(You're reading all posts by Luke Dormehl) Luke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.
About Luke Dormehl
When Tim Cook took time out of yesterday’s iPad and iMac keynote to discuss just how excited he was about the iPhone 6 coming to China, he wasn’t kidding: the market Cook has previously said could one day overtake the U.S. has been going iPhone crazy.
Having been made available for preorder on October 10, today marks the first day in which the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are available for (authorized) sale in China, being made available on all three major networks.
It’s not just the Macintosh which turned 30 this year. Another beloved franchise many of us were introduced to as kids, Ghostbusters, also ushers in its fourth decade with… an update to Halfbrick’s fructose-slicing iOS game Fruit Ninja?
That’s right, the game which we first reviewed all the way back in 2010 has received a ghostly update which enhances the already fun title with some neat new visual effects and a great haunted soundtrack.
Instead of a ninja blade, the update means your fruit chopping is now carried out using the Ghostbusters’ proton packs, while true to the movies there’s even the possibility of “crossing the beams” to create an explosion that will turn every melon, pineapple and orange into instant fruit salad.
Apple product launches generally run like clockwork and, true to form, the moment today’s keynote came to a close, Cupertino’s digital media team sprung into action by uploading three new videos to its YouTube channel showcasing the company’s brand new iPad Air 2 and 27-inch Retina iMac.
Designed to help friends and family check on their nearest and dearest during natural disasters, Facebook is introducing a new Safety Check feature for its mobile app.
The tool works by sending a push notification to devices that are near to an affected area. Locations are determined by looking at the places listed in profiles, previous locations from the Nearby Friends feature, and the city from which you’re connecting to the Internet.
All a Facebook user needs to do in the event of an emergency is hit an “I’m safe” button and a news notification will be generated automatically on the Timeline.
After the disaster that was Apple’s last keynote live stream, it seemed possible that Apple wouldn’t attempt another one for its October 16, where the company is expected to unveil new versions of the iPad, its long-awaited Retina Display iMac, and more.
Fortunately those fears were for nothing, and with just hours to go before the event kicks off, Apple has added its usual “Apple Events” channel to Apple TV.
The channel is represented by an icon, matching the image on the invites sent out for the event, reading “It’s been way too long.”
In the beginning...
Whether it’s reboots or prequels, over the past few years there’s been a renewed interest in superhero origin tales. No matter if it's Captain America being transformed from 90lb weakling Steve Rogers into an All-American super soldier, or Bruce Wayne travelling the globe honing the necessary skills to become Batman, these are often the most rewarding comic book stories out there — and the bevy of new superhero-themed TV shows is the perfect canvas on which to tell them.
Read on for our thoughts on the five shows which did the best job of telling us how our favorite heroes came to be — and the five origin stories we’re convinced would make for winning TV if they were given a shot.
Photo: Warner Bros. Television
5 that we like... Gotham
Okay, so we’re still at the beginning of this show, but all the pieces are in place for something great — even if they haven’t quite clicked yet. The Commissioner Gordon story was serviced well in Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but he’s an engaging character to follow, and aging him in his thirties rather than mid-forties, as Gary Oldman was in Batman Begins, changes the dynamic somewhat.
The comics have never really explored what Bruce Wayne did between his parents’ death and leaving Gotham City to begin his Batman training, so there’s plenty of ground to explore there also. Color me “cautiously optimistic” about Gotham.
If only someone would tell Jada Pinkett Smith she’s not auditioning for the 1966 Batman TV series.
Photo: Warner Bros. Television
Up until Gotham, Arrow seemed like it would be the Young Bruce Wayne show we’d never get to watch. Telling the story of an angry, young billionaire who returns home after a sizeable absence and wreaks revenge on the wealthy elite who have profited off everyone else’s misery, it was an origin we could get on board for.
Arrow was a good supporting character in Smallville, and he's proved a great leading one as well -- with a compelling origin, to boot.
Photo: Warner Bros. Television
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
For years in the pages of DC, the status quo for Lois Lane and Clark Kent were the two coworkers who, even before their comic book wedding, essentially behaved like an old married couple: bickering with one another, finishing each other’s sentences, and generally acting like characters who had been stuck treading water for the past 50 years. Which is exactly what they were.
Lois and Clark shook up the dynamic by taking both characters back to basics and developing their relationship from the first meeting. Sure, not every aspect of the show has held up (the special effects look a bit ropey) but as a character study showing how both became the people we know them as today, it was perfect.
Photo: Warner Bros. Television
After Lois and Clark had finished, Smallville had a tough ask on its hands, being asked to retell the Superman origin yet again on primetime TV. Worse, the edict was that Clark wouldn’t be allowed in the Superman suit, which left us with a goodie two-shoes character growing up in a small American town given a name to imply that nothing of significance ever happens there.
The result? Ten years of consistently entertaining television, which managed to uncover new depths in an origin tale most of us felt we’d seen already by 1980. Storylines faltered a bit toward the end, but Smallville more than earns its place on this list. Oh, and Tom Welling was a better Clark Kent than either Superman Returns’ Brandon Routh or Man of Steel’s Henry Cavill.
Photo: Warner Bros. Television
Like a day that starts off with the sun shining and a free ice cream, and ends with the death of everyone you care about, Heroes’ reputation suffers from the fact that its last three seasons were so darn poor. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the first season, a.k.a. the origin story, was excellent.
Telling the story of a group of ordinary people who gradually discover they have superpowers, the show took the time to explore the personal impact of these abilities at the kind of leisurely pace that’s simply not possible in a movie. Watch it if you want to see this kind of story done well. Turn off after season one if you don’t want to see a great idea collapse into mediocrity.
Photo: Tailwind Productions
And 5 that we'd like to see... Spider-Man
Okay, so we’re unlikely to get a Spider-Man TV series, given that we’re currently in the middle of Marc Webb’s blockbuster reboot. But unlike almost any other comic book character, Spider-Man would work far better on TV than on the big screen. The comics were always soap opera heavy, and with more space to play with story lines it would be possible to explore the extended universe of characters.
A lot of people hated Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 because it crammed too much into one movie. If that had been a whole season of a TV show, though? Totally different story. Who wouldn’t want to watch this?
Photo: Columbia Picture
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer loosely followed on from Joss Whedon’s 1992 Buffy movie, with the titular vampire slayer arriving in Sunnydale after being booted out of her old school. More than a decade after the acclaimed TV series ended (and more than 20 after the now-forgotten movie), however, it would be good fun to go back and tell the story of exactly how L.A. cheerleader Buffy Summers discovers she’s the Chosen One.
A new Buffy, plus no Xander, Willow, Giles or Spike could make it a tough sell for old-school Buffy fans, but Whedon would agree to be show runner it could be a fun (sort of prequel) to the series we know and love.
Photo: 20th Century Fox Television
Post-Sons of Anarchy, the story Ghost Rider would make a fantastic show. In case you don’t know, Ghost Rider is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, who surrenders his soul to the devilish Mephisto in order to save the life of his father. After this, Blaze’s flesh is consumed by hellfire when evil is around, resulting in his head turning into a flaming skull, while he rides around on a fiery motorcycle.
Now that the two awful Nicolas Cage movies are behind us, Ghost Rider would certainly have legs as a TV series. Use the great Ultimate Marvel origin story as your blueprint if you want.
Image: Marvel Comics
Neither Marvel or DC have proven too willing to engage with the idea of giving superheroines their own movies, so TV could be a great way of demonstrating that there is an audience who will happily turn out to watch a female hero. I’ve always liked Supergirl as a character, and her current New 52 incarnation is intriguing.
In short, she’s got the same powers as Superman, but the unpredictability of a teenager, and nothing in the way of Clark’s affection for Earth. The result is a twist on a familiar story, and a concept that blurs the wish fulfilment of Superman with the realities of being a teenager trying to establish their own place in the world.
Image: DC Comics
A bit of an odd final choice here, but I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite Image books from the late 90s, and Top Cow’s The Darkness stands up so much better than most. Originally written by Garth Ennis, the series tells the story of a mafia hitman who inherits supernatural powers on his twenty-first birthday. The result is a mix between Batman, H.P. Lovecraft and The Sopranos.
Now tell me that wouldn’t make a great show?
Photo: Top Cow Comics
The start of any innovative business should be identifying a service that the current market leader in the sector is not supplying.
With Apple’s failure to provide sapphire displays for its latest iPhones — thanks to the spectacular collapse of now-bankrupt supplier GT Advanced Technologies – you’d think that other smartphone makers would be climbing over one another to bring sapphire-enhanced smartphones to market; demonstrating that they can do what Tim Cook and his billions of dollars weren’t able to.
Which is why it’s something of a surprise (or perhaps not!) to hear that Apple’s troubles with sapphire displays has pretty much discouraged other companies from trying the same thing.
Apple is attempting to push its Apple Maps software to the next level, courtesy of indoor mapping capabilities, according to a new patent application uncovered by Cult of Mac today.
Filed in April this year, the application describes a method of seamlessly transitioning from a map displaying exterior elements like roads and buildings to one that shows indoor elements, like stores and restaurants.
This technology is designed to work with iBeacons, Apple’s Bluetooth Low Energy emitters designed to make iDevices location aware indoors.
Autobirds, roll out! Fans of the Robots in Disguise will be pleased to hear that today marks the worldwide availability of Angry Birds Transformers, following its soft-launched in New Zealand, Finland, Canada and Australia last month.
Following the well-received Angry Birds Star Wars, the game takes another beloved childhood property and applies the popular Angry Birds formula, with an added 2D run-and-gun dimension that keeps the title feeling fresh.
Check out our above video by Cult of Mac’s own Joshua Smith for first impressions.
In a game where you can build anything you want, it was only going to be so long before someone constructed an iPhone in Minecraft.
Even with that said, however, the version of Apple’s iconic handset which one player put together is impressive; being not just a block-based reconstruction of the iPhone’s outward appearance — but a slavish recreation of the iPhone UX, complete with iOS apps.