Apple’s Big “Let’s Rock” Announcement

September 9, 2008 in Technology & Science

Here’s the main info from the press conference that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) held today (info from the live updates here here here and here). This is a summary of the main announcements with my thoughts on a few.

Itunes 8 is being launched. This new version comes with a few new features:
Browse the store in cover flow – You’ll be able to browse the Itunes store in coverflow look, i.e. browse music by album cover, just like being down in HMV flicking through the records on the shelves!
HD TV shows. You can buy them for $1.99 in SD, HD will be $2.99
NBC is coming back, with all it’s best shows (the office, 30 rock etc), but that doesn’t really matter to us in Ireland!

An interesting concept that has been done before quite successfully by websites such as last fm. What it does is us a social algorithm for recommendations. What this means is that iTunes collects data (anonymously) from all it’s users and pools it together on their servers (in the cloud). They can then gain insights into different music tastes and patterns. For example, they can see that most people who like to listen to Green Day, also like to listen to U2. This allows them to do some pretty neat things:
Generate smart playlists based on “songs that go together”. So if I have a playlist with a few Jack Johnson songs, and I hit the Genius button, iTunes would automatically fill it out some Damien Rice, Fionn Regan etc., because it “knows” that they go well together. This could be great for iTunes picking up on the mood i’m in. So i pick a certain song or artist off the top of my head because that’s the kind of music I want to listen to now, and iTunes keeps playing more like it.
The use demoed was for finding music in the iTunes store to go with a song you have. Nothing new or groundbreaking here., pandora, imeem and many others have been doing this for years, but I guess not on the scale of iTunes. This may give them better accuracy if they have a larger pool of data to draw insights from. This was predicted/the case was made for it in a great readwriteweb post a few weeks back. Well worth a read and very applicable to today’s events.

A new iPod nano was announced. Looks very nice – a very thin, curved look. You can use Genius on it too (and all the other ipods) to create a clever recommended playlist “on the go”.
It has an accelerometer like the touch and iphone, with the cooles feature being “Shake to shuffle.” Everything else is pretty standard; some slick new colours, 8GB and 16GB models, environmentally friendly – “highly recyclable.”

An updated ipod touch with some welcome new features. Volume control (+/-) on the side like most modern phones. Built in speakers – great for parties! Genius playlist creation just like the nano. Built in support for nike+ – I don’t ever see myself using this, but it got a pretty good reception from the crowd and media in general. €369.99 for a 32GB Touch, not bad at all.

This was one of the first things that I thought when I got my iPod Touch and played a few of the games in the app store, that it has the potential to be a neat little gaming device. Steve Jobs seems to have some pretty big hopes for it, saying “It’s the best portable device for playing games…” Wow, I guess Nintendo better be ready for the next round. It beat off Gamegear, PSP and now this. Although I have to admit, I do enjoy playing the odd game on my iPod touch, it combines the brilliance of the DS touch and the wii motion sensing that immerses you in a game. And it has that added advantage of always being in my pocket, unlike my DS.
At the conference they demoed a football game and spore. I’ll let this pic do the talking, looks pretty sweet, and is a great example of how the touch screen lends itself so well to gaming, as the DS has clearly shown:

That’s about it for today. If you’d like to keep up to date with all the newest commentary and reviews like this, you can subscribe to this blog so you don’t have to keep coming back to check for updates!