Posts in category apple - page 18

What next for Mac OS X?

Well obviously the hot item for the next major release of Mac OS X will be Intel compatibility but I’m hoping they’ll get a chance to squeeze some new features in too. Here what I’d like to see next:

FrontRow

Apple’s new iMac-only media centre interface seems to gave garnered quite a bit of a attention. So much so that enterprising individuals have hacked it onto their Mac. Apple should make it available to non-iMac users, possibly as part of 10.5, the next iLife or maybe even bundled with the optional remote control.

User interface unification

Every new app Apple release seems to have a new user interface now. While the look is merely cosmetic the behavior is often affected leading people to expect one result and get another.

Here’s hoping the iTunes 6 UI trickles across through the whole system, perhaps even with a switch in control panel that lets people choose between that and Aqua. In the mean time check out Uno which sorts out as much as it can visually, behavior needs to be done by Apple.

If you feel like stealing what little Longhorn still had, check out the Ruler Aero theme instead.

Uninstaller

Back when OS X was still called OpenStep it featured a rather nice install system called Package Manager. OS X still has the installer part of this and indeed records the receipts for use by an uninstaller… That has never existed. Come on Apple, sometimes we need to uninstall apps and we’d rather not trudge around the /Library/ to clean up after them.

Microsoft Windows in a window

Apple have already claimed they will be encouraging dual-booting with Windows on their new Intel boxes even if not actively supporting it.

A better approach would be something similar to their Blue Box virtual machine running Mac OS 9 apps under OS X. As 10.4 will use their new Rosetta technology to run PowerPC apps on Intel this should be simple by comparison. The problem here is that they may need to get Microsoft to license them portions of VirtualPC.

iTunes DVD audio-track ripping

If Apple want to shift more of their higher end iPods whilst keeping the record labels in check, why not introduce a function to rip the audio soundtrack from DVD video’s to iPod’s. I for one have a bunch of comedy shows and stand-up material I’d like to have on the go and I’m sure not paying for them again.

[)amien

Apple announcements and a little fumbling

iPod G5

Apple have announced the fifth generation of iPod. Improvements include better battery life, a thinner enclose, better screen and now in both black and white.

But not everything is peachy. Gone is the FireWire support, the remote socket and there is still no sign of Bluetooth. Quite how you are supposed to switch tracks without pulling your iPod out your pocket I’m not sure.

iPod video

The big hoopla is video on your iPod and I’m not impressed. When exactly could you watch video on your iPod? Not while jogging, driving or walking which seem to be the popular regular usage if the accessories are anything to go by.

Capture from Zorro 2 at 320x240Ignoring that, you can now watch a music video, Pixar short or (if you live in the US) a TV show on a 2.5″ non-wide-screen display at 320×240 resolution. They expect $1.99 for the privilege of viewing this tiny short content previously free elsewhere.

UK residents get an even worse deal with videos costing £1.89 – a massive 75% increase over the US with current exchange rates. And you thought the $0.99 to £0.79 increase of 45% was bad! American TV shows run around 24 episodes per season – paying £30 for a DVD edition hurts but £41.58 for DRM’ed low-res stereo videos with no resale value. Sign me up Apple! </sarcasm>

It’s like wide-screen and high definition never happened. If you have a TV or computer to hand you can play your DRM’ed media on a big screen but frankly 320×240 scaled up will look dire at 17″ and probably induce nausea above 32″. Unscaled it would be as big as this capture from Zorro 2.

Best of all the quoted time for battery life when watching video’s is up to whopping three hours. (I lied about stopping the sarcasm).

Better mobile video

Want to watch video on the move? Get yourself a portable DVD player, a small laptop or if it really must be hand-held a PSP.

The PSP has a bigger 4.3″ wide-screen display, UMD movie discs and 4-5 hour battery life. As a bonus you can play games, surf the web wirelessly, play music and check out a memory stick full of photos. For less than the price of an iPod Video.

Sony have also just announced Location Free TV client for the PSP that lets you watch whatever your own base-station at home is connected to.

The base station is a little pricey at $350 but does feature an RF tuner and two s-video inputs. It is also capable of sending IR codes so connect this baby up to your satellite or cable TV and a 200 disk DVD changer…

Universal dock & remote control

Apple do have a new remote control available real soon but it only works with your iPod while it is connected to the universal dock.

The universal dock is a good idea – one dock for all the iPods – especially useful for a family or individual with more than one iPod. What I’d like to know is if Apple will enable Macs connected to a universal dock to be controlled in the same way as the new iMac.

Front Row

A direct heads up to media centre style interfaces of Windows Media Centre Edition, Sony’s PSP and the forthcoming Xbox 360 comes Apple’s FrontRow.

Big colorful icons, massive text – just what you’d want on your TV… but curiously only available on the iMac, now available with both 17″ and 20″ widescreen displays again as last seen on the iLamp model.

iTunes 6

iTunes 5 has been out a whole month and Apple think the addition of buying videos justifies a whole new version number. Apart from this the only other changes seem to be a couple of minor cosmetics.

I guess they are desperately trying to catch up version numbers with RealPlayer and Windows Media Player. I wonder what other features they can add/borrow from other apps now that video has been nabbed from QuickTime and syncing from iSync. How much longer before it is renamed iKitchenSink?

Other stuff

  • Goodbye eMac
  • No sign of faster PowerBooks
  • Hello iMac with faster CPU

For more commentary check out these BoingBoing or DaringFireball commentaries.

[)amien

iTunes 5, iPod Nano & audio-book pricing

Apple hosted a media event yesterday, here’s my usual opinionated commentary.

iTunes 5

iTunes 5 is now out – ditching the scrappy brushed-metal look in favour of the Apple Mail inspired ‘platinum’ look even on Windows. With luck we can expect the next major release of Mac OS X to take this theme across the board and finally kill off the aqua stripes and brushed metal. Let’s just hope they keep the older sane toolbars and not the Safari/Mail abominations.

Daring Fireball has an amusing commentary on the issue…

iPod nano

The rumors of Apple replacing it’s hard-disk based mini line with flash based models were indeed true. The new Nanos are MUCH slimmer with better battery life and color screens. You can have any color you like, as long as it’s black… or white.

Check out the Nanos insides

Audio-book pricing

iTunes now offer the Harry Potter audio-books. As you might expect they are still overpriced… here’s a quick summary of the pricing of each one, compared to the audio CD, book and DVD’s (at Amazon.co.uk)

  1. Philosopher’s Stone iTunes £17.95, CD £18.19, Book £4.79, DVD £9.97
  2. Chamber of Secrets iTunes £18.95, CD £18.19, Book £4.79, DVD £8.97
  3. Prisoner of Azkaban iTunes £21.95, CD £31.99, Book £4.79, DVD £8.97
  4. Goblet of Fire iTunes £40.95, CD £59.99, Book £5.59
  5. Order of the Phoenix iTunes £50.95, CD £52.50, Book £6.39
  6. Half-Blood Prince iTunes £44.95, CD £39.00, Book £8.99

Once again audio-book pricing is off the scale with the CD’s weighing in at £219.86. iTunes shaves 10% off this to get it just under £200 in exchange for all resale value, having a physical disk and the ability to rip/convert to any format you like. Doesn’t really seem worth the 10% saving to me.

By comparison the books will cost you just under £50, so audio-books cost 400% more! The cost of producing the CD’s seems to consist of a narrator, a recording studio and some editing – all one-off production costs. Selling more CD’s at a lower margin would seem to be the more sensible option.

[)amien

More iPod fillers and Mac apps

Audio-books

Check out podiobooks who have put up a number of free audio-books from various authors. Neil Gaiman has managed to get the first chapter of his new Anansi Boys book read by Lenny Henry up too.

Mac applications

Fluid is a screen saver that gives you, well fluid visual effects. It has a whole bunch of preset effects and a mixing desk to mix up your own. Works okay on my PowerBook but ideally needs something more powerful! Mac Mini owners need not apply.

CoverFlow gives you an alternative interface to your music by presenting you with a gorgeously rendered user interface of album art.

USB Overdrive lets you enable and assign all those extra buttons on your mouse without having to purchase Apple’s rather overpriced Mighty Mouse. You can get the superior laser-tracking Logitech MX-1000 for the same price if you shop around.

[)amien