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Nintendo Switch Parental Controls App Coming to iOS

Speaking of the Nintendo Switch, the company posted a video earlier today showcasing the functionalities of an upcoming Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app for iPhone, which will allow parents to monitor usage of the Switch console directly from iOS.

Sam Machkovech, writing for Ars Technica, describes how the app will work:

Parents who use the app will be able to remotely monitor the full log-in and gameplay record of any child account, showing game starts, durations of play, and which games kids play. App users can also enforce gameplay time limits, and the video shows a per-day "screen time" allowance. This defaults as a baseline time-per-day rule, though parents can also choose a more granular number of hours on specific days (including a suggestion that perhaps kids get to play the Switch more on weekends).

Should a kid go over his or her allotted time, the app gives parents two options: send a on-screen warning to the child that time is up, or immediately lock the system. Nintendo is giving parents the option to let kids police their own over-time gameplay, perhaps to find a save point or other logical stoppage, but parents can send a remote account shutdown should the child disobey such an alarm's warning. In one sequence, the video shows Bowser Jr. continuing a full hour past his alarm (the little brat). What the video doesn't clarify, however, is whether parents will be able to send remote shutdown notices, or if they only find out about kids' time overages after the fact.

Aside from the tiny iPhone used by Bowser in the video, the app looks fairly impressive – it can send notifications to a Switch, set daily limitations, and even display gameplay stats collected by the console. Between parental controls and the upcoming online services, it seems like Nintendo will be delegating key features of the Switch to dedicated iOS apps. Interesting strategy.

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Remaster, Episode 26: The Nintendo Switch Presentation

Myke, Federico, and Shahid break down Nintendo's Switch presentation.

On today's Remaster, we went over all the announcements from Nintendo's Switch presentation – including games, pricing, the new online service, what Nintendo didn't announce on stage, and more. You don't want to miss this one. You can listen here.

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Apple Increases tvOS App Size Limit to 4 GB

Nice change for tvOS app developers announced today by Apple:

The size limit of a tvOS app bundle has increased from 200 MB to 4 GB, so you can include more media in your submission and provide a complete, rich user experience upon installation. Also, tvOS apps can use On-Demand Resources to host up to 20 GB of additional content on the App Store.

On one hand, this prepares the platform for 4K support and larger file sizes in the future, and it makes another step towards legitimizing the Apple TV as a micro-console (in addition to bigger app downloads, developers can also require controllers in their games for tvOS 10).

However, the 64 GB version of the 4th generation Apple TV has been around for over a year now with little explanation from Apple as to why customers would want to spend more for increased storage, and this feels like lifting a limitation because why not.

I'm curious to see what happens now, particularly in terms of game releases on tvOS. This is a welcome change for game developers, but we haven't seen any major tvOS exclusives so far.

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After Retesting, Consumer Reports Recommends the MacBook Pro

Two days ago, Apple issued a statement disputing battery life tests run on the new MacBook Pro by Consumer Reports. Based on those tests, Consumer Reports concluded it couldn’t recommend the laptop. After retesting, Consumer Reports now recommends the MacBook Pro. In a new article explaining the retesting, the publication says:

Consumer Reports has now finished retesting the battery life on Apple's new MacBook Pro laptops, and our results show that a software update released by Apple on January 9 fixed problems we’d encountered in earlier testing.

With the updated software, the three MacBook Pros in our labs all performed well, with one model running 18.75 hours on a charge. We tested each model multiple times using the new software, following the same protocol we apply to hundreds of laptops every year.

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Apple in 2016: The Six Colors Report Card

Jason Snell:

As we close the door on 2016, I thought it would be useful to look back at the year gone by and ask a panel of my peers who pay attention to Apple and related markets to take a moment and reflect on Apple’s performance in the past year.

This is the second year that I’ve presented a survey to a group of writers, editors, podcasters and developers. The survey was the same as last year’s. They were prompted with 11 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5, as well as optionally provide text commentary on their vote. I received 37 replies, with the average results as shown below.

I participated in this year's edition of the Six Colors Apple report card, which features average scores and answers on a variety of Apple topics. It's a good overview of where Apple stands today and where it could be going next.

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Tony Fadell Says Teams Did Not Compete to Design the iPhone

The conventional wisdom is that two teams competed inside Apple to build the original iPhone. One team's design was based on the iPod, and the other's was based on the Mac OS X. Those stories resurfaced with the tenth anniversary of the iPhone’s unveiling and a video showing what appears to be a prototype click wheel-based iPhone interface.

Tony Fadell, who was a key player in the development of the iPod and iPhone, spoke to Nilay Patel of The Verge to dispell the accepted belief that separate teams competed to design the iPhone:

So there were two different types of prototypes. There's one, a prototype for the UI team, and typically, because UI teams are using Director — back in the day — and quickly mocking things up on a screen. One team is doing it like it's an iPod, and another team is doing it like it was a touchscreen. The teams were working together. So it wasn't like there were two different people trying different things. And then there was the development board prototypes where we’d rewrite the UI on the hardware to try things like touchscreen and hardware buttons. So there were two tracks in hardware and software UI development running at all times. And so the thing that you're seeing [in that video] was just what the UI guys were doing, devoid of any hardware, doing it on a Mac.

According to Fadell, what is seen in the video is a Mac app that was later ported to an iPhone.

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Why a 10.5″ iPad Would Make Sense

Dan Provost:

Rumors have been swirling about Apple working on an iPad that falls inbetween the 9.7" and 12.9" sizes they currently offer in the Pro lineup. John Gruber and Jim Dalrymple briefly discussed this on the latest episode of The Talk Show, with Gruber saying: “It doesn’t make any sense to me.” (discussion at 1 hour 41 minute mark). There is, I believe, one explanation that makes too much sense not to be true.

His numbers check out. An iPad with the same footprint of the 9.7" iPad Pro but a bigger display with the same pixel density of the iPad mini sounds like a very compelling iPad to me.

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Connected, Episode 124: A Bunch of Enterprising Italians

This week, the aging hosts of Connected remember their first reactions to the iPhone and talk about the value of independent blogging.

If you ever wondered how I got my very first iPhone, this week's Connected has the answer. You can listen here.

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Tony Fadell Reflects on the Development of the iPhone

Before an iPhone was lost in a bar in San Francisco, there was Tony Fadell's moment of panic:

He'd just got off a plane, felt his pockets, and... nothing.

"I was walking through every scenario thinking about what could happen," he told me. None of them ended well.

After two hours, relief - thanks to the efforts of a search party that didn’t know what it was trying to find.

"It fell out of my pocket and it was lodged in between the seats!"

Fadell, who was a key player in the development of the iPod, was part of the team that developed the original iPhone. In an interview with the BBC, Fadell argues that the fact that Apple started development from the perspective of the iPod that was important to the iPhone's success because:

While competitors like Microsoft were trying to shrink the PC into a phone, Apple was looking to grow the iPod into something more sophisticated.

At the same time, focusing on the iPod's click wheel had its downsides too:

"We were turning it into a rotary phone from the sixties," Fadell remembered. "We were like, 'This doesn’t work! It's too hard to use'."

Fortunately, another group within Apple was working on a ping-pong table-sized touchscreen that they were able to shrink down to a size that could be used for the iPhone.

The BBC's interview with Fadell is full of interesting anecdotes about the years leading to the announcement of the iPhone and is required reading for iPhone history buffs.

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