This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about the Playstation Showcase from last week and the announcements about Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Marvel’s Wolverine, and God of War: Ragnarok, as well as tricks to easily display your vaccination status on your smartphone, and details about the iPhone 13, new iPad mini, and Apple Watch Series 7.
The conversation about games starts at 43:18; consumer tech starts at 52:24.
This week, new iPads, iPhones, and a new Apple Watch. Plus, how you can make it easy to display your vaccine status on your smartphone.
iPhone 13, upgraded iPad mini, and Apple Watch Series 7 get unveiled by Apple
Yesterday (September 14, 2021) was the latest product briefing from Apple, and while the new models of iPhone 13 may be incrementally better than earlier iPhones, there were some interesting innovations revealed during the event.
The new iPhones are all getting the newest A15 Bionic chip, which brings improvements to speed and battery life, and the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini base models get double the storage capacity as well as the optical image stablization that was exclusive to the Pro models in the iPhone 12 era.
The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max get a new 1 TB storage option as well as a Super Retina XDR ProMotion display, which automatically adjust the frame rate of the image depending on what you’re doing on the handset. The premium iPhones also get serious improvements to video capabilities with Cinematic mode and ProRes video. The former delivers an automatic focus and the ability to change the focus of the video after it’s been shot. The latter, meanwhile, is an advanced video codec used in the professional video arena.
The standard 10.2-inch iPad is also getting updated with features like Center Stage that used to be exclusive to the iPad Pro series.
But iPad mini gets more of an upgrade, with a larger screen in the same size device, a 5G connection, and the A15 Bionic chip. The iPad mini also gets a USB-C port, like the iPad Pro and iPad Air, which foreshadows the continuing shift by Apple away from Lightning with the rest of its portables.
The new Apple Watch, we’re at Series 7 now, gets a larger display that enables a full keyboard and larger on-screen buttons. It also fully supports cycling activity tracking, too. Including fall detection for those of us who live on the North Shore and only know how to ride a mountain bike downhill.
And Apple continues to enhance its subscription offerings with new additions to Fitness+, including pilates, guided meditation, and “workouts to get ready for snow season”. You can also take part in group workouts with up to 31 friends using Fitness+ and Facetime.
Create a shortcut to make accessing your vaccine status easier on your iPhone
For those of us who will be willingly sharing our vaccination status for the privilege of participating in certain extra-curricular activities, there’s a way you can make it easy to pull up that QR code on your handset no matter whether you’re on Android or iOS.
But you should not use the image as your wallpaper, because there is information encoded in the image that is easy to decipher. These QR codes are not encrypted.
Instead, on your iPhone, follow the steps provided by technical writer Kimli, who uses the iOS Shortcuts software to make displaying your code a one-tap task.
Hey, BC friends: You can set up a shortcut to create a task that, when tapped, will load your vax QR code, increase the brightness on your phone (for easier scanning), and then reduce the brightness when you tap "done" (to save your eyes from melting). Steps in next tweet! pic.twitter.com/pLaStyjDt8
What Playstation showed off last week, Ubisoft’s next move into live-action, and the Nintendo Switch gets an update.
Playstation shows off more than a dozen games coming to the PS5
A couple of things stood out for me while watching the Playstation Showcase last week. One is that there are still more great games from years past that are being brought out for new consoles. The second is that Playstation has some important exclusives for the PS5 in the next year and a bit.
I guess a third would be that Insomniac Games is on a tear.
Insomniac, which came out with Spider-Man Miles Morales a scant two years after the grounbreaking Marvel’s Spider-Man, and then released Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart about six months later, has two new games in the queue.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 merges the storylines of Peter Parker and Miles Morales and is scheduled for release in 2023.
Marvel’s Wolverine was something of a suprise. Insomniac only showed a tease of what we might expect from the game, which does not have a release date, but knowing what this studio has done I think it’s fair to have high hopes.
Among the games being remastered or remade that were shown at the Playstation Showcase was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. This is a remake, coming from Aspyr (which is good at these sorts of things). It’s been nearly 20 years since Bioware, a small studio in Edmonton, which had proved its skill at developing role-playing games with the Baldur’s Gate games, stormed the industry with the Star Wars property. This remake will be a PS5 exclusive when it releases.
The popular Uncharted series, which helped sell plenty of PS4 consoles, is getting the last couple of games – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – remastered for the PS5.
But the most exciting of the trailers was God of War: Ragnarok, which is expected sometime next year. This is a direct sequel to the 2018 game that cleverly rebooted the series in Norse mythology while honouring the Greek mythology from which Kratos emerged.
Ubisoft’s Driver game getting a live-action series on Binge.com
Ubisoft has been very aggressive at getting its various gaming franchises into other media.
Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia are two recent examples of movie adaptations, and now the Driver franchise is becoming a live-action series that will stream on Binge.com, a new online platform expected to launch next year.
You can now use Bluetooth headsets with your Nintendo Switch
Nintendo quietly rolled out an update to the Switch that supports Bluetooth wireless headsets.
The latest #NintendoSwitch update is now available, including the ability to pair Bluetooth devices for audio output.
This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about the Alan Wake remaster coming from Remedy Games and Epic, the smartphone action game Marvel Future Revolution, the free trial weekend for Madden NFL 22, and the cool navigation system that is what3words.
This week, the emergent technology that is what3words. But first, news about the Alan Wake remaster, a review of Marvel Future Revolution, and details on the free play weekend for Madden NFL 22.
Alan Wake latest game to get a remaster
One of my favourite games of the past couple of years is Control, a game set in the Oldest House that people don’t really noitce when they’re walking down the street. This house is also bigger – way bigger – on the inside than it appears on the outside. The action adventure has a definite Twin Peaks: The Return vibe to it.
Control was developed by Finnish studio, Remedy Games, and this week we learned that Remedy is remastering one of its earlier games, Alan Wake.
Alan Wake was released as an Xbox 360 exclusive in 2010 and its Twin Peaks influence is equally noticeable. The game is set in the Pacific Northwest in the vicinity of a small forestry town and the game’s writer and creative director Sam Lake peppered the experience with some overt references to the David Lynch/Mark Frost universe.
Lake announced the remastered version of the game in a letter published to a fan website dedicated to Alan Wake.
A release date was not revealed but the game will come out this fall, and it will be available on PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Marvel Future Revolution brings action role-playing excitement to your smartphone
In Marvel Future Revolution, an action role-playing game, you take on the role of a multitude of superheroes from the various Marvel comics universes, including the likes of Black Widow and Storm, Captain America and Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and Star-Lord.
The original story takes place on “Primary Earth”, which is the result of multiple Earth dimensions converging into one. And your superheroes – you get to pick who you want on your squad – will be creating a new team called Omega Flight.
It’s a free-to-play game available on Android and iOS devices and the graphics on the iPhone 12 I played on were quite stunning.
The world is expansive, open, and shared, so when you’re in the game’s hub checking your gear and updating your team, you’ll see other players from around the world there, too.
The actual gameplay was a bit of a miss for me, though. It ended up being more of a linear button masher. The truth is that it’s difficult to create an action game like this using touch controls. If you need to touch the screen to do things, you’re always getting your fingers in the way of the things you need to see on the screen.
But for a free-to-play smartphone game, Marvel Future Revolution has a lot of style and smash to it.
Play Madden NFL 22 for free this weekend
The NFL season opens on Thursday and EA Sports is celebrating by launching a free trial of Madden NFL 22, which was released on August 20.
From Thursday, September 9 through Sunday, September 12, you can play the football sim on PS4, PS5, Stadia, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
If you play on PS5 or Xbox Series X/S, you can experience the new feature, Dynamic Gameday, which purports to deliver near realtime data updates based on the performances of real players. It also includes advantages that are granted to teams playing at home, and disadvantages to away teams. For example, opposing teams playing in New York, either the Giants or the Jets, will fatigue faster.
what3words makes every location on Earth findable
I spent the Labour Day weekend at Whistler. And one place in particular, the Whistler Disc Golf course, I was able to find using three words:
It’s possible thanks to the work of the team at what3words. This organization took the surface of the Earth, overlaid it with a three-metre grid, and assigned each three-metre square a combination of three words.
Using these three-word combinations to navigate is better than street addresses and it’s more convenient than coordinates.
A street address is often completely removed from the actual place you want to be. Think of a stadium, for example, where there may be multiple entrances, or Stanley Park, where there’s a big space that has no street address.
Coordinates are fine and accurate, but to use them you need to have an understanding of coordinate systems, you need to have the app or tech that can show them, and you need to remember a bunch of numbers. Remembering three words is pretty simple.
What3words is already being used around the world by businesses, by tourists, and by emergency services, which can use what3words designations to find people in trouble.
And because the what3words grid is consistent and defined, you don’t need to have connectivity to navigate with it; you just use the compass function on your smartphone.
It’s being used in Canada by communication centres that answer 911 calls. Ontario Parks and Manitoba Forestry are using it.
And now, car manufacturers are including the what3words database in navigation systems. The 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is the first, with a staggering 17 languages supported (the three-word codes for each three-square-metre are unique to the language).