Posted in News, tagged apple, Apple TV, AppleTV, ios, ipad, iphone, iPhone 4, iPod touch, Mac Mini, MacRumors on June 10, 2012 |
Leave a Comment »
The diminutive and sometimes under appreciated Apple TV may be on the verge of becoming a great deal more interesting. MacRumors reported recently that Apple will be releasing a software development kit (SDK) for third parties to create apps for the TV accessory.
The second and third generation Apple TV run a version of Apple’s mobile operating system iOS; the same that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (the first generation ran a pared-down version of OSX, Apple’s desktop and laptop operating system). Both run on processors shared with other Apple devices; the second gen sporting the A4 chip shared by the iPhone 4 and the third gen the A5 shared by the iPhone 4s and iPad 2. The similarities in operating systems and components would make porting apps over to the Apple TV fairly straightforward; the only question unanswered is what would be used for interaction. The iOS-using Apple TVs only have infrared input, currently only used by Apple’s diminutive remote. While fine for control of the Apple TV’s multimedia playback, the Apple Remote wouldn’t suffice as an input for controlling many apps. One possible solution would be to rely on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch via a wifi connection- both devices can be used as remote controls for the Apple TV via a free app.
The addition of even a portion of the iTunes iOS App Store would make the Apple TV an interesting addition to anyone’s entertainment center. If done well I would strongly consider switching to one when my current Mac Mini media center needs replacing.
Read Full Post »
Posted in News, tagged apple, Apple TV, BluRay, DVD, ipad, itunes, movies, tv, video on March 30, 2012 |
Leave a Comment »
Apple has developed the reputation for being a trend setter in technology over it’s existence: it was the first to widely employ the mouse, first mass market graphical user interface, and the first to discontinue the floppy drive. While some have argued that Apple’s control over it’s product line diminishes customer satisfaction by restricting personalization and configurability, I believe it provides an advantage through being able to more effectively follow their strategic plans and following (or even creating) trends in consumer devices. Apple was the first to routinely offer webcams in their laptops; now practically all portable computers (including most tablets) have them. Conversely, Apple has shied away from technology they don’t consider fully developed yet, such as LTE/4G connectivity in the iPhone. While it is considerably faster than 3G, it’s use is very battery intensive (as many Android 4G handset owners can attest to) and not yet as widespread as the older 3G technology. The new iPad is the first Apple device to offer it, but it sports batteries larger than the entire iPhone.
With the introduction of the MacBook Air, Apple again was at the forefront of sending a popular feature of PCs into retirement. Just as with the floppy drive, the lack of an optical drive was panned as a serious shortcoming of the Air by numerous pundits. Rather than being held back by the lack of an optical drive, the Air has gone on to be Apple’s best selling laptop model. Now it’s rumored that the refreshed line of MacBook Pros will follow the lead of the Air and omit the optical drive. As Apple moves away from internal optical drives, the PC world has embraced it further by adopting the next step in optical drives- the BluRay disk. While they offer more data capacity for storage, the selling point for BluRay disk drives has been HD movies. BluRay won out over HD DVD as the industry’s preferred HD movie format in the not too distant past, but still isn’t as widespread as SD DVDs (although it’s been embraced far more widely than consumer 3D TV).
So is Apple failing it’s customers by ditching optical media? Are Mac users dwelling in virtual digital entertainment ghettos thanks to Apple’s refusal to adopt the industry’s choice of HD video? A closer look at Apple’s wider product line reveals not only is this not the case, they once again may be blazing a technological trail for the rest of the industry to follow.
While it’s true Macs aren’t BluRay friendly (there are some external BluRay drives, but performance is allegedly spotty) they do have a source of true HD video content- the iTunes store. With the introduction of the second generation Apple TV and third generation iPad, Apple has created a foundation of nontraditional media devices that are capable of rendering true 1080p HD video. The Retina Display first appeared in the iPhone 4, and is rumored to be featured in all of Apple’s devices including the refreshed MacBook Pro line. This strategy may create a synergistic payoff for Apple- their portable devices are already the hottest selling electronics in the computing world, and those that want to get the most out of their Retina Display screens have ready access to true HD content now wherever they are through the iTunes store. The inclusion of higher resolution displays in the MacBook lineup allows Apple to legitimately claim that optical drives no longer have a purpose- vetted, malware-free software is provided by the App Store, video content from iTunes or other online services like Hulu and Netflix, and sharing of content is easily done via network solutions like Dropbox or Apple’s new AirDrop feature in OSX Lion. Should you need a physical medium for your data USB drives or SD cards offer far more capacity, a more sturdy physical form, and better overall cost per gigabyte. The lack of the optical drive means laptops can be lighter, thinner, or offer other features such as swappable solid state hard drives, larger batteries, or other internal devices.
While there will be a consumer demand for optical drives for the foreseeable future (Apple still offers the external USB Superdrive for those that need one) I’ve noticed that even when I was still toting a Dell around my alma mater’s campus I never really used my DVD drive. The only use my iMac and Mac Mini’s DVD drives have had has been to rip movies with Handbrake (and for those of you that don’t understand what that means, stay tuned- I’ll cover it in a future post). What’s your opinion? Is Apple on to something here, or is this the first major misstep they’ve taken since the release of the iPhone?
Read Full Post »