Hands-on with new Apple TV and iPods; and notes on Ping, the iTunes social network

nano1.jpg Apple showed off the latest editions of its iPod lineup and the Apple TV earlier today. The new iPod Nano loses the physical controls and adopts a multitouch display. The iPod Shuffle, however, gets them back.
4948647045_81b83d5b39_z.jpg The new Apple TV eschews local storage in favor of streaming HD movies and TV shows from the cloud. Netflix and network TV is on-board -- but only Fox and ABC for now. It'll also play stuff on your home network, via WiFi or Ethernet, piped to the set using HDMI. 4949243720_001b80584c_z.jpg In a demo hosted by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the new Nano was depicted at one point as a fancy wristwatch. jobso.jpg Jobs chats with journalists after the new gadgets were announced Wednesday in San Francisco. 4948659013_3b7b75a267_z.jpg The new Apple TV is only a quarter of the size of the last one, and about four inches square. At $99, it is less than half its price. Xeni spent time with the new gear after the announcement, and called in with her findings. Firstly, an Apple spokesperson said that the new Nano and Apple TV don't use iOS, the operating system used on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The lightweight tech gets custom software that still (in the Nano's case) incorporates multitouch. The new TV box has a neat UI, but it is user-friendly connectivity -- with other computer gear as well as the touted HD movie rental/tv services --that holds the most promise. "The UI is improved, and so is the ability to bounce back and forth from YouTube to your own local video collection, to NetFlix and iTunes," Xeni said. "That freedom of movement and the freedom to view that same stuff on your phone, Apple TV and your computer, was already technically possible but you'd need five different things on five platforms, and nothing really talks to anything else. What Apple can do is put it all together and make it more likely more people will adopt it." Not everything will go down well, however, especially the loss of local storage options in the Apple TV box itself: "Cloud rental is being pitched as freedom from having to store, but I think there'll be a lot of grumbling because people like owning things." But Xeni did like the Nano: "It's really sweet, so small. I wanna eat it. It's as big as maybe four keyboard keys. It's like a pill you might swallow. The clip's snug." Also announced was Ping, a social network tightly integrated with iTunes. "The value of any social network depends on how fast it builds nodes on the network, " Xeni said. "Apple's launching a network with 160 million iTunes users from day one. This bodes well for Apple. That's momentum that is nearly impossible to build organically." People are pointing out all over the 'net that Apple is making a sharp move on Facebook, but given its tight connection to music, Ping's landgrab lands more on MySpace's turf. However, you can invite Facebook contacts, with their consent, to join the network, though no details on integration were offered.


  1. Having a screen on the iPad nano seems like a really lousy idea to me, but I’ve said that before about Apple products and always been wrong. Also, Apple TV actually looking pretty good now.

    1. Still prefer my roku player, which I am sure will be true for about 5 more days at which time Steve will roll out epic content for his little box.

      still, for this week at least, glad for my choice.

  2. I am so happy that horrendous iPod Shuffle without controls is now gone and we’re back to the best form factor for it. The iPod Nano seems like a novelty or joke. But the new iPod Touch… Really great! Just a tad disappointed that the back facing camera is 0.7 megapixels (960×720). Is that a software limit? Whatever. I will get an iPod Touch now. All the pluses outweigh that one minor annoyance.

    But I do wonder how that camera would fare for UPC code lookups and such. Could those apps still work on this iPod Touch with that low resolution?

    1. Disappointed the back facing camera is only 960×480?! WTF is wrong with you people?! For a video camera, that is phenomenal. It isn’t HD, but well above normal standards.

      1. Rapatski, for video it is great. But the iPhone can do that res for video AND do 5 megapixel stills. The iPod Touch camera is clearly crippled in still mode.

  3. Once again, these device look great.

    There is one thing that just haunts me and torments me.


    It is unusable. It gets slower, bulkier and just downright unusable on any level with every update. I dread every moment I have to click on that icon.

    Oh! One more thing…


  4. I think they’re taking the right approach with Apple TV.

    I can still buy content. If I want to actually buy and own something, it’s much more important that the content be on my computer, and I can always stream it to my TV.

    There are a bunch of cable shows I’ve heard about but have yet to see: Big Love, True Blood, etc. What I do now is rent the DVDs from my local video shop, and then usually rip the DVDs. At 99 cents I would absolutely dive into Apple TV instead.

    Here’s hoping the TV studios come to their senses.

  5. So what will we call the utility used to test the connection to a host on a network? Obviously Apple copyrighted Ping for all computer references, right?

  6. I’m so sad that they’re killing the iPod classic. :hugs her 80G silver Classic) I COULD have bought a Touch, but I prefer serious HD space to being able to play lame 99 cent games.

  7. Oh, the new Nano as a watch, eh? I wish it did run apps, then I could promote my iApp: http://bit.ly/nhandsclock

    The “iPod Touch 4″ would be a neat complement to someone with an Android phone, set up the phone as an access point, connect the iPod to the wifi, voila, FaceTime!

    And, now they’re in the social networking game too, looks like it’s a move into last.fm’s territory, which is interesting.

  8. So M$ has Bing, and Apple has Ping. All we need now is for someone to bring out Cha-Ching, and we’ll have the complete set…

  9. People don’t want to own digital copies of TV-series and movies, they want to watch them. Same goes for music, people don’t want to own the digital files, they want to listen to them. That’s why Spotify is a smash hit where it’s available. It’s easy, no hassle, you don’t have to manage a music collection. Just search for songs and listen, add to playlists, send to friends. Easy.

    As long as the price is right of course. For 99 cent a episode I would definitely rent them with one click instead of buying (or pirating) them.

    1. I’ll see your anecdotal evidence that people don’t want to own digital copies of video/audio, and raise you MY anecdotal evidence that people DO want to own digital copies of video/audio.

  10. So, what’s the USB port on the Apple TV for? Even if it’s not for anything useful at the moment, I might get one in preparation for what it will do once it’s been prison-skipped.

    1. It is officially “for service and support”, but I think that was true of the original AppleTV as well, and you could boot to USB and hack it, including installing a full (hacked) OS X kernel. The new version won’t be as easily turned into a full computer, I expect, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be modified.

  11. Well, this is the test, isn’t it? If they sell ship-loads of these things then we’ll know people do want to rent movies and TV shows; and if not, not.

    Apple may be right — I know I only want to keep and rewatch an exceptional minority of the movies I see. Many films I consider acceptable entertainment — once — but I don’t care if I never see them again.

    By the way, I’m waiting for someone to show up and tell us how this is all a filthy plot to deprive us of our sacred right to hack and Steve Jobs is actually a shape-shifting baby-eating reptilian demon. Anyone? Cory?

  12. I’m sad to see that Apple has failed to make the Apple TV what it should have been all along; the old Web TV only better.
    Where was the slick wireless keyboard with integrated trackpad? Where was the Blue ray player?
    It didn’t have to run Snow leopard. It could have operated under it’s own OS, and that would have protected Apple’s computer business.

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