2012, the year of the new Apple


So, the first complete year of Apple without Steve Jobs at the helm in the 2000s has drawn to a close, though who knows when his legacy of influence will end behind the scenes. It’s been quite a revolutionary year, though there haven’t been any brand new product lines.

The most notable and widest spread product update is certainly the iPhone, I say widest spread because it is unbelievably popular and even those who aren’t Mac users own them – it’s a fully featured Apple product that the masses are interested in and can afford. For example, I could spend a day without seeing a single Mac, but I’d be hard pressed to walk one block without seeing an iPhone. Anyway, this year’s iPhone update was certainly the biggest physical update we’ve ever seen – it now has a 4″ screen, and it’s ever steadily getting faster, but on the whole it’s the normal amount of new features Apple brings out yearly.

One feature to spread across Apple’s portable range has been the inevitably controversial lightning connector. Another first since 2007, Apple made a change to the connector port on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and iPod nano, said by Apple themselves to be “a bold move”. Smaller, reversible, and hopefully a lot less prone to connections issues with fraying cables, it threw the accessory industry up in arms as their 30-pin connector products were nearly made redundant. Apple released a 30-pin connector to lightning port adapter, but really, the height of the new iPhone and iPod touch combined with that adapter just won’t fit in those speaker systems with an enclosed iPhone space. It also seems there are more cases available for the iPhone 4/4S than for the iPhone 5, but I’m hoping that situation will improve over the coming months.

iTunes was updated with a massive visual overhaul, covered in slightly more detail here. My opinions on it are still mixed, as queuing music is fantastic but I do miss the control I had over the way I viewed my music collection.

In the Mac corner, we saw the majority of devices getting thinner and faster, with the new iMac and retina MacBook Pro. We’re still awaiting a retina MacBook Air, but is there really a need? The Mac Pro has been largely overlooked yet again, I can’t remember when I last saw it get an update in a keynote rather than a subtle enhancement. Year by year it does look as if Apple is trying to drop the Mac Pro, but as impressive as the iMac gets each year, you just can’t beat 12 cores and 64GB of RAM, which many media professionals use daily.

Elsewhere there was an update to the Apple TV introducing 1080p output for the same price of $99. Not to forget the iPad mini, a product anticipated almost since the day the original iPad was released. And then there’s the iPad… when Apple announced a fourth generation, I fit into the category of people who asked themselves “but didn’t they just release the third generation?”. Yes, in a move uncharacteristically like Apple, they updated a product within their usual 12 month rotation – perhaps compensating for the iPhone 4 not being updated for nearly a year and a half.

And finally, there’s iOS 6. Making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Apple released their first version of iOS without Google’s products being an out-of-the-box component because their deal expired. Google released a YouTube app on the App Store fairly promptly, but only recently updated it to support the iPhone 5’s screen size. I’m sure you won’t forget the Maps fiasco, with Apple’s maps being ridiculed and sneered at. Google left Apple users without an alternative until only earlier this month with Google Maps finally making it onto the App Store. I can’t imagine what took them so long to produce it, maybe they chose the path of letting Apple embarrass themselves rather than play the role of the instant hero. Nevertheless, I feel Jobs’ declaration of thermonuclear war on Apple will prevail posthumously.

Oh, one last thing in the Apple headlines – Scott Forstall was forced to leave Apple. With Steve out of the picture, Tim and Jony saw a chance to remove Forstall and his skeuomorphic design tendencies. While the appearance of iOS is getting stale, I personally don’t dislike Notes looking like a legal pad and folders having a cloth background, but clearly others want it gone. It would be interesting if 2013 brings a completely re-designed iOS.

In the ever-busy Apple ‘rumor mill’ we exit the year with a potentially Intel-powered Apple watch, interesting since the latest iPod nano did away with the form factor that made it wearable on the wrist, and the never-faltering suggestion of an actual Apple TV; a screen, not just a box.

When I started this back in 2010, I had no idea what the coming years would hold. This year I’ve only had 1,800 views, but considering there were only 11 posts excluding this one, that’s not too bad. I will try to get back into reporting every bit of Apple news there is in 2013 rather than just the key pieces, so please stick around for more to come and have a Happy New Year! I won’t be going any time soon, as despite the ever-present lack of a large and loyal reader-base, running this has at least contributed to my writing improving, something which will hopefully be beneficial in a career.

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It’s not about what you make, it’s about what you do.


Once again, Apple is in the process of announcing some new products, in this case the new Apple TV and the new iPad. As usual, they are using facts and figures to rubbish their so called ‘competition’. I’m being flippant with the competition in inverted commas, obviously. But Apple does have a knack for bending the statistics to their advantage. For a company that has for so many years provided for a niche, they do like to try and go all-out these days. It would be fairly hard to argue against the typical statement that “Apple don’t invent, they merely innovate through providing a better solution to a problem created by those who didn’t get it right the first time”. So the new iPad has a better graphics chip in the form of the A5X processor. I can imagine that the first real game to utilise the new retina display and graphics capabilities will be Real Racing by Firemint… Other companies may make better graphics chips, or provide devices with higher specifications, but as this post is titled,

“it’s not about what you make, it’s about how you do it”

Apple is good at making things work well with the lowest specifications possible. My 3rd generation iPod Touch can play Real Racing 2 just fine, with better visuals than my HTC Trophy. The iPod has a processor clocked at 600MHz and 256MB of RAM. The Trophy has a 1GHz processor and 576MB RAM. No, my iPod doesn’t have retina display, so I can still see the pixels, whereas I can’t on the Trophy, but the games just look better. The games on WP7 and for that matter, Android, just aren’t as visually appealing. I’m fairly sure many die-hard Android users would claim otherwise, even after they’ve used an iOS device, but they are usually being just a bit short sighted. If i showed them two identical screens, and all they could see was the screens,   and I showed them NfS Hot Pursuit on an iPod with retina display, versus, I guess, NfS Hot Pursuit on an Android device, they’d say the iOS one was better. You have to hand it to Apple, they really do know how to do it right.

Or maybe the Apple September 2010 event wasn’t so great…


I just installed iTunes 10 and I hate it. Sure, Ping is cool, but that is just about it’s only redeeming feature. Apple has sucked all the colour out of it and changed the logo. Please Apple, I want iTunes 10, but with the old theme and logo.
Also, I have heard that the stills camera on the iPod Touch fourth generation isn’t that great. 0.7 megapixels apparently, which is worse than my four year old HTC Wizard. Of course the iPod thing is just what I have heard, but if Apple was proud of the camera they would have put the amount of mega pixels in the specs sheet.

Also, the new Apple TV. Streaming only? Well, the cloud does seem to be the future (may God help those with dialup) so I’ll leave Apple TV alone, as it is basically awesome.

After: Apple September 2010 Event


As usual, Apple held it’s September music centered event and launched several fantastic updates. iPods, iTunes and even the long awaited Apple TV update.

iPods:

Fourth Generation iPod Touch:
The rumors had been flying about before the event, mainly about the camera, and almost every rumor came true! The new iPod Touch has now been brought another step closer to the iPhone. It features:
Two cameras. One on the front for Face Time and one on the back for photos and HD video recording (so I presume it’s 5MP).
Retina Display. The fantastic crispness of the iPhone 4’s screen has been integrated into the new iPod Touch.
The A4 processor. The iPod Touch now has the same Apple-made processor as the iPad and the iPhone 4. I presume this also means that it has 512MB of RAM.

Sixth Generation iPod Nano:
A massive change (as usual) to the overall design of the Nano. The first two generation Nano’s were sticks, the third gen Nano was the awesome rectangular mini iPod classic style (you can probably tell it was my favourite!) then followed by two generations of the newer design, and now, basically a square. It does look cool, but rather impractical. For starters, how do you use it? Well, it’s got a multi touch screen, yet you can hardly get two fingers on it. Where’s the camera? The old one had a video camera, so where is it in this. Well, as far as I have heard, there isn’t one. Mainly because the new nano, is, well… nano, and it’s got a massive clip on the back of it. It’s not massive if you look at it, as it’s a normal size clip, but it’s as big as the nano itself in comparison.

Fourth generation iPod Shuffle:

I’ve never really been a fan of the shuffle, or even the shuffle feature in music players. Sure, it reintroduces you to tunes you liked but forgot about, but if I want to listen to a specific tune or podcast, I can’t. And for the money you pay, you could get a relatively good MP3 player with what is loosely referred to as a ‘screen’ (the worst PPI scrolling display you have ever seen). But that’s what you get when you buy Apple products. Apple products aren’t perfect, but nothing is, and they’re massively better than any alternative. Sure, the firmware on my iPod messes up sometimes and I need to sync to fix a very inconvenient problem, but on the whole, it works flawlessly. I’ll be honest with you, I was staring at a picture of the new shuffle thinking ‘what in earth am I meant to write about this, it’s the same!’, but then I looked at the MacTracker app and remembered. I was thinking it was the same as the shuffle it think of as THE iPod shuffle is the second generation one (That would be why I was so confused). So, the new iPod shuffle is basically a reincarnation of the second generation one but with the empty space that didn’t have buttons now removed. Now it’s tiny and useable, but if you want a small, actually useable iPod, then go buy a third generation nano, as 8GB of storage, a screen, a clickwheel and a real iPod look is hard to say no to when your other choice is an awkward touch screen or a square so small you can’t press the buttons. Smaller is generally better with technology, but there is generally a point where it gets ridiculous.

I’m pretty sure news websites said that all the iPod’s would be updated. Did they update the classic a tiny bit or did they drop it? I hope they didn’t drop it, as 160GB of storage in your pocket kind of goes unrivaled. I mean, come on, my laptop only has a 40GB hard drive, and my PC’s main hard drive is only 80GB (I have an external desktop drive though) so 160GB is pretty amazing. Sure the screen is small, but it’s worth it.

Other Apple products:

iTunes 10!
That’s right, ten! Sure, there was a huge iTunes update with movies and TV show a while ago, and updates after that seemed more like bug fixes with an extra button and making it impossible to sync an iOS device if it’s firmware is too new for your version of iTunes, but this time Apple has added a social network. And no, not Twitter integration, but their own social network! It’s called Ping, and it’s a social network for (duh) music. All in all, iTunes 10 is a really cool way to slow down your PC and hardly be able to use any of it, but if you have a Mac, then you can use every aspect of iTunes 10 at a fast speed.

Apple TV

Thankfully, not renamed to iTV (because of the UK broadcaster and that iTV kind of sucks as a name for it). Apple TV has been changed kind of in the way the Nano has. In other words, it has been made smaller and a key feature has been removed. It is now tiny. And there’s no storage. If you had a slow Internet connection at home and downloaded all your stuff with an iPod Touch/iPhone somewhere else, then synced it to your PC and then put it on your Apple TV to watch, now you can’t. The new Apple TV is focussed on streaming. Ie, you rent stuff. I heard somewhere (GPRS on a phone is no way to hunt down stuff you thought you heard!) that renting a TV episode would be 99 cents, which will hopefully mean 59p (that’s how the app store currency conversion worked) in the UK. For $99 you can’t argue that it’s awesome, but $99 for the Americans should mean about £59 in England, but like almost all Apple hardware it will probably be closer to ninety nine than fifty nine. Still, pretty cheap for what you get.

Some of the facts may be wrong in the above post as at the time of writing I only had a GPRS connection on a not very good for browsing the web phone. Also, some of the opinions on the products may look unfinished, that’s because I needed a bit of info to continue, and either found it and continued or couldn’t find it and forgot I needed it.

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TV Writer Podcast. Watch the latest episode at http://www.tvwriterpodcast.com

Apple TV could become iTV?


Yes, ‘Apple TV’ is long winded compared to iMac or iPod, but iTV just doesn’t look like an Apple product name. The reason all this surfaced in the news is because Apple is rumored to be planning in releasing a new, cheaper version of their Apple TV, named iTV, with only 16GB of storage (because stuff will be viewed from ‘the cloud’) and Apple l’s own A4 processor. ITV said they would vigorously defend their brand and reputation if these name rumors are true.