iTV appearing tomorrow (Sept 1) at the Apple Event

Apple is expected to release a series of things tomorrow during their “music themed” Sept 1 event in CA. iPod Nano and Touch devices are expected to be revamped for the fall and with the Touch getting a forward facing camera and access to FaceTime over wifi. Cool for sure…

The other long-standing rumor is the revisiting of Apple’s “hobby” the AppleTV. This AppleTV system is long overdue for a update. The hardware and storage were both showing their age in storage, hardware performance and the abilities to support newer 1080p HDTVs. This all appears to be changing September 1, 2010.

The updated AppleTV is expected to be re-branded the iTV and will use the Apple iOS that is running on the iPhones and iPads now. Storage is not expected to be one of the cornerstones of the new device, but streaming access to media from personal iTunes libraries, the internet from Netflix and possibly Apple Apps from iTunes similar to ABC, Hulu and others for streaming content. This would finally bring the AppleTV to a place where cable could disappear a little easier and the big ‘ole TV in the family still got some family time…

More to come following the Apple event Wednesday afternoon.

UPDATE: Apple will stream the event live on their website. Check apple.com tomorrow at 10am PDT and read the press release now:

iPhone 4’s FaceTime is amazing!

Along with the new iPhone 4, Apple included a forward facing camera for video chats and a solution called FaceTime. Now personally I was not sold. Don’t get me wrong, I love video chats. We spent hours with friends and family on iChat for the last few years while the kids were growing up and we were a few hundred miles South. Now that we live close together it is not that big of a deal.

Apple set a test number (1-888-FaceTime) to try out a call with an Apple Rep. The connection is established with the rep via a voice call, they ask if you are trying out the solutions from your phone and if you are connected to a wifi network (this will not work over 3G yet). Once you confirm these things, the rep switch over to an iPhone 4 and invites you into a FaceTime chat.

Once you accept the chat, there you are (in a small preview windows). The rep is staring right back at you… Now the call has switched over to the wifi network, the voice call is disconnected from AT&T’s network so no more long-distance, roaming or minutes being used. If you know someone has a iPhone 4, you can start the chat without even having to place a phone call.

If you have an iPhone 4 and want to try out FaceTime, give Apple a call and try it out. It is the beginning of something new…

Apple has posted a few FaceTime ads on their website that have gone into rotation (you may soon see them during your favorite shows). They all show how much of a connection FaceTime can help people make. It will not happen overnight, but it very well may be the future of portable communications.

Updating an iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4.0

Apple makes the process of updating an existing iPhone very simple by using iTunes as the tool for all software updates, applications and backup of the settings, content and other information.

If you have an iPhone 3GS (there appear to be some issues with the first generation phone, iPhone 3G, so updating at this time is NOT recommended), a connection to your computer with the USB cable should start iTunes and let you know there is a software update for the iPhone. I would recommend a Download and Install choice and give the process at least 30 minutes.

iTunes first downloads the latest version of the iPhone software (iOS 4) and then will erase, update and ask if you want to restore all your information to the iPhone as it was before you began the update. For most users, this is what I would recommend since the system will put music, movies, settings for email and calendars as well as photos back onto the device. Again, this could take another 15-30 minutes depending on how much info you have or had on the phone, so it is recommended that you do not do this when in a rush or heading out of the house for some reason…

Since iTunes manages your media and your iPhone, it is recommended you connect the iPhone to a computer once every week or two. This accomplishes a few things. It backs up your phone, data and settings. It will pull photos and videos from your phone into iPhoto for sharing and checks with Apple to see if there are updates to your phone which could improve performance, stability or reliability.

Questions – let us know…

Hulu Plus announced

Hulu has announced the roll-out of Hulu Plus subscription service. For $9.99 a month, the solution will allow full runs/seasons of many FOX, NBC and ABC programs and they can play to iPhones (over 3G and wifi), iPads and BluRay devices (Samsung right now). The system will support up to 720p hi-def streaming (at this time).

You can sign up for a preview invite and see if you get one. I’m excited to see what is happening with the Hulu App and online solutions for both desktops and mobile devices.

Yet another option to full-blown cable service for $30+ dollars/month to ride along with Netflix and ABC’s own iPad App.

UPDATED: 06-30-10
The iTunes App Store now has an App for the iPad and iPhone that will allow access to the “free” content (I’m guessing to get people hooked) and test the waters. The system is not yet open to the public but as mentioned above you can request an invite and maybe get lucky.

I also tried the app on the way into the office on good ole NJTransit. I had a good 3G signal and the stream of NBC’s 30 Rock started almost instantly. The quality (both audio and video) lowered at one point but continued to stream. I know Pandora and other audio streaming services do this too, but it is much more apparent with video content (obviously).

One other very interesting take on all this is the expected update of the AppleTV to more of a streaming device that would work on the foundation of the iOS4. With iOS4 and access to the Apple App Store, an AppleTV could not only have access to your home personal iTunes audio and video collection, but finally tie into the internet so many people could discontinue their cable subscriptions and sit back on a comfortable couch and watch TV (granted it may not be live, but would work VERY well).

More to come when Apple updates their AppleTV device and we see how it will work with existing media and new internet content.

Google Docs becomes mobile ready

Google Docs now works smoothly and provides with mobile devices (specifically iPhones, iPad and Android devices). Google continues to move to HTML5 and optimizing their solutions to work better with numerous mobile devices…

In this Google blog post, another goal of Google is to have gmail load on mobile devices with HTML5 in under 1 second!

For as contentious a relationship Google and Apple have had lately, their technology goals seem to be lining up. Hopefully we will see them holding hands again soon and making up 🙂

Thoughts about Google docs on mobile devices – please share…

Apple updates the Mac Mini

Apple quietly updated the Mac Mini about a week ago with some long-deserved changes. The case is now similar the laptop line with an aluminum case but is now easier to add memory and get to the inside with a removable panel on the bottom.

The new model has FireWire 800, four USB ports, SD card slot, and HDMI for easy connection to a TV. An updated processor and graphics processor round out the update providing for a very attractive (both technically and physically) designed machine. One thing that is most unusual about this update is the cost of the machine has crept up from about $500 to $650.

With all this, my question is an AppleTV on the way using much of the core of the Mini? I sure hope so and if they can work it out with the video out (HDMI and Component) and a solid graphic processor and the underlining system processor (maybe running the iOS 4 software) this could move the AppleTV out of “hobby” status.

All in all, the Mini is a solid machine for the beginner or someone looking for a second machine they could purchase at a very reasonable price point.

iOS 4 (new iPhone software) coming Monday!

Apple will release iOS 4 (the latest iPhone and iTouch system Monday, June 21). This comes about 4 days before the new iPhone itself hits the streets (June 24) so Apple has learned something; Stagger… Let the iOS hit the streets, let people get their hands on it and play with it – AND THEN, release the new iPhone with the new iOS system and demand should look a little more reasonable come Thursday so support for the iPhone can be dedicated to the phone…

A few things to keep in mind. The Apple software (Mail, Safari, iPod and others) will work smoothly with the multitasking, the other software you have on the iPhone will require an update to be fully iPhone 4 ready.

Many programs run, but are buggy (in my experience the NYTimes app crashes A LOT under iPhone 4). According to a number of developers, Apple appears to be queuing up the iOS 4.0 software for availability today (in line with the OS update and release). Keep your eyes peeled for the update to hit iTunes sometime today, then I would expect by the end of the day, plenty of iPhone app updates to start showing up too…

Let us know your experiences and thoughts about the new iPhone OS (iOS)…