AI, Lego T. rex, RetroArch and ARc Search

Published stuff

For Stuff, I explain why Google AI will help you – but kill the web as we know it. This one features cameos by Arc Search, Retro Dodo and an actual dodo. I also updated my upcoming Lego sets round-up. Apologies to your bank account.

Over at TapSmart, I wrote about the best alternatives to Safari for iPhone and what I want to see at WWDC 2024. Somehow, the latter wasn’t just ‘an off switch for the Home indicator’ and ‘for Apple to FINALLY let you sync photos to iCloud without you having to manually trigger uploads because the iPhone only has 93% of its battery charge left’.

Other stuff

Apple’s emulation rules remain fuzzy, but RetroArch made it to the App Store. I never thought I’d see the day. Although it is cut down – many cores are missing, either because Apple won’t allow JIT, or because it’s pissing around with other developers and the RetroArch dev was being cautious. (Apple reportedly keeps rejecting MAME4iOS for spam, much to the chagrin of the MAME4iOS creator.) 

Unsurprisingly, RetroArch’s appearance on iOS kicked off yet more ‘emulation is illegal’ rubbishEmulators are legal. Yes, a great many files people load into them may not be legit but that doesn’t make the tech itself illegal, just as it doesn’t make e-readers, music players and video players illegal. Of course, that doesn’t stop people arguing otherwise. (Personally, I wish more effort was expended by games companies and individuals to provide legal routes to play – and buy – old games than spreading rubbish about emulators.)

It also made very clear broader reporting on emulators is crap. As I said on Threads, articles should make it clear that emulators are not always straightforward to use. People assume they’ll be like Spotify, when at best they’re more like VLC. Even for seasoned emulation fans, RetroArch is a UX nightmare.

Personally, I use it often – but usually with a front-end on Linux. As-is on iPhone, it’s trying. And I fear for the people who spend time setting the thing up on Apple TV, only for tvOS to one day randomly flush the cache and crush all their efforts.

Speaking of crushing, Apple’s terrible advert continues to cause fallout. Ken Segall has a great piece on it. And Samsung tried to capitalise on it with its own ad. “Creativity cannot be crushed” was the theme. A few tiny snags, however.

First, while the ad has more humanity than Apple’s, it lacks creativity. Secondly, ‘with Galaxy AI’ is mentioned at the end, for… some reason. And thirdly, the actual product – a high-end tablet – does nothing more than display sheet music the guitarist in the advert barely looks at. If anything, that neatly sums up the depressing state of the app ecosystem on Android, which Google crushed all enthusiasm for long ago.

Finally, Quinn Nelson showed off a new iPad hover trick. Some will doubtless dismiss this as gimmickry. But this subtle effect surely has potential benefits, in providing another visual cue regarding a tool that doesn’t exist in reality, including its orientation. Previously, just the mark was previewed. Now, the shape of the tool itself can also be seen. It’d be interesting to hear from digital artists whether they find this useful.