Apple iPod iTunes Macintosh

iPod Touch’s conspicuously absent button(s)

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.

What 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.

He’s nuts

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.

Apple Consumer Electronics Features iTunes Microsoft Portable Entertainment Rumors

Twas the Night Before Macworld


Twas the night before Macworld when all through the town
No MacBook was mooing nor turning brown

At Moscone, nerds were queuing with care
in hopes that Saint Steve would soon be there.

Apple Downloads iTunes Links Video

Links for Wednesday, September 27, 2006

gv_berkeley-logo.jpgBerkeley and Google Video team up
Not content to get your lectures via podcast? Now you can watch your prof’s give lectures on Google (as well as talks, symposiums and more). I wonder what this does to attendance?
[via eContent

Two thumbs down for Amazon Unbox
Wow… so I never did my review of the service (actually, I never downloaded a movie), but this review pretty much seal’s the deal. Old time computer smarty pants Peter Lewis gave Amazon’s Unbox service a pretty scathing review in Fortune magazine. His 5 hour download experience alone makes you want to run to bit torrent. I wonder if their update has helped?
[via Paul Stamatiou]

iTunes sharing skills
Playlist magazine has some good tips on managing the sharing aspects of iTunes.

iTunes updated to 7.01
Fixes a whole bunch of stuff. Go get it.

Apple Downloads iPod iTunes Media Servers and Streamers

Apple’s Showtime event

dsc_1067.jpgWhile Showtime lacked a few expected items, overall, this was a nice big present to current iPod owners and a cue that Apple has nothing to worry about from their competitors.

iTunes 7

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.

Movie and Game Downloads

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.

New iPod(s)

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.

Watch the SteveNote

Apple Home Entertainment iPod iTunes Links Macintosh

Links for Monday, September 11, 2006

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:

Wired Blogs – Wired has collected a brilliant set of mockups
The Apple Core

Features iPod iTunes Podcasts

Fill your iPod, fill your head

indexclickwheel20050907.gifHere’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.

  1. 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.
  2. NY Times Talks
    Interviews with Larry David, William Gibson, Bill Murray and talks with Randy Cohen (The Ethicist) are highlights of this podcast series.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Enjoy your weekend, sports racers.

Apple Downloads iTunes Yahoo

Jessica Simpson track is NOT DRM free


While the blogging world is falling all over itself in praise of Yahoo!’s release of the so-called “DRM-free” Jessica Simpson track (I won’t even comment on the fact that the track is from Jessica Simpson, oy), I think that the music industry is indicating how desperate they are to break from the iTunes hegemony that they have created and how they aren’t really willing to get rid of DRM any time soon.

First, let me address the DRM issue. The downloadable Jessica Simpson track is available as a personalized track. If your name is Jason, Jennifer, or Jared, you are in luck and pay $1.99 for a personalized track from Jessica Simpson, which if you think about it, is a pretty cool idea. But if you continue to think about it, unless your entire social circle has your name, most of your friends won’t really want to copy your song. File trading networks probably won’t have a comprehensive version of this song, so while the Jason’s of the world could probably find their version of the song on BitTorrent, I’m betting the Jordi’s of the world are probably out of luck.

You see, the Jessica Simpson track is only available as a personalized track and therefore, the DRM is social.

Second, even if I’ve overplayed the impact of personalization (I haven’t heard the song), this still signals what the music industry really wants to do, and that is to raise prices on music downloads. The music industry has created a monster and that monster is more concerned about the user experience than about making a quick buck.

Despite all of this, I wonder if the music industry is starting to realize the truth, DRM-free music is the easiest way to break iTunes’ dominance on music downloads. The music industry loves price fixing, but not so much if someone else is doing it. DRM-free music removes most of the advantages that iTunes currently enjoys and allows any number of resellers to distribute music for any price that they (or the labels) want.

So, come on, music labels… let’s hop to it. I’m a huge fan of Apple, but DRM sucks and we all know it.


Free on iTunes


If you like free TV for your iPod, you’re in luck. This week (to kick off their undoubtedly slow summer), iTunes is giving away 4 TV shows, plus a bonus Superman preview. Download away.

TV Shows

Kyle XY
– new supernatural drama from ABC Family
Bono in Africa with Brian Williams – NBC News specials
Invader Zim – Season 1, Episode 1
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – 3 free episodes of the FX summer comedy

Bonus Video

Superman Returns Preview – 2 minute scene preview of next week’s movie.

Music Video

Rolling with Bob Saget – Jamie Kennedy and Stu Stone – from Mtv’s Blowing Up show.

Single of the Week

Landon Pigg – Sailed On

Apple iTunes Rumors

iTunes movie downloads by year end?

itunes.jpgThe rumor du jour is that Apple will announce movie downloads from the iTunes Music Store by year’s end. The rumor that won’t die was substantiated by Variety today with quotes from unnamed sources within the movie industry.

The article also talks about movie studios balking at the single $9.99 price point that Jobs has proposed, getting Apple to relent to a two-tiered pricing system of $19.99 for new releases and $9.99 for catalog titles.

While I have no doubt that this rumor is true, two other products must be released to make this happen. First, a new widescreen iPod must be released and more importantly, a device for the living room needs to be released as well. Why? Movie downloads are great, but the screen on the current iPod is too small for movie viewing and more importantly, the market for video at home (vs. on the go) is much, much larger.

What is the living room device? I’m not sure what form it will take, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a Mac Mini, as it is too expensive and might scare Windows users (the larger market) away.

Read [via AppleInsider]


Onion Headline: “iTunes To Sell You Your Home Videos For $1.99 Each”


“Ladies and gentlemen, the future of home-video viewing is now,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at a media event Tuesday morning. “As soon as you record that precious footage of your daughter’s first steps, you’ll be able to buy it right back from iTunes and download it directly to your computer and video iPod.”

It’s funny because it’s true. I can’t ever seem to find the videos that I’m looking for and if someone would just digitize, compress and organize them for me, I’d always be able to find them… Oy.


Apple iTunes

Alias, The Apprentice launch on iTunes


Looks like everyone’s favorite pregnant super-spy and the Donald meet in the strangest of Apple’s launch parties (Man, what I would pay to see Jennifer Garner kick Trump’s ass after being fired…). Continuing the cavalcade of ABC and NBC programs on iTMS, The Apprentice and Alias launched this evening for your viewing pleasure.

The question on my mind is… when will new providers be added? CBS, Fox… maybe HBO?


Free from iTunes

This was a feature that I thought about adding a while back, but it looks like someone beat me to it. Worth a weekly check in. Maybe if Apple would get that RSS feed of free stuff going, you wouldn’t go anywhere else.


Apple iTunes

iTunes Season Pass Fiesta!

Didn’t think they were going to stop with The Daily Show and Colbert Report, did you? Apple added multi-“we-swear-this-isn’t-a-subscription-“passes to Lost and Desperate Housewives tonight. More on this tomorrow morning.

iTunes Video Store

Apple iPod iTunes

Real Housewives

realhouswives.jpgIt’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.”

From Bravo’s website:

“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.

“Roseanne” it ain’t.

Free Download

Apple iTunes

NCAA Tournament on iTunes

Oh and here I thought that we had no Tuesday announcement for iTMS. Sure, while I’m gone they go an launch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on the “no-I’m-not-a-subscription-thank-you-very-much” MultiPass and the Academy Award Nominated Shorts, so I figured they were taking this week off announcement wise.

That’s right sports fans, for a mere $19.99 you can get condensed versions of all the March Madness games and full versions of the Final Four. Of course, you get them the next day. I’m no sports fan, but I’m guessing that for water cooler talk, this might be a smidge too late.


Apple iTunes

Over a billion served

billion.jpegApple’s iTunes Music Store hit their 1,000,000,000th download this evening around 9:35 PM Pacific Time. One lucky SOB got their grand prize of an iMac, 5 black and 5 white iPods and maybe best of all, $10,000 to spend on the store. I dunno about you, but 10k tracks would take me a long time to download.

Congrats to Apple on this tremendous milestone.