The Return of the King

A little note: I meant to write this up in short order after the September iPod event, however, some family health issues moved things such as the blog from even the back burner to off the stove. My apologies to you, readers, but family is by far the most important thing.

Jobs 2009At Apple’s predictably annual iPod music event on September 9, 2009, Apple fans worldwide were finally able to welcome Steve Jobs back to the stage after his medical leave.

I believe Apple continued in great stride without Steve at the helm for his 6-month absence, although I have to say it is great to have him back at Apple and feeling well-enough to give a keynote.

Don’t get me wrong, any company would benefit from a presenter like Phil Schiller, but Phil just isn’t Steve.

Well, I’ve already come right out and shared the best and most newsworthy part of event, but there were some other highlights. If you remember, I shared my predictions a week prior to the event. Shall we see what happened?


iTunes 9 did indeed debut. As I predicted, I was disappointed in iTunes getting a complete overhaul from Carbon to Cocoa. Instead, the interface was tweaked a little, and a few new features were added (most of them pretty handy).

The Genius feature now includes Genius Mixes, which Apple described as being like a radio station of your music that just goes great together. So far, the feature is quite nice, especially when you just want music to play for a long time while you work. It’s definitely better than just hitting shuffle r using iTunes DJ.

If you use an iPhone or iPod touch, you can now mange your apps on your home screens via a virtual interface within iTunes. This is a freaking Godsend.

The iTunes Store has an entirely new interface and I like it (it’s been rewritten in Webkit). I was a little perturbed when I saw that the Shopping Cart disappeared and everything is 1-Click now. That is, until I discovered the new Wish List, which basically serves the same function as the Shopping Cart. Also, the rumored social media integration is present, but only in the Store and (thankfully) not as profound as I feared it might be. Quite simply, the iTunes Store allows you to post links to content in Facebook and Twitter. Fairly harmless, and entirely optional.

Some albums are getting extra content called iTunes LP. Think of it as a digital version of the booklets that come in CDs. Movies on iTunes also gained iTunes Extras, which is the same as the DVD menu and special features.

Lastly, the best announcement concerning iTunes is Home Sharing. Finally it is easy to transfer media (music, movies, TV shows, audiobooks and even iPhone/iPod touch apps) between computers in your home. My wife and I used to sneakernet music we wanted from each other’s computers via thumbdrive. Now we can easily browse each other’s content and drag & drop it right within iTunes. This is by far the best feature to hit iTunes in a very long time.

iPhone OS 3.1

OS 3.1 for the iPhone and iPod touch shipped out the day of the event. This solved my abhorrent battery life issue, but did nothing to improve wi-fi reception on my iPhone 3G. (I used to be able to get wi-fi anywhere in my apartment, but since OS 3.0, I can only get it in my office and half of my living room. Doesn’t even register in my bedroom. Good thing there’s 3G in Lincoln).

iPod Updates

I have to admit, this is the part where things really turned upside down for me. I was sure the iPod touch would get a camera and I was skeptical about the iPod nano getting it. Turns out the iPod touch got a little speed and capacity bump, and no camera.

The iPod nano received brighter colors, a slightly larger screen, and a video camera (can’t take still pictures). It also gained a pedometer and FM radio.

I figured the iPod classic had seen the end of days, but it limps on at the same price point, sporting a 160 GB hard drive again (up from 120 GB last year).

And the shuffle indeed received more colors, adding pink, blue, and green to the black and silver. Also, you can pay $20 more for a highly scratchable stainless steel premium version. *rolls eyes*


All in all, it was a good event. New iPhone software, modest improvements to iTunes, and the annual refresh of iPods (though disapppointing as far as the iPod touch) are all very nice.

However, the biggest takeaway is Steve Jobs has returned, and I don’t think any of us could be upset about that.