Financial Times Names Tim Cook Person of the Year

This is a good explanation of why they chose Tim:

More than an hour into Apple’s annual shareholder meeting in February, Tim Cook had patiently fielded questions ranging from its plans for the television market to what he thought of Google Glass. But when one audience member tried to push Apple’s chief executive on the profitability of Apple’s various environmental initiatives, such as its solar-powered data centre, Mr Cook snapped.

“We do things for other reasons than a profit motive, we do things because they are right and just,” Mr Cook growled. Whether in human rights, renewable energy or accessibility for people with special needs, “I don’t think about the bloody ROI,” Mr Cook said, in the same stern, uncompromising tone that Apple employees hope they never have to hear. “Just to be very straightforward with you, if that’s a hard line for you … then you should get out of the stock.”

The Verge 50

A unique list of very important people in the tech industry, laid out with a creative vision:

This year we wanted to showcase our 50 in the same way they made their mark on the world — by letting them express themselves. So we asked everyone to send us a selfie. These are the most candid photographs of some of the most powerful and interesting people in the world right now you'll ever see, and it's an honor to share them with you.

☆ Vainglory, iOS Gaming At It's Best

Gaming on iOS has come a long way. In the early stages of the App Store, iOS gaming consisted of addictive (high score based) games such as Doodle Jump and clones like Tap Tap Revenge. Fast forward a few years and the App Store is still filled to the brim with simple & addictive games, but wedged in between are high quality, desktop-quality games. One of those games is Vainglory.

Most of you should already know about Vainglory. Apple featured the game during it's iPhone 6/Apple Watch keynote (remember the scarf guy?) and it's been the star of a new commercial (one of many starring Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake). It originally caught my eye due to its wonderful visuals, but what really drew me in was how Vainglory took a mouse & keyboard game and adapted it to a >5-inch touchscreen.

Vainglory is a MOBA game. For those unfamiliar, let me bring you up to speed. MOBA or multiplayer-online-battle-arena is a variation of the real-time strategy genre where you control a single character in one of two teams. The objective is to destroy the opposing team's main structure with the assistance of periodically spawned AI units that march along a set path. Your player has various abilities that progress over the course of the game as well as the ability to buy upgrades at multiple shops.

The MOBA genre was popularized by a mod of Warcraft III called Dota. From there, multiple variations were created including League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth - the latter which I spent over 1,000 hours playing (according to my Steam profile). In short, the MOBA genre is addicting, competitive and time-consuming. Matches can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes without the ability to pause or step away from gameplay (without sabotaging your team of course).

When I saw that Vainglory was bringing the MOBA genre to iOS, I was both excited and worried. After all, this has always been one of my favourite genres and the mobile platform (and restrictions that come with it) have produced terrible versions of many popular desktop games before.

I'm glad to say that's not the case with Vainglory. It's the perfect mobile adaption of a MOBA with stunning graphics, well-implemented touch controls and strategic gameplay choices to adapt to the limitations of the iPhone and iPad.

Before I go any further, I have to show you what mean when I say "stunning graphics." I normally don't post images on The H&F, but I don't know how better to showcase the visuals of a iOS game than to just show you:

As I mentioned, Super Evil Megacorp (yes, that's actually their name) had to make some strategic choices when adapted a MOBA to a touchscreen. First of all, they reduced the tradition 5v5 match to 3v3. Then they reduced the amount of creep lanes from 3 to 1. Small changes like teleporting back to home-base and three ability slots make a huge difference when it comes to gameplay.

I was hooked on Vainglory after the first match. The level of detail, thought and execution that went into making this game a reality is downright impressive. I've been playing on my iPhone 6 Plus and Vainglory has been a great game to showcase the future of mobile gaming to friends and family.

Vainglory is free on the App Store and is available for iPhone 5S , iPad Air & newer generations of both iPhone and iPad - which means there is absolutely no reason for you not to download it right now.

There Will Be A Second Season Of Serial

Last week, we asked people who’ve been listening to Serial to chip in if they wanted a second season. This American Life funded the bulk of Season One, but for Serial to continue, it needs to pay for itself. Today, we have good news: between the money you donated and sponsorship, we’ll be able to make a second season. We don’t know yet what the story will be or exactly when we’ll be airing Season Two, but we’ll be working on it as soon as this season ends.

The best news all day.

The Secret Life of Passwords

Ian Urbina on the emotional connections of passwords:

Yes, I understand why passwords are universally despised: the strains they put on our memory, the endless demand to update them, their sheer number. I hate them, too. But there is more to passwords than their annoyance. In our authorship of them, in the fact that we construct them so that we (and only we) will remember them, they take on secret lives. Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a swipe at the boss, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar — these keepsake passwords, as I came to call them, are like tchotchkes of our inner lives. They derive from anything: Scripture, horoscopes, nicknames, lyrics, book passages. Like a tattoo on a private part of the body, they tend to be intimate, compact and expressive.