I think that people are just spoiled. Even Scott Borne of the infamous Apple Phone Show, while broadcasting live from MacWorld said that he was disappointed in the keynote.
Part of the problem is that lately everything gets leaked well before the show. We already knew about the additions to Google Maps for the iPhone, we knew about the new customizable home screen, we knew that Apple was going to start renting movies, and we knew about the “slim” new notebook. Its like Christmas when you know what’s in all the pretty boxes.
Well, notwithstanding the lack of surprises, I think it was an exciting keynote. And I think it confirmed all the good things we want from Apple. You don’t have an SDK for the iPhone? I know, but we also know its coming next month. And in the mean time, I think if you look closely at the iPhone update you’ll get a hint at what some of the native apps will look like. Go to the maps application, and click on the eye in the lower right corner. The map peels up just like a piece of paper to reveal a page of settings. Show me another cell phone that is this elegant and realistic. Well that’s just eye candy. Perhaps, but it makes the device feel like so much more than a mere phone.
You want practical. Ok, less than 48 hours after the release of the iPhone update, I am driving home in the first real snowstorm of the season. Only 3 or 4 inches of snow, but the traffic is gridlocked like a Vermont blizzard had hit us. And I am driving my truck with 4-wheel drive instead of my Insight. Problem is, my beloved Garmin 2720 is in the car. I grab my iPhone and check Google maps and see nothing but red on my Interstate commute so I decide to head for Baltimore City and go through, instead of around, town. But I don’t get a mile or so and it is clear that everyone else has made the same decision.
I hate sitting in traffic. I’d rather be moving in the opposite direction rather than sit still, so I turn off the main road onto a small side street. I’ve never been in this area before but pull out my iPhone and start scrolling the map to locate the street I’m on, and then I remember the new positioning upgrade to maps. I click on the current location button in the bottom left corner, and voila, it has moved the map and zoomed in on my location. I can clearly see how to get through the side streets to an alternate route.
I get back to a main road that is moving, and still unfamiliar with the area, I click the current position button again and then directions. A minute after selecting the bookmark for home, I get a route that turns out to provide fairly smooth sailing. I would have paid money for this upgrade and it was free! Steve Jobs explanation of this feature again showed real innovation. Instead of using only cell tower triangulation, they contracted with a second company to use a database of wireless hot spots as well.
And I love what I am able to do with my home screen. I now have all of my icons where I want them with the brand new Google for iPhone with Gmail, Calendar, News, Reader, etc., Amazon, Weather Radar, 1Password, all specially formatted for the iPhone and all on my home screen where I can quickly get to them. Blogs and News are on screen two, which is only a flick away, and I still have seven more screens to fill with icons, now this is bliss.
And for the texting fanactic, we now have SMS to multiple recipients. You can see all the enhancements included in the 1.1.3 upgrade in this Apple video. Even iPod Touch owners got an exciting upgrade – making their touch much more like an iPhone.
I love what they did for my iPhone, but movie rentals was my favorite announcement. At $2.99 for library titles and $3.99 for first run, this beats my cable company by $1.00, with every major movie studio offering its entire library (a vast improvement over the very limited offering from Comcast). Not only that, but I can watch the movies on my TV, any computer in the house, or even on my iPhone if we’re going to be traveling. And the Apple TV upgrade is nothing short of amazing. Now we can download tunes, podcasts, movies, the entire iTunes store right from your TV, no computer required. But if you have a computer, anything downloaded to Apple TV can be uploaded for storage wherever you like. And they even dropped the price from $299 to $229 – more features, lower price, are you excited yet?
The time capsule should also be of great interest. If I didn’t already have a dedicated backup drive for each computer, I’d seriously be looking at this. It is a 500gb or 1tb drive that will synch wirelessly to any and all Macs running leopard and time machine. All your backups on 1 drive that can be placed anywhere within your wireless network. How easy is that?
And finally what many attending the show seemed most excited about was the MacBook Air, the thinnest laptop on the planet. While I don’t personally have a need for an ultralight, this is Apple innovation at its best. Collaborating with Intel for a special processor designed just for this notebook, it also shows the clout that Apple has recently built in this industry.
Gee Wiz – what more do you want! When was the last time you heard announcements like this from Microsoft? Try never. Oh yeah, we do need to credit Mr. Gates for the MS Office 2008 for Mac release. Seems even MS is paying attention to Apple here lately. John