Many people consider gaming to be a dead hobby these days, but with millions of dollars coming into companies such as EA and Ubisoft, the gaming market is ripe for the plucking. We are decades past the days of Frogger and Pong yet Microsoft, a relatively young player in the gaming world, has managed to make this old hobby seem new again. While companies like Nintendo and Sony have kept true to their decade long sales model, Microsoft is in the midst of doing what former CEO Bill Gates never wanted done. The company has now begun blurring the lines between the PC and the video game console. With game streaming additions to Window 10, and web browsing available on gaming consoles, it looks as though Microsoft is tuning their gaming console into a home PC. Bill Gates feared the possibility that the gaming console would replace the home PC, but with the decline of new adoption for both gaming consoles and Windows PCs, this blurring of the lines seems to be the most viable option for the financial future of the company. The Xbox One is actually making me, a heavy Apple user, consider going back to a Windows PC, at least for my home desktop in order to partake in the integration. If Microsoft wants to compete with Apple, they must continue to embrace the change that is cross platform functionality, and dive fully into it. I don’t think PCs will ever lose popularity in the corporate sector, but when it comes to personal use, the Xbox One may be the PC world’s final stand against the impending threat of Android and iOS devices.
Today marks the launch day for the new iPhone 6s, and along with it has come a new revision of iOS. iOS 9 has been out for a week, and today Apple decided to release fixes for the issues users have been having while using the software with update 9.0.1. The most interesting feature Apple has introduced for the new iOS is the ability to block content on the Safari browser. With the content blockers, users are able to block ads, media, and pictures while surfing the web. These content blockers lead to a faster, less cluttered, and less intrusive use of the browser. I have been using content blockers on my computer for years, so I am extremely welcoming of their addition to my mobile platform, however I fear the effect it can have on the Internet and ad revenue for companies that rely on it. I have to admit, web ads are extremely annoying, and mobile ads have become incredibly intrusive, but now that we can block them, companies will have to find new ways to make the money they will be losing. I don’t want to sound like I am the baron of bad news, but mobile content blockers could signal the end of the Internet as we know it. Many websites are no longer offering a mobile version, as they would rather push their free, yet ad supported app onto consumers. With these apps, companies can continue to get their precious ad revenue, while bringing their content directly to the consumer with constant and somewhat annoying notifications. I am not exactly a fan of loading my phone up with apps that I would only use twice a week, and I detest the idea of an app overload my phone with notifications, so if this is going to be the trend for mobile web, I will likely be spending much less time on the Internet in the near future.
Goat simulator is a game that is available on almost all major platforms, but for the sake of this review, I will be sticking with the iOS app. With a name like Goat Simulator it may seem a forgone conclusion that this app is a joke, but after playing it, it is hard to deny its charm and addictive qualities. Goat simulator is a parody app, even on the purchase page there is a disclaimer warning the buyer to spend their money on something more worth while, but with a sale price of three dollars as this is being written, I decided to give it a shot. The object of this game is to run around, as a goat, causing damage to a small town, with absolutely no limits or consequences. Goat simulator is basically poking fun at the absurdity of “open world” games by making the character a mindless goat with an unexplained vendetta against humanity. Aside from the obvious jokes pointed at the gaming world and the blatant glitches thrown into the game, Goat Simulator is actually pretty fun. I wouldn’t go as far as to nominate this as the greatest app ever or to say it is a must buy, but for the money, it does exactly as it promises. It provides the user with minutes of useless time wasting fun that could have been used for more productive means. If you have a little time to waste, try this app out, it is pretty fun. I have only had it for a couple of days and while I enjoy playing it, I am starting to think I should have taken heed to the disclaimer and found a better use of my three dollars.
I finally received my much anticipated invitation to Robinhood. Robinhood is a stock trading platform that boasts $0 commission fee trades, this means an individual can trade stocks without worrying about paying fees each time they decide to buy or sell. Robinhood has a pretty revolutionary idea actually, they desire to “democratize access to financial markets,” which in theory would allow for the uninhibited use of the stock market. I can see that Robinhood is on the right track towards their goal, but I think a wider release of their software would hurt their vision. Robinhood is the stock markets version of Internet only banking, and if they exceed their server limitations, users would not be able to make crucial trades when necessary. The site is currently invitation only and the transactions are handled via an iOs device, this makes it extremely easy to sign up and to use, but it does take a while to get that invitation. The email with my invitation had a time limit of 72 hours, and it stated that I would be moved to the back of the line of 500,000 people if I took too long to sign up so I wasted no time. So far the app seems nicely engineered, I have just been waiting for my funds to transfer and adding companies to my watch list via the simple interface. I have found that smaller companies are not listed, I believe this is part of the design of the app, since trading “penny stocks” at $0 commission is a pipe dream that would completely overwhelm any system. I like the idea behind this company, and while I wont be shifting my entire portfolio over to the platform, I will use it regularly. I think Robinhood is perfect for anyone interested in getting into the stock market, and I would definitely recommend it to a person who has a bit of expendable income they would like to invest. Robinhood is possibly the future of investing, hopefully the full rollout goes well, and it can thrive under the added stress of the new users.