Sunday, March 22, 2009

Apple’s March Madness, the good, the bad, and the meh.

March has been a busy month for Apple. They introduced the new 3rd gen Shuffle, rolled out iTunes 8.1, and unveiled a beta of iPhone OS 3.0. Man, do these guys ever sleep?

As is usually the case, their flurry of activity has been met with joy, anger and plain old indifference in the user community, and as usual, each stance has its valid points.

I’m actually pretty excited about the upcoming release of OS 3, and that’s good, but I’m also a little indifferent because it won’t be released until mid July, and just a tad bit miffed, because most of the cool improvements just unlock features that have been on board all along, like the Bluetooth chip in the 2nd gen Touch, which currently only communicates with the Nike Sensor. I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty savvy marketing to charge me $9.99 to turn on something I’ve already bought. Savvy, but also a little bit sleazy.

I’ll pony up though, because the improvements promise to be dramatic. Stereo streaming via Bluetooth is my favorite; I’m hoping I’ll be able to sync my Touch with my car stereo. Wouldn’t it be the nards to lose the old FM transmitter? And how about transferring contacts and streaming audio to other iPods via Bluetooth? Too cool.

There’s also the long awaited cut and paste, MMS messaging, tethering, encrypted backup, the list goes on and on. Of course, iTunes 8.1 will be needed to take full advantage, so I’ll be sure to download it, after the prescribed incubation period.

So, lots of good stuff is coming, we’ve just got to wait a bit.

The real disappointment here is the new 3rd gen Shuffle. Yes, it’s cute, but come on guys; you couldn’t have added a couple of tiny buttons? Like I’m going to buy a device that can’t be used without a proprietary headset, or a yet to be released accessory. Please.

So, what were they thinking when they came up with this? “Ooh, think of all the accessories we can sell” sounds about right. Wrong time for that line of thought, if you ask me. I’m already sick of seeing the “Charging is not supported with this accessory” message on my 2nd gen Touch when I plug it in to something. If I didn’t still have my 3rd gen Nano, most of the devices I currently have would be useless for their intended purpose. Now, I like accessories as much as the next guy, but I’m not going to keep shelling out good money for things that will be rendered obsolete within a year by the very people who caused me to need the accessory in the first place, and I’m hearing the same sentiment from others.

Speaking of accessories, there is one new thing on the market that’s really cool and has a great price point. The Thumb Tacks Micro Microphone from SwitchEasy. This is a must have if you’ve got a 2nd gen Touch and are interested in using it for VoIP or applications like Shazam or voice memos, and it’s only $13. Check it out.

That is all.

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