Updates on the French and German versions of Amazon.com suggest a new, replacement Apple TV coming the day after this week’s Apple announcement – just in time for Christmas.
The prospect of a shiny new Apple TV product makes everyone think of a radical new Apple TV box with crazy new user interface options, or an actual Apple TV set, both of which people have been predicting for years.
And then that Scrooge MG Siegler comes along to say he’s hearing that the Big Apple TV Update has been delayed, and that maybe there will be a minor update to the existing product.
Whether something grander has been delayed or not, I think TV will be the most interesting product at the Tuesday announcement — not because of hardware, but because of a new software interface and new deals I think Apple will announce.
FaceTime just keeps getting better. The recent addition of audio calls in iOS 7 is great news, right? Well, sort of.
There are plenty of apps in the App Store that let you make calls over your data connection rather than through the carrier’s phone network.
FaceTime audio calls are great — something that Google+ Hangouts have had for a long time. (Hangouts actually lets you add a voice call to a group video Hangout.) They enable free international calls, for starters. The protocols underlying FaceTime enable high-quality audio calls.
More importantly, they give users one more reason to get into the FaceTime habit.
Unfortunately, FaceTime has a fatal flaw. It’s still — inexplicably — an exclusive phone system for Apple customers to call each other. What kind of phone system is that?
How much interest is there in Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference?
Enough to stage an alternative free five-day conference with over 40 speakers and hands-on labs that WWDC attendees may want to check out for all the topics Apple isn’t likely to cover. For the second year running, AltWWDC will be hosting the have-nots (as in have no WWDC tickets) for a gathering cloned from the official conference.
Around 1,500 people have signed up, meaning, yeah, even free/freewheeling AltWWDC is technically “sold out.” No worries: if you don’t have a ticket, as long as there’s room to plant your laptop, you’re in.
Cult of Mac talked to Rob Elkin, a London-based software engineer and one of the four founders of AltWWDC about what constitutes an “alt” keynote breakfast, talks Apple doesn’t want you to hear and sponsors.
Speaking to NBC talking head Brian Williams this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years.”
Cook went on to upgrade Apple’s efforts in television from a “hobby” to “an area of intense interest.”
These cryptic comments support what Steve Jobs’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, told an interviewer, which is that Jobs said off the record that he wanted to “reinvent” TV, that Apple had “licked” the problems associated with said reinvention, and that Apple’s solution would liberate TV viewers once and for all from “all these complicated remote controls.”
If you want to tease predictive meaning out of these two Apple CEO statements, the key is in what each of them said and to whom and why.
Apple’s current “hobby” — also known as Apple TV — doesn’t tell us much about Apple’s future plans for the living room.
It’s a good product under the right circumstances. But five years from now, living rooms are going to be transformed by all-encompassing systems that turn TVs into video phones, gaming systems, home automation control centers and artificial intelligence assistants.
Does Apple have what it takes to compete in the living room?
Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Google and all the big-screen TV makers want to own the the all-purpose living room entertainment system of tomorrow.
Smart TV systems, which will incorporate movies-on-demand, gaming, web surfing, videoconferencing, home automation and more (even TV shows!) are likely to become the next big opportunity for content-driven platform companies.
But is time running out for Apple to make its move?
The surprising answer is: No, not really. Apple’s got plenty of time. And there’s no need for Apple to make a TV set, either.
Apple quietly released an app called Podcasts this week. The app enables the discovery, organization and playing of podcasts on an iPhone.
In the past, users listened to podcasts in the Music app by default. The next version of iOS will apparently come with a Music app that doesn’t support podcasts.
Podcasts are currently monetized using the advertising model. Nearly all podcasts are free, but those podcasts that make money do so through advertising.
Here’s a typical podcast app spoken during the show: “This podcast is brought to you buy Audible.com! For a free audio book of your choice, including audio books by David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, John Hodgeman, go to Audible.com/american.”)
Under the current system, a podcast content creator can make money from ads, but Apple gets nothing, even when it’s downloaded via the iTunes store.
Providing a platform for other companies to make money while Apple makes nothing really isn’t Apple’s thing.
Apple’s new Podcasts app contains two surprising but telling features.
First, Podcasts contains a skip-forward-30-seconds button. The most obvious use for this button is to skip advertising in podcasts, even the kind spoken by the host of the show. (“This podcast brought to you by [skip forward 30 seconds].”)