This week on The CultCast: Is a secret Apple project stalling Mac updates? It wouldn’t be the first time. Plus: Apple teases Black Friday deals; AirPort routers are walking dead, and the Mac Pro might be next; the future of Time Machine; why iPad should be an iOS/OS X hybrid; and Jony Ive’s new role designing Apple itself.
Black Friday is still a week away, but that doesn’t mean the savings are: Best Buy is already offering its Black Friday price on a MacBook Air. That, plus iPad keyboards, a Time Capsule and a MacBook Pro are in this week’s best Apple deals.
The iPhone 6 Plus has a hard time sliding into most pants pockets, but if you’d like to make the iPhone 6 Pinch even more unbearable, Bandai is coming out with a new case that transforms your device into the time machine from Back to the Future.
The DeLorean time machine case brings all the incredible details of Marty McFly’s DMC-12 to your iPhone with moving parts like wheels that switch between hover and street modes. The case doesn’t come with actual time-traveling and levitating features, but Bandai did pack in a couple extra goodies.
Given that a large proportion of Silicon Valley is made up of sci-fi geeks, it’s no surprise that over the years tech has focused on bringing to life many of the once outlandish concepts seen in movies, TV series and comic books.
With the Apple Watch bringing several more of these to life -- Dick Tracy’s 2-Way Wrist Radio among them -- we thought the time was right to run down our 8 favorite sci-fi gadgets we’d love to see turn into actual products, as outlandish as some of them might be.
After all, you never know when Bill Gates is going to be scanning a blog, looking for ways to unload his fortune.
Scan right to check out the rest of the gallery.
(Picture: Dick Tracy)
From Star Wars's Millennium Falcon to The Dark Knight’s Tumbler, sci-fi and fantasy movies have given us plenty of iconic vehicles over the years. Perhaps none have inspired more viewer envy, however, than the hoverboard first used by Marty McFly in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II.
Enabling young Marty to zip, skateboard-like, through busy streets (but don’t think about riding it over water) owning a genuine hoverboard has been the stuff dreams are made of ever since. There have been a few attempts to bring the technology into the real world, but most of these have turned out to be either crushingly disappointing hoaxes or, frankly, a bit rubbish.
Scratch what we just said-- The Iron Man armor may be even better than Marty McFly’s hoverboard. An armor-plated exoskeleton powered by a miniaturized Arc Reactor, Iron Man’s red-and-yellow suit provides a normal (well, relatively normal) civilian with the ability to fly, sustain huge amounts of damage, and fire repulser blasts from its hands.
The notion of time travel has fascinated sci-fi fans since H.G. Wells’ 1895 novel The Time Machine. In movies, we’ve seen various memorable takes on the concept — from the DeLorean in Back to the Future to Dr. Who’s TARDIS. As much as we’d welcome the possibility of a real, working time machine however, it seems close to a certainty that we won’t be getting one, well, ever. Why? Because as per the Fermi paradox, if time travel was going to be possible at some point in the future, wouldn’t we have seen a few travelers by now?
We’d happily forgive that logical oversight, however, if someone would just hurry up and build one. Our first order of business if they did? Travel back to December 12, 1980, of course, and buy all the Apple stock we could lay our grubby little hands on. Without someone unravelling our own future lives with some kind of Butterfly Effect-related mishap, naturally.
Okay, if we can’t have a time machine at least give us a Star Trek-style Transporter to get from one location to another. The meta-story behind the Transporter is adoringly low rent. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's original plan was to have the Enterprise land every episode, which was quickly ruled out due to the costs of carrying out the necessary model work. Next he switched to picturing a shuttlecraft, although the full-sized shooting model was not ready when filming began. Teleportation — which required just a simple fade-in/fade-out special effect — was the fallback option.
In the real world, of course, it’s turned out not be such an easy answer after all. Teleportation has occurred, but only on a quantum level. Earlier this year, scientists announced a reliable way of transferring data by quantum teleportation, but that’s still a long way from “Beam me up, Scotty.”
Hopefully they’ll test the human-sized technology on a redshirt first.
(Picture: Star Trek)
A Haptic Touch Interface
The iPad has a touchscreen, you say? Not like the one in Minority Report, it doesn’t. The 2002 Tom Cruise movie features Cruise’s police chief character whipping through screens of information and manipulating video playback simply by waving his hands in front of an ephemeral digital screen. In fact, despite its futuristic setting Minority Report is one of the most grounded sci-fi films out there in terms of its attention to detail. Director Steven Spielberg consulted Silicon Valley’s top experts on how they saw technology taking shape over the coming decades, and put their conclusions into the movie.
This is why it’s hardly surprising that 12 years after Minority Report landed in movie theaters, researchers at Bristol University in the UK have developed similar technology in the form of a haptic screen manipulated via soundwave vibrations. Provided the interface turns out to be user-friendly there’s no reason we won’t see this particular technology become a reality.
(Picture: 20th Century Fox)
This is a common trope of science fiction, and is getting a whole lot closer thanks to the impressive artificial intelligence systems being honed by the likes of Google. But a real-time version of the Babel Fish from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (which instantly understands and translates spoken words in foreign languages) would be one of the most useful tools ever. It would be kind of like hearing Phil Schiller dubbed into Mandarin at the glitchy start of Tuesday’s keynote, only without the hair-tearing frustration.
Remember that nifty pen-sized gadget from Men in Black that let agents wipe the mind of anyone they wanted to, simply by flashing a bright light in their eyes? Depending on the chosen setting, the Neuralizer can erase memories going back hours, weeks, months, or even years — with the recipient then susceptible to suggestions about what happened during those blank patches. (A deneuralyzer, by comparison, is a special chamber that can be used to reverse the effects of the neuralyzer.)
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like any such device is likely to make it to market (or into reality) any time soon. Think of the possibilities if it did, though, particularly if you’re a person prone to making mistakes.
(Picture: Columbia Pictures)
Star Trek: The Next Generation’s simulated reality experience is kind of like the Oculus Rift turned up to eleven. Featuring total immersive virtual reality that looks and feels like the real world, it could be used for training personnel or, more entertainingly, for staging all manner of wacky fantasies.
My personal favorite use of the Holodeck came in the Star Trek: TNG episode entitled “A Fistful of Datas,” in which various members of the Enterprise crew become trapped in a 19th-century Wild West adventure with the safety protocols accidentally disabled.
Granted, that one may not be quite so much fun were this to become a reality.
An overwhelming sense of eagerness overtook me after Apple showed off OS X Yosemite at WWDC. The redesigned interface and accompanying features, like a spruced-up Spotlight and the ability to take phone calls on your Mac, made downloading the beta version too intriguing to pass up.
Little did I know that moments after finalizing the installation, I would encounter a massive problem that would send me on an emotional ride.
Backing up your Mac via Time Machine is highly recommended, and super easy to do, as well. It’s really the only backup system I’ve ever found myself using on a regular basis, because it’s so simple to use and easy to set up. All you need to do is connect any USB drive to your Mac, head to the Time Machine preferences, and select that USB drive as your Time Machine backup. Mac OS X does the rest.
I was thinking, though, that since I back up my Macbook Air onto a 128 GB flash drive, it’s even more possible than ever that someone might get a hold of the drive and then be able to have all my backed up stuff on it. That’s not a huge deal for me, as I don’t keep much on the Macbook Air in terms of private stuff, but if I did, I’d want to keep those files extra secure.
Encryption could be the answer, and Mac OS X Mountain Lion makes it easy.
On my Macbook Air running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, when I click on the Time Machine backup menubar item, I see the option to browse other backup disks. That’s a pretty cool option, if I need to switch between different disks to backup my Mac; maybe to make a secondary backup for redundancy.
In Mavericks, the Time Machine menu bar icon doesn’t have this option any more, instead only showing Stop This Backup when backing up (or Back Up Now when it isn’t), Enter Time Machine, and Open Time Machine Preferences. If you’re wondering where the option to browse other backup disks has gone, you’re not alone.
Cult of Mac reader, Richard, emailed us today with the following issue:
I was trying to move my photos from my Mac to an external drive and during the transfer it kept asking me if I wanted to cancel or replace the image because that image was already there. I didn’t want to stop the process so I kept saying cancel. Afterwards, I realized that I was probably replacing images with the same number (e.g., img. 18) but that the images were probably different because, for example, I had simply reused sd cards from my camera and created a whole new set of images. Does this make sense? If I did indeed do that, are those images gone forever?
Yikes! We’ve all done this at some point in our Mac lives, some of us (looking right at myself) more than once. How can we get these replaced files back? There are three options that I know of.