Thursday, September 2, 2010

Shiny New Things From the Fruit

Yesterday Apple held it's annual music event in San Francisco, and as expected they have unleashed a slew of new products. They refresh their entire iPod line, except for the iPod classic. They also announced iTunes 10 with a new social networking feature called Ping. Without further wait, lets jump right into the nitty gritty.

iOS The next version of the iOS has been announced, and with it a Game Center. Put simply, Game Center is like Apple's Xbox Live or PSN. You will be able to play games, unlock achievement, and have your friends see. You can also challenge your friends real time over WiFi. It will also allow you to do TV Rentals, just like iTunes 10 (more below).

iPod Touch The iPod Touch has been given a make over. It now has the Retina Display that was given to the iPhone 4 earlier this year. It also incorporates the A4 chip that the iPhone 4 has, that is a big plus for people who game on their iPod Touch. Next, it was given a front facing and back facing camera, with the ability to do face time and record 720p HD videos. Face time will allow you to call people on other iPod Touches and also iPhone 4 users. The front camera has quality that is lower than the iPhone 4's, if you want the better one you have to buy an iPhone 4. However, with this release of the iPod Touch, they have dropped the 16GB version, which is a bit of a down side. This iPod Touch will also be running the latest version of iOS. It also has a built in microphone and built in speakers. The battery can last a full 40 hours if the only thing you do is audio, 7 hours if you do a lot of video. A 3 axis gyro has also been implemented, which is good for gaming. It is of course thinner and lighter then it's previous incarnations. A starting price tag of 230$ and up if you want more space.

iPod Nano For a while now the iPod Nano didn't really have a place, it was just trailing behind doing different odd things like radio and taking video. Well all that has changed. The click wheel is gone and it now has been given a full multitouch display. The camera has also been done away with, replaced by a clip that allows you to clip the iPod to your shirt, jeans, jacket etc. There is an 8GB and 16GB model, starting price is 149$. The FM Radio tuner has stayed, so nothing much has change there. It can give you up to 24 hours of music playback on a full charge. the size is of course smaller then it's last incarnation and it is much lighter. Whether people will take a liking to this is yet to be seen.

iPod Shuffle The shuffle didn't really get an upgrade as it did a downgrade. The old version of the shuffle, the one with no buttons, did not go over so well with consumers. As a result the buttons are back along with the small square shape. It has kept the voice over feature, as well as the ability to do Genius. You can have multiple playlist also. Although the shuffle doesn't offer as much as other iPods out there, the 50$ price tag and simplicity of it is good for people who just want to listen to music and don't care that much about anything else.

iTunes 10 Next, there is iTunes. The music application that ties all of Apple's music products together. First and foremost is the update is Ping, the social networking client Apple has created. Ping allows you to post status updates of what you do on iTunes, from listening to songs to watching videos. It also allows you to post videos, pictures, or text of what you are doing in real life. You can allow anyone to follow you, or you can have a private account and make people request to follow you. Ping is a lot like Twitter when you compare the two. Ping can also go with you on your iPod Touch or iPhone 4 since it is built right into the iTunes mobile application. Second biggest thing is AirPlay, formally known as AirTunes, allows you to now stream your music to third party receivers. Previously you could only stream to your Airport Express (unless you had other software). They have also improved syncing for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPads. This allows you easily organize your device(s). Finally, TV Show rentals have dropped in price from 3$ to 99¢.

Apple TV Wow! Where to start on this one!? There have been so many added features. The biggest feature being the size reduction. It is 80% SMALLER then the previous version. Apple has done away with the hard drive inside and has turned the Apple TV into a stream only product. You can stream from your iTunes on your computer, and in the future you will be able to stream from your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone as long as they are running iOS 4 firmware. In addition to all of that, it plays 720p HD video. The reason it is not 1080p is because of bandwidth issues. It also does Netflix, all of you that subscribe can use this feature, YouTube, Flickr, and MobileMe. All these ways allow you to stream videos to your Apple TV. It has wireless built in and also an ethernet card for those who prefer a hard wire. You will also be able to rent movies the day they come out for 3.99 and watch them in HD. However, you can no longer purchase movies on your Apple TV since it has no way of storing them. Another small feature is the ability to control your Apple TV with your iPod Touch or iPhone. Plus, it is only 99$!

iPad Last but not least is the iPad. Nothing was done to it physically, but it was announced that the iPad will join the iOS 4 line up later this year. It will receive the update in November. The update will include the ability to print email, webpage notes and more. You will also be able to use AirPlay to stream to your Apple TV, as mentioned above, as well as multitask and create folders.

Overall Apple really did a good job of lining up new items for this holiday season. I am personally looking to update my first generation iPod Touch to the newer one. The camera is what really makes me want it because I always forget my camera. I am not a fan of the iPod Shuffle or the Nano, and as I said earlier I don't know how well the Nano will go over with consumers. I can see many people getting an Apple TV, the new upgrade and price makes it a great piece of equipment to have in your TV cabinet. Next on the line of updates for Apple is one of their computers, that will probably happen in the next couple of months.


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