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iTunes 11 - Quick Look

Apple delayed the release of iTunes 11, due to 'wanting to get it right' before they released it. Origianlly shown at the iPhone 5 launch this fall, they had a scheduled release date of October, but ended up pushing it until November. Late November -- 11/29/12, in fact. 

Now that I've finally had some time to play around with it, I can say it's certainly a welcome change. My initial thoughts are that it appears more modern, performs quicker, and has fine visual nuances that are pleasing to the senses. Specifically the Album view -- it's similar to making an Album cover look like a CD booklet w/ matching colors. It's the small things like this that set Apple apart from the competition. 

iTunes 11 Album View

iTunes 11 Album View

Beyond these new visual features, iTunes 11 also features some enhancements such as 'Up Next', where you can quickly queue songs to the 'Up next list' and also make them immediately 'play next'. I've long wished for a way to quickly make a playlist on the fly w/o having to make a formal Playlist. 

The Mini Player is new, too. It's smaller, but adds more controls. You can access it next to the iTunes playback bar, next to the full-screen button. This is handy to get access to your tunes when you don't need or want the full iTunes player up and running. 

Redeeming gift cards is easier too -- it can use your Mac's camera to read the barcode, so the days of entering those little codes are gone, at least for some of us. 

So far, I've only had time to play around with the new iTunes 11, but so far I like it. As with any new revision, I'm sure there will be bugs -- it's par for the course, especially when you get several million people w/ different scenarios testing. I'd keep an eye out for a new quick release in the coming weeks -- even though Apple said they waited until they got it right, it's probably not right yet. 

Sadly, I may not end up using the new iTunes very often.

Here's why:

  1. Spotify. I use Spotify for streaming my music. My personal library has gigabytes of music, but guess what -- Spotify has Millions and Millions of songs. 8 times out of 10, I can think of a song and it's on Spotify. If Apple had this ability (I'm not talking about iTunes Match -- I have that too, but that's just for streaming your own personal library), then it would once again be the de facto standard for me. 
  2. iCloud. Now that Apple has iCloud, I rarely have a need to connect any of my iOS devices to my Mac. I just don't. I keep it all on iCloud backup -- and hope for the best.
  3. Podcasts. I used to sync podcasts to my iTunes daily, but with the app store, I no longer have to do that extra step. I prefer Stitcher, but find myself using Downcast more often, because it features a 'skip ahead' ability so i can setup an interval to skip ahead -- required for commercial skipping. 

All in all, the new iTunes 11 looks great, but I have a feeling this is just a beginning of changes to come for iTunes.

CNet had a nice overview of what is GONE in the new iTunes 11, so if you seem confused about your favorite option -- check this out.

iOS 6 - Ready for Download

Transient

iOS 6 is out and about if you have and iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad 3, and iPod Touch 4th gen, you can run iOS 6 — at least some of it. For example, if you have the iPad 3 — you will get Siri. If you have the iPad 2 — you won't. 

To update, you can either connect to iTunes and update that way, or use the built-in Software update. If you don't want to wait to get prompted, you can simply go to  Settings - > General -> Software Update. 

Note: you will need to have enough room on your device to update.  I had less than 2.1 GB left on my iPad, so I was unable to download and install it. You can get around this caveat if you update from iTunes. I chose to delete some items to free up enough space that it was requesting (it needed 2.7GB on my iPad). 

Check out What's New

Streaming on the iPad and iPhone - Lots of Options, Still Not Enough.

Online TV isn't  à la carte, but it sure is getting close. Even though I do pay for cable (Comcast) I still subscribe to several other online streaming services. I don't know why - I like having the option I guess. I've always been somewhat of a collector of TV stuff. I used to save the TV Guide every week when I was a little kid. I did have other books, but I liked having a stack 4 feet tall by the end of the year. But I digress.

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My Monthly Subscriptions:

  • Comcast Cable w/ HBO
  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • Dish Network w/ Starz, HBO, and Cinemax
  • TiVo


These alone provide tens of thousands of choices.

On top of that, I have apps that allow streaming from NBC, HBO GO, Cinemax GO, Epix, EyeTV, TNT, PBS, TBS, NBC, TWIT, Encore, Starz, MoviePlex, XFINITY (similar to offerings on Dish), Crackle, and a couple more.

To bring some of it under control, I use the AOL TV and Fanhattan apps on the iPad. They don't list whats on on all of these services, but they hit some of the majors - at least enough to give me a show to watch and easy access to it.

With all of these services I bet you think I'm a movie junkie or TV show junkie. I used to be when I was younger, but now I'm pretty happy to watch ESPN and The Peoples Court. And little sprinkling of Survivor, Modern Family, Fear Factor, How Stuffs Made, Big Bang Theory, and ESPN U.

Unfortunately at this time ESPN isn't streaming to my iPhone or iPad since I am a Comcast customer - this is only for a select few cable companies. The good news is that Comcast is on the list and should be offering some live streaming (at least with Disney owned networks) soon.

Hopefully Comcast will make some headway with agreements for streaming all or most of their channels within your own home, and essentially my iPad or iPhone will become a second television set. Cox Cable, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FIOS and others are already doing this. Since Comcast is behind the curve on this one, to make up for their lack of in-home streaming I currently use an EyeTV device and application to make this happen, but it's just 'ok', and doesn't provide me with the higher quality streams I would like or my premium digital channels.

Another issue is that not all of these services (I'm talking to you HULU Plus) make ALL of their content available to the app. I missed Fear Factor the other night and immediately went to Hulu Plus to watch it on my iPad. What? Streaming ONLY on the WEB (and they don't mean the iPad web)! How dare you Hulu.  I quickly resolved this issue by launching the NBC App on my iPad, and sure enough, I was able to stream it just fine. I wish all of these licensing issues and power struggles would go away. A guy can dream.

The good news is that while these services may not be providing an elegant all in one solution, they are providing something. Take for example Showtime or The Movie Channel -- I haven't seen any such offerings from them. They have an app on the App store, but it seems to be merely promotional, only offering 'clips'. This is why they are second tier channels -- and will continue to be until they get with the program (er...so to speak).

So, to recap -- I subscribe to too much TV which I don't have the time to watch. That's really the main reason I do - convenience. I want it when I want it, no matter where I am. If I can fit in an episode of Modern Family while I'm waiting for my wife in the car -- that's exactly why I pay this subscription convenience fee. Several of my online friends seem to be cutting the cord - and that is exactly why all of  the cable companies are making you stay subscribed so that you can have access to their streaming content.  No pay - no shows. I am going to cut the cord this summer -- at least for cable TV and read an iBook.


iPhone 4S Coming to China and 21 More Countries Jan 13

More Markets = More Phone sales keeps Apple competitive.

Beginning Friday, January 13, iPhone 4S will be available in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guam, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and Uganda.

iPhone 4S comes in either black or white for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model, $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the new 64GB model.* iPhone 4S is sold through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. iPhone 4 is available for just $99 (US) and iPhone 3GS is available for free with a two year contract from participating carriers.

Apple Event in Late January??

Apple event seems imminent for the end of the month -- but it's not the iPad 3 or new TV says Kara Swisher from All Things D.

Nothing to get excited about yet, as speculation is it's some type of partnership with a media company, and not hardware related. If Apple doesn't stray away from their previous schedule, expect and iPad 3 announcement in March and a release in April. Let's hope.

Jim Dalrymple from The Loop agrees -- and if history is right, so is he. The beard has spoke - and so it shall be.