The fantastic rumors finally faced reality today when Apple presented their new fall lineup of devices. Here are my thoughts as an iOS developer on today’s announcements.
It was great to be able to watch a live stream of the event instead of having to refresh half a dozen browser windows from various live bloggers. Rumors claimed that this might be a load test of Apple’s new data center. In reality the stream was served by Akamai (Apple’s longtime CDN partner) as evident by the edgesuite.net URL.
New iPod Nano
A new touch screen that looks very much like iOS. Except according to an Apple spokesman backstage, it isn’t iOS. That’s too bad. This would be a fun little device to write apps for. We’ll keep our collective fingers crossed that Apple will allow iOS-like apps to run on this device in the future. In the meantime I’m sure the jailbreak community will take a closer look at what’s really under the hood and find a way to run code on it.
New iPod Touch
Nothing unexpected here. Slight disappointment that the main camera is rather poor. If you’re relying on the camera for things like bar code scanning, this could spell trouble. I wonder if this “downgrade” is due to cost, a physical space constraint or a reflection of Apple’s intended audience for this device?
Apple is not content on just having an iTunes presence on Facebook, they want to be the social network. With 160 million credit card carrying iTunes users, they definitely have a running start. I really liked how they emphasized the privacy controls in Ping; a nice jab at Facebook.
As a developer I want an API to integrate with Ping. I think one of the critical success factors of Facebook is that they have established themselves as the social platform. A more integrated social platform within the iTunes/iOS ecosystem could be very interesting. Which of course begs the question of how does Game Center fit into this? Since both Game Center and Ping use iTunes accounts as the user identifier, it seems possible to merge or integrate the two in some way in the future.
New Apple TV
Smaller and cheaper, but nothing revolutionary. I love how Steve Jobs sells the idea of removing something (storage in this case) as a great benefit.
John Gruber claims that the new Apple TV does run iOS. It may be splitting hairs, but in my mind iOS implies UIKit, which is heavily oriented towards a touch interface, which I did not see much of in the demo. We’ll keep hoping that there will eventually be 3rd party apps and an App Store for the Apple TV.
For my media center, I will probably stick with my Mac Mini with Plex for now.
iOS 4.1 is being released next week. Since we’ve had beta versions for a while, that’s no surprise. iOS 4.2 is coming in November which will be the first 4.x update for the iPad. While November technically qualifies as “fall”, it would have been nice to get all the 4.x goodness a bit sooner.
Overall 3 major OS releases within the span of 6 months is just a relentless pace. I wonder when the iOS development team at Apple last had a vacation? The competition is not sitting idle either, it’s definitely a great game to watch unfold. A huge benefit that Apple and iOS enjoys is the ease with which customers can upgrade to the latest iOS version. This greatly simplifies the life for us developers in that we can to a large degree assume the the latest version as a deployment target.
I think the most interesting announcement was AirPlay. This is an improved version of AirTunes. Now you can share audio, video, and photos with meta data between iOS devices (running iOS 4.2) and compatible accessories. A cool demonstration of this was at the very end when Steve Jobs was watching a movie on an iPad and then shared the video stream with an Apple TV. It’s not a stretch to imagine that the screen of any iOS app could be shared this way. I wonder if this is what the rumors about iOS apps on the Apple TV (nee iTV) were really based on.