Cupertino Bong Water™—ask for it by name

So here's what usually goes down in my adhole (that would be my office) on the day of an Official Apple Event Sponsored by Apple and Brought to You by Apple in Cooperation with Steve Jobs and His Amazing Technicolor Imagineered Liver of Doom: I bring my lunch, fire up an appropriate live event-tracking site at noon Central Standard or Daylight Time, and hit the refresh button on Safari even though the site pleads with not to do so. (The reasons for the latter are numerous and involve complex psychological issues, including my inability to stop petitioning NBC for an "Automan" reboot.)

If one of my Cult o' the Mac buddies is on IM, we'll even provide running commentary to each other. I realize this is sad, but it beats another lunch at Chipotle. But not Chick-Fil-A. Mmmmm, waffle fries.

Anyway, that's the standard operating procedure in my odd little world when Apple decides to bless the masses with some sort of keynote address or media circus event. But not this time. No, this past Wednesday (September 9, 2009, for you time-skipping cyborgs out there), I fled the office and ingested some form of value-priced processed food item. Perhaps it was my Spidey Sense or the Denorex I forgot to rinse out (let alone repeat), but I somehow knew that Apple's "It's Only Rock and Roll, But We Like It" event would be a big ol' steaming pile of meh.

The interboobs were, of course, awash with rumors in the weeks prior to the event. And while I was secretly hoping that Jobs would return from the near-dead as Steven the White, ready to the lead the hobbit-like Jonathan Ive in his quest to defeat... aw screw it, the metaphor's falling apart.

So here's what we ended up with.

Steve Jobs returned to prime time. Yes, the man still needs to down a few buckets of fried cheese curds to get back to peak underling-throttling weight, but whatever. His return meant one important thing—less Phil Schiller. Schiller's fine and possibly dandy (I'd rather not know much about his dandiness, to be honest), and I'm sure he's had a strong hand in Apple's current success. But a riveting public speaker he is not. Nor am I. Which is why I'm writing this.

iPhone software update 3.1 arrived and promptly broke Exchange support. Or didn't. I may never know or care. The update also brought iTunes-like Genius recommendations to your apps, support for Genius Mixes, new syncing options, and the ability to organize your apps from within iTunes. The last feature seems especially half-hearted. I mean, it's easier than doing it on the iPhone itself, but I'd love to have a simple "cleanup" command that auto-filled my screens with as many apps as they'll hold.

And get this: with 3.1, you can actually use a Bluetooth headset with Voice Control on the 3GS. Because, well, duh. That should've been a .0 feature. Some other random bits and bugs have been squished or inflicted. Mess with your own phone and see what's what.

Version 9.0 of iTunes also popped out the development chute with the aforementioned Genius Mixes leading the charge—at least according to Steve. Jobs likened Genius Mixes, which uses the same creepy technology Apple employs to turn normal geeks into arrogant bastardos at their retail Genius Bars, to having Samantha Ronson spinning personal faves you didn't even know you dug while LiLo firebombs your Porsche. Sweet.

Home Sharing seems to be the most promising feature of iTunes 9, but it's crippled out of the gate. Home Sharing lets you sync selected (including all) iTunes content between five authorized computers on your home network. Cool. Except said content has to have been purchased from the iTunes Store. Not cool. Without this egregious bit of skullduggery being remedied in 9.1, I don't see much point for it.

Speaking of the iTunes Store, it got a new look with pull-down menus and, umm, rearranged page layouts. Two possibly cool enhancements are the new iTunes LP and iTunes Extra features, which let you view liner notes and album art (among other things) for music, and DVD/Blu-ray extras for movies. Not sure if I'll ever feel like paying for these things, but they are at least nice to have available. Never know when I might long to discover just how the screenwriter and director decided which choice Sophie would ultimately make. Pardon me whilst I fetch a tissue.

Apple also busted forth some new iPod models on Wednesday. And arguable the biggest news was what didn't happen: no camera in the iPod touch. Instead, Apple stuck a video camera on the nano and called it a day. Our friend Phil later claimed that Apple wants to continue positioning the touch as a gaming machine and that adding a camera would just add confusion to the feature set. I declare shenanigans. We already know that the leaked photos of the new touch that showed a camera were indeed accurate. I, and many others, suspect some technical glitch occurred that forced Apple to remove the camera. Or maybe they just like making people pick between a tiny iPod with a fairly sad VGA video camera—that's right, no stills!—and an iPod that does everything but take pictures or video. Either way, dumb.

Apple also claimed that the newish shuffle is still cool even with its lack of on-player controls. Consider that Kool-Aid spat.

Also, the Beatles catalog—which was released in remastered form on CD the very same day, along with a Beatles version of Rock Band—kept its streak of avoiding iTunes. This is after Yoko Ono herself leaked (probably) that such announcement would be made. People, it's been 39 years since the woman busted up the band that's the World's Best unless you happen to like the Rolling Stones or U2 better (sit down, Tull fans)—why would you start trusting her now?

Oh, and Norah Jones played.

All in all, not a particularly exciting event. Not there's anything, okay, much wrong with what was unveiled, it just wasn't that big of a deal. I realize the Apple faithful have become a bit spoiled by "one more thing" moments, but Apple needs to realize that not everything they do requires a media event. Just because they traditionally have pressed to release new iPods in September doesn't mean they have to do it every frickin' year. I know, I know—they do it to get the ball rolling on the Christmas season. Whatever.

I was just happy with my waffle fries.



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