Well to most, the event at the Yerba Buena Center (see it here on “iTunes”:http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=59936574&id=275834665) was more Roll than Rocking but there were still plenty to be excited about. Top on the list is probably seeing Steve Jobs back on the stage where he belongs, slightly more gaunt looking than before, less energetic sounding, but still sounding sane and pretty much enthusiastic about what the people in Apple are producing. The standing ovation he got from the predominantly media-centric audience, shows though they were the ones out for blood whenever Apple weren’t forthcoming, they were still glad to see Jobs back at the forefront of Apple. At the same time, Jobs was not forgetting how and who helped him get here, taking the time to thank the gentleman who’s generosity at death that allow Jobs to get the liver and to encourage more to be involved in organ-donation program.
But we know, the event is not just about Steve Jobs. There were still the Rock and Rolling to present. In a nutshell, what we got at the end of the event was the new iTunes 9.0, iPhone 3.1 OS update, improved iPod touch with lower price and higher capacity, iPod nano with camera, increased capacity for iPod classic and new headphone options for the iPod shuffle.
Contrary to popular opinions and rumors prior to the event, we did not get an iPod touch that can go on par with the iPhone 3GS by having a camera, instead it appears on the iPod nano. According to Steve Jobs, the reason was that Apple is marketing the iPod touch as a “gaming machine”:http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/in-qa-steve-jobs-snipes-at-amazon-and-praises-ice-cream/ and keeping it affordable was a higher priority than having the camera. However, the iPod touch might still “have a camera”:http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPod-touch-3rd-Generation/1158/1 in its next update, combine that with its social networking ability, that will definitely challenge the market space of those handheld mini cameras like the Flip or Creative Vado. Apple keeps the 8GB model but lowers the price to S$308, with new models having 32GB (S$468) and 64GB (S$628) capacity and these two also included improved hardware that pushes the speed similarly to the iPhone 3GS and support for “OpenGL|ES 2.0″:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenGL which will improved graphics and video playback. These are all available now from the “Apple Online Store”:http://www.s2d6.com/x/?x=c&z=s&v=1956519&k=iheartapple.
Speaking of the iPod nanos, rumors of it having a camera began a long while back and finally we get to see it in action. At 30 frames per second, 640 by 480 pixels resolutions, it is not comparable to the Flips or the Vados in the market but in a small package like the iPod nano, it definitely becomes a handy gadget to capture moments with video and audio. Though it comes with pre-built effects, it unfortunately doesn’t allow editing on the fly like the iPhone. Plus with no connectivity, Apple lost a good chance to beat the crap out of handheld video cameras like how they did to smartphones with the iPhone. Surprisingly Apple threw in a FM radio receiver but with a twist. They added a Tivo-like feature that allows you to pause live radio and then resume playing from where you stopped. It also has enough buffer for you to rewind as far back as 15 minutes before resuming to the radio. Lastly they also put VoiceOver from the iPod shuffle and for the fitness geeks, it also has a Pedometer that tracks how many steps you take while you walk with the iPod nano.
The iPod nano is available now at the “Apple Online Store”:http://www.s2d6.com/x/?x=c&z=s&v=1956517&k=iheartapple for S$228 for the 8GB to S$288 for the 16GB, with two colours – Yellow and the (Product) Red version exclusive only from the Online Store.
Last but not least, the smallest in the family – iPod shuffle – also had a makeover. Starting at a new low price of S$88 for the 2GB model to S$118 for the 4GB model, the iPod shuffle now comes in five great colors – silver, black, pink, blue and green – and a special “polished stainless steel, 4GB”:http://www.s2d6.com/x/?x=c&z=s&v=1956518&k=iheartapple version available exclusively from the Apple Online Store. Apple has also worked closely with more 3rd party manufacturers to create headphones and headphone adapters with built-in controls, allowing more alternatives for customers.
On the software side, iTunes 9.0 was released with new features like the iTunes LP, Home Sharing and Genius Mixes, a redesigned iTunes Store interface and improved syncing features. iTunes 9 also “improved its file organisation”:http://zachholman.com/post/184377959/coolest-itunes-9-feature, giving better sub-folders to store your music, videos and applications separately under a new iTunes Media folder.
When you plug in your iPhone or your iPod, you can sync music by genre or artists instead of generating Smart Playlists. Probably something Apple should have done back in iTunes 2.0. But better late than never. iTunes 9.0 also work closely with the rest of iLife suite – syncing photos by album, faces or events or movies with multiple criteria. A much wanted feature that was included is the built-in iPhone apps organiser that lets you arrange your apps between screens. You can drag and drop apps like how you do it on your iPhone or iPod touch.
Another feature which I liked most is “Home Sharing”:http://www.apple.com/itunes/whats-new/#home-sharing, especially if you plan or are using a Mac to be your media center. With Home Sharing, you can authorise five Macs in your home that lets you import music and video between those Macs easily. So what it did was it released much needed hard disk space from my MacBook Pro and only keep those music I want to listen to in there, with the rest in my Mac mini. Whenever I want more tunes, I just need to start Home Sharing and drag and drop songs I want.
iTunes LP, is basically a digital album with inserts and additional media included – like videos, liner notes, lyrics and more information about the artist and band. But hey, if we can’t get to the iTunes Store to purchase music, this is basically useless. Humbug. But if you want more details – do check out “a closer look at iTunes LP by Jay Robinson”:http://jayrobinson.org/2009/09/11/some-notes-on-itunes-lp/.