(You're reading all posts by Rob LeFebvre) Anchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef
About Rob LeFebvre
Tired of just tapping your way through The Simpsons mobile game, creating your own private Springfield, waiting for your energy donuts to replenish?
It appears that publisher Electronic Arts has heard your “Doh!” and has added a new bit of gameplay to The Simpsons: Tapped Out that is not-so-sneakily just like that of hit free-to-play game Clash of Clans.
Check out the video below to see what we mean.
Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen has a new game coming out this Thursday, and it looks to be as brutally difficult and addictive as his original viral hit.
According to Eli Hodapp over at TouchArcade, Swing Copters contains the same one-tap gameplay as Flappy Bird, only this time you’re guiding a little character up through platforms that have swinging hammers on them, rather than horizontally through Mario-esque pipes.
Here’s a video to give you an idea:
The only thing uber-designer Yves Behar hasn't turned his hand to yet is Apple computers.
The Swiss-born 47-year-old has crafted popular products like the Jambox, the Ouya gaming micro-console, and the XO Laptop, just to name a few. He's been lauded by Time, CNN, and FastCompany and his work, like Jony Ive's, has been featured in many museums, including those in San Francisco and Behar's hometown of Lausanne, Switzerland.
When I brought home a fizzy-water-making SodaStream Source a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see, emblazoned on the front of the box I picked up at the local Target (not fancy-pants Habitat), "Designed by Yves Behar."
This weird insertion of industrial design into the most basic of retail spaces got me thinking: what else has Behar designed, and how do they fit into our everyday lives? Click through the images above for the 10 best answers to that very question.
August Smart Lock
As Apple gets into the smart home market, they'll need to take a look at August Smart Lock, which Behar designed to be safe, secure, and social. You can program it on the flay and remotely from your iOS device, letting people in with a one-time pass or on a timed basis. It may not have shipped yet, but boy is it gorgeous and functional.
Yet another market category definitively cornered by Behar and his team - the portable Bluetooth speaker. The Jambox was the first device in this segment with a decent sound and rugged yet stylish design, making all other newcomers to the space take heed. It came out in 2010, but only took a year to become the top-selling digital speaker in the US.
If you've ever seen anyone use a Bluetooth headset (the original Glasshole), you're seeing a product category that Jawbone helped define. Behar is the chief creative officer of the company that brought beautiful design and fashion cache to an essentially commodity product, likes Beats has done for music headphones.
Ok, let's be adults here: most folks masturbate. Behar's team came up with a simple, waterproof, rechargeable and ingeniously designed set of vibrators that -- my women friends assure me -- are the best in class. The series is called "Pleasure to the People," and it's a collaboration between JimmyJane's Ethan Imboden and Yves Behar, leading to the Form 2, 3, and 4, as well as numerous design awards. Design matters, people.
Mint Robot Floor Cleaner
The Roomba took the world by storm, offering a vacuuming robot that would clean your entire house without any input from you. Behar's team at Fuseproject created the Mint, a square lozenge of a hard floor cleaning robot that uses your own wet cloths (like the ones from Swiffer) to do the same thing for your hardwood, tile, or linoleum. iRobot liked it so much, the acquired the company Behar created the Mint for, Evolution Robotics, in 2012.
The Slingbox was a breakthrough device: a box that could capture and then "sling" any media it could connect with to your computer, long before the Apple TV or Roku presence in the media landscape. The current version can stream to any laptop, smartphone or tablet via the internet. The overall design looks like it's made for a Braille-reader, but the logo (which still remains today) perfectly captures the idea of media streaming in one small bit of type.
Ouya Micro Console
The little micro console that could is based on an Android operating system, and costs all of $99. The Ouya took the gaming world by storm when it first arrived on Kickstarter, offering a mobile gaming ecosystem that you could play on your big-screen TV. While indie gamers' ardor may have cooled in the last year or so as the Ouya company struggles to remain relevant, all the hip kids have one of these stylish devices in their homes.
Here's a redesign that only seems obvious after the fact. The frustration of opening a medicine bottle is a common theme, especially for those who suffer from arthritis and other joint and muscle issues. This new Tylenol bottle can be opened with a palm, but still meets child safety requirements in this country. You can even see through the back to know how many you have left without having to shake the bottle when you pick it up.
If you're gonna wear a fitness tracker on your wrist, you want it to look and feel good to wear. Behar's Jawbone created the Up and Up24 to do just that back before "wearables" was even a thing. The Up is designed to track your sleep habits along with your food and calorie usage, and is made to be worn all the time. It's got a rechargable battery that lasts for ten days, so you've always got it with you. It connects with your iPhone and various fitness and productivity apps, making it one of the most robust fitness band ecosystems out there.
Here's the world's first charity laptop, running on Linux and able to be charged with a crank. This makes the XO Laptop perfect for children in developing countries where electricity and computing devices are unheard of and exhorbitantly expensive. During the Give One, Get One campaign in 2006 and 2007, you could buy a laptop for yourself and donate a second one to a developing country for $199. The XO has gone through four iterations as well as a tablet version, and is a triumph of industrial design.
Beginning just moments after the shocking end of last week’s episode of True Blood, the final season’s second-to-last entry tightens down on the remaining relationships: Sookie and Bill. Hoyt and Jessica. Eric and Pam (and Ginger!). Jason and new girl. A little Lafayette and James, a tiny smattering of Arlene and Keith. Couples are the way to go in Bon Temps.
Once again, we’ve got character dialogue that sounds like a love letter to the fans from the writers of this HBO-powered vampire drama that airs Sunday nights.
“As much as I appreciate compelling character drama,” says Pam in full sarcasm mode, “but the Yakuza are upstairs, so need I remind you to keep it the f*ck down, volume-wise?”
Spoilers below, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Less than an hour ago, Microsoft founder and super rich guy Bill Gates took the ice bucket challenge, which has various famous folks dumping cold water over their heads to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).
While Tim Cook completed the challenge himself at an Apple employee event, Bill Gates has gone even further — he built a crazy contraption to dump a ton of ice water on his head. The video (below) shows his planning attempts, complete with Comic Sans blueprints and a Surface tablet to do all the work and YouTubery.
Watch the full video below:
For the horde! This trailer for the upcoming expansion to massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft is utterly fantastic.
Blizzard has a long history of creating amazing cinematic mini-movies for all its games and expansions, and this new one pretty much tops it all.
Even if you don’t know what the heck the orcs in the trailer are talking about, surely you can get behind how gorgeous it looks and how realistic these creatures seem. You’ll root for these monstrous humanoids in their bid for freedom, even if you’re not keen on them conquering the world in the process.
Check out the trailer below to see what we mean.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — 12-year-old Josh couldn’t wait to get to the museum. For once, the visit wouldn’t be about “boring” old artwork or educational science, but something he really loves — Minecraft.
“This is great,” he said while tapping and mousing his way through a multiplayer Minecraft landscape that was part of an activity at The Anchorage Museum. “My friend told me about this and it’s way better than staying at home doing this in my bedroom.”
If you use your iPad or iPhone (or both!) onstage when you perform, you know how hard it can be to find a good place to put them. Putting your iPad on a flimsy music stand just won’t cut it, and leaving your iPhone on the floor near your guitar pedals is just asking for a stomped-on smartphone.
The solution, for me, has always been iKlip iPad stands, which connect right to my mic stand. The new versions, including a sweet new iPhone mount, keep my iPad and iPhone safe from all musician-based harm, and always at the right height and angle to get at my lyric sheets, set lists and guitar effects.
Listen up, soldier! The aliens are headed our way and it’s up to you to keep them out of our base. You’ll have access to a variety of offensive towers that you can upgrade along the way, as well as a special Hero and other power ups to turn the tide of battle in our favor.
If you’re like many of us, you love a good tower defense game on the go. There are a few good ones out there (Fieldrunners, Kingdom Rush), but we’re always willing to give a new take on this classic gaming genre a spin.
The true test of a tower defense game, however, is whether it keeps you in that zen-like flow state while you play, and whether or not you want to keep playing it.
Beautiful piano music, a young protagonist, gorgeous visuals and landscapes fill the new trailer for upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive, Rime, from TequilaWorks and Sony Computer Entertainment.
The young boy, reminiscent of other young wandering protagonists like Link (Legend of Zelda), Wander (Shadow of the Colossus), and Oliver (Ni No Kuni), finds a keyhole in a distant tower, and races across the landscape to get there.
Why is he running? What will he find when he finally attains the tower? Is this even the right tower? The just-posted trailer (linked below) has no answers, but makes us want to find out.