Apple have been hard at work and yesterday Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtleneck owner and Apple CEO Steve Jobs launched a totally revamped Apple iPod range, a new Apple TV and a music based social network, Ping.
Keen observers will have noticed Apple tacitly admitting 3 mistakes, as they restored buttons to the iPod shuffle, removed video from the iPod nano and switched to an all streaming model for the Apple TV. With convergence slowly killing off the PMP as a device category (no mention was even made of the iPod classic, the device which helped Apple rebuild their empire) it’s interesting to see what the market leader and more often then not, trend setter Apple had to say on the matter.
The new iPod shuffle has buttons (yay!), 15 hours of battery life and now works with Genius playlists. The iPod nano had a much more interesting makeover, removing the ho-hum video camera and playback facility and, most importantly the scroll wheel. The nano is now a small square of mulitouch glass and looks like a baby iPod Touch. Promising 24 hours of battery life the nano seems to run a version of iOS and has a similar homescreen – with icons for playlists and Nike+. It’s possible that apps could be developed for the platform in time – simple games and the like, although nothing was mentioned.
Apple’s flagship PMP the iPod Touch also received a major overhaul – although to even call it a PMP seems disingenuous as Apple were keen to point out it is a major player in the mobile gaming device market and the casual gaming ecosystem developing on App store is growing at an impressive pace. The Touch has been dramatically slimmed down and its new svelte form features the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, A4 chip, gyroscope, front and back facing cameras and 720p video recording. The camera isn’t quite as good as the iPhone 4’s but until we get some hands on time with it we won’t be able to compare.
iTunes was also revamped and now includes a socially driven musical recommendation engine- Ping. There are approximately 160 mn iTunes accounts floating around and the interface is light and Facebook-esque so it could work reasonably well. It reminded us of mflow – the Twitter-meets-iTunes service we looked at here. (Incidentally Twitter have finally updated their iOS client for the iPad and it’s pretty neat.)
Finally, Apple at long last revamped the Apple TV, shrinking it dramatically, painting it black and abandoning syncing for streaming. But did they make it useful? Well Netflix integration and iTunes streaming for TV shows and movies certainly goes a long way. It only streams in 720p, which makes streaming fast and bandwidth friendly, although I’m sure video enthusiasts will be furious. In the UK things are a little less clear. The USD99 US apple TV gets Netflix streaming and 99c HD TV shows. The UK version seems to lack the HD TV shows and nothing has been mentioned about Lovefilm or iPlayer integration. It is also GBP99. It’s not being released for about 4 weeks so hopefully there will be a little more clarity then.