The event of the day started out with Steve Jobs introducing his "partner in crime," Steve Wozniak, who was in the audience. After a quick welcome, Steve Jobs started with a recap of new Apple Store retail locations including Paris, China, and London. The London store marked the 300th Apple Store and they are now in 10 countries. The foot traffic volume is amazing. Apple now sees on some days over a million total visitors combined coming through their stores. Another interesting stat -- over 50% of Macs sold in Apple Stores are still to new Mac users, aka Switchers. A stat that has amazingly held for years.
120 million potential Angry Birds players.
Next up for the day is a recap on how iOS is doing. Steve took pride in noting that there are over 230,000 new iOS activations per day. This does not include upgrades. This goes well over and above the Google quoted 160,000 Android devices activated every day. That brings us up to a total of over 120,000,000 active iOS devices. That's a staggering number for a new platform that is not even 4 years old.
How about some stats on apps? There have been over 6.5 billion apps downloaded so far. That's over 200 downloaded each and every second. Also quoted was that the App Store recently surpassed 250,000 applications available, which is a number we've been tracking over at 148Apps.biz App Store Metrics page.
iOS 4.1 is coming next week. Prepare Yourself!
Chris Hall posted a great write up on iOS 4.1 features earlier today. In there you'll find most of the things that we know about the new iOS incremental update. Steve was clear that OS 4.1 fixes a couple nagging bugs under iOS 4, including the nagging proximity sensor bug that plagues some iPhone 4 users. In addition, the performance issues for iPhone 3G users using iOS 4 are apparently fixed.
One new feature that we didn't know about was revealed -- HDR photos. HDR stands for high dynamic range and it's a method for combining multiple photos to add details back to one image that may be over or under exposed on another. This is done by rapidly taking multiple photos and intelligently mashing them together into one photo to make the best possible photo. iOS 4.1 does this by taking 3 pictures, one over exposed, one under exposed, and a properly exposed image. It then mashes the three together to form the HDR image.
In iOS 4.1, there will be an extra switch on the camera screen that allows you to toggle this feature on and off. When active, the best exposure is saved along with the combined HDR photo (though this can be turned off in settings). In testing, this happens fairly quickly, though it's not as fast as just rapidly taking photos with the setting set to "off."
Game Center - one social gaming network to rule (some of) them all
Game Center is Apple's answer to the social gaming network glut on iOS. While not as feature rich as some of the others, it's a great start and will be built in to iOS 4.1. It's a basis for supporting multiplayer games and we really do need more of those on the iOS platform. Expect additional features to be added over time to Game Center.
For this release though, there are a couple downsides to Game Center. For one, you can only add friends by entering their email addresses manually. Why a contacts scan can't be done, I don't know. A simple Facebook and Twitter check would be nice, too. For another, it will take a while for most games to support Game Center. Hopefully just a few months, but don't log on the first day and expect to see all of your games there, ready to go.
Usually at these events, Apple brings in a few third party developers to demo their games or other apps on iOS. This time we got just 1 demo from Epic Games, showing off a demo of a game in development called Project Sword. This amazing 3D Game utilizes the Unreal Engine to produce some pretty sweet looking realtime 3D worlds. This will be released for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch this holiday season. You can try out a universal demo right now called Citadel. Be sure to look for it in the App Store.
What? 4.2 Already? We don't even have 4.1 yet!
4.2 will be the release that catches the iPad up to the iPhone version of the iOS. The two main new features beyond the 4.1 stuff like multitasking and folders we will see are printing from apps with Print Center and AirPlay, the new AirTunes iteration. iOS 4.2 will release for all iOS devices (iPad, iPhones, and iPod Touch) in November. A beta for developers is expected soon.
iPods get their yearly refresh - where is the iPod Classic?
The shuffle gets updated and gets its buttons back. The Nano loses it's buttons and camera, but sheds 50% of it's size and gets a touch screen. And the iPod touch was updated as expected.
Steve made a point of noting that there are new models for every iPod line. And then failed to mention the iPod Classic. To me, this means that the classic is dead. If you really like the Classic, you might want to grab a backup now.
The update to the Nano was most dramatic. It is now a tiny little touch screen device. The Nano with the new touch screen looks as though its using iOS - Apple hasn't admited to that - at least not yet. The small square screen would make an interesting place for apps. The 192x192 screen, no accelerometer, no GPS, and no networking would limit the usability, but some interesting things could be done.
When demoing the Nano, it was connected to a video system, much as all iOS devices are during the demo, via the dock connector. To me, that says it must be running iOS. If so, can a jailbreak be far behind? My head is spinning with the possibilities. It will make a fun toy at just $149.
The iPod Touch gets serious
The iPod Touch has become the most popular iPod by sales. As expected, the iPod Touch also got an update, this time with some of the best features from the iPhone 4. In addition, it's even thinner than the previous version, shedding some of it's modest thickness.
In addition to being the biggest selling iPod, the Touch has become the number 1 portable gaming device. Outselling Nintendo and Sony combined with just over 50% of the market share. Apple announced that over 1.5 billion games and entertainment apps have been downloaded to iPod Touch devices. This update brings it up to date with the iPhone 4 in the areas that matter.
The 4th generation iPod Touch now has the amazing Retina Display, the Apple A4 chip, the gyroscope, and front and back cameras. In addition, Facetime is available and it will work with iPhones. It should be noted that the rear-facing, HD-recording camera doesn't seem to have the same fantastic specs as the one in the iPhone. As a matter of fact, it's less than a 1 megapixel camera. Yeah, I don't understand that one. Looks like the iPod Touch got the rejected camera from the Nano.
The updated iPod Touch will be available next week for $229 for an 8GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB.
iTunes gets social - did you hear a Ping?
Originally I was very pessimistic about this one. Apple, releasing a social network? Do we really need another social network? Then I started to think about it a little more. I have gotten to the point that I don't want to check Facebook -- I don't want another Frontierville update. Another invite to join some odd group. And I really don't care about 95% of the stuff I see on Facebook. Could Ping be the answer?
Work with me for a moment. Right now, Ping only supports music. But what if they expanded that? It would be easy to do. What if in addition to following musicians, you could follow movie directors, app developers, TV actors? It then becomes a full entertainment hub. Expand it beyond just music, and you might have something -- without all of the annoying group invites.
It could, once fully built out, become a great music, book, app, movie, tv, entertainment discovery engine. It could rock. But it has to be built out. That will, hopefully come with time.
One more Apple TV lives, and it's 1/4th the size it was. That's mainly because it has transformed into a streaming device. In what must be the precursor to a full iTunes streaming service, you don't purchase content for the device, you rent it.
The actual functions of this model of Apple TV haven't changed much from the previous model. The one big new content edition is the ability to stream Netflix -- which is a pretty good feature. The downside is that no app functionality was included, but maybe it's still there; we are yet to hear full details. There are a couple of possibilities, however.
One of the new features for iTunes introduced was AirPlay. This is more than what Steve highlighted, but it kind of works like AirTunes, only expanded out to more devices. You'll be able to stream music from iTunes to speaker docs, stereo systems, etc. Just like you can do today with AirPort Express. In addition to iTunes to devices, you'll be able to stream from your iOS device to your Apple TV. It works like this: start watching a video on you iPad, press the AirPlay button and that movie starts streaming on your Apple TV. Boom, indeed.
Apple TV lives, and it's 1/4th the size it was. That's mainly because it has transformed into a streaming device. In what must be the precursor to a full iTunes streaming service, you don't purchase content for the device, you rent it.
So what if this function were opened to other apps in iOS 4.2? What if, for example, you could be watching a video in Hulu+ and click the AirPlay button to view that movie on your TV. That gets us a lot closer to the idea I had in my head for Apple TV with the iPhone used as a remote. It's just a little more iPhone focused. We won't really know the full capabilities until the device is released and the hackers have a chance to get in there and see what the device is capable of.
Want to see the full keynote yourself and over analyze every word like I have? You can grab the Apple keynote right here. Overall, we think there were a lot of interesting devices and concepts introduced to us today at the keynote, many of which are only the beginning of a whole lot of potential.