A disappointing Apple event?


I, like many, have been anticipating this event for a while – wondering if Apple was going to make foolish moves with timing, what they were going to release in their traditional Music month, and whether or not the various leaks and rumors were true.

However, I feel a bit dissapointed with the results. I’ll run through the products in order:

iPhone 5:

  • Thinner than my current phone the HTC One S (HTC’s thinnest device), but not as thin as the upcoming Huawei Ascend P1s. Maybe Apple wanted to rush out the iPhone 5 with the ‘thinnest smartphone’ title while it was merely a dubious claim rather than untrue.
  • At long last a wider screen, up from 3.5″ to 4″. However, they didn’t appear to do the smart thing of keeping the aspect ratio the same so as to not annoy developers again (as they had done in the past with the iPad screen size and then retina display). From what it looks, normal iPhone/iPod apps will sit in the centre of the screen. Which, speaking from the point of view of someone with a 4.3″ phone display, which suffers from the lack of a physical menu button, I have to have a significant amount of my screen space wasted for a virtual menu. At least that space is used for something though rather than Apple’s empty space
  • A better camera. Yeah, yeah, another incrementally better camera. Still 8MP, but better low light performance and noise reduction, with some impressive demonstration shots. I challenge anyone with the phone to take photos that looks that good.
  • The design has been updated in that it’s got those previously seen matt bars across it on the back
  • A new power connector – ‘lightning’ (don’t worry, they make a 30-pin to lightning adapter, though I don’t see the practicality of the adapter when it comes to accessories such as speaker systems with an enclosed iPhone area that now won’t be tall enough due to a) the adapter and b) the new height of the iPhone.

iTunes:

  • Rather a Zune-style re-design. I doubt it’ll become more usable or bloated, probably less usable and more bloated
  • The mobile iTunes and App Store apps have been updated to have the currently popular matt black style and a slightly clearer yet bulkier App description page view

iPod Nano:

  • Now looks suspiciously like the Zunes of yesteryear, seems more like a childish micro-iPod touch, with a plethora of gaudy colours to choose from
  • Has a bigger touchscreen and iDevice style home button (but is a circle in a circle instead of a square in a circle)
  • Same lightning connector
  • Defeats the whole point of ‘nano’, a word synonymous with very small. This is no longer very small. Admittedly some past generations of Nano weren’t that small either, but they do enjoy fluctuating between form factor with the Nano… perhaps we’ll see a nano Nano next year…

iPod touch:

  • Thinner than before. What a surprise, I thought they’d make it thicker. Oh, wait, no I didn’t, because that would be un-innovative and unappealing.
  • Has a 5MP camera and looks like it has a flash
  • As usual, not comparable to the current iPhone. Or even the 4S for that matter. Still, an improvement.
  • Aren’t you lucky, they just made the iPod touch as childish as the Nano – you can pick cyan or banana yellow if you really want to!

Earphones:

  • Eventually a new earphone design. Personally, I’ve never had any shape issues with the previous earbuds, but now you can have EarPods. And we all thought iPad was a ridiculous name back in 2010
  • Hopefully the sound quality won’t be as weedy as before and perhaps the cable will last a little longer.

So I don’t know what I was expecting, but I haven’t been particularly excited by this product announcement. Maybe it’s because iOS is not much different to how it was in 2007. After all, I wouldn’t be impressed by a supercomputer if I had to run Windows 98 on it rather than something a bit more up-to-date. An iPhone was inevitable and given that it’s September, new iPods were inevitable along with iTunes. So nothing really exciting, just timely updates. All in all, this video rather sums up the iPhone 5.

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The new YouTube app


As you may know, last month Apple stated that their license with Google to include the YouTube app pre-installed on iOS devices has ended. What does this mean for you? Well, if you have an iOS device, you can get the new YouTube app from the app store right now. After installing it, you’ll notice it’s slightly different to the Android app with the main feed – you can opt out of Google’s non-subscription based suggestions. That is, you can stick with just seeing uploads from people you subscribe to in your main stream, rather than also see what they comment on, what they rate, and what they add to playlists. Personally, I welcome  this for two reasons; one being that with YouTube preloading on Android bumps subscribed uploads off the list in preference for newer activity which is just someone commenting on a video, and secondly, the entire activity list resulted in browsing through a lengthy stream of potentially uninteresting material.

The animations also feel a bit slicker than the Android ones in that it bounces a bit rather than just sliding to the side, resulting in the new iOS app feeling more polished and thought-out than the Android one.

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

Before: Apple September 2010 Event


Tomorrow, Apple will be having the usual September iPod update announcement. Most people are focused on the next generation of iPod Touch. The latest mini-rumor is that it will have more than 64GB of storage. Now, that would be ridiculous, but I (as you probably know) have the 64GB third generation model, and 64GB really isn’t enough. I ‘only’ have 5GB left. Now, that may seem like a lot, and in Windows Mobile or Windows itself terms, yes, that is a lot. But in Apple terms, that is not very much. For example, that’s just short of a whole season of Friends, or about 5 normal length films or 15 really good apps based on real games. In Windows terms, that’s nearly XP installed (off hand, it’s either 4 or 6 GB) or 6/7 films. Anyway, if they make the storage space in the iPod Touch bigger, surely they would have to increase the hard drive space for the iPod Classic. Isn’t flash memory really expensive? So if they do increase it, could we see a huge price rise, however that would then mean Apple wouldn’t loose so much money if they added 3G to the top model. To sum up, I can’t wait to get the keynote podcast, and I’ll probably be constantly refreshing a news website for comedic status updates on what’s being announced.

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

Next generation of iPod Touch hopes.


In the next generation of iPod Touch, I would like to see:
•Storage space as large as possible (some people hoping for iPod Classic rivaling sizes are probably dreaming way too high, as the Classic uses a hard drive, and if you put one in an iPod Touch, you would be rather ruining it’s thin metal look (if they keep the current design)
•3G. I shall elaborate further in a later post.
•Retina display. Let’s face it, it’s awesome. I honestly can’t see the pixels!
•a camera. People have been begging for a camera for ages, and now that the iPhone 4 has two, at least one is more of a possibility than before, and hopefully with the same amount of mega pixels, and not a feeble original iPhone camera.
•gyroscope. Not many app developers have used the opportunity of complete motion sensing to their apps, and if Apple added the gyroscope to another of their portable products, app developers may get a move on.
•’basically an iPhone, without the phone’. A phrase used by many critics, and they were wrong. It wasn’t missing just the phone, but I want it to actually be an iPhone, just without the phone.

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

Problems, problems


Apparently (as I haven’t been home to check yet, but it looks like this is true) iTunes has been updated to iTunes 9.2.1. This ‘fantastic’ update takes the pitifully small amount of control the users had and gives them none. It now works better with iBooks 1.1.1 and will disable ‘older version of some incompatible third-party plug-ins’ and the issue of upgrading iOS 4 if they had encrypted backups. For most people, this update will seem to do nothing. For others, this will be a tough choice for them, as was upgrading the PS3’s firmware to play new games, but never again be able to run Linux on it.

iTunes. Again.


I just went out to buy an iTunes gift card (my way of controlled spending on the iTunes store) so that I could buy the first season of a TV show I liked the look of. A little while back, I bought the first episode of the show and watched it. It seemed like a good comedy, and seems to be popular (it’s 30 Rock by the way). This ‘taster’ only cost me £1.89, which is a relatively cheap price to pay to watch an episode of a show that you might get interested in, instead of waiting for it to come round on the TV again in 5 years time or buy the whole season on DVD. Also, buying it on DVD would cost me £15 in HMV, or £7.99 (ish) on Amazon. It is only £9.99 on iTunes, and it is much more convenient on iTunes to watch it, as it can be in my pocket and watchable at any time, as opposed to only watchable when I’m near a television. Yes, it will take time to download, but it’s easier and on the whole, cheaper.

iOS 4 Release!


Yay! The release of iOS 4 is just round the corner (tomorrow!). Unlike the iPhone OS 3.0 update, I have been tortuously waiting since the original keynote for it’s release. As I didn’t avidly follow the iPhone OS 3.0 update, I’m not sure if it will be available at midnight tonight in the UK or halfway through the day, but I will be watching and waiting over my gutt-wrenchingly slow laptop’s iTunes.

Update at 8:30AM GMT, 00:30PST.

Still no iOS 4 😦 Will hopefully be released at or before 8PM GMT/10AM PST.