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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Microsoft holding Surface Keynote in October

Tom Warren for The Verge:

Microsoft’s Surface chief will hold a keynote speech in London at the end of October. The software giant is holding its annual Future Decoded event in London from October 31st to November 1st, and Microsoft revealed to The Verge today that Panos Panay will be speaking. Microsoft typically launches new Surface devices in October, and sources familiar with the company’s plans tell us to expect at least one new device at the event.

I sincerely hope they launch a Surface Phone. I want more pressure on Apple and I’d love to see Windows Phone (which I thought was fantastic) return to the battle of mobile OSes.

However, I don’t think it will happen. If this was a possibility I think (knowing Microsoft) they would have tried to build up more hype around this event than they are. They likely wouldn’t hold the event in London either. But, I can hope.

Colin Trevorrow out as Star Wars Episode IX Director

Bryan Bishop reporting for The Verge:

Lucasfilm’s creative process has been a bit of a mess lately. Rogue One had to undergo extensive reshoots before release, and earlier this year producer Kathleen Kennedy took the extraordinary step of firing directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller of the standalone Han Solo film just two weeks before the end of principal photography. Ron Howard has since been brought on to finish the film, but the 11th-hour move raised questions as to why things were allowed to progress so far — particularly when massive creative differences apparently existed between Kennedy and Lord and Miller.

And now Trevorrow has “bowed out”. Doubtful. More likely shown the door.

There are two ways to look at all the messy, behind-the-scenes, musical chairs that has happened during the tumultuous first 3 films out of Lucasfilm since Disney bought it and Kathleen Kennedy took over.

One the one hand, you can think things are an absolute mess and surely something is wrong over there.

Or, you can look at it the way I believe the truth really is… making productions this large is a very messy and difficult business. This sort of thing happens more often than you and I think about. It is just that Disney and Lucasfilm are under a bit more scrutiny than many other film houses. Also, I like to think that Kathleen Kennedy is doing an amazing job. She’s making the really, really hard choices of completely firing people – forsaking the loss of time, money, and momentum, in order to ship a superior product.

Yes, there were reshoots for Rogue One. But the Rogue One we saw was very, very good. What if she (and, likely, others) didn’t force the issue to do reshoots? What if she didn’t fire the co-directors of the new Han Solo movie and recruit an Oscar-winning replacement? And, what if she kept Trevorrow on (even though he has a fantastic first name)?

It is very easy to point out that things could be wrong. But, it is more likely that this sort of thing is remarkably hard to do without some ego casualties.

My guess is that Episode IX will be better for it. While I enjoyed Jurassic World it was far from great. I think Trevorrow has a bit more work to do before you hand him the most beloved franchise of all time. I say bring in a heavy-hitter that wants a crack at Vader’s kid’s legacy.

Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality

In this video Tom Warren of The Verge uses some mixed reality headsets for Windows. Watching them I’m reminded just how far this industry has to go. I’d call much of what I see in this video very much beta-level hardware and software.

It has only been 5 months since I wrote the aforelinked piece and we’ve seen some major, major movement in this space during that time. Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have all thrown massive amounts of resources into mixed reality. I feel the pace of updates will only quicken over the next 24 months. By 2020 everything we see in this video will look ancient.

/via Dan Kimbrough on Twitter.

App Store Subscriptions

Yesterday the news hit of Apple’s changes to App Store policies and features including allowing developers to leverage Subscriptions for their applications so that they can better make a living making great apps.

This, from John Gruber’s coverage at Daring Fireball:

Now, subscription-based pricing will be an option for anysort of app, including productivity apps and games. This is an entirely new business model for app developers — one that I think will make indie app development far more sustainable.

Some of you reading this may wonder why this is important and some of the coverage doesn’t really lay it out.

As it stands, for most apps in the store, you pay once and get upgrades for as long as the developer can afford to give them. Some applications, but not all, require constant maintenance. Perhaps they run a syncing service so that your information is available across all devices or platforms. Perhaps the services they are built on top of change a lot and so app updates are needed often to keep the app working. Or, perhaps they offer new content (like game levels, or editorials, or videos, etc.) and to support the creation of that content they need money.

All apps require updates a few times a year as iOS releases and new Apple devices are released.

The problem right now is… developers need money to continue coming in over time to build and update great apps. The “pay once, get updates for free forever” model, isn’t sustainable for apps that do not offer in-app purchases.

As a consumer of these apps (and you’d know this if you’ve read this blog for a long time) I want to pay for upgrades. When Tweetbot was released as a wholly different app to skirt around the limitations of App Store policy, I gladly ponied up. I use the app daily. I want it to continue working. So I will pay. There are other apps that I wish did the same thing.

I know there is a bit of confusion at the moment about exactly what apps are eligible for this or not. There is always confusion when a change like this is introduced. It’ll all shake it out. I’m very happy to see this change and look forward to supporting my favorite apps with my money. It means I’ll get to continue to use them.