My thoughts, as always, are a bit lengthy to be able to cram them into 140-character fragments with any semblance of coherence (that was 127 characters right there), so here we go. Hopefully I can keep things punchy, even without the arbitrary character limit…
In fact, let’s try something new. I’ll do a one-word reaction followed by a more detailed commentary (hopefully still brief), so you can TL;DR as you see fit.
Nano: Slick. Looks like Apple may be either branching iOS again for the new device’s itty bitty square screen, or they’re aping the UI totally and running something else entirely custom underneath. My money is actually on a device-specific branch of iOS, since it seems like they’re trying to provide a stepping stone to the multi-touch interface of the iPhone and iPod Touch now. With the iPod Classic not even warranting a mention as part of the “complete iPod line update” this year, it seems clear that the purpose of the Nano is no longer to give people experience with the bigger iPod Classic’s UI and controls, but instead to get their feet wet in Apple’s new hotness.
Touch: Sexy. Interesting to see that its design is still using the rounded back rather than iPhone 4′s squared-off sides, despite being even more of an iPhone without the phone now. It’s also interesting that the back camera isn’t 5 megapixel like its cousin on the iPhone, but only just big enough to do 720p video recording (iPod Touch photos are 960×720 max according to the specs page). Guess they were a bit desperate for a point of differentiation between the two. Sweet that it supports FaceTime using email addresses; less sweet that it needs to be an email address that’s registered with Apple to work. Not helping the “open standard” mantra there, guys.
Classic: Who? Apparently still around, but unchanged in design, specs, and price.
Ping: Eh. I get the feeling Apple decided to roll their own social network because of Facebook being a total data mining ad whore, and nobody gets to data mine Apple’s customers but Apple. I think Jobs kind of tipped his hand to that when he explicitly mentioned the simplicity and ease of use of Ping’s privacy controls. Beyond that, I really don’t care. It’s getting increasingly difficult to succeed in being anti-social on the internet anymore these days…
UI: WTF? The new list view + album art is … interesting, I guess, but ultimately not a huge thing. The vertically-oriented traffic lights are just bizarre (way to stick to your HIG guns there, Apple…). Honestly, I’m actually more annoyed about the monochromatic Source List icons, though, because at least the close button is still in the same place. The lack of colorized icons in the source list is just frustrating, since color is one of those oh-so-important elements of UI design that help users quickly distinguish between objects (especially small ones). At least they tweaked the icons themselves to be more shape-oriented to compensate, but seriously. That’s just annoying.
Icon: Glowy. I’ll miss the CD, but given the sprawling nature of the app, I understand why it’s gone. The fact that it retains the musical notes seems like more of a formality than anything else at this point.
I’m at work on a limited-user account, so I can’t actually install the app here and get a feel for how it actually feels, but dear god I hope someone has bothered to do a code review of the thing, if only for the sake of the Windows users of the world.
Design: Teensy. I really don’t have an opinion one way or the other on the new design beyond that, except to say that evidently Sony has decided that matte black plastic with glossy inlaid text is in, and the world (including Apple) is following suit. At least Apple isn’t trying to pimp the Spider-Man font like it’s going out of style (because it is)…
Hardware: A4ATW! Interesting to see Apple continue to consolidate its chipset lines into Intel multi-core and A4 divisions on usage lines. The general-purpose Mac “truck” (lawl) computers get the Core 2 Duo and iN chips, and specialized devices like the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and now Apple TV get the A4. It’ll definitely cut down on the thing’s power draw, which is always good because the current one is a beast. Not sure how cool I am with the total removal of internal storage… streaming HD video content seems to be a little hiccup-prone on our wifi network. Of course, it’s sort of locked down to 802.11g speeds because of the iPod Touches in the apartment, and I haven’t bothered to spring for a dual-band router to fix that problem, so maybe bumping the network would solve that problem.
Software: Yay? I guess? I’m guessing the move to the A4 processor necessitated this, but, it’s being backed by a custom build of iOS with a 10-foot UI. At least, so sayeth The Gruber… Beyond that, there’s not really a whole lot new about the UI compared to Apple TV Software 3.0, just some reorganization. It’s cool that Netflix got added to the list of internet content portals, but the rumors of an app store for the device, and my associated musings on Apple taking on the console market are apparently unfounded. Stupid hobby… I would totally go for an Apple set top box that had a gaming controller and access to an App Store for games and entertainment titles, in addition to access to the iTunes media store, and cost $99 to $149. Given how dead-simple setting up an Apple TV already is (and how dead-simpler it is with the new version) and how easy it is to get your content onto it, with the right pricing structure and offerings, this could blow past the Wii for casual living room gaming and give Apple its much-coveted entry into the television space for content delivery. And speaking of content…
Content: Woo? Nice to see HD TV show rentals make an appearance (and assuming you’re not paying for cable and a DVR, 99¢ isn’t a bad price), but it sucks that it’s limited to ABC and FOX right now. Also, it kinda sucks that there’s no way to actually buy content on the Apple TV anymore… so much for that iTunes cloud-based streaming service that would store your stuff in the cloud that everyone was so sure of. As far as pricing is concerned, I’ve never actually had a problem with movie pricing for purchases or rentals. TV shows – especially HD ones – are frequently annoyingly expensive, but the season passes tend to be much better deals for that. Heck, I got the whole fourth season of BSG in HD for the cost of half of Season 4 on DVD (I paid something like $54 for it, and the DVD release for 4.0 was like $52). Warehouse 13 Season 2 is $30 in HD… even if SyFy does their stupid half-length season thing, that’s not a bad price for the show in 720p and near-immediate access to episodes past. (Of course, having gone to look up the price, Season 2 is no longer listed in iTunes. Awesome. Here’s hoping NBC/Universal isn’t being a douchebag again and I get the rest of the episodes I’ve already paid for. And people wonder why torrents are so popular…)
Boxee: Doubtful anymore, especially since the patchstick-friendly USB port has been replaced with a micro-USB port. Plus there’s the whole switch to the ARM processor thing… Not that I’ve bothered to Boxee-up my Apple TV in recent history. The only thing I ever used Boxee for was Hulu, so I could watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report without fuxing with the TV-attached computer, but between Hulu blocking Boxee and Comedy Central leaving Hulu, I really don’t care. The rest of my content is already Apple TV-compatible (sometimes by force), and the rest of the stuff accessible through Boxee just carries no interest for me. Plus, having a remote mouse/keyboard app on my iPad to operate the computer removes the annoying obstacle of dealing with tangled keyboard cords and insufficient wireless mouse range.