Apple: iPods! iPods! iPods!

Today’s Apple conference, led by Senor Jobs, concentrated on iOS 4, music and television… and ended with a small concert with some guy from this little band called Coldplay. It was live broadcasted on Apple’s site and it made me feel like… well, I didn’t feel like I was there, but I was able to take my own screenshots.

The event started with Jobs talking about some of the (beautiful) stores that have opened in major cities outside of the United States and gave a basic update about the retail operation, and used some numbers to segue into more numbers—iOS 4 numbers.

iOS 4.1

iOS4-1

iOS four dot one will include some fixes for commonly reported bugs, add HDR photos, HD video uploads, rentals and fully implement Game Center, Apple’s social gaming network. It will be free though iTunes for all iOS 4 devices.

What are HDR photos? Basically, they are photos that balance shadows and light by taking three photos (underexposed, correctly exposed, overexposed) and putting them together. See the illustrations below.

iOS4-HDR1

iOS4-HDR2

As a photographer, I’m slightly aggravated and happy about this. (It’s a long explanation, not for this place.)

iOS4-GameCenter

Game Center is purported to have an incredibly easy multi-player function, for those who have friends to connect with and for those who don’t (auto matching). As previously reported, there will be achievements and high-score leader boards, etc. Jobs demonstrated the player match ups, and they looked very user friendly for those new to multiplayer options.

Jobs introduced Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, who showed a preview of “Project Sword” (code name), a beautifully rendered multiplayer RPG for iOS 4 devices, available this holiday season. The screenshots below do it no justice.

ProjectSword-1 ProjectSword-2 ProjectSword-3 ProjectSword-4

ProjectSword-5

Lesson: Don’t go against a game designer playing his own game.

ProjectSword-6

He will win every time.

iOS 4.2 and Air Play

Coming later this year, especially for the iPad, will be iOS 4.2. It will bring everything the iPhone has (multitasking, folders, etc) to the iPad, plus wireless printing and Air Play. Air Play is the new name for Air Tunes, the program used to wirelessly stream music from iTunes to Air Tunes ready devices. Air Play will include audio, video and photos between devices that use Air Play.

This update will be coming in November for all iOS 4 devices.

iPodsiPods-AmountSold

Arguably, the most exciting thing about the conference: redesigned iPods. (Unless you’re an AppleTV person, look for that below.)

The iPod Touch, Nano and Shuffle are all getting new looks.

The old Shuffles.

iPods-Shuffle

The new Shuffle.

iPods-ShuffleNew

It’s harkening back to the second generation Shuffle and has all the features of the third generation Shuffle. It will be small and wearable, has buttons (once again), uses playlist, can incorporate genius mixes and uses VoiceOver. The tiny battery has 15-hour battery life and will come in 5 different colors, the four (in their packaging below) and the silver shown above. They will be $49 for 2GB players.

iPods-ShuffleNew-Handheld iPods-Shuffle-Price iPods-Shuffle-Clip

The old Nano(s)iPods-Nano

The new Nano

iPods-Nano-Features

… Surprise? There will be no more buttons, now it has a multi-touch screen, dedicated volume buttons, and is a lot smaller. It too has a clip, VoiceOver, and is packed full of features. It has a 24 hour life for audio playback. It also has this neat little rotating screen feature. Look at the screenshots below.

iPods-Nano-Screen iPods-Nano2 iPods-Nano-Screens1 iPods-nano-Screens2 iPods-Nano-Clip iPods-Nano-Handheld

It will come in a variety of colors, including a red model, which will benefit the charity (Red).

iPods-Nano-ColorsThe 8gb model will be $149, and 16gb model will be $179. Mr. Jobs seemed to really push this one as a great tool for health and fitness, with its clip and rotating screens and pedometer. It’s an interesting design, and we’ll see just how well this one is received whenever they come out.

iPod Touch

The iPod Touch is now the number one portable gaming system, outselling both Nintendo and Sony combined. Apple has made the Touch thinner, included a front facing camera with Face Time and will be using the retina display. iPhone users and iPod Touch users will be able to use Face Time with each other, it is not device exclusive. Obviously, you still have to use it over WiFi. iPods-Touch-Features

iPods-Touch-Price

iTunes, Ping and Apple TV

iTunes is getting  a new logo, and a new version (iTunes 10, available at Apple.com for download now). The program itself hasn’t changed much, but there is a new feature that might catch on wildly or fail miserably.

iTunes-NewLogo

Why the new logo? Because iTunes has almost sold more songs than physical CDs have been sold, or something like that. (If a conference went more than five minutes without some kind of self-back-pat, it wouldn’t be Apple.) It looks good, I like it.

iTunes-Ping2The new feature is Ping, a social network that works hand in hand with the iTunes store. It’s Facebook meets Last.FM for Apple enthusiasts. The conference had about 10 minutes devoted to all its features, and it can be boiled down to a few simple things:

  • Friends connecting with friends and artists who sign up for the service
  • Being able to access text posts, videos or songs loaded onto profiles
  • Being able to 1-click buy songs, videos, etc through the service if you find something you just have to have while browsing other people’s profiles.

Jobs said that privacy options are simple, easy and effective. That’s great. (I’m still not going to use it.)

Now, onto Apple TV…AppleTV-CustomerComments1Jobs admitted that Apple TV never took off, not like the iPods or iPhones. They took their set, shrank it considerably, and have turned Apple TV into an Apple rental service. There is no more storage, the device is tiny and silent, uses Air Play between Air Play using devices (computers, iPads, etc) and is Netflix ready. And don’t worry, it comes with a remote. There’s no more syncing between Apple devices, only streaming.

The old price of Apple TV: $299

The new price: $99

AppleTV-Size2

Look at how cute it is! And we even get to see its behind.

AppleTV-SystemDiagram

Now, that $99 price tag is great, but like I mentioned above, the new Apple TV is now a rental service. There is no more data management, no more storage and no purchases on the Apple TV units. While the lower prices are a welcome sight, some people might miss being able to keep anything you watch through the Apple TV service. Movies and television will stream in HD when available, and will be quite cheap, but you have to pay. It wasn’t stated whether you get a 24 hour rental period or if this was a pay-per-view price. If it goes off their current rental guidelines, it’s a rental period.

First run (new releases) HD movies: $4.99

HD televisions, single episodes, commercial free: .99 cents

As movies get older, their price will go down. If you’re someone who uses iTunes to purchase any media, you will be able to use Air Play to play these purchases on your television set. Personally, I would not be happy with shelling out a dollar every time I wanted to watch an episode of some TV show or movie, since I’m someone who usually watched them multiple times over the course of time. This service will find its customer base, excluding this geek.

As of right now, only ABC and Fox are willing to let Apple have access to episodes. Jobs hopes that the other networks will see how successful the program is and jump on board. That may or may not happen. You will also be able to access Youtube (regular and HD streaming) and Flickr through the tiny black box. Look below at the screen shots for a look at some of the menus.

AppleTV-OriginalNew AppleTV1 AppleTV2 AppleTV3 AppleTV4 AppleTV5 AppleTV6 AppleTV-MovieMenu AppleTV-MovieMenu-Extended

Let’s have a bulleted list of what all happened today at Apple:

  • Retail is doing well, and their stores are prettier than anybody else’s stores
  • iOS 4 updates are coming fast and furiously
  • Apple wants people to use Game Center
  • iPods are getting some really new looks
  • iTunes is getting a version 10
    • Will probably still run like crap on older computers
  • Ping, the social music network, is introduced and debuted
    • They really want you to use Ping, okay.
  • Apple TV is looking to expand its user base
    • (I would consider getting one now.)
  • Apple is breaking into the digital rental service game
    • Side note, Jobs said that the Apple TV netflix screens are the “easiest and nicest” to use.

Any questions? Email me, or comment here.

You can also watch the event at Apple’s site.

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