Forget Planet of the Apps – Apple needs to rip off these TV shows instead

The iPhone is selling by the bucketload and iPads and MacBooks are essential tools for the sorts of attractive twenty-somethings who tend to appear in adverts… ButApple TV ? As far as we can tell, though Apple TV has sold pretty well, it hasn’t changed the living room, let alone the world.

So in a bid to gin up some interest Apple has decided to take a lesson from Netflixand Amazon Prime ’s playbook, and develop some original TV content.

Forget mega-budget Kevin Spacey political dramas though, and cast aside any thoughts of Jeremy Clarkson and his pals spending the big bucks making a travel show that pretends to be a car show. Apple has decided that the best vehicle with which to launch its ambitions is… a rip off of Dragon’s Den . That’s Shark Tan k, if you’re American.

Planet of the Apps – yes, that is really what it is called – will see budding entrepreneurs pitch their idea to an “expert panel” which includes Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and ubiquitous failed tech entrepreneur Will.I.Am .

We know what you’re thinking: we don’t know what secrets Will.I.Am knows about Tim Cook either. But we know what you’re also thinking: Why is Apple, the biggest company in the world, with one of the coolest brands in the world, deciding to cash in all of its brand equity on such an obviously tacky idea?

So we’ve decided to help Tim Cook. We can’t pinpoint the exact psychological reason why he’s decided to greenlight this, but we do watch a lot of TV. So here’s our suggestions for five other TV shows that Apple should have ripped off instead.

1. Bloomberg’s Hello World

Apple, like all tech companies, obviously wants to present itself at the forefront of innovation. So why not produce a show that explores technological innovation around the world? One format to rip-off that does this rather nicely is “ Hello World ” on Bloomberg.

 

In each episode Ashlee Vance visits a different country and meets local start-ups and tech firms. And for tech nerds, it makes for fascinating viewing as it shows what is going on not just in Silicon Valley, but elsewhere. For example, in one Russian city that was deliberately created for scientists in the Soviet era there is now a cutting edge drone company building devices that can compete with the rest of the world.

So why doesn’t Apple play to its’ strengths and send a filmmaker around the world to capture what’s going on? Hey, they might even discover some start-ups to buy along the way.

2. W1A

W1A was a critical hit for the BBC when it aired in 2014. The satirical mockumentary brilliantly pierced the pomposity of the corporation that commissioned it as it followed the work of “Head of Values” Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) at BBC Broadcasting House itself. It showed that the BBC, despite its long and august history as an institution in British life, was not as po-faced as we might have expected.

 

Apple, meanwhile, is another massive organisation – wouldn’t it be nice if we knew it could laugh at itself too? There’s plenty to mock: The circus that is a keynote presentation, the way Jony Ive will earnestly discuss the shape of a button (not to mention the fact that Apple has become something of a religion amongst its most zealous customers). Paul O’Grady could be cast in the role of Tim Cook.

Perhaps it is time that Ian Fletcher got a new job in Cupertino?

3. Later… With Jools Holland

Before Planet of the Apps , the company’s only previous foray into original content has been with it’s Beats 1 online radio station. Sure, it doesn’t appear as though anyone is actually listening to it, but at least the station, under the sage guidance of former Radio 1 tastemaker Zane Lowe fits in with the brand values that Apple is trying to project: “Look at all of this achingly cool new music from credible artists that you can listen to on your Apple Device”, Apple’s marketing has shouted since the original iPod.

 

Arguably the closest analogue on TV is the BBC’s Later , in which Jools Holland manages to round up a bunch of credible musicians to play some music together. There’s few gimmicks, and it doesn’t need them – it’s for musos with eclectic tastes.

So what Apple should do is obvious: Super-charge this format. Use the iPhone’s money printing machine to book the biggest artists, mix it up with some cool obscure people and have inexplicably cool 43 year old Lowe present. Perhaps leave out the boogie-woogie piano. Make it credible, maybe throw in a few interviews focusing on musicianship and all of a sudden Apple is the producer of a global tastemaking music show.

4. The News

In the 20th century, the US government granted the TV networks the airwaves for free, on one condition: That every night, they broadcast the news. Perhaps it is time for Apple to step up as a responsible corporate citizen in the 21st century and do its duty to inform citizens too.

 

Let’s face it – it’s very hard to tell what’s true anymore and it’s partially Apple’s fault. “Fake news” is a much abused term, but the simple fact is that thanks to the proliferation of internet-capable devices, everyone is able to live in their bubble, hearing only facts and opinions that they want to hear. And while it might be pleasing to have everything you read reinforce your existing views, this is a terrible, terrible thing for democracy.

At the same time, the internet has destroyed many of the business models of journalism: Foreign bureaus have closed, court and local news reporting has virtually disappeared.

Why can’t Apple use its billions of dollars it has on hand to form a major news organisation? Produce a nightly bulletin that lives up to the values that Will McAvoy in The Newsroom would espouse.

5. Doctor Who

And finally, perhaps what Apple TV needs is something that caters towards a major demographic in its fanbase: They need a show about a geekster with lots of gadgets.

They need Doctor Who.

 

Simply drop the TARDIS and replace it with an Apple Time Machine and instead of a human companion, simply have The Doctor banter with Siri instead.

There’s lots of scope for varied villains too: A seemingly all knowing entity known as Google, and Samsung, a South Korean monster that causes explosions.

And if Apple wants it’s Doctor to remain totally on brand: Make the Sonic Screwdriver charge up with a proprietary connector too

The Switch should finally let you back up your Nintendo games online

A couple of days ago we were treated to a sneak preview of the Nintendo Switch after one lucky gamer got his hands on the console early – and now an eagle-eyed viewer has spotted something rather interesting in the resulting clip.

Hidden in the small print is a paragraph that says your gaming purchases will be tied to your online Nintendo account, rather than the device you’re playing them on. Previously, Nintendo games had been locked to specific hardware, which meant a costly upgrade every time a new machine came out.

“Your Nintendo Account contains your Nintendo eShop purchase history and current balance,” reads the text. “By re-linking your Nintendo Account after initializing the console, it will be possible to redownload any software or DLC purchased using that account. (Software that has been discontinued may not be available to redownload in some cases.)”

Switch perfect

Good news for gamers then and another sign that Nintendo is finally getting to grips with gaming in the modern day – alongside all those games for mobile devices it’s suddenly decided to start releasing.

Nintendo itself hasn’t made any comment on the revelation so we’ll probably have to wait until the Switch finally goes on sale (March 3) for confirmation of exactly how this is going to work – will you be able to register multiple Switches with the same account, for example? Nevertheless it’s a promising development though.

Another unanswered question is whether or not compatible games from the Wii Uand 3DS also be available to download through the new system, thus saving money on new copies… but we just have to wait and see. In the meantime here’s everything we know about the Nintendo Switch so far

Tesla Targets Middle East Drive With Dubai Debut

Electric carmaker Tesla announced the opening of a new Gulf headquarters Monday in Dubai, aiming to conquer an oil-rich region better known for gas guzzlers than environmentally friendly motoring.

Tesla Targets Middle East Drive With Dubai Debut

Elon Musk, the co-founder and chief executive of the American firm seeking to revolutionise the electric car market, was in the affluent city state to oversee the launch of the Gulf sales push.

“The time seems to be good to really make a significant debut in this region starting from Dubai,” Musk told the World Government Summit under way in the emirate.

Dubai’s official Media Office said that Musk met UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who welcomed Tesla’s decision to set up its regional headquarters in the city state.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, instructed local authorities to provide Tesla “with the services and logistic support” it needs, said the Media Office.

Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

Once a sleepy fishing town, it has evolved into a regional business hub and a tourist magnet, thanks to huge investments in luxury resorts and shopping malls.

The emirate, seen as the most diversified in the Gulf, has a population of 2.5 million people, most of them expatriates.

Despite a state-of-the art metro, many people in Dubai and across the energy-rich Gulf region prefer to get around in SUVs or other luxury cars known to burn a lot of petrol.

Official figures released by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority in 2015 showed that the number of vehicles in Dubai had doubled over the past eight years, leaving the Gulf emirate with more cars per person than New York or London.

If that trend continues, the number of vehicles registered could reach 2.2 million by 2020, when the emirate is due to host the Expo international trade fair.

Tesla announced last year plans to build self-driving technology into all its electric cars.

“My guess is probably that in 10 years it will be very unusual for cars to be built that are not fully autonomous,” Musk told the Dubai summit on Monday.

“I think almost all cars built will be capable of full autonomy in about 10 years.”

New Mobile Game Promises to Send One Player to Space Every Year

Finnish company Cohu Entertainment’s Space Nation Astronaut Program has raised EUR 2.2 million in just two days after the crowdfunding for the mobile game started. Interestingly, the company will send one selected user of its mobile game to space when the game comes out later this year.

New Mobile Game Promises to Send One Player to Space Every Year

The Space Nation Astronaut Program mobile game will train people by using actual astronaut training methods and will require them to “take part in real world adventures” and climb up the leaderboards. The app consists of three kinds of challenges: Body, Mind, and Social.

spacenation app story2 Spacenation Story 2

“In order to collect points, you need to perform challenges that develop your physical, intellectual and social skills. The best candidates from the app enter a filmed astronaut training competition and every year we select at least one to travel to space!” the company says on its website.

The top 100 players from the mobile game will be assessed for real astronaut training and will get invitation for a two-week astronaut training boot camp early next year. Then 12 selected players will feature in an interactive film series, where they will be able to participate through the game play. Finally, one chosen winner will then be sent to space.

With the crowdfunding campaign, Cohu aims to raise up to EUR 4.9 million. On being successful, the company will get another 3 million from Finnish Innovation Fund Tekes, as per a report by V Space News. Before the crowdfunding began, the company reportedly raised EUR 1.7 million from investors in countries like Finland, Estonia, Germany, and the US.

Interestingly, the crowdfunding campaign got off to a great start and the company was able to raise EUR 1 million in just 43 minutes.

“We have always aimed high. When the first winner flies to space we can say we are probably the only Finnish company who can call our galaxy its home market,” co-founder Kalle Vaha-Jaakkola was quoted as saying in the report.

Paytm's The Great Apple Sale Offers iPhone 7, MacBook Pro, and More With Cashbacks

Paytm is hosting its The Great Apple Sale from Tuesday, February 14 to Thursday, February 16, where it will offer cashbacks on iPhone and MacBook models.

As part of the sale, Paytm is offering a flat Rs. 12,000 cashback on the purchase of iPhone 7 256GB, which is listed at Rs. 92,000. The cashback amount will be credited to your Paytm account within 24 hours of the product being shipped. It’s worth noting that there is no Cash on Delivery (COD) option available on this cashback offer. Similarly, consumers will get a cashback of Rs. 7,500 on the purchase of the iPhone 7 128GB which is listed at Rs. 65,000.

Paytm is also offering cashback of up to Rs. 20,000 on select MacBook models. The Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD) is available at Rs. 1,50,000 and consumers will get a cashback of up to Rs. 20,000.

paytm apple cashback paytm

Some of the other Apple products available under Paytm’s new The Great Apple Sale include the iPhone 6s 32GB which is available at a price of Rs. 46,000 and consumers can avail a cashback of flat Rs. 6,000. The online retailer is also offering huge cashback offer on the purchase of iPad tablets. The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (32GB) is available at Rs. 65,000 and consumers can avail a cashback of flat Rs. 9,000. Consumers can also avail a cashback of up to Rs. 4,500 on the purchase of Apple Watch.

We would like to recommend users to be logged in to their Paytm accounts and have sufficient money in wallet to make the most out of the sale. Also, consumers need to make sure to choose the appropriate promo code while checking out to activate the cashback offers. It’s important to reiterate once more that the cashback will be in the form of Paytm Money and not in the form of actual money.

Nikon Shelves DL Series of Point-and-Shoot Cameras; Will Let Go of Over 1,000 Employees

Nikon early last year introduced its compact DL series point-and-shoot cameras in an effort to enter the premium compact camera market. The DL line, which included the DL18-50, DL24-85, and DL24-500, was scheduled to hit shelves in summer that year but was pushed back due to problems with the image processing circuits. The string of delays may have proved one too many as the company has officially decided to kill off the DL series.

Nikon Shelves DL Series of Point-and-Shoot Cameras; Will Let Go of Over 1,000 Employees

The Japanese camera manufacturer’s decision to abandon the compact DL line was due to concerns that the cameras would fail to turn a profit, according to the company’s press release. The company also cites the slowdown in the camera market as a reason to kill the DL series.

The company has had a rough year as its recent quarterly results suggest. Its restructuring plan, which was announced late last year, led to an extraordinary loss including writedowns in its semiconductor lithography business which totalled nearly JPY 30 billion (roughly Rs. 1,767 crores). The company’s sales were down 8.2 percent over the last year.

Furthermore, the company also announced that it is letting go of over a 1,000 employees via voluntary retirement. The expenses from this process, which the company estimates close to JPY 17 billion, will be recorded as an extraordinary loss in the next quarterly report.

Nikon’s dismal year in sales along with the end of the DL series gives a bleak outlook for the coming year. Its competition has managed to race ahead with newer, updated models such as Sony’s RX100 Mark V and Panasonic’s DMC-LX10. Meanwhile, apart from the Nikon 1 series, the company has nothing else show in the mirrorless category. However, Nikon continues to have a presence in the DSLR market.

Haven't Withdrawn Governance Concerns, Says Infosys Co-Founder Narayana Murthy

Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy on Monday denied that he had withdrawn his concerns about governance lapses at the firm, saying the Board has to address these “properly” and “full transparency should be displayed and people responsible for it should become accountable”.

Haven't Withdrawn Governance Concerns, Says Infosys Co-Founder Narayana Murthy

“No, I have not withdrawn my concern. They have to be addressed properly by the Board and full transparency should be displayed and people responsible for it should become accountable,” Murthy told PTI.

Murthy was responding to reports that he had backed down from the confrontation with the Board over corporate governance issues.

Asked about his view on the integrity of Infosys Board members, Murthy said while all the member are “good intentioned people of high integrity, but even good people sometimes make mistakes”.

“…good leadership demands that they listen to all concerned shareholders, re-evaluate their decisions, and take corrective action. I hope they take corrective action soon and improve governance for a better future for the company,” he added.

Over the last few days, Infosys has come under fire from co-founders like Murthy who have publicly raised concerns on alleged corporate governance lapses at the Bengaluru-based firm.

Some of the founders have aired concerns about CEO Vishal Sikka’s $11 million pay and expensive severance packages for former executives Rajiv Bansal (CFO) and David Kennedy (General Counsel).

They had also called for re-constitution of the Board, demanding that Chairman Ramaswami Seshasayee step down, taking responsibility for the “lapses”.

Infosys has, however, defended itself saying all decisions were made “in the overall interest of the company” and that it has made “full disclosures” on all developments.

Infosys founders, along with their family members, owned 12.75 percent in the company at the end of December 2016, as per the data available with BSE.

Facebook Confirms It's Testing Pop-Up Posts to Improve News Feed Experience

Facebook is testing out a new feature that pushes posts at the bottom edge of the Web browser, akin to chat windows, when you receive a notification on a post. Users can comment or react on these pop-up posts. There is also an option to hide or minimise the post.

Facebook Confirms It's Testing Pop-Up Posts to Improve News Feed Experience

“We’ve heard from people that they would like an easier way to participate in conversations on a post while they are still in News Feed so we are testing a new option that opens up a window when someone comments on your post, replies to your comment or tags you in a comment,” CNET quoted a Facebook spokeswoman as saying.

Though it is not clear how many users can avail this feature as of now, Facebook said it’s a “small test”.

“For Facebook, the more eyeballs on a post, the more the social network can woo advertisers. So, anytime Facebook can get you to spend more time reading, liking or scrolling around, it’s a win for the social network,” the report noted.

Separately, Facebook seems to be working on adding a new Explore tab to its Android app, which will show users content similar to what they already engage with on the social media platform. The new Explore feature is only available on the beta version of the main Facebook for Android app right now and has not been rolled out to all users. The move follows similar testing on iOS.

Those who have received the Facebook beta for Android update (we’re seeing it in version 111.0.0.13.69) will see two tabs at the bottom of the screen: Home and Explore. The Home tab shows you content from your friends, groups you are part of, and pages and people you follow. So essentially, the Home tab now operates as your News Feed. On the other hand, the new Facebook Explore tab seems to work similar to Instagram’s Explore tab and recommends content based on content you have interacted with in the past. It presents content from pages similar to what you have ‘liked’, but not the ones you already follow.

China's Huawei, Philippine Telco Join Forces in 5G Deal

Chinese electronics giant Huawei is joining forces with the Philippines’ largest telco in the hopes of rolling out a 5G wireless network in the Asian archipelago by 2020, the Filipino company said Tuesday.

China's Huawei, Philippine Telco Join Forces in 5G Deal

Filipinos are among the world’s most active Internet users, but the country also has one of the slowest average connection speeds.

Smartphone usage is also steadily growing with about 33 million people owning devices according to researchers.

Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Huawei agreed last month to conduct joint research and development into fifth-generation broadband wireless technology for the Philippines.

“They are one of the companies that are leading in the research and development of 5G technology,” PLDT spokesman Ramon Isberto said about the Chinese firm, adding it is already involved in PLDT’s landline and mobile phone services.

Chinese telecoms behemoth Huawei is the world’s number three smartphone maker, operating in 170 countries.

The company has laid out an ambitious agenda for the US and global markets – hoping to become the top producer of smartphones in the next five years despite controversy over its ties to Beijing.

Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) engineer, founded the company in 1987 but his PLA service has led to concerns of close links with the Chinese military and government, which Huawei has consistently denied.

The US and Australia have previously barred Huawei from involvement in broadband projects over espionage fears.

Relations between Manila and Beijing have been rocky amid conflicting claims over the South China Sea and China’s militarisation of the resource-rich waterway.

But under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who won May elections in a landslide, there has been a warming of bilateral ties as Duterte steers Manila away from the US – its long-time defence treaty partner.

Isberto said controversy over Huawei’s links with the Chinese government was not a concern, stressing that foreign companies only provide technology.

“At the end of the day, we run our networks,” he said.

Sony Lifelog Now Analyses Food Photos to Count Calories, Offer Nutritional Advice

Tech companies around the world have in recent years been testing the limits of artificial intelligence. When it comes to understanding what AI can do, it helps to test out crazy ideas like seeing whether it can count calories of food just from a photo. Google tested it out a few years ago and told us it was possible, and now so has Sony.

Sony Lifelog Now Analyses Food Photos to Count Calories, Offer Nutritional Advice

Sony in a recent blog said that its Lifelog health app now has the ability to offer in-depth analysis (including calorie count) and feedback of food simply by analysing the picture of the food taken by the smartphone. The app is available to download via Google Play.

The app uses deep learning technology through Sony Mobile’s Meal Image Analysis software to recognise the food. The user simply needs to take a picture of the food and the software takes care of the rest. Based on previous logs recorded in the Lifelog app, the service will offer advice personalised to your diet.

The Lifelog app is a fitness tracking app that is compatible on the smartphone as well as wearable devices like Sony’s SmartWatch 3. The accuracy of the app’s food recognition software is still unknown so it will be interesting to see just how well the software performs with various foods.

Sony’s AI service is being launched in Japan as part of a solution called Work Performance Plus. Sony Mobile is collaborating with businesses to inform employees on staying fit and healthy and combat health issues associated with office life.

Google in 2015 was working on a software that could recognise food and identify the number of calories in them. The company had applied for a patent for the technology but was never released for the public.