After the week much of the country has just sweated through, Vulture Bytes would really just like to devote the entire column to this entirely superfluous gadget that turns your iPhone into a fan. But since it doesn’t have to do with culture, we’ll have to settle for telling you about these five gizmos: A Star Wars behind-the-scenes app, 3-D guitar lessons, a religious iPhone case, streaming video from Wal-Mart, and a new music app from AOL.
One of the enduring stereotypes of nerds is that they’re obsessive-compulsive completists. They need to have every action figure, every companion novel, and every limited-edition Director’s-Cut-DVD-that-actually-only-has-one-new-scene. (A brief aside: This is what made Pokemon nerds, of which we were briefly one, so delightfully meta. They were obsessively grabbing the miscellanea of a game/show whose own motto was “Gotta catch ‘em all!”) But what’s a Star Wars nerd to do when there’s a new Blu-ray edition of the series coming out in September with special features, but some of those special features are released early through the App Store
? Must she get the app and the Blu-ray? True nerds already know the answer. Especially since the app—featuring archived content, original designs, etc—is free.
This is what would happen if Robert Zemeckis designed guitar tutorials. IPerform3D
teaches you how to play guitar with 3-D characters. At first this is silly—why would you want to watch an avatar when the new Garage Band offers video lessons from actual musicians
? But those and other digital lessons usually look straight on at the guitar neck, even though your vantage point on your own guitar is from the top down.
What iPerform offers is the ability to zoom and rotate around the guitar from any camera angle. It’s a small tweak, but an important one for beginners who are having trouble mirroring their teacher’s finger placement to their own.
PRICE: $20 per month.
Vulture Bytes has a habit of staring at the religious types on the subway. Here they are divining some larger meaning from a pocket Bible while we’re clearing out our Instapaper queues. (The day we were reading The New Yorker’s Scientology exposé felt especially ironic.) It inspires an inferior feeling—but not one that’s strong enough to inspire us to actually go to temple more often. We’d far rather buy this case
that makes it look like you’re looking at a Bible every time you’re actually looking at your iPhone. It’s leather, it’s also a wallet, and it’s the best way to read from the book of Jobs.
It’s been a busy summer for our favorite streaming-video sites. Netflix messed around with its pricing plan
, making everyone so upset they almost couldn’t forgive the company even after they put all four seasons of Mad Men online
. Elsewhere, while Hulu wasn’t throwing itself on prospective buyers, it was striking cockamamie deals
to make you wait eight days to watch new episodes of network shows. Meanwhile, out in the shadows, Crackle.com
continued to freely stream Sony movies in quiet competence. And now Walmart, surely feeling left out, has debuted its own streaming-video service
. It will let you stream new releases for around $4 or buy them for around $15. Amazon and iTunes, of course, do more or less the same. Does that make them the mom-and-pop joints Walmart is trying to replace?
For those who don’t want to pay $10 to put Spotify on their phone, there’s AOL’s Play app
. It’s not nearly as comprehensive, but it does let you stream new albums, in their entirety, on your phone. The roster of those new albums changes every week, and this week features Vanessa Carlton, Roxette, and some band called the Burritos. So, okay, maybe not as good a selection as Spotify. But it has an MP3 of the day, which means it’s offering more music discovery than iTunes has ever managed.