One More Thing: The Apple TV 2
The "one more thing" at today's Apple press event was actually "one more hobby," Steve Jobs joked. The original Apple TV was introduced in September, 2006, and while it was loved by the press, it never caught on with many users. That might be why Apple shrugged the product off as a hobby. Today, Apple made another go at a set-top box with a heavily revised Apple TV.
The product was heavily rumored, and the rumors turned out to be mostly true. While blogs got the shape of the device and the name wrong (it was rumored to be the iTV and be much slimmer), they got everything else right. The Apple TV 2 is much smaller than the original Apple TV, only one-quarter the size. It will sell for $99 in four weeks and is available for pre-order now.
The redesign of the Apple TV confirms that people want streaming, not storage. Rather than amassing a library of content, most people are happier streaming shows when they want then. The new Apple TV will only stream content-from networked computers or the Internet.
The Apple TV 2 will offer HDMI and Ethernet ports, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. There are no composite or component ports. There's no storage on the slimmed-down device.
As predicted, Apple was able to negotiate lower prices for rentals, but not for all content. TV shows from ABC and Fox will rent for $.99, but not from other networks. Jobs said he hoped that other studios would come aboard in time. First run movies in HD will rent for $4.99, a price that will lower when the movie is no longer current, and rentals will be timed with the DVD release date.
Apple TV will also support non-Apple services. Users will be able to access Netflix, YouTube, and Flickr accounts.
The Apple TV 2 will work with AirPlay, a new service coming in November with the release of iOS 4.2. Using AirPlay, i-device users will be able to stream content from their devices to the Apple TVs.
Jobs didn't mention whether the updated services would be available to owners of the original Apple TV through a software upgrade.
The Apple TV 2 marked the end of the day's announcements. Before that, Jobs announced a trio of redesigned iPods. The iPod Shuffle has buttons again. The iPod Nano is smaller and includes a touch screen, but loses its video camera. The iPod Touch gains a camera and supports FaceTime video calling. The iPod Classic appears to have been scrapped.
An updated iTunes, available next week, will include a new social networking feature called Ping. With it, people will be able to see what others are listening to and discover music through recommendations. They'll also be able to get updates directly from their favorite artists.
The iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad iOS will soon gain a 4.1 software upgrade, adding the ability to shoot high dynamic range photos. The 4.2 upgrade will come in November.
While this wasn't the first time Apple live streamed an event, it was the first in many years. The stream was carried by Akamai, and wasn't completely smooth. Many reported interruptions requiring a browser refresh. Some, including this reporter, saw their video interrupted and replaced with footage of people entering the auditorium before the announcement began. A refresh corrected the issue.
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