Appley goodness

Like Jeremy, I was ‘watching’ the Macworld keynote, and later that evening I was lucky enough to view the real thing before the servers got overloaded. Herein my thoughts and musings.

Apple TV

Apple TV looks like a gorgeous little box – I think the key thing here is that it has all the right outputs by default, whereas I think the Mac Mini would be less simple to hook up to a home cinema system.

I was worried about the video codec issue that Jeremy also mentions for a while. It’s certain that the Apple TV will only support “official” codecs:

H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): 640 by 480, 30 fps, LC version of Baseline Profile; 320 by 240, 30 fps, Baseline profile up to Level 1.3; 1280 by 720, 24 fps, Progressive Main Profile. MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile

I have no intention of downloading films from the iTunes store at their current pricing and quality, most of my films are likely to be ripped from DVD (primarily to remove the annoying copyright notices and obnoxious FAST adverts calling me a thief). But of course the answer to that is simple – I just need to be sure to encode everything in H.264.

I don’t suppose it’ll be long before many of the films you can download via bittorrent are encoded like that, too. I’d be interested to see how it compares to, say, DivX. And whether people really care about hitting the ~ 700mb file size sweet spot any more – do people actually still burn these things to CD?

iPhone

I’m sure there’ll be tons of commentary elsewhere. I look forward to dispensing with my iPod, PSP and Nokia N80, and having everything in one device. It’ll make my bag lighter, for sure. Some things that aren’t clear to me :-

What CPU is inside this thing? I doubt it’s a laptop or desktop-class chip; the GUI seemed a little sluggish (particularly during the Safari demo). Is this running on a RISC chip, something like the XScale, that Intel own? That would make sense – and would mean that Darwin is now running on three platforms. Interesting. Notice the iPhone tech specs don’t really tell us what’s inside (either CPU or RAM).

This would explain why third-party software won’t be on the phone initially: recompilation (and/or a new version of XCode with a “universally universal” compilation option) would be necessary. Not to mention that I’m guessing the phone is running a FrontRow-style application that calls other applications in the background, and is therefore not aware of any “extras” you may install.

That also suggests what’s inside the Apple TV: notice how the Apple TV specs page only says:

Processor and storage

Intel processor

… whereas the specs for the Macbook Pro, Macbook, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro all explicitly name the type of CPUs they run on. The XScale chip is built to run cool and at low power, which would explain how they crammed everything (including the PSU) into such a small Apple TV box.

The other thing I’d like to know is whether a second version of the iPhone device will be done before it launches in the UK. I’d expect to see real GPS (explicit, not just “it knows where you are”, which could mean GSM triangulation) and 3G. I’m not worried about wireless syncing – I’m used to tethering the phone to a charger daily, so why not sync at the same time? Of course, it would be extremely cool if the phone automatically synced whenever it was near the laptop. And I’d love a 3rd-party app that logs the calls I’ve made into my calendar or CRM package. And syncing of my SMS conversations into my iChat archive.

And finally – when Steve says the phone “does the right thing” regarding hooking up to WiFi when it’s available – how truthful was he being? Does he mean it automatically switches to VOIP calls? I’d be extremely surprised if that were true, especially if Cingular hope to make any money out of the deal. Still, it would be nice. Maybe there’ll be a Skype tie-in down the line?

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