Rumors Have Google Planning to Open Nationwide Retail Stores

In their constant bid to do what they do every night and try to take over the world, Google is reportedly planning to open their own chain of brand specific retail stores.

Usually reliable Google centric blog 9to5 Google broke the news, saying their sources claim the web giant will be expanding past their occasional Best Buy and special event pop up Chrome stores, and will be looking at a nationwide retail store model similar to that of competitor Apple. The stores would also be used in much of the same fashion as Apple stores, as Google would use them to show off their latest and greatest gadgets, and also offer technical support.

While a reasonable, even sane, argument can be made that Google looking to get into a dying industry late is a costly business failure waiting to happen, the truth is that Apple still does very well at their retail locations, and Google is consistently cited as being at least as popular, if not more so, than Apple is. The real reason this could work though is Project Glass, as Google is set to launch what could potentially be the next great invention, and a physical retail store that lets people practically try it, could be a big draw.

We’ll know more as the rumored holiday 2013 US openings of these stores draws closer, but the one thing we know for sure is that if Google has as much fun designing the stores as they did their offices, we’re all in for a treat.

Film Controller “Hold On” Lets You Punch Chuck Norris, and Get Away With It

As video games grow to mimic movies more and more, the desire to experience the two in harmony with each other is greater than ever.

What I mean is that sensation you suddenly get when playing “Uncharted” to watch “Indiana Jones”. Or, the opposite that makes a “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” viewing lead to a “Red Dead Redemption” marathon. The examples go on, but for media junkies the combination of gaming and movies provides the ultimate fix.

Now two inventors, Emilie Brout & Maxime Marion, are unifying that media relationship in a very interesting way, courtesy of their device called “Hold On“. Exhibited at the recent GAMERZ festival, “Hold On” uses a very simple set-up that includes two buttons and a joystick (the basic arcade cabinet) and allows you to manipulate characters and situations in some of your favorite movies. Examples so far include turning a nature documentary with dung beetles into a puzzle game, attempting to delay the death of your film crew in “The Blair Witch Project”, navigating the halls of that infamous haunted hotel in “The Shining” on Danny’s tricycle, and perhaps best of all, controlling Bruce Lee in his infamous film fight against a young Chuck Norris from “Way of the Dragon“.

The creators say they’ve been able to incorporate 15 interactive movie moments so far, all of which offer some sort of basic manipulation of the scene on display that work similar to the classic arcade title “Dragon’s Lair” in terms of your abilities. It’s not so much about the complexity though as it is the intriguing idea of combing a familiar fictional situation with the enhanced emotional attachment of personal involvement, as well as an uncertain outcome, as the user it not necessarily bound to the same results as the film scene, and certainly not the same path.

So far, outside of an extremely entertaining and well received demonstration, there isn’t much in the way of plans for “Hold On” at this time. However, it would be interesting to see a more developed version turn into something similar to the party game “Scene It”, or for it to be incorporated into major home video, or digital streaming, releases to give the user interactive options (trivia and mini-games via special features would probably be the best bets) during some of their favorite films.

In whatever capacity the tool is eventually used in, it’s already pretty clear that between this project, and the group’s other (a modification of Google Earth that lets you explore movie worlds) that they are fanatics of both film and technology, as well as skilled practitioners in the use of both. It’s the biggest reason why this device, while not unprecedented in its technology, may go on to success in whatever endeavor it  chooses, and provide film and game fans with the greatest tool to relieve and personally experience their passions yet.

Grubhub Wants You to Know Exactly Where Your Delivery is

You may have not known this, but like millions of Americans, I suffer from pre-mature delivery anticipation.

It’s a horrible condition where you wait and wait for a food delivery until you are absolutely sure that something has gone wrong, and decide to call up the restaurant only to hear the doorbell ring  during the call and realize that your food has arrived. It strikes with such consistency that it can make the uninformed believe the order was magically withheld until a call was placed, and always leads to flushed faces and ashamed mumbles when you utter apologies to the disgruntled employee on the other end of the line.

In the spirit of continuing to improve the delivery experience and bringing it into the new world, delivery site grubhub.com is launching a new feature that will allow customers in six cities to receive an alert when their pick up order is ready, or when their delivery has left the restaurant in order to more accurately communicate estimates beyond vague delivery times in 15 minutes increments. Even better, is the expansion of that service which is being offered to New York and Chicago based users that will allow them to actively track their en route delivery with a GPS feature available via the Grubhub app.

It’s called track your grub, and it’s all part of a recent larger effort by Grubhub to expand their growing company and provide a fresh range of services to both restaurants and customers. Although no official plans have been announced for expansion past the initial regions, it’s hard to imagine that more areas wouldn’t want this service available if possible, especially as an industry that promotes laziness, and just a little bit of gluttony, seemingly has nowhere to go but up at this point in American history.

Although, it is a shame to think that one of the last bastions of laziness during work, the delivery guy, may soon be facing an age where their actions are no longer anonymous and they may actually be forced to do their jobs with efficiency.

Then again, if it means I won’t ever have to call a restaurant an hour into an estimated 45 minute filled with misguided anger when a delivery guy knocks at the door simultaneously, perhaps it’s one of those “noble” sacrifices.

It May Look like Midday, but he’s Really Riding Into the Sunset

The iPad Mini – The Worm in Apple’s Core

The iPad mini was recently unveiled to the shock of few, but certainly the delight of many of the Apple faithful who, with outstretched arms and open wallets, welcomed the new 7.9 inch tablet into the world. It is beautiful, it is fast, and it is currently so hot that the surface of the sun is considering releasing a sex tape to stay relevant.

It also represents one of the biggest Apple missteps in years.

Now, let me make this clear. I love the iPhone 5 (though I prefer the Galaxy S3 in many respects), I would trade limbs for the any of the upcoming MacBook line, and I think that the iPad 3 and it’s mind blowing retina display is without competition the best all-around gadget on the market, and possibly the company’s greatest release on a purely technical level. I certainly do not hate Apple, and instead love them for how they force everyone to step up their game.

And that’s why I am tremendously disappointed with the iPad Mini. Since the original Kindle Fire received a great deal of mockery initially for being viewed as a “can’t afford the iPad, might as well settle” device, the small tablet market has become its own niche, no longer defined by the functions of the iPad. This is particularly evident by the quality of the Google Nexus 7, a tablet that’s versatility far outshines any limitations it is supposed to have. It’s also an idea that’s being carried on by the news of the upcoming Kindle Fire HD, which at its full price model is as statistically impressive of a 7 inch model as we’ve seen.

It would have once been impossible to imagine that a small tablet released by Apple wouldn’t storm a market set up to defy it like a bully on a fresh playground. Instead the visual we are left with after its initial unveiling is a timid child approaching with a drooping baseball cap feebly mumbling, “Hey guys…can I play?”

You can view the statistics and figures of the iPad Mini compared to its main competitors, and you’ll find that it is pretty much even, slightly better, or slightly worse in all fields. I like the super slim size and light weight of it to be sure, and of course appreciate its typical Apple beauty, but there is no one spec that jumps out at you as truly jaw dropping, or even noteworthy. Well, besides the price, which runs from $329 for the base model 16 GB with WiFi up to a 64 GB model with LTE capabilities for $659. This is compared to the Fire HD which is $199 for the 16 GB model, and the Nexus 7 which goes for $199 for and 8 GB and $249 for the 16 GB.

Now, you could justify the price of the iPad mini if it was indeed the top of the line, “Rolls-Royce” of  7-inch tablets. However, you just don’t get that vibe from the early word about the mini. The positives so far talk about what a great e-reader it is, its ultra slim design, and of course the benefit of the Apple app market which is far and away deeper than the Android market, and has apps designed more for a tablet in mind which Android is lagging on. That last point has been a the major defense of Apple since the announcement of the mini, as they have been feverishly supporting their price point to many different sources, with the main idea being that what you’re really buying here is the Apple brand and everything that comes with it, more than a product that can be easily defined by numbers.

But the question for consumers must be is that really still worth it? Can you justify using the word investment on what is still essentially a first gen product, that will no doubt be outstripped by a new model next year for the benefits of the tablet specific apps, and the Apple brand? Apple is touting that the mini is not a reduced and instead a condensed form of  the regular iPad, but ironically  in a market once created as a smaller alternative to the iPad comes an actual smaller iPad that finds itself in a field where that is no longer enough. The Google Nexus 7 was a game changer for 7 inch tablets as it proved that you don’t have to compromise for a smaller size, and that a cheaper tablet can perform on a high level for a reasonable price, with features and qualities unique to its model. It’s hard to say the same for the iPad mini which still looks and feels like a smaller iPad, but not a 7 inch iPad of its own.

In times gone by Apple would not have put up with competition in its domain and would have unequivocally released the 7 inch tablets to end all 7 inch tablets. While the iPad mini looks like a more than competent device that will no doubt perform at a high level, for the first time in a long time consumers have viable options to choose from when facing the prospect of going against an Apple device.

The only question is, will they test these new waters in mass, or blindly take the worm like the good little fishes Apple seems to think they are?