Kill your productivity: free browser games ahoy!

I spend a lot of time writing about games and the internet. Over the past two decades (eek!), the two of these things have in one area combined: browser games. Back in the early 2000s, games you played in your browser were rare and mostly awful. Flash shook everything up, but then Steve Jobs punched Flash squarely in the face.

Today, though, tons of genuinely great games are playable without any additional plug-ins. I some time ago penned a piece for Stuff on the best of them, but it mysteriously vanished one day. Not sure how. Anyway, by way of magic (Internet Archive: bless you), and a smattering of elbow grease, it’s now back, with revised content and some new games.

Whether you’re into bizarre endless text adventures, retro classics, surprisingly engaging clickers, one of the best match games ever created, platformers, puzzlers, or a version of Pong played against endearingly dopey bears, there’s never been a better time to kill your productivity with browser games. And while you’re doing so, perhaps take a moment to marvel at what’s now possible in a web browser – and what might be possible another two decades along the road.

January 16, 2020. Read more in: Gaming

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Removing bezels from TVs, phones and tablets can cause rather than solve problems in tech

Back in 2014, I wrote for Stuff about the tech industry’s obsession with thin. The point was that a fixation on making products thinner was becoming detrimental to the user experience, given that a few extra mm could house larger batteries, or superior keyboards. Now, the  tech industry seems to have its eyes set on eradicating bezels, as outlined in Pocket-lint’s piece on new Samsung tellies.

Samsung’s not alone. In phones, removing the bezel now appears to be some kind of holy grail, and, frankly, this baffles me. Sure, I don’t want a massive chunky bezel that makes a device seem like it’s rocked up from a 1985 concept video. But most of the time, I want a bezel in a screen-based device. A frame around content provides focus. And with a tablet, it provides somewhere for your thumbs to go, rather than them covering what you’re looking at and interacting with.

It’s also notable that in the Android space, attempts to remove the bezel have resulted in some horribly ugly creations. Companies triumphantly boast about stripping the bezel back, but on devices that retain a ‘chin’, thereby resulting in something that looks visually imbalanced. At that point, the breathless rush to remove the bezel has not only impacted on user experience, but also visual design.

For my money, the current iteration of iPad Pro gets everything about the bezel right. There’s a bezel around the screen, but it’s even, it’s unobtrusive, and Apple has the confidence to omit a logo. It affords focus, ensuring whatever you’re looking at doesn’t blend with the device’s surroundings. Rounded display edges soften the bezel’s impact. The bezel’s size ensures you can hold the iPad without covering what’s on the screen. And the bezel also houses Apple’s complex Face ID camera system, without an ugly notch or ‘hole punch’ impacting on the display.

I imagine Apple and many within the tech industry are desperate to make this bezel thinner. I think it’s great as it is – and the same goes for the bezels on my TVs and phones.

January 8, 2020. Read more in: Apple, Opinions, Technology

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No, Huawei MatePad Pro isn’t an iPad Pro killer

Huawei MatePad Pro is all over the news, mostly because the company with no shame has yet again more or less cloned an Apple product. Only its sleek tablet has a camera hole punch in the corner, rather than Apple’s rather better solution of hiding the camera in the bezel. (Urgh.) Still, given that the unit will cost less than half the price of an iPad Pro, most sites are falling over themselves to label it an iPad Pro killer.

No.

I spend a lot of my time investigating, using and writing about apps on mobile. With a few exceptions, the Android tablet apps market is garbage. There is very little there. For most people, this doesn’t matter. They grab a cheap tablet and are happy with Netflix, Google Docs, Gmail, Facebook and a browser. But with iPad Pro, the clue is in the name.

A great many people using Apple’s flagship are actual professionals. They require professional software. And despite a (fortunately diminishing) number of people still screaming into the void that you “can’t do real work on an iPad”, that ship has long since sailed. Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are great for graphic design. LumaFusion is excellent for video editing on the go. Korg Gadget, GarageBand and a slew of synths cater for musicians. Scrivener, Ulysses and iA Writer exist for jobbing writers who need something more than Google Docs. And so on.

Head to Google Play and pretty much none of this kind of thing exists. So, sure, give the MatePad Pro an article, but keep your breathless headlines, because until the Android app ecosystem dramatically changes, MatePad Pro might be an answer to the iPad Pro hardware (if you can stomach the hole punch), but it then presents a tricky question: where the hell are all the pro apps I need to do my job?

November 26, 2019. Read more in: Apple, Opinions, Technology

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Adobe Photoshop for iPad’s problems are down to hype, value, and not managing expectations

Bloomberg has run the piece Adobe Exec Defends Photoshop for iPad After App Falls Flat, quoting Adobe’s Scott Belsky about the launch. In a series of tweets, Belsky said:

a real-time v1 lesson: you’ve gotta ship an MVP to start the journey, but it will be painful at first. by definition, it won’t please everyone (and if it’s a reimagination of a 30yr old popular/global product, will displease many)

if you try to make everybody happy w/ a v1, you’ll either never ship or make nobody happy. such feats require customer feedback to truly exceed expectations. you must ship and get fellow passionate travelers on board.

He’s right, but the problem is that expectations weren’t managed. Instead, we got a hype train, and suggestions we would get full-fat Photoshop; instead, v1 is a stripped-down release. Belskey says the team decided to “nail perfect PSD support” rather than “just port 30 yrs of stuff (and baggage) on day 1”, which is sensible, except some of that baggage includes taken-for-granted features like layer effects.

Photoshop on iPad also represents a U-turn for Adobe, who’d previously argued people didn’t want this kind of pro-level software on iPad. It now feels like that argument was made because Photoshop didn’t exist. I can’t help wondering how long this app has been in development. Was it around in some form for years, or is it a reaction to Affinity Photo showing that, yes, pro-level creatives really do want this kind of app on iPad?

Affinity Photo itself is another piece of the puzzle, in the sense of the value proposition. If you already pay for Creative Cloud, Photoshop for iPad doesn’t require further outlay. But if you don’t, it’s a tenner a month. By contrast, twice that cost nets you Affinity Photo – with its richer and mature feature-set – forever. (In fact, at the time of writing, Affinity Photo is on sale, in an epic piece of trolling, for the same price as a single month of Photoshop for iPad.)

Despite its flaws, I’m glad Adobe released Photoshop for iPad. It’s something that needed to happen, and further cements the importance of Apple’s device. But it doesn’t surprise me that the response to what we got has been a mixture of anger and disappointment. Adobe must now iterate very quickly, and bring Photoshop towards feature-parity with the desktop version. After all, that’s another thing that Affinity Photo enjoys – the iPad version is not a ‘lesser’ product.

November 8, 2019. Read more in: Apple, Apps, News, Opinions, Technology

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Is the PS5 actually a sausage?

The PS5 is pretty great, as are sausages. But it turns out it’s good SEO when sites attempt to wring out absurdly long articles from questions that can be answered using a single word, and so it’s time for Revert to Saved to get in on this gig. For those of you wondering whether the PS5 actually is a sausage, we will answer your question right here. Eventually.

The PS5 is, of course, a games console. You can play games on it. You might like games, or you might not. We’re going to spend a little time here now linking to some games, because the editor said “write 500 words on this”, and he’s threatened everyone with only covering Mario Kart Tour forever if we don’t comply. So, anyway, God of War, Driveclub, and Red Dead Redemption 2 are all PS4 games that will probably get sequels on the PS5.

The new question – which we made up while drunk – is our attempt to get loads of people to click here for no good reason, despite the fact we could (as we’ve already outlined) have answered said query in just three characters or less. We could even have done that in really big letters. But we’re not allowed, because reasons.

And sausages are sticks of meat, in case you were wondering. Some people eat them. Some people don’t like them. If you were reviewing sausages as a game, you might give them 7/10 and say “you’ll like them if you like this sort of thing”, to try and keep the publisher of sausages happy. (Do sausages have publishers? Hey, there’s an idea for another article. This is fucking gold.)

OK, now we need a big heading, to get back the attention of readers who may have drifted off at this point.

Is the PS5 actually a sausage?

The PS5 is not actually a sausage.

Now the question has been answered, but WordPress reckons we’re still 200 words short. Shit. So we still need to bang on for another 200 words or so. At this point, embedding a video would be a good idea, to keep people’s interest.

OK, so that’s not a PS5 as a sausage, but it’s pretty close, combining the innards of a toy parrot and a large sausage. (Thanks to Paul Granjon for the above classic.)

Unfortunately, meat-based consoles are mostly a thing of the past, or perhaps we just dreamt them up after watching Videodrome one too many times. But since there’s no PS5 sausage, you’ll just have to wait until Sony makes one, or make one yourself, shortly before getting carted away to a room with padded walls.

Oh, man: 439 words. This is tiring stuff. Aha! Let’s just end on a generic bit about how we here at Revert to Saved thoroughly review every meat-based console we recommend, using industry standard prods and fork stabs to evaluate said gadgets. We’ll always tell you what we discover, even if you don’t want us to. So tell us what you think by emailing the editor. And leave us out of it, because our work here is done, and we now need to shower off the dirt.


A previous version of this article was based on the PS4. It’s now based on the PS5, because someone noted this would be better for traffic.

November 5, 2019. Read more in: Humour, Writing

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