How a sarcastic AI taskmaster came to rule the App Store


HAL 9000 is the spiritual antecedent of CARROT. Photo:
HAL 9000 is the spiritual antecedent of CARROT. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Most apps are way too nice to us. “Don’t worry that you missed your 10,000 steps today,” they say. “There’s always tomorrow.”

CARROT apps are different. Whether you’re using a CARROT calorie counter or a CARROT weather forecaster, all the apps in the growing line have one thing in common: an hilariously sadistic AI character that serves as your in-app guide, dishing out harsh punishments if you miss your targets.

“So many of the apps out there are just cloyingly sweet, CARROT creator Brian Mueller tells Cult of Mac. “They’re always telling you that you’re doing a good job, no matter what you’re doing. I wondered what would happen if you did the opposite and created a sarcastic, irreverent personality who would yell at you if you don’t get stuff done. And, to my surprise, people really, really responded to it.”

6 awesome sci-fi blockbusters to watch on your new iPhone



There are few feelings better in the world than sitting down in front of your latest shiny gadget to watch a great sci-fi movie. With the iPhone 6 launching tomorrow, your choice of shiny gadget has likely already been made. That leaves just one conundrum then: what to watch on it.

Scroll through our gallery for Cult of Mac’s picks of the 6 best modern sci-fi movies to test your new super-sized iPhone in style.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures


From recognizing music that’s playing nearby using Shazam to leaping into action just by saying “Hey Siri,” Apple’s virtual assistant has upped the ante for iOS 8 and iPhone 6. What better movie to celebrate, then, than last year’s tremendous sci-fi rom-com Her?

Written, directed and produced by the prodigiously talented Spike Jonze (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Her tells the story of a lonely Los Angeles resident, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who develops a relationship with his Siri-style A.I., voiced by none other than Scarlett Johansson.

It’s an immensely touching, and oddly human, film about relationships — and its smart, soulful look at the meeting point between tech and humanity is straight out of Apple’s playbook.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow

The iPhone 6’s higher resolution display allows 720p high-definition video, which Apple has labelled “Retina HD Display.” So what’s the best movie to pick then to show off its impressive 4.7- or 5.5-inch display to yourself, or else make non-iPhone owning friends green with envy?

As good an answer as any is Edge of Tomorrow, the 2014 Tom Cruise-starring blockbuster given the slightly lame home video re-title Live Die Repeat. It’s a Groundhog Day-inspired sci-fi romp about an average Joe who gets wrapped up in a war with aliens. It’s all great fun, and well worth checking out if you missed it in theaters. Which most people seem to have.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures


Okay, so HealthKit’s last-minute problems mean that it was unceremoniously pulled from iOS 8’s launch lineup, but with the “quantified self” ethos at the heart of tech’s current obsession with mobile health and lifestyle tracking, who can blame me for going back and revisiting 1997’s Gattaca?

Sure, a bio-punk story about genetic modification and the perils of a perfect society is a far cry from an iPhone that helps you workout in the gym, but this is still a tremendous sci-fi movie that is more relevant than ever as time goes on. Its dystopian future’s not a world away from the one depicted in Apple’s famous "1984” Macintosh ad, either.

Photo: Columbia Pictures


Gravity picked up a ton of awards at this year’s Oscars — including (but not limited to) Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Those three prizes more than qualify this movie for being a great one to try out your new iPhone 6’s speaker quality on. The fact that it is a constantly tense, fantastically performed, and always beautiful movie unlike any other is just icing on an already deliciously weightless cake.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Pacific Rim

With its gorgeously rounded form factor, the iPhone 6 is a big, beautiful beast. Which is a bit like the mecha in Guillermo del Toro’s epic 2013 movie Pacific Rim in fact. (Fine, I’m stretching the simile a bit — but don’t let that put you off a fantastic film.) Set just a few years in the future, Pacific Rim tells the story of an Earth at war with giant monsters from a portal on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. To fight them, mankind unites to build giant fighting robots.

The rest, as they say, is history. Or rather future.



I tried to come up with a way of tying Looper into the iPhone 6, but aside from a strained metaphor about planned obsolescence, I really couldn’t. But if you’re after a sci-fi film to leave you feeling as awestruck as Apple’s September 9 unveiling of the iPhone 6 (there we go!) this is absolutely it.

Directed by the talented Rian Johnson and starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt, Looper tells the story of how time travel is used by future criminals who send people back in time to be killed by so-called “loopers.”

It’s way more fun than that garbled description makes it sound, and will go down in history as a sci-fi cult classic. Until it’s killed by its future self, that is.

Photo: TriStar Pictures


8 amazing sci-fi and fantasy novels that would make great Hollywood blockbusters



The 8 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels We'd Love To See As Movies

With franchises like The Hobbit and The Hunger Games continuing to tear it up at the box office, the sci-fi and fantasy genres are booming. But while the movies don’t show any signs of slowing down in terms of their impending arrivals, there are still a veritable ton of classics waiting to be given the big screen treatment.

Check out our gallery for eight of the best.

(Picture: Photobucket)


Different movie versions of Brian Jacques’ series of children's fantasy novels have been touted going back 20 years, but nothing has happened yet. Taking place in a fantasy world called Redwall, the series can best be described as a cross between The Lord of the Rings and Watership Down.

While Pixar could do great things in the CGI realm, a Studio Ghibli animated movie would be a dream come true.


If I could pick one title from this list to be made into a movie, it would be this one. Released in 1984, the same year as the original Macintosh, William Gibson’s debut novel kickstarted the Sprawl trilogy and helped shape the Cyberpunk genre. A tech-noir story about a down-and-out computer hacker hired to pull off the hack of a lifetime, it's got the brains to be a compelling piece of filmmaking and, in the right hands, could be as visually stunning as Chris Nolan’s Inception.

Unfortunately it’s been in development hell for years. Apparently there’s a script co-written by Gibson, while offers have been made to Liam Neeson and Mark Wahlberg. Still, nothing’s materialized yet.

The Man In The High Castle

We’ve seen plenty of Philip K. Dick stories adapted for the big screen, but never this one. Set in an alternate history where the Axis won World War II and now control the U.S.A., The Man In The High Castle is a weird thriller that has all the makings of a classic. Recently it was announced that this is set to become an Amazon TV pilot, but a movie would be equally awesome. Give it to Paul Verhoeven as a comeback vehicle.

(picture: Blastr)

The Abhorsen Trilogy

Seriously, why isn’t this a movie yet? The Young Adult book category has birthed some of the most inventive, groundbreaking and, yes, lucrative franchise properties of the past few years. Telling the story of young people protecting the world from undead dangers, the Abhorsen Trilogy manages to be both massively entertaining, whip smart, and surprisingly affecting. Producers, whip out your checkbooks now.


With 41 Discworld novels, there’s no shortage of source materials for movie producers to play with: either for chopping it up and remixing the pieces like the James Bond novels, or doing straightforward novel adaptations — or as straightforward as such a complex and interconnected world can be.

While there have been numerous TV Discworld adaptations, a movie has so far eluded us, although Terry Gilliam did come reasonably close with a Good Omens adaptation.

Mixing surreal Monty Python-esque humour with an incredibly detailed, fleshed-out world that would cost millions to bring to screen, a Discworld movie unfortunately has mainstream flop/cult hit written all over. But what a cult hit it could be.

(Picture: Latestscreens)

Brave New World

It’s a cliche to say it, but approaching 75 years after it was originally published, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is more relevant than it’s ever been. Skipping over the typical dystopias shown in the majority of sci-fi movies, in Brave New World the population aren’t sold into slavery, or murdered at the age of 30, but are rather living together in a scientifically-managed society, with control being exerted via pleasure through the drug soma.

In an age of digital addiction and Google’s data-driven philosophy to the world, this could be an amazingly relevant movie.

(Picture: 4thstate)


American Gods

The Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel by Neil Gaiman, American Gods looks like it’s well on its way to becoming a TV series. Not yet, though. In the meantime, the story of ex-con Shadow getting caught up in a feud between gods would have the makings of a great film. Factor in the amount of consumerist-skewing social commentary and this could be the perfect vehicle for David “Fight Club” Fincher to get his teeth into.

Fahrenheit 451

Presenting a future American society in which all books are outlawed, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is another novel that could be worthy of an update for the Internet age, in which publishers have the ability to rewrite or even delete entire e-books as they see fit. In fact, Fahrenheit 451 is an anomaly on the list since it was actually the recipient of a 1966 movie adaptation by François Truffaut.

Given that close to a half-century has passed since then, though, and social media tools like Snapchat and Yo are routinely subject to many of the same criticisms that interactive television show The Family is in Fahrenheit 451, this could be another chillingly relevant sci-fi movie. Give it to Nolan to direct and watch the plaudits roll in.

Action-packed Guardians of the Galaxy trailer raises the sci-fi stakes



The new trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, has us chomping at the galactic bit for the full movie, due out in theaters August 1. There’s plenty of action in this new preview, along with some fantastic moments between our protagonists.

With Bradley Cooper as wisecracking badass raccoon Rocket and Vin Diesel as giant, flower-giving tree-thug Groot, the upcoming flick from the makers of Thor, Iron Man and The Avengers is promising a lot to moviegoers; let’s hope it’s worth the wait.