Tag Archives | iPod Touch

The iPod is Getting Some Love (and Updates)

Well, the iPod wasn’t necessarily supposed to be part of the festivities — at least I thought — but Apple took the time to push out some updates to its products. The Nano is going to get a refresh with user interface enhancements, including a watch face for those of you who might want to wear it as a watch.  The enhancements are minor, and you’ll still get it in the same seven colors beginning today. The 8GB is on sale for $129, and 16GB for $149.

The iPod touch will gain a white version and remains basically the same device, just with iOS 5 enhancements. Prices have changed though, the 8GB is now $199, with the 32GB at $299 and the 64GB at $399.

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Looks Like End-of-Line for Original iPhone, iPod Touch

At the end of today’s presentation, Jobs said that the full benefits of iPhone OS 4.0 would be available only to customers owning the iPhone 3GS and 3rd generation iPod Touch. For customers with an iPhone 3G or 2nd generation iPod Touch, the update would still be available, however functionality (including multitasking) would not work.

Left out was any mention of the original iPhone and iPod Touch, now both coming up on their 3rd anniversary. Looks like this means its the end of the line for these two devices…


Needed at Apple: One Good Game Designer

Apple’s cooking up something related to video games, and needs a jack of all trades game designer to get the job done.

Apple appears candid in the job ad. The company wants someone to work on “interactive multimedia experiences” (read: video games) on the iPhone and iPod Touch. The right person must be a “passionate gamer” with three years of industry experience, at least one shipped AAA title and knowledge of a few programming languages, among other skills.

Normally, I wouldn’t care much about job openings at Apple, but this particular posting has me wondering, “Why?” Apple only sells four in-house apps on the iPhone and iPod Touch, and just one of them, Texas Hold’em, is a game. My understanding is that the App Store is primarily a hardware seller for Apple, and with so many third-party games available, it just doesn’t seem worthwhile for Apple to compete.

The Apple Blog’s Liam Cassidy, however, has an intriguing suggestion: Apple’s really looking for someone to develop in-house games for the still rumored Apple tablet. That’ll give the company something to show on stage if and when the large touch screen device is revealed.

In a way, it makes perfect sense. Apple’s tablet is shrouded in secrecy, so imagine the risk of handing off early development to a third-party publisher. All it takes is one well-connected game journalist to blow the story wide open. It might not even come to that — look at how New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller may have slipped up by referring to the “impending Apple slate” during an internal speech. Better to keep development under wraps in Cupertino.

Still, there’s a big hole in I can’t reconcile: If Apple’s only looking for someone to create demo fodder, isn’t this more of a temp job than a full-time position? Indeed, I can’t think of any reason for the existence of this position that doesn’t have at least one good counter-argument. Even the idea of Apple developing a gaming console seems far-fetched and silly.

Whatever the job is, I have a feeling the new hire will be signing a thick NDA upon arrival.


It’s On! Nintendo Prez Knocks iPod Touch

nintendo_ds_liteAs the iPhone and iPod Touch look more like portable gaming platforms, I haven’t tired of watching Sony and Nintendo flail. They’re like two incumbent political parties having identity crises in the face of a new competitor who’s hogging the spotlight.

The latest round of this partisan bickering comes from Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, who in an interview with the Washington Post argued that the Nintendo DS does things the iPod Touch does not. As proof, he pointed to the DS’s two screens, Nintendo’s franchise titles such as Mario Kart DS and New Super Mario Bros and innovative games like the recent Scribblenauts, which lets players type out virtually any PG-13 noun and have the object literally appear on the screen.

“All of these experiences are very unique and very different and what you cannot find on their App Store,” Fils-Aime said.

It’s a weak argument. Half the games Fils-Aime mentions use the DS’s second screen to provide superfluous information, and there’s nothing in Apple’s technology that precludes a title like Scribblenauts. But the major problem here is Fils-Aime’s “our console is different” mentality.

Guess what? Every console is unique in some way. Check out Dan Terdiman’s CNet article today on a new breed of iPhone games that integrate your phone and contacts. That’s unique. Or just visit the App Store and pick up a free chess app, a free tower defense game and the entirety of Wolfenstein 3D for $2. That user experience is unique.

The real question is whether one console’s unique experience is better than the competition’s. I’ll concede that Nintendo has powerful franchises in Mario and Zelda, et al, but that doesn’t make up for how Apple is capturing the casual gaming market that Nintendo covets. Nintendo needs to find a solution to that problem, and Fils-Aime needs better talking points.


Apple: Hey Sony, Nintendo, Bring It

iphonepspdsMan, we’re getting so close to having Apple as a real contender in the handheld game console wars, I can feel it.

As Gamespot points out, Apple’s music-themed event marked the first time that the company publicly argued why the iPhone and iPod Touch are better gaming options than Sony’s PSP and the Nintendo DS. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, went so far as to say those other two consoles are “not a lot of fun.”

Now, we can debate ad nauseum the merits of iPhone and iPod Touch gaming vs. the PSP and the DS. We can argue which device is the most successful, has the best games or has the greatest chance of survival. But that’s boring. What’s really great about the console wars is all the bickering and spin that goes along with it. In that regard, Apple showed that it’s ready to play hardball.

At yesterday’s event, one of Apple’s slides touted a catalog of 21,178 “Games & Entertainment Titles,” compared to 3,680 DS games and 607 PSP titles. Of course, it’s totally bogus for Apple to include “Entertainment” in the mix, as we’re strictly comparing gaming devices here. A quick check of Apptism shows 14,657 games on file.

If Apple’s still ahead, why fudge the stats? Because that’s what you do in the console wars. I’m reminded of when Sony argued last January that it’s a better value than the Xbox 360, assuming that you bought the basic Xbox 360 Arcade, then purchased the most expensive hard drive available and threw in an optional Wi-Fi adapter. Sure, the argument is valid, but the math is fuzzy.

And then, there’s all the trash talk. Back in February, I looked on with delight at the way Microsoft and Sony were sniping at each other. Yesterday, Schiller argued that “once you play a game on the iPod touch, you think ‘hey, [the DS and PSP] aren’t so cool any more…'” Burn!

Sony and Nintendo haven’t fired back yet (in fact, Sony’s been unbelievably timid on the matter), but if Apple keeps up this rhetoric, it’s only a matter of time until the sparks fly. I can’t wait to watch.


iPhone 2.2 Update Delivers Modest Fixes

Late Thursday night Apple iPhone users were treated to a firmware update that addresses an assortment of bugs and adds new features to Google Maps. However, some long-anticipated features are still glaringly missing in action. iPod Touch customers also received an update.

Version 2.2 of the firmwares are available through iTunes. The updates squash bugs that affect the devices’ scheduling for e-mail fetching and improves the stability and performance of the Safari browser.

Both devices are now capable of downloading podcasts over the air using a 3G network or Wi-Fi access, and iTunes will sync the files to users’ computers. Minor usability updates make it possible to turn off auto-correction on the virtual keyboard, and pressing the home button now returns users back to the first home screen.

Notably, Apple tweaked the sound quality of saved voice mail messages for the iPhone and troubleshooted its code to reduce incidents of dropped calls.

I’m a telecommuter and work two jobs from my apartment in Manhattan. Network coverage in my area is exceptional, but I still have to contend with frequently dropped calls. Given how I do not possess a land line, dropped calls affect my ability to work, and any improvement is welcomed.

Some other new features for the iPhone include Street View in Google Maps, as well as walking directions and information about public transportation (where available). Those capabilities were not provided for iPod Touch users, and GPS turn-by-turn directions remain unavailable for either device.

Apple still has not added voice-dialing to the iPhone, both editions of its software still lack fundamental copy and pasting, and iPhone users will have to wait a little while longer for MMS. RIM’s Blackberry Storm has those capabilities.

The latter two shortcomings go hand-in-hand: I received a notification that contains a log-in and password for AT&T’s Web site to retrieve MMS messages, and it is cumbersome to view messages unless I’m at my computer. (So late night photos of drunken friends in compromising situations remain unseen)

The iPhone Dev Team, a group of developers that is working to unlock the phone to additional providers, recommends that iPhone owners that have ‘jailbroken’ their devices hold off on installing the 2.2 update from Apple.