Home / Technology / Bits: Farhad’s and Mike’s Week in Tech: The iPhone’s Super Mario Moment

Bits: Farhad’s and Mike’s Week in Tech: The iPhone’s Super Mario Moment

For instance, the Snapchat Live stories covering the Louisiana flooding last month were the best reporting on that that I saw. Most other outlets give you several people’s perspectives on a story, usually second hand. On Snapchat, you see dozens of people’s snaps showing different parts of a story — in this case people showing their homes getting flooded, going to shelters, dealing with the aftermath. It was an incredibly emotionally resonant way to depict the kind of news story that can otherwise seem remote.

Also, it’s fun to take pictures of my face as a bee.

Mike: Some important news out of Airbnb, which has committed to enforcing a nondiscrimination policy, after widespread complaints that hosts’ discrimination against guests of color was running rampant across the platform.

I think this is a good, necessary and long overdue thing. I’ve had many friends tell me of their continuous rejections on Airbnb. Here’s to hoping it actually curbs the discrimination.

Farhad: It’s good that they’re doing it, but I do wonder how well it will work. The fundamental problem they face is that there are lots of racists in this world. And I’m guessing racists are going to have trouble suppressing their racism when they’re renting out one of their most precious goods. If cracking down starts to curb bookings or people’s willingness to rent out their houses, how strictly will Airbnb enforce these guidelines? We’ll see, I guess.

Mike: Agree. I’m not going to applaud them for doing something they should have thought of addressing a long time ago, anyway.

Next, I would be remiss not to talk about “jackgate,” or “headphoneapocalypse,” or whatever term we’re using to describe Apple ditching the headphone jack. John Paczkowski of Buzzfeed covered it in great detail in this piece, which you should read if you haven’t.

Farhad: I was pretty critical of Apple in my column this week, but I think they managed the messaging around the headphone jack really well. They earned a lot of good will by putting an adapter to let you use your old headphones in the box with the new iPhone. And it also helps that they’re trying to pave the way for much better wireless audio quality in the future.

One big test of success here — other than sales — will be what other smartphone manufacturers do now. If we suddenly start seeing the headphone jack disappearing from all high-end phones, Apple will have won the argument.

Mike: Have you seen all the gymnastics it takes to plug the adapter and analog cord in, not to mention if you want to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time? It’s like trying to plug my old Nintendo into a spaghetti pile of cables behind my TV. I don’t like it one bit.

Speaking of Nintendo, today I’d like to focus on something that got a little bit less attention during the Big Apple keynote: Super Mario.

Yes, that’s right, the world’s most beloved plumber is coming to the iPhone rather soon — before the end of the year, Nintendo said — in the Japanese video game giant’s first ever Mario franchise on iOS. It’s called Super Mario Run, and it’s a neat-looking side-scroller you can play with one hand, even on the subway.

This is a watershed moment for Nintendo, long considered a laggard in its approach to mobile gaming. As you may well know, the advent of the iPhone — and Android — was kind of a big deal. The mass adoption of smartphones upended entire industries, like GPS navigation companies, mapping sites, and yes, even video game makers. More and more people who once looked to consoles, desktop PCs or even hand-held devices to get their gaming fix are now playing iPhone games, downloading them directly from the app store without the hassle of going to buy a new video game DVD or another console.

That’s a massive shift in a mega-market, something that came virtually overnight. And Nintendo, the world’s pre-eminent legacy video game company, has really struggled to recalibrate.

I take this Mario thing as a big deal. But tell me your thoughts on the matter.

Farhad: I agree. It’s a big deal for Nintendo, which now has a plausible path to sell all of its old content to a new audience, and it’s a big deal for Apple, which can once again point to an app that is available only on iOS, and will come to Android at some point down the line.

But really the deeper story here is that smartphones are unstoppable. Everyone in tech keeps looking for the next big thing, but to me the biggest story in tech continues to be the way smartphones keep swallowing up every other gadget. The best smartphone cameras are now much better than any snapshot camera you can buy, and for most people, a phone is the only camera they need. The Nintendo announcement shows that phones have now completely consumed mobile gaming, too.

My own prediction: TV is next. Last night I watched the first episode of Season 2 of “Narcos” on my phone.

Mike: All on your phone? Yeesh, David Lynch would have an aneurysm hearing that.

Farhad: Yeah. Then I watched several Snapchat stories about the Kardashians getting stuck in an elevator, also all on my phone. In other words, I love my phone.

Have a great vacation, Mike!

Mike: Aloha! See you in two weeks!

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