Apple’s September Music Event: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh

Well, another Apple special event has come and gone, and odds are you have no idea how you feel about it. Well, fear not, I’m here to tell you what you think. So without further ado, here is what was Good, Bad, and Meh about today’s music event.

The Good

iOS 4.1 – HDR photos, Game Center, Proximity sensor and other bug fixes…. Well, obviously we’d have to test these things out to know for sure, but as a fan of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, I am really pleased to see this come to the iPhone as a native implementation. As for Game Center, I don’t really have a problem with the current Plus and Open Feint methods now that I am registered, but I can see how a unified achievement and leaderboard system can help make things simpler for we gamers.

iOS 4.2 – Slated to come out in November, basically Steve says it’s bringing iOS 4.1 to the iPad, along with wireless printing. Since I have nothing bad to say about iOS 4 (shocking, I know) this can only be a good thing. Especially folders, since somehow I already have filled up all the visible screens on my iPad with apps. It’s also nice to see Apple ramping up the iOS update schedule.

AirPlay - FINALLY. Air Tunes grows up to stream video and photos as well as music. Steve spent zero time on this, except to show a pretty slick demo of streaming a video from an iPad to the new Apple TV, so we’re not sure what the hardware requirements are going to be, but If this is as cool as I imagine, it will replace my old Apple TV, as this is the only thing I use it for, basically. So for the moment I will rank this as “good”, pending more details.

ipod shuffle

iPod Shuffle – Well, I guess someone must be buying these, so I suppose it’s nice that Apple is still developing it. Normally I would put any iPod shuffle announcement in the “meh” category, but what’s really interesting about it is this is the first time in my memory where Apple actually admitted (in a roundabout way) that they made a design mistake, and RE-implemented the buttons on the previous model. Priced at only $49, I could actually see myself buying one of these the next time I need a new set of Apple Earbuds, as (assuming they are included in the shuffle) it only ads $20 to the price.

ipod touch

New iPod touch - Even thinner! Hooray! Because the old one was SOOOO unwieldy. OK, all kidding aside, it’s got the same retina display that the iPhone 4 has, the same A4 chip, 3-axis gyro, front and rear-facing cameras and Facetime. This thing kicks ass, quite frankly, and it really makes me angry that Apple hasn’t released a 64 GB iPhone.

itunes 10

iTunes 10 – (Now with PING!) – And a new logo! Dropping the CD from the logo is pretty clever, and a nice statement as iTunes sales will surpass CD sales next year. The big news here is Ping, Apple’s new music social network. I pretty much can’t get excited about yet ANOTHER social site/username/password/friend list etc, so integration with some existing social network would have been nice, but whatever. I am always looking for new music , so I’ll probably check it out. Lord knows Last.fm isn’t doing it for me anymore. Ultimately Ping is all about trying to get you to spend more money, so I guess that’s a good thing for us Apple Stock holders, as we can rationalize that we’re really getting 5% back on all our purchases in Apple’s stock price. Some seemingly nice interface tweaks round out what appears to be a fairly solid update. I still would like the ability to rearrange the sidebar items, but whatever.

apple tv

The new Apple TV – Apple’s “hobby” grows up a bit, ironically by shrinking. The remote appears to still suck, but their move to the rental model seems to make sense. Personally, I have zero interest in renting a TV show from iTunes (even at the lower 99¢ price point) or even movies for that matter, as I find between Netflix and FiOS I have more entertainment than I have time to watch). However, ironically it is Netflix, which is keeping me from renting movies from iTunes, that might make me buy this new Apple TV. The new Apple TV has built-in Netflix support so I can have yet more access to my current Netflix streaming queue (along with my iPhone, iPad, DVD player, and Wii) and I could still use it the same way I use my current Apple TV, which is basically a way to stream my home library of movies music and photos. I rarely if ever store anything on the Apple TV’s hard drive, so the lack of a hard drive is not a problem for me, and Apple’s claim that the new Apple TV is quiet and COOL is especially appealing, as my current Apple TV runs at about 400 degrees. The big question here for me is Steve suspiciously kept mentioning that it streamed Netflix MOVIES. If for some reaosn that means it does not stream Netflix TV SHOWS, then that will sort of blow, but it would be understandable if Apple need to make concessions to get TV show rental prices down.

But by far the biggest news on the Apple TV is that it is only $99, which really shows how serious Apple’s new focus taking over the living room is. Apple may be calling the Apple TV a “hobby”, but make no mistake, the new Apple TV is going to make some serious inroads into consumer’s living rooms.

The Meh

This was a very straightforward keynote, with pretty much everything falling neatly into the Good or Bad categories, so for the first time in recent history, I have nothing “meh” to say.

The Bad

ipod nano

iPod nano – Now with Multi-touch. Hmmm… Well, the rumors are true, it has a touch screen interface, but it is so small it looks a little too much like the jokes we saw on SNL 2 years ago. I really don’t think the touch screen interface was meant to be that small. It also doesn’t have a video camera anymore. I assume this is to help sweeten the deal on the new iPod touch which now DOES have a camera, but still, it’s hard to get excited about an updated device with LESS features than before (even with the addition of multi-touch, which I am not usre is actually a GOOD feature). Since converting to the iPhone lifestyle I’ve more or less forsaken standalone iPods, so I don’t really care about the nano, or the shuffle, for that matter, but I would imagine if I was someone who had the type of lifestyle where I was using the current nano, (which I imagine being more of an active, or while driving lifestyle) I think I would miss the buttons and and camera and I would not consider the new nano a worthwhile upgrade. Similar to the shuffle update, I would not be surprised if next year we saw the nano revert a bit with the form factor to include the camera again. (Or disappear entirely).

Impending death of the iPod classic: Well, Apple went through and listed all the iPod models it has and updated them, with the exception of the iPod classic. In fact, Steve didn’t even mention it. So while it may not be dead quite yet, it looks like it’s days may be numbered. As an iPhone owner, the classic is the one iPod I might actually consider buying, due mainly to its huge drive space, easy to navigate without seeing clickwheel (ie driving and changing songs), and ability to use as a hard drive. Honestly there’s not much Apple could have done to update the iPod classic, however they did not even give us the token “double the hard drive space, slim it down” that it has in each previous year, and I felt bad for it being left out of the iPod group shots. Sort of like the ugly cousin in your family photos you try to have stand to the far left to make it easier to crop him out. That being said, I probably will NOT be buying one, but the (admittedly small) sentimental part of me hopes it still lives on for a few more years in some form.


Conclusion

So there you have it – The Good, The Bad, and the Meh. All in all a very exciting and favorable keynote – the best in recent years in fact. Oh, and if the rumors of Apple using the live stream of the event to test out their new North Carolina streaming farms for a future cloud version of iTunes, there is still work to be done. My iPhone connection reset itself twice, and I experienced many glitches towards the end of the event, and if Twitter is any indication, so did a lot of you.

Pre-ordering the new Apple TV now.

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Comments
22 Responses to “Apple’s September Music Event: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh”
  1. davewhippedgoliath says:

    was about to blow a wad on a new blueray just to stream netflix I’m buying an AppleTV instead.

  2. Bdubs says:

    Apple TV, never for netflix I use Plex and it works just as good for me. I have more integration with my Mac Mini and lex than I will ever have with an AppleTV.

  3. ObeyTheFist says:

    I just downloaded and installed iTunes 10, just to find out it was iTunes 9. Wha?

  4. PiMaxc says:

    ObeyThefist, it says under the button itunes 10 coming soon click here to download 9

  5. kkthxbye says:

    My stream was OK, on IPhone and Mac. I was really excited watching it for the first time live from Germany.

  6. Damien says:

    Two comments on the AppleTV:

    1. The Apple site says “Stream from the huge selection of movies and TV shows…”, so no worries Doc, TV shows are included as well.

    2. The remote looks crappy but most people who buy AppleTV will have an iPhone or an iPod touch so you can just use the Remote app and have a nice remote for it.

  7. Jonro says:

    I’ve had an old G3 connected to my main TV to stream iTunes and iPhoto to the TV. I only have an 802.11b USB dongle, so networking isn’t fast enough for video. I might be interested in the new Apple TV for the Netflix streaming. I really had hoped it would run IOS 4 apps so I could use it to surf the net, too. Anyway, it’s interesting, but not a “must buy” for me, especially when I can just get a iPad connector to view Netflix on a bigger screen.

    The other stuff is cool, especially the new iPod Touch, but I don’t have a real need for it since I have an iPhone and an iPad. My biggest disappointment: That I have to wait until November for IOS 4 on the iPad. What’s with that? What is taking so long?

    BTW. I had the same connection issues during the event, but overall it was quite smooth.

  8. Jon says:

    Doc- don’t ever buy anything for the Apple earbuds. Please.

  9. Maverick says:

    Under Netflix on Apple store site: “Stream movies and TV shows from Netflix to your HDTV. And add to your instant watch queue as you browse.”

  10. Chris says:

    3 words:
    iPod Nano Watch!

  11. photogirl says:

    It’s interesting how apple comes out with new names for software/features/etc that other people already have… do they just buy them off or what?? (There is already a messaging app in the app store called PING) …. and isn’t it a little close to “Bing?” I’m just sayin’…

  12. Dr Spin says:

    The iPhone will always have half the memory of the iPod touch (at least in their current implementations) as one of the ipod’s two memory chip slots is taken by the phone chip. And getting a single chip with 64gb is prohibitively expensive.

  13. Jonro says:

    Ping sounds catchy, but I was surprised they would use that name, as Ping is a ubiquitous Unix networking utility. Then again, it’s not nearly as bad as naming your word processor “Word.”

  14. Willy McKay says:

    Tha Bad: IPod touch is still a 64 Gb. I need at least a 120 Gb. In my old iPodClassic I got around 100 Gb of music, and a little more for videos and podcasts. So at the end I will buy and iPhone with 8Gb and keep my iPod Classic for my music library

  15. Mark says:

    I just signed up for Ping. LAME! It’s not really a social network because it’s just a cleverly named way to try and recommend you to buy more iTunes songs. Note it doesn’t have anyway to even search for your friends in your address book. It won’t include things already in your library that were not purchased with iTunes. It’s the music social network for people who buy their music on iTunes, and more serious music fans will continue to use Last.fm or others

  16. goosefx says:

    i don’t like the new iTunes icon – it looks like something MS would design ;(

  17. photogirl says:

    The Nano is so bad, i bought the “old” model yesterday before they are out of the store for good…..

  18. imajoebob says:

    I don’t like Ping, but I do like the name. As most users used to know, pinging is testing to see if you’re connected to other computers. So naming a social network Ping is a great idea. Well, a good one at least.

    New nano sucks. The wristwatch idea is cool, except you still have earphone cords to deal with. It’s too small. the wrong shape, and lost the camera. Both the square and the diminutive size mean it takes two hands to operate. All the other ipods are designed to be used with one hand – well, except the 3rd generation nano, which WAS returned to the correct dimensions in the 4th generation – which means the shuffle isn’t the first to go back a design step. We can only hope the nano follows suit. But I think the click wheel is dead, whch means the classic is also, de facto, dead. But 32G Band 64GB touch models fills that gap pretty well.

    iTunes 10 not being ready for my G4 was going to be the ugly part, but it now appears available.

  19. imajoebob says:

    Wait, iTunes 10 does suck. It requires that I run Leopard, though if I own a PC with 8 year old Windows XP, I CAN run it. So somebody who’s never paid a dime of Steve’s salary gets iTunes 10 for free. I, on the other hand, after paying 2 grand for my Mac notebook, will have to shell out another 100 bucks to use the “free” iTunes.

    Uh, one more thing, Steve… Bite Me! You take better care of the competitors’ customers than you do your own!

  20. imajoebob, it sounds like you have Tiger. Just pick up a nice shiny copy of Snow Lepard for $30, and do yourself a favor.

    Assuming that when Tiger was still around, your 2 grand notebook is a MacBook Pro, the least you can do is utilize all its power by dropping all that Universal code.

    Agreed though, Tiger is Apple’s XP. It’s still got a pretty good user base, so no iTunes for it is definitely interesting. I think 9 was better though, so 10 isn’t something to lust.

  21. Imagine Engine says:

    I was actually disappointed with the announcement for the new Apple TV. My ideal Apple TV would include the following:

    1. USB port unlocked so it will allow connecting an external hard drive for media storage.

    2. Option to purchase, not just rent media.

    3. Integrate a gaming solution via iOS to compete against Microsoft and Sony by adding the ability to download games from the App Store. Include with this a free wireless controller app for iPhone and iPod Touch users to play games. Combine the benefit of the Game Centre and FaceTime for iPhone 4 users while playing games. This would expand game development on the iOS benefiting Apple, game developers and consumers.

    4. Stream media (live TV shows and rent/purchased movies) over an internet connection (WIFI or ethernet) to customer iPhone, iPod Touch and MacBook. Would require active cable subscription with cable provider, digital terminal and active internet connection. Like a SlingBox.

    5. Support 1080p for HD content.

    6. Parental controls.

    7. NetFlix for Canadian consumers.

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