So, Steve’s taken the stage and done his bit. Now it’s up to us to spend the next 3-5 days marveling at the design brilliance of Apple and how they’ve changed our lives before settling back down in to the (not unimpressive) reality that they’ve just re-engineered an existing solution to be intuitive and look very nice.
This may not be the case this time; all of the updates announced today are relatively subtle. iTunes 8 is a good for-instance. I installed it full of hopes. It looks basically the same in the frame. The new view is nice, but for the first ten minutes made my machine (QX6800, 4GB) hang in a manner briefly reminiscent of installing Crysis on my pre-QuadCore machine.
The Genius feature wanted to spend 4 hours of my life (and 2GB of my RAM) capturing my Play data. And I didn’t find the new visualizations until prompted by a post. Despite all of this, I am now a lot happier with iTunes than I was yesterday. It took hours and I’m almost pleased. This is a new experience for me with Apple products; usually it’s the initial wow which blinds me to other obvious flaws. This time it’s the ‘perfection’ that hides the lack of new wow.
Don’t get me wrong; iTunes 8 isn’t perfect. It’s still nowhere near as fast as it could be on Windows Vista. I would also like to see some sort of attempt at use of Glass in it. I like Look-and-feel native applications. It’s what OSs are designed for.
The new iPod Nano 4G which has been much-rumored was released as expected. It’s a lot better-looking than I expected, although even some of the demonstration shots show Glare on the curved screen. Something that I would be hesitant to introduce! The new software looks gorgeous as ever, and may be tempting enough to push my fatty-nano out of my gym bag!
The $80 headphones announcement was a pleasant surprise and will definitely be finding their way in to an iPod incredibly near to me. That said, I use the wired hands-free for my iPhone a lot as it doubles as my headphones; I wonder if there will be a version of these with the in-line mic? (update: they all do)
I’m not surprised to not see a laptop or desktop line upgrade here; as I posted earlier, ‘Consumer’ is the key. Things that will drive immediate sales this Christmas, with no uncertainty or possibility of postponing purchasing for later features. We all know that Intel is releasing it’s new generation of processors in Jan / Feb which offer huge benefits for mobile computers. This is most likely what we’ll see in the next major revision of all Mac lines. Snow leopard too will not be making any more appearances until next year for the same reasons and I think Microsoft would be wise to take the same approach with Windows 7.
I am very pleasantly surprised by this round of Apple announcements; they show a brilliant matching of form AND function and will genuinely improve the experience of all users of Apple products (especially iTunes, iPod and iPhone).
I will forgo mentioning 2.1 iPhone firmware until Friday when it’s released.