6 things the Nintendo 3DS needs to beat Apple at its own game

Not so long ago, Nintendo was king of the hill in video game land--especially when it came to handheld games. Back in those magical days, the Nintendo DS was the pinnacle of kid-friendly fun, and even casual gaming for those who normally didn't find games appealing.

Then came Apple. While some might debate the quality games in the App Store versus offerings for the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, the success of Apple's seemingly endless supply of cheap games has been undeniable. Nintendo even acknowledges that Apple is its chief rival, now.

Enter the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo's next-gen 3D handheld. Can it change the equation and recapture the Nintendo magic--and, most notably, kid appeal--that's worn away a bit in the wake of shiny gadgets like the iPhone and iPad?

The 3DS goes on sale in America on March 27, and it's been on shelves in Japan for weeks. We've reviewed the system already at CNET, and I've been playing around with one for the last six days, along with a handful of launch games.

At this year's GDC, Nintendo delivered a keynote literally across the street--and on the same day--as Apple's iPad 2 unveiling. Nintendo's focus on handheld gaming has had to take into account the meteoric rise of Apple's App Store. The App Store redefined the landscape of game pricing and effectively stole some of the casual-gaming crowd from Nintendo. Now that the 3DS is about to arrive, can it help fix what Nintendo's been missing?

After a week playing with one, my feelings are mixed. The 3DS has technical tricks up its sleeve that no iDevice can lay claim to yet--namely, its 3D camera and glasses-free 3D screen--but 3D is a divisive technology. Some people prefer their entertainment without a third dimension forced onto it. Also, Nintendo has been intent on not using 3D as an essential element in its 3DS games, making it a less integral technology than motion control on the Wii. The system has its advantages, and it has impressively improved graphics, but that alone isn't enough.

If the Nintendo 3DS is to effectively answer back to the juggernaut of affordable, diverse iOS gaming and offer up a convincing alternative, this is what I think it still needs to stand a chance.… Read more

Three cool iPhone calendar apps

Ever feel like the stock iOS Calendar app has room for improvement? Like, a lot of room? It's a pretty rudimentary tool, without so much as a week view or the option to sync with Google Calendar.

Needless to say, there are alternatives. I've rounded up three apps that make scheduling and agenda management a whole lot easier. Take a look:

Calendars Readdle's Google Calendar client ($6.99) does it all, syncing with all your calendars and letting you manage them both online and offline. It features day, week, month, and list views, drag-and-drop event management, and one-tap appointment creation. My only complaint with the app is that it's slow at times, but if you're a GCal user, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better solution.

Cozi Family Organizer Cozi is a Web-based calendar manager for families. It's pretty awesome--and so is this companion app. Although the calendar limits you to a list view, it effortlessly stays in sync with the Web version, thus giving you a color-coded, at-a-glance look at who's doing what and when. For busy families, there's no better solution. The app is free, just like the service, and it's available for Android as well (great for cross-platform families).… Read more

Apple pulls 'gay cure' app following protests

Following an online petition and a wave of complaints, Apple has removed a so-called "gay cure" app from its App Store.

Launched last month by Exodus International, a ministry that encourages gay people to seek "cures" for their homosexuality, the app triggered a huge outcry from Two Wins Out, a nonprofit group with the stated goal of fighting anti-gay religious extremism.

Pointing out that any therapy or cures to change one's sexual orientation have been soundly rejected by all the major medical associations. TWO launched an online petition at Change.org calling on Apple to … Read more

What needs to happen before the iPhone gets NFC

We may not have jet packs yet, but pretty soon plastic will be a thing of the past. At least in our wallets, that is.

The technology that will bring us part of the way there is near-field communications (NFC), an exciting tool that lets devices exchange information with one another when in close proximity. So far, its main use has centered on payments, specifically point-of-sale terminals at retailers. In fact, you probably have a credit card from your bank with an NFC chip in it.

The next frontier for those little chips is in smartphones. Like wallets, these have … Read more

iPhone 5 rumors again claim NFC, A5, big screen

Another day, another iPhone 5 rumor. This time it comes from the China Times (translated), which is claiming that a prototype of Apple's next iPhone is already in the trial stages of production and will be packing a slightly larger screen, a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip, an A5 processor, and a tweaked antenna design that will combat attenuation when it arrives later this year.

The news, which was picked up by GadgetsDNA, comes following months of on-again, off-again news that Apple is exploring NFC in its products, with a larger goal of building out a payment network that … Read more

The 404 782: Where I am not naming my kid Josh (podcast)

The 404 Digest for Episode 782

Apple approves app that promises " cure for homosexuality." .xxx domain names coming to the Web. Ten years later, the Apple iPod may be on its way out. Download Angry Birds Rio free today on Amazon Appstore. Rebecca Black: waiting too long to choose a seat could cost you your life.

Episode 782 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

The 404 781: Where we have the prejunket jitters (podcast)

The 404 Digest for Episode 781 AT&T in talks to purchase T-Mobile--what's this got to do with me? AT&T puts the boot on unauthorized iPhone tethering. Rebecca Black signals the end of days. Giving in to the Super Moon's cry for attention. Sprint adds Google Voice service for customers.

Episode 781 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Change your screen and battle on Europa: iPhone apps of the week

Maggie Reardon wrote a post today on her Signal Strength blog about AT&T beginning to crack down on customers using the iPhone's tethering capabilities without paying for the service. Apparently the company has begun sending out e-mails and text messages to the offending customers inviting them to sign up with its tethering plan--$45/month for what it calls a "DataPro" 4GB service.

I haven't used this feature at all yet on my iPhone and I probably never will at $45 a month. But this story also brings up the old "Unlimited Data" plan argument. I think I was grandfathered in with an Unlimited Data plan (which frustratingly doesn't include texts for no reason I can understand accept that AT&T is nickel-and-diming us to death), but as you can see, my "unlimited" plan has very clear limits when it comes to tethering (and texting!). I don't know about you, but last I checked, unlimited meant without limits. Also, if the connection is going through my iPhone to my laptop, how is that any different than simply using the same connection on my iPhone without a laptop? It's the same connection, right? If not, is it really a $45-per-month difference? Somehow I doubt it.

Anyway, I just thought I would (vent) put it out there and see what readers think about the new tethering features, the pricing, and the highly limited "unlimited data" plans. Let me know what you think in the comments.

This week's apps include a unique background image collection app, and a combination first-person shooter and role-playing game that's set on Europa, the ice-covered moon of Jupiter.… Read more

NFC: The Apple rumor that just won't quit

What a confusing week it's been for iPhone rumors. On Monday, a report by The Independent said that Apple was holding off on bringing near-field communication (NFC) technology to the next version of the iPhone, and then a story posted last night by Forbes claims that the effort is still on track.

The source on that newer report is said to be "an entrepreneur who is working on a top-secret NFC product," who has a buddy working at Apple. That's compared to The Independent's multiple sources on the matter, which were "several of the … Read more

The 404 780: Where we throw the trolls a bone (podcast)

The 404 Digest for Episode 780

Scott Stein sits in for Wilson. Jeff feeds trolls in his Nintendo 3DS blog post. Check out the 3DS review in its 4,000-plus word entirety. TL;DR? The gist: 3.5/5 stars for impressive 3D experience with a weaker-than-usual launch lineup and inactivated online features. Check out this bamboo iPad 2 case by Grove! Video voice mail by Luke from Austin.

Record your own video voice mail on YouTube and send the link to the404(at)cnet(dot)com or leave an audio voice mail by calling 1-866-404-CNET (2638).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Episode 780 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more