First off I will completely admit I spectacularly failed at my predictions of the Apple TV. I am shocked and disappointed but the A4 chip still gives me hope. The iPhone 2G of course didn’t come with apps, that came a year later via software updates. More on Apple TV later on.
I am going to cover the numbers, software updates, new iPods and ‘new’ Apple TV.
The first thing Steve announced was some numbers, very important numbers. iOS is now seeing 230,000 activations per day from a range of 3 products compared to Android with 200,000 with about 100 product ranges such as washing machines and phones. This shows that Apple is still very much on top and they don’t license out their software to anyone and only sell iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad in a few different sizes. Apple also announced they had now sold 120 million iOS devices so far since June 2007 which is an amazing achievement with all of those devices being able to access 250,000 apps that have been downloaded 6.5 billion times! I don’t think Apple even expected that success and at this point must be outselling Macs.
iOS 4.1 for iPhone and iPod Touch
The next announcement is iOS 4.1 for iPhone which I think brought some nice features such as Game Center and High Dynamic Range photography in the camera. I have a developer account so was able to load the gold master onto my iPhone 4 and its a good update, seems overall faster and haven’t noticed any proximity glitches. I’d be interested to see if this fixed the iPhone 3G performance issues too. Game Center doesn’t currently have any games in the App Store but looks like an interesting take on Xbox Live and seems to integrate well with games. I’m sure app developers would integrate this quickly however services like Plus+ will still remain for games that require servers such as We rule by ngmoco. I tried the HDR feature and it didn’t work too well it seems to require a very steady hand and perhaps several takes of a photo would be needed before a perfect shot is created. It is a nice feature however as I have found sky can often be overexposed but for quick shots it should be turned off. 4.1 also brought iTunes music network Ping which I will mention later. iOS 4.1 is out to the public next week.
4.2 for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch
This is one update I was very excited about, as an iPad user I have hated not having the iOS 4 features I am used to with my iPhone. I am glad this update will finally bring great features like Multitasking and Folders. I am in desperate need of folders, I am on my 13th home screen on iPad, you can’t see past 11! I think that these features could of been changed slightly more for the tablet form factor, pressing the home button twice is a bit more awkward on an iPad compared to iPhone. I also wonder how many apps can be in a folder if its still 12 this doesn’t make sense. Better late than never I guess. I am also wondering if iPhone apps that are retina enabled will finally be displayed at the full 960 x 640 on the iPad, I am sick of seeing blurry iPhone apps and this would make iPhone apps useful. 4.2 will also bring Airplay and Printing to iOS devices. I think Airplay is a great feature that means the iPad could act as local storage for the Apple TV if you insisted. However what I would like to know is can I stream from iTunes to the iPad, this would complete the feature and mean I wouldn’t even need to sync anymore. I also wonder could AirPlay act as TV Out for games, iPlayer, Air Video, this could make the Apple TV even more useful.
iTunes 10 with Ping
iTunes 10 was a nice upgrade and I really like the new grey look and the subtle changes. I keep finding changes such as borderless video watching, music artwork with controls, hybrid view and new syncing options such as sorting by size, kind and iPad apps only. My 2.1TB iTunes library also seems a lot faster even off a Drobo, iTunes 10 however didn’t solve my storage issue at all.
Ping, Apples new music social network is great but needs improvements. It is fairly similar in 4.1 on the iPhone but I can’t search for people so instead I need to get a direct link, this isn’t helpful. On the computer however Ping is great, I can search for friends and follow them, see their purchases, likes and posts. I like how I can follow artists and hope to see more exclusive content rather than just Twitter streams as it appears to be. I also hope for more artists soon that aren’t mainstream, it is of course a music discovery tool. I think I would also like to make posts that people can comment on, perhaps these don’t have to be about music but for someone to comment or interact with me I have to first like iTunes music. I also want to see this spread across all the store I want to follow podcast producers, app developers, tv networks, movie studios. This would be a natural progression of Ping and I think will happen soon.
You can find a link to my ping on my website : www.robertsammons.co.uk
I personally don’t have much interest in the iPod line anymore but will skim over my thoughts.
iPod Shuffle – Back to the second generation really, although very small. Is it too small ? I am glad they added back proper buttons, expecting people to buy Apple Headphones (that easily break) meant the actual cost of the product was higher.
iPod Nano – I was sceptical about this design when I first saw the rumours, now I rather like it. I think they’ve integrated the touch screen well, especially the rotate feature. However to go to the ‘home screen’ looks quite hard by holding down the screen. I really want an iPod Nano for a watch however, great idea but it is too expensive. I feel that Apple is simply trying to upsell to the iPod Touch now after taking away the camera, big screen and video playback from the Nano, all of which were great big features in previous years.
iPod Touch – It got the same features the iPhone has had for months. iPhone 4 still leads however as the Touch camera is fairly poor, around 0.7 megapixels and I can imagine HD video not being as good either. There is still no 3G internet access which makes it useless unless in a wifi hotspot for most apps. Even though it has the retina display it doesn’t have an IPS display so doesn’t look great from all angles. However it is a great update for those who don’t want a contract of an overpriced unlocked iPhone.
iPod Classic – “All iPod models are being refreshed” says Steve Jobs. “We are eliminating the click wheel on the nano”. The last click wheel iPod that started it all is about to die, it didn’t even get the privilege of being part of the iPod lineup anymore. Bless it, soon to be replaced by 128GB iPod Touch next year.
How wrong I was, I expected so much more and got very little. First off the current Apple TV (1st generation) is a great device, I can stream, watch YouTube, access the iTunes store, purchase content without going to the computer. However it was let down severely by the graphics and processing power inside the unit and the slow hard drive. I am very glad to see that the A4 chip is in this device and this means it will fly with video and won’t stutter and freeze like the current one does to me all the time!
This A4 chip also still gives me hope for what this Apple TV really needs – Apps. In my previous blog posts I spoke about how apps on the Apple TV would change everything and how it would be useful. Apple are #1 games player in the handset market, they could be in the console market if they had done what I hoped. It needs an app store, a web browser and other iOS features. How am I meant to play games, watch iPlayer, convert video, watch live TWiT. I simply can’t, the only thing they actually added was Netflix, great I am so excited for U.S only Netflix, thanks Apple! However I think this is just a skin of iOS, it has to be it’s got the A4 chip and I’d imagine same graphical power as the iPad, I also think theres a sneaky 8GB flash stick in their too. Maybe next year we shall see the apps that would truely make this thing scream.
However the Apple TV did get some nice new features, the main one being the price. £99 or $99 as the conversion rate in the UK currently is $1 to £1, thanks again Apple for screwing us Brits out of pocket. Still £99 is much better than the £229 it was before the announcement and brings the same amazing UI as its predecessor. I personally bought a 40GB ATV from eBay just because the UI was amazing in 2.0 and got even better in 3.0. There is some slight variations to the UI and I’m hoping bugs in YouTube have been fixed. It also got AirPlay which as mentioned earlier could mean iPad acts as local storage but its still very easy and means a computer doesn’t need to be on to stream to. A computer needing to be on for streaming is a slight downside however and I wonder if iTunes extras can be streamed, I doubt it, making that feature now useless.
Then there was rentals, personally I hate rentals. I want to own my content, which I now have to go to a computer to do rather than simply pressing a button on the Apple TV and buying the series or film which also let me instantly watch it. Rentals are good for TV shows but limited to Fox and ABC, two great networks but not available in the UK. When those without TV Show rentals go to the TV shows sections what are they going to see, ‘you can buy TV shows on your computer’. That isn’t good and isn’t really necessary, why not let me buy it and stream it and then download the rest in iTunes. I normally stream content from iTunes anyway but on the odd occasion did use purchases and until rentals becomes more mainstream this isn’t very useful. I do however rent films and this remains the same as it does currently with reasonable pricing.
Overall the Apple TV was a disappointment looking and working almost identical to the one I have now but with an A4 chip and cheaper price. I may buy another Apple TV thanks to the A4 processor which looks a lot faster but won’t rush out as its very similar (feature wise) to my current one. I would however now recommend an Apple TV due to this, it would be a great christmas stocking filler. I do wonder if people are willing to trade physical media completely for rentals and purchases, I currently do but I’m a heavy iTunes user as I’ve mentioned. I am sure this will sell well and will spark the digital media revolution as more people buy direct on iTunes at cheaper prices. I do still hope for apps as early as next year as it is possible.