
This week, Valve's mission of becoming a literal household name started to come to life as they launched the beta edition of "Big Picture" mode for Steam. Now currently offering more than just games, the Big Picture interface moves the Steam platform off the PC and into living rooms everywhere. Looking similar to the attractiveness of the Xbox 360 dashboard, large, bold fonts with rectangular tiles will fill your HDTV, allowing users to view the new interface away from your computer chair. Navigating the new Steam user interface is now done with a game controller instead of a mouse and keyboard, using triggers - like on the 360 controller - to move from tab to tab. It kind of looks like a hybrid of a PS3 and Xbox 360 controller, except made by Logitech.
Of course, the built-in browser still exists too, so you don't ever have to leave Steam to surf the web. Valve calls it the world's first first-person web browser.
Browse your way across the internet with reticle-based navigation, tabbed browsing, and your favorites saved to the cloud, all just a button press away.
For more on the Big Picture version of Steam, including images of a very interesting on-screen keyboard, get with us after the break.
You may have noticed that over the past few months that the number of #hashtags on the LinkedIn news feed has gone down markedly. This is because Twitter has, like many times in the past, revoked LinkedIn's ability to read users' Twitter posts and repost to LinkedIn. Because of this, more people are sharing directly to LinkedIn instead of letting their tweets get reposted. As always, they said they want to "provide the core Twitter user experience through a consistent set of products and tools." What that means is we don't want to help a competitor.
What Twitter did not realize was that the end result would be a lower usage of Twitter to share news, and a higher direct usage of LinkedIn. Now, while this sounds bad in sheer numbers, which it is, that is the the part that hurts Twitter. The loss of a large volume of tweets would not be unwelcome, either by Twitter or users, but only if those tweets are about your breakfast or where in your house you are. Unfortunately for Twitter, those are not the ones disappearing.
Instead, users are still posting about the toilet, but have stopped sharing industry links. This is what that means to Twitter: lost revenue. Hit the break to find out how.
HP's relationship is a long and complicated one, dating back about a decade. Originally HP combined their popular iPaq line of PDAs with GSM and CDMA brought about the first HP Windows Mobile devices. While good devices, they didn't stand a chance against RIM's BlackBerry, Palm's extensive line of handsets and even UTStarcom/HTC's PPC series of Windows Mobile devices. Though they kept it up from 2004 until 2009, there was never any real success to warrant it.
In 2010, HP purchased Palm, starting a second generation of HP-branded smartphones, this time running the ill-fated webOS. The disastrous exploits of the HP Palm merger are well documented in this article, so we won't go into it now. Suffice it to say, it didn't go well, and it looked like HP was done with phones for good.
This week, HP CEO Meg Whitman told Fox Business that they will once again have a smartphone because they "have to." For more on her announcement and some possible details about the phone, hit the break.
We all know that Zynga isn't in the best shape, with bad games and rip-off lawsuits, plus slumping usage and employees fleeing, the last thing they need is another big-name player in the industry. Well, that is exactly what they got this week with comic book legend Stan Lee announcing that his company, Pow! Entertainment, is joining forces with mobile game studio Moonshark to create a new game.
The game, titled Verticus, is an action-adventure game that will be available later this fall. Stan Lee, founder and CEO, plus all around badass, said,
Working closely with Moonshark to build characters and storylines for a mobile game has been a new, and uniquely satisfying experience for me. Making Verticus is a new way for me to connect with my fans and reach a whole new group of people through their mobile devices.
New and exciting is where Stan Lee lives. This is the man who, according to Kevin Smith (Silent Bob), created our modern mythology through the comic book characters he has created. From Spider-Man to Iron Man, the man has created many characters that will stand thet test of time. This game will simply add to the list of memories for most people.
Want to know what the developer has to say about the game? How about a teaser trailer? Hit the break for both.
After last year's iPod announcement it seemed clear that they had given up. It was a pretty good decision considering their primary product, the iPhone, was an iPod as well. Microsoft recognized that the portable music player market was over, discontinuing their Zune player. I had suggested that last year would be their last year for the iPod, wanting to see it through its 10th birthday. This week, however, brought a surprising announcement: a new line of iPods.
We'll start with the redesigned iPod Nano. The last generation, which was a design nightmare, looked like a touchscreen version of the Shuffle. This year, the Nano has returned to its former shape, but retained the touchscreen. In fact, at first glance, you might think it was an iPod Touch Nano. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. The biggest difference between an iPod Touch and an iPod Nano is the lack of iOS. Despite owning the operating system, and the device name starting with the letter i, the Nano runs another operating system. This means, even with a nice touchscreen and an interface that mimics iOS, there is no way to install standard iOS apps. Other than that, it is a nice change for the Nano family, especially after the last version.
The iPod Touch 5th Generation has also had a nice upgrade. Similar to the iPhone 5, the new iPod Touch has a 4" Retina display, 5MP iSight camera and Siri. Of course, it will run iOS 6, meaning it gets all the new features, like a series of applications that support a longer screen. Along with the new camera comes the ability to record 1080p video and take lower light photos. Also, for the first time, the iPod Touch will come in a large collection of colors, just like the Nano. All-in-all, it is a nice upgrade to the iPod Touch family.
Speaking of family, the 4th Generation Touch is not going anywhere. It will remain on the line-up as the low-cost alternative, similar to how Apple treats their previous model iPhones. It will, however, get the upgrade to iOS 6 to allow Siri, among other new features. This upgrade will also be available to existing iPod Touch 4th Generation models. The iPod Shuffle and Classic will also remain on the line-up, mostly unchanged. As the odd-balls of the family, however, these models do not need to be reworked often.
While it is a bit of a surprise that they did not retire the iPod line-up, it is nice to see that are at least trying again. If the devices are going to exist, they might as well be something people want, and this time they seem to have nailed it. I know, I said Apple nailed it - it is surprising. While the target market is shrinking fast, they are making the best of what is left.
Apple's stock price has been dipping, so that means it is mandatory "milk the sheep" time. Since the New iPad, whose name will be a lot more fun in 6 months or so when the next one comes out, is already on store shelves, that must mean it is iPhone time. In proper Apple tradition, the CEO, currently Tim Cook, spent time on a mostly empty stage in a fairly nondescript theatre to show off the next small, shiny box from Cupertino.
The new iPhone lives up to many of the expectations, both good and bad. First, the name is the iPhone 5, not the New iPhone. They do seem to have at least learned something from that very odd decision. The device is, as expected from leaked photos of the chassis, longer than the previous models. Steve Jobs cited the smaller screen size in all previous models as a good thing. The reasoning was always that holding the phone in one hand could give you access to all parts of the screen. He also stated that his company would never consider launching a larger screen because of this reason. Apparently Apple has discovered that people's hands have grown in the year since Jobs' death.
The iPhone 5 has taken a page out of Boost Mobile's phone lineup and added true 4G data to their handset. Of course, this isn't the first time Apple has included a feature from a cheap Boost Mobile phone; in the iPhone 3G they added picture messaging. Apple's implementation is a little better than Boost, though, as it implements 4G LTE, not WiMax. To accomplish this, they touted their dual-antenna technology, which they also talked about last year. My guess is that this is all in reaction to the antenna blocking problem from the iPhone 4. I say that because all modern phones have the ability to switch antennas, and you never hear Samsung talk about it.
Not all of the new features are in direct violation of the founder's wishes or rip-offs of 5-year-old technology, however. Some are downright terrible ideas. Hit the break for the details.