Is the Magic Leap headset a ‘tragic heap’?
Way back in 2014, teaser videos for an amazing mixed-reality headset called the Magic Leap found their way online. Since then, developers have been champing at their digital bits for it to launch. The consumer release is expected in the next few months, but some demo units have been making their way out into the real world. One of the designers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, Palmer Luckey, got to play with one… and boy is he underwhelmed. In a brutal review of the headset on his blog, Luckey’s dismissed the Leap as a “tragic heap”. Ouch. As a rival of sorts (though he’s no longer with Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014), Luckey’s comments probably need to be taken with a generous pinch of sodium chloride, but his standing means they can’t be ignored. As for us, we’ll be reserving judgment until we get to try the thing ourselves and decide whether it’s more muggle stumble than Magic Leap.
You’re going to have to wait a while for Xbox VR
Sticking with the topic of headsets, while the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (and more recent Vive Pro) are the bar setters when it comes to VR, Sony’s Playstation VR for its console is probably the most accessible — it requires the least outlay of moola, and you don’t need a R30,000+ gaming PC to power it. It’s no wonder, then, that Microsoft was looking to get in on the VR-headset-for-consoles action with its Xbox, even though it previously claimed it wasn’t. Reports have emerged that Microsoft shelved its Xbox VR plans after it couldn’t produce anything sufficiently technically advanced that it’d threaten the incumbents… and because it’s not convinced Xbox customers actually want VR yet. Of course, Microsoft has a much bigger headset play in the works — its Hololens headset for Windows. Plus, it’s letting partner companies make ‘mixed reality’ headsets. So at least if and when we do see VR for its console, we know it’ll be killer.
Create animated yous with Google’s keyboard
Why should Samsung and Apple owners have all the fun with personalised emoji, you ask? Why indeed. Remember Google Allo, the smart messaging app no one asked for and arguably even fewer people wound up using? Well it turns out something good has come of it. A feature called ‘selfie stickers’ originally released for Allo has made it’s way to Google’s keyboard, Gboard. Called ‘Mini’ stickers this time around, the feature lets users create 100 different stickers based on their own mugs. To get started, you’ll need the Gboard app for Android or iOS (obviously). Then tap the emoji icon left of the spacebar, select the square icon with a face on it (stickers), hit the Mini icon on the left, select the ‘create’ button, snap a selfie and let Google’s artificial intelligence voodoo do the rest. Apple’s got a similar feature coming to iOS 12 called Memoji, but of course that’ll only work with the iPhone X (and probably the new iPhones it’ll announce next month). So, why wait?
R4.2m: The expected price tag for an ancient Apple computer
Apple critics are forever harping on about the price of its wares. Given the 2018 version of the entry-level MacBook Pro starts at R31,500, they may have a point. But, as the bon mot goes, they ain’t seen nothing yet. An unadulterated, fully functional Apple-1 computer is going up for auction in September and is expected to cost the winning bidder at least $300,000 (around R4.2 million). What makes this piece of antiquated computing worth that? For a start, it’s part of the Apple mythology. Also, only 200 of the computers were made by the two Steve’s (Wozniak and Jobs) between 1976 and 1977, and of those 200, only about 60 are believed to still be out there, most likely gathering dusts in personal storage units or attics somewhere in the US. Moreover, this one actually works, and it didn’t get the usual customisation/Frankenstein treatment that early computer fans tended to inflict on their desktops. Need to spend a lot of cash in a hurry? Pre-bidding kicks off on 13 September.