Here’s a pleasant little surprise in the iPod Touch setup. I’ve always wanted to sync my Yahoo! Address Book with Apple Address Book but most of the solutions didn’t work very well.
While I was setting up the iPod Touch, I noticed that syncing with Yahoo! Mail Address book was an option. The iPhone must have this, but it certainly makes more sense on the iPhone than the Mail free iPod. Nevertheless, this is a nice add on that should keep my Address Books in sync (theoretically).
Of course, given my last post, maybe Mail is the missing icon, not my fanciful predictions of other features.
One of things that Apple is generally known for is their elegant design and ease of use. From a design standpoint, symmetry is a key element of any product. You just don’t see a lot of asymmetrical designs out there. And certainly not from Apple.
Looking at the new iPod Touch, I have to ask, what’s the missing button? When the iPhone was introduced, Jobs proclaimed buttons were dead. The ability to reconfigure the layout of buttons or other input mechanisms granted Apple a lot more flexibility in changing their design at will.
Question: why would you ship a product with such an obvious gaping hole?
Answer: it’s an unfinished feature.
We could look to the iPhone for possible features, but that seems unlikely. If Apple was going to ship email, Google Maps, or any of the widgets, they would have showed them at yesterday’s announcement.
This is an iPod folks. It’s all about entertainment, be it music, television, movies, your photos or YouTube.
A remote control?
Ok, so to me, this is obvious. iPod Touch + Airport Express = Kick ass remote control. Buying stuff from the iTunes Store is gravy, but the reason the iPod Touch has WiFi (and maybe Bluetooth) is to make the iPod more useful around the house.
Ever since the Airport Express shipped, I’ve wanted this device. The iPod and now the iPhone have proven to be one of the best ways to easily access a large collection of music. Most remotes fall far short of being useful because they lack the metadata (artist, album, song title) that the iPod or your computer has.
The Sonos comes close to fullfilling my needs, but every time I’ve used one, they just feel clunky. There are a few other devices out there, but they suck way more than Sonos does or are far outside of most people’s budget.
I can’t say that I’m the first to talk about this as Gizmodo talked about this a couple of months ago. It seems that Apple has a patent on this design, or is it something slightly different?
So let’s take the remote control idea a bit farther. You might have a little more than 16 gigabytes of music lying around on your computer. Getting to that music would be pretty simple if your WiFi enabled iPod could read from your shared music in iTunes.
Controlling music being played from your computer to your Airport Express could be another use of the onboard Wifi in the iPod Touch.
A really remote control?
I might be going off the deep end here, but stay with me. When Apple first enabled sharing in iTunes 4.0, you could access your music from another computer over the internet, not just your local network. The music companies didn’t care for this very much and Apple shut this feature down in a subsequent update.
So, wouldn’t record companies complain about this as well? I don’t think so. Rather than a remote computer that could be accessed by anyone, this iPod is mated to that computer. Apple could argue that this is a variation on syncing to a given iPod.
Additionally, despite flash memory advances in the last several years, we’re probably not getting 40+ gigabytes in flash for the foreseeable future. Remote control iTunes answers the issue of a lack of local storage. My own usage of AppleTV has shown me that streaming over the network is better than syncing.
Admittedly, I’m an Apple fanboy. I’m always disappointed when their isn’t one more thing or when the iPhone doesn’t heal the sick and feed the hungry. So this might be a pipe dream.
All the pieces are there and it just takes someone at Apple to put them together.
If nothing else, they have to fill the missing button with something. Maybe they just forgot to add the Mail icon.
Apparently, sex sells iPods, at least according to Steve Jobs quotes in this week’s Newsweek.
In celebration of the iPod’s fifth anniversary, Steven Levy sat down with Steve Jobs to talk about the appeal of the iPod and a bit about where the iPod is going. Two quotes really stuck out at me as being a bit off message for Steve, but maybe a signal of some new marketing coming down the pike.
First, when asked about the iPod’s cool factor waning due to overexposure, Jobs’ replied, “That’s like saying you don’t want to kiss your lover’s lips because everyone has lips.”
Then towards the end of the interview when asked about sharing songs on the Zune, he comments:
It takes forever. By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s got up and left! You’re much better off to take one of your earbuds out and put it in her ear. Then you’re connected with about two feet of headphone cable.
I suddenly understand why the iPod is so popular. It helps you get chicks.
The Zen Vision W launched in the US today and I took a look at the specs on Creative’s website. Looks like a pretty cool product, but they’ve got some work in the marketing department. Maybe they figure this thing will market itself.
Apple has probably the best marketing team in the consumer electronics and computer world right now. Creative should consider taking a page out of their book to win in the marketplace. Below are a few examples how they might combat Apple’s marketing team.
#1. Make your product pages clear and concise.
A little bird sent me this page today:
When you click “Learn More” find out more, you are taken to this page:
Um, ok, whatever.
#2. Sell the benefit, not the specs.
Ok, so it looks like the Zen will hold 15,000 songs. Cool.
Except, maybe there was a misprint because one of them costs more than the other one and it has 60GBs instead of 30GBs of space.
Nope, they meant to put that there. Congrats, my mom just bought the cheaper one!
So, if you can’t accomplish the other 2, at least:
#3. Try not confuse users.
Creative seems to have sent their “B” marketing team on this product. How the hell are you expecting to beat the iPod if you can’t figure out how to sell your device. For a device named the Zen, the site and the product seem awfully difficult to use.
This post is a little mean spirited, but I want the Zen to be better. Competition is the thing that drives product development and gets us better products. Maybe the Zune will bring their “A” team to the table.
Includes two of the most requested features automatic cover downloads and gapless playback. New cover browse mode (no secret of why they added automatic cover download, eh?) From a quick test, it seems to have better playback of video (thank god).
I just installed it on my box at home and while it did take over an hour to analyze my music catalog for gapless playback (it’s over 100Gb), it seems to have picked out most of the tracks that I would expect to be gapless(certain Beatles albums, live performances, opera). A nice touch is that those changes carry over to the iPod, which I haven’t tested.
The interface is cleaned up a lot on iTunes and includes iPod status, Coverflow views and a personal favorite, View Options that are dependent on the media type (Podcast, Video, Songs). This is super helpful in creating smart playlists.
The newest bits of content on the iTunes Store (as it is know called) are movie and game downloads. All videos are 640×480(or less depending on aspect ratio) and will play on 5th Generation iPod. Movies are available in both widescreen and 4×3. A little sparse with the first set of movies as they are starting with movies from Buena Vista and Disney. Other studios are on their way and if you remember, the television store started with only ABC. Currently, there are only 75 movies on the service.
Games are a very interesting suprise as most people don’t think of Apple as being much of a games company, but my feeling is that this is aimed squarely at further differentiating the iPod from others. One fun bit here is that you can play games while listening to music on the iPod.
Ok, so not really a new iPod, but I think that Engadget named it 5.5G. It has a brighter screen and longer battery life. The 30Gb version went to Weight Watchers and is sporting a slightly slimmer look and an 80Gb model was added because they could.
Nano – 2, 4, and 8gb models that look like the old Mini shrank down to a more portable size. God I hate those colors… Shuffle – 1Gb model with some shrinkage – looks like a matchbook.
The lack of widescreen iPod will be disappointing to many (including me), but I have to say, Apple is making a tidy profit on the current iPod and a new widescreen iPod would surely cost them more to make. Personally, I’m stoked my current 5G iPod got a new lease on life.
Steve said that this was a code name (iTV is pronounced “EyeTV“), so don’t expect it to ship with this name. This is a wireless device that will play video, audio and pictures from iTunes. It’s got HDMI and component video as it’s only video outs, so you can make your own HD assumptions here. It will launch in 2007, presumably with the real 6G iPod.
Overall, while their wasn’t a new iPod, current customers are probably pretty happy with the new features of iTunes and their current 5G iPods.
What is pretexting? I’ve only kinda sorta followed the whole HP fiasco, but here is Valleywag’s explanation of what the hell pretexting is.
New Influencers Draft chapters of the new book Paul Gillin about blogging and the influence it has in the world. Paul wrote the book to “help marketers understand the changes that social media are creating in influence patterns in their customer base.” [via MicroPersuasion]
Apple Rumor Roundup Roundup
It’s “Showtime” for something from Apple tomorrow. Here’s a list of the prognosticators:
Here’s a little weekend fun for you and your iPod.
I’ve found that my iPod usage is a little unusual. First, my music collection is somewhere in the 130 gb range (most of it legal) and that while I do listen to music on my iPod, I listen to podcasts and watch video podcasts more often.
While there is a tremendous amount of crap out there, I’ve found some real gems that introduce me to new topics, challenge my way of thinking or just feel smart.
Here are my top 5 brainy podcasts both audio and video. All links are into the iTunes Music Store.
TEDTalks I’ve talked about TEDTalks here before and this video series rarely disappoints. With Al Gore, Julia Sweeney, Jimmy Wales, Nicholas Negroponte and a host of others, the talks given are rarely boring and always thought provoking.
NY Times Talks Interviews with Larry David, William Gibson, Bill Murray and talks with Randy Cohen (The Ethicist) are highlights of this podcast series.
Distributing the Future This O’Reilly series spotlights the best talks from their conferences featuring leaders from the tech industry. This series is consistently interesting and educational.
NPR Story of the Day Story of the Day runs the gamut of NPR’s daily stories and generally delivers a very interesting story that you won’t hear anywhere else.
The Show with ZeFrank “He thinks so you don’t have to.” ZeFrank is one part the Daily Show on speed mixed with a teenager’s diary. Tight editing and thought provoking topics (and often just plain ridiculous). If ZeFrank is the future of video podcasting, we’re in for a great future.
Apple settles with Creative for $100mm I’ve got no real opinion on this other than, it sucks for Apple to lose a UI/Look and Feel case twice, once for each side. Oy. Of course, I’d take Apple’s market share minus $100 million in cash any day.
AOL to offer pay video downloads No big shocks here, but this space is getting crowded. Movie downloads will be priced between the now standard $10 and $20 marks. I think I need to do a roundup of these services real soon now.
Don’t Download This Song Weird Al encourages file sharing with sarcasm. Ok, I know he’s done, but sometimes, you gotta love Weird Al.
Here’s a an email a friend I’ll call ‘iPodFan’ sent me today regarding the Creative Zen. You might remember, I played with the Zen:M back at CES and wished it didn’t suck.
My review of this review… and I’m completely unbiased!! ;)
Creative ZEN Vision:M Media Player
This is the same cost as the 30GB iPod with Video Playback. The ZEN Vision sells at Amazon for $299. The iPod 30GB is $289.99 at Amazon. ;)
My iPod’s hard drive kicked the bucket a mere week after its warranty ran out. Talk about rotten fruit. To get my life back in tune — and to spite Apple — I picked up this Creative media player.
Just like a cell phone, but with a delicate moving part, iPods have a useful lifetime… they won’t last forever. I’m sure Apple feels the spite, enjoy your Creative media player. Good luck getting it serviced if it develops problems.
In fact, upon further research, there are some interesting warranty features:
labor costs are covered only for the first 3 months
labor costs are covered for the first 12 months
refurb models are only covered by a 30 day warranty
refurb models are covered by the same 1 year warranty
buyer pays repair shipping
pays shipping in the first 6 months
Surprisingly, this stylish 30-Gbyte handheld held its own against my old iPod. It matches the video iPod’s MP3 and MPEG playback, makes up for lack of AAC support with DivX and Windows Media compatibility, and dazzles with its 2.5-inch LCD.
Same size screen, wonder how nice the Creative screen looks… I’ve never
seen one that was working on display.
(Editor’s Note – I’ve seen the screen, it was pretty nice.)
The menus and one of its buttons are customizable, and it has FM radio and a mike for recording messages. Plus, it mounted on my PC as a hard drive, so I could add files by just dragging and dropping — no more iTunes nightmares.
Windows Explorer for organizing your media… that sounds like loads of fun. FM radio: more fun. I am interested in the included Mike, is he cute? Does he take dictation? It’d be cool if they included a mic. (Sorry, pet peeve, Wired copy editors suck… I’ve seen so many typos lately.) My only iTunes nightmares are having to upgrade every ten minutes. ;)
My only complaint is that the vertical touchpad is a little too sensitive. And without iTunes Store compatibility, I have to get most of my video via BitTorrent. But that’s a small price to pay to escape Steve Jobs’ stranglehold on my music collection. — Erin Biba
Have fun getting sued. How does iTunes create a stranglehold? iTunes creates full quality Fraunhofer MP3 encodings at up to 320kbps, or VBR AAC, or even Apple Lossless (okay, that one is proprietary).
Thanks for the email, iPodfan! I love it when you’ve woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Keep ’em coming!
Hmmmm….. this sounds like a great idea. Apple has been getting flack for iPods having potentially ear damaging loudness –
The move follows a class action lawsuit that was filed against Apple in a federal court in California in January, which claimed that iPods could cause hearing loss because they have the capacity to produce sounds in excess of 104 decibels and up to 115 decibels.
But it’s a 27.7 mb download for a volume limiter and “bug fixes?” That seems kinda big. I’m not sure we’re getting the whole truth here, folks. Apple has notoriously put new software into iPod and iTunes software releases, so I wonder what else might be in here?
It’s Tuesday, and I’m a whore for the iTunes Music Store (hey, that rhymes).
Continuing iTMS’ tradition of free downloads promoting not-yet-launched tv shows, this week we see Bravo capitalizing on the success of the “Desperate Housewives” with their launch of “Real Housewives of Orange County.”
“The Real Housewives of Orange County” will follow five sophisticated women and their families who lead glamorous lives in a picturesque Southern California gated community where the average home has a $1.6 million price tag and residents include CEOs and retired professional athletes.
Need a little content for your iPod? Google has made its videos (not the ‘for pay’ videos, mind you) available for download reformatted for the PSP and iPod. Thank God, I can finally watch “Road Trip Prank,” “Shtanga,” “Indian Exotic Dance in Office 2” wherever I want!
The long rumored 1 GB nano was announced today for $149 just in time for Valentine’s Day. The rumor that the demise of the Shuffle was coming seems a little premature as they have both dropped in price to $99 and $69 for the 1GB and 512mb respectively.