Apple’s September 1st Special Event

Screen shot 2010-09-01 at 10.10.59 AM
First impression of the video stream viewed in Safari 5 on my mac: insane, like watching a 480p video on YouTube without a single hiccup or buffering message. Back in 1999-2002, I used to be able to try and watch Macworld keynotes and even the times I was at UCLA using Internet2 with their prioritized feeds, the online video barely worked and I usually gave up. Today's perfect streaming to many, many more people is a pretty impressive accomplishment. In the end, I got about 30 seconds of flashing video about halfway through the stream, but otherwise it was perfect for over an hour.

Airplay teaser: whoa, my favorite and most often used app on the iPad, AirVideo, is dead. I'll get the same functionality without the app in iOS 4.2

iPods: Shuffle seems like a step back, but probably a good idea. The Nano is barely bigger than a Shuffle, but the video screen looks very small (is watching video on a 1" screen even possible anymore?). The Nano is so small that Steve Jobs' fingers look too large to even use it in the demo. The Nano does have a dock connector on it, which means it can be used in every sort of iPod accessory, especially cars with iPod connectors. The iPod Touch finally gets cameras, and even gets Facetime. Pretty nice updates all around.

iTunes: The new icon is kind of ugly, and still music-centric even though it does a lot more.

Ping: Holy crap, it's like Napster 1999! Seriously, Napster perfected new music discovery in 1999 (for me at least) and it worked better than anything I've used since, but Ping is looking pretty strong. Last.fm and Rdio must be crapping themselves right now. I wonder if it will log songs from non-iTunes sources though (like Amazon MP3s)? In the demo, Ping looks a bit like a Facebook clone with tons of "buy now" links everywhere. There's also an event planner, like upcoming.org. Comments, photos, and video seem like a stretch for iTunes, it's almost as if Apple looked at iTunes usage of people hitting play and minimizing it and wondered how they could instead have people use it for hours a day.

AppleTV: Holy cow, 1/4 the size, and a better remote. No more purchases is weird, my 5 year old daughter likes to watch the same movies over and over again. Looks like it's going all-streaming like people predicted. Netflix streaming means I now have 6 devices in my house that can do netflix streaming (Wii, PS3, iPhone, iPad, TiVo, AppleTV). Airplay looks good, but I wish I could send any video from my desktop Mac to my AppleTV. $99 seems like a no-brainer given there's no hard drive in it anymore. I suspect someday they may even be free given they drive so many sales to iTunes.

11 Comments

  • Regarding Airplay—assuming it will limit the codec support, though, which you don’t have to worry about with AirVideo.
    Ping is only accessible via iTunes (rather than the browser), which seems crazy to me—it’s building a silo for an app inside another app that a lot of people don’t like using. From the keynote, it also appears that automated recommendations from friends (like the “top 10″ list) only comes from things you purchase from iTunes, which is also really unfortunate.

  • > Airplay looks good, but I wish I could send any video from my desktop Mac to my AppleTV.
    Haven’t they said you could stream from your computer? The bit about “renting or streaming”. Renting would be streaming from Apple, but I expect you’ll be able to stream from an iTunes library on the network.

  • One thing that people seem to have not noticed is that the new Nano doesn’t do video at all. It’s “all about the music,” according to Apple. No apps, no games, just music. So, step forward on UI, step back on functionality.

  • Well, to be fair, watching video on the tiny screen of the previous nano was pretty ridiculous, and the camera recording feature was pretty much unused by most (to this day, I’ve never seen video identifying itself as iPod nano video uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo).
    The postage stamp sized 1″ screen couldn’t possibly do video any justice so it sounds like a good compromise. They’re trying to move people up to iPod Touches and iPhones anyway.

  • True, and really I didn’t care so much about video on the nano either – it’s just interesting that several people have asked how well the video will work on it without realizing that the answer is essentially “mu.”

  • Why didn’t that show up as a reply to matthowie? yay typepad…

  • There is a USB port on the back of the AppleTV. I got to imagine someone will break it sooner or later for added functionality.

  • Matt wrote: Shuffle seems like a step back, but probably a good idea.
    Do you actually use a Shuffle? I love my Shuffles (yes, plural), but I abhor the current model. Apple is reverting to a previous, better design, something I never thought they’d do. I’m ecstatic. (Seriously.) I think this is an interesting story that probably won’t get covered by anyone, but is important to us Shuffle fanatics. (I know several other Shuffle folks who hate the current model and who, like me, picked up backup previous-generation models.)

  • The nano video was convenient to me occasionally, but I don’t have an smartphone that does video or I would have used that.
    What was annoying was that you had to have the nano in disk mode, and it would launch iPhoto everytime you synced it.

  • Seems unlikely AirPlay will have on-the-fly transcoding, which is AirVideo’s killer app for me.

  • I wish I could send any video from my desktop Mac to my AppleTV.
    me too! but since i can’t, i’ve been using ps3 media server for months to stream video from my macbook pro to the ps3 and it works pretty damn well:
    http://code.google.com/p/ps3mediaserver/

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