The first week of Feb. is drawing to a close and the iPhone is still buzzing around the blogosphere like wild fire. In case anyone has forgotten, let me remind you that the AppleTV will be gracing us with its presence on Feb. 20.
I’m forced to stop and think about what sort of impact this small, silver, square and every other product from Apple will have on my life and in our homes. Look at what the iPod did; we have become a society of white earbud-toting minions because of Jobs and his marketing genius. Every Apple event is like Christmas and 90% of the time we leave the event grinning from ear to ear with our wallets stretched wide open. It almost seems certain that the AppleTV will have a huge impact on our home entertainment centers. But wait…
Apple gave us a glimpse of the AppleTV when the Mac mini re-launched with Front Row in early 2006, but we were too enamored to even notice or think about the future. The Mac mini is extremely small, compact and inconspicuous, and easily transports from your desk to living room. Setting up your Mac mini to your TV is so easy, even the technologically challenged can do it. Like most people, I don’t have a whole lot of time to plop down in front of the TV every time my shows come on. I usually end up watching them late at night on my Macbook after I’ve finished my laundry list of things I have to do. Apple does such a great job of making this so convenient with TV shows and movies readily available on iTunes. Now I watch all my content on the big screen HDTV in the living room instead of on my teeny-weeny Macbook. My Mac mini does nothing but act as a media center now, but it’s such a pain in the ass to update content every week. I know I said it was super easy to move from desk to living room but I’m a lazy bastard and the less I have to move around the better.
“If it’s on iTunes, it’s on TV.” Care to argue with that? Convergence gadgets are on the rise and there is no end in sight. If you’re like me and your laptop/PC/Mac is the center of your media universe then the AppleTV is a godsend… or a Jobs’ send? Apple does a great job of making its products user-friendly and yet people are still intimidated by its UI. AppleTV wirelessly connects to your iTunes and syncs your content every time you make a change. Plug it in via the HDMI or component ports and you’re done. Sure Apple wants to make a buck or few hundred bucks off you, but they also want to make your life easy. We want things to be simple, but we also want to have a hand in changing things if they don’t meet our particular criteria. Apple loves their developers and open source makes it easy for everyone to get their ideas out there, which makes the user experience that much better.
Here is where the CenterStage Project takes iTunes and Front Row a step further by allowing users to have full control of their media content. CenterStage is the media center application that lets users play all media stored on their Macs on any TV set. BackStage is where it really gets fun because it allows you to playback any media content that isn’t supported by Apple iLife applications. It organizes and catalogues everything into one sleek interface in conjunction with the CenterStage application for a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Everything is going well for Apple right now. Microsoft is desperately trying to play catch-up on all ends of the spectrum. The Xbox 360 is about the only advantage Microsoft has on Apple, but that could change at any time. I recently watched an hour-long story about the phoenix-like resurrection of Apple because of the iPod and how it changed the way we listen to music. Will the AppleTV have the same effect on how we watch TV? What other Apple products will infiltrate our homes in the years to come? Will anyone be able to stop the juggernaut that is Steve Jobs?