I remember when a new announcement from Apple would have me visibly excited and reaching for my wallet.
I even waited around today for Pacific Time to catch up so I could see what all the hoopla was about. And the experience was like when you have to go see that distant cousin who’s a straight C+/B- average student perform in her school production of Singin’ in the Rain and the kids do a passable job, and the parents are genuinely enthused about it, but you’re just sitting there thinking you’ve got the DVD of Singin’ in the Rain at home and they do a much better job and you’d be better off not wasting your time watching a half-rate production of it.
The original iPod nano was just bad-ass. I never got one for myself because even I couldn’t rationalize it, but I was sorely tempted. And Apple had finally gotten their whole line from desktops to laptops to MP3 players all consistent and looking classy. The new ones are ugly aluminum all tarted up in iPod mini colors.
The “real” iPod has been improved, supposedly, but nothing groundbreaking going on there. It’s still just an MP3 player, and it’s still way inadequate for watching video.
And the whole new “iTV” thing; what’s up with that? A video server that apparently only connects to iTunes running on a different machine. So you can pay $15 and wait 30-45 minutes to download High School Musical in a format only playable via iTunes, and stream it at 640×480 resolution with plenty of compression artifacts visible on your living room TV.
iTunes has been genuinely improved. In particular:
- The really cool freeware app CoverFlow got bought by Apple and incorporated into iTunes. It’s one of the coolest Mac-only apps out there, but never made sense as a separate app, and Apple integrated it just about perfectly.
- iTunes will download cover art for you, another thing that there’ve been about a billion freeware apps written to do. I haven’t had a lot of luck with it so far, but I assume it works.
- You can finally back up your library to disc right from iTunes. Even better, you can choose to backup only what you’ve bought from the iTunes (no longer Music) Store, and you can do incremental backups.
- It’s got an album cover/song list hybrid view that makes a lot more sense for browsing.
- Reportedly, it’s a lot better at handling iPod synching, but I haven’t yet tried it.
On the downside, it’s got the “new look” that Apple’s going towards with Leopard, and it’s all muted and ugly as sin. Or, ugly as the new iPod nano.
They’re going to get my money with the new Leopard point release, but I’ve got to say I’m not that impressed with that, either. Nice try, Steve. Wake me up when you come out with the iPod phone.