This morning, Apple announced the latest software update for iPhone and iPod Touch. OS 3.1. Along with announcement, Apple announced the platform is now 50 million strong with 75,000 apps, in the apps store, and 1.8 billion downloads. (not counting updates). Yes, it’s clear that Apple’s mobile platform is huge force to be reckoned as competitors attempt to tell their own app story against Apple’s center of gravity.
Apple says there’s a litany of fixes and updates in 3.1 but here’s major stuff.
First, Genius will now make recommendations from the App store based on the apps you own. This will work for all devices, both iPhone and iPod Touch. Discovery among 75,000 apps can be hard and Apple understands this. From my quick demo, it appears Apple has done a very good job here and this is good news for developers as they attempt to further differentiate themselves and hope consumers discover them.
Second Apple’s in the ring-tone business. iTunes now offers Pre-Cut ringtones. 20,000 to start with from all major labels. Price point is $1.29 US. This is a breakthrough price for ringtones and will likely put some pressure on the rest of the market to adjust their prices as well. 3.1 is free for all iPhone and iPod Touch users using 3.0. iPod Touch users who haven’t bought 3.0 yet can get 3.1 for $4.95
Apple also introduced a new version of iTunes. Setting some background, Apple is now in 23 countries iTunes Music Store and is now #1 music retailer in the world. The store boasts 8.5 billion songs but more importantly, Apple has a 100 million accounts with credit card info. Very impressive. So what’s new in iTunes 9?
Genius mixes – This is a super cool feature. So far Apple has had 27 million libraries analyzed and 54 billion songs processed. Where Genius only put together a playlist, Genius Mixes create an ongoing personal radio station. It’s a little like Pandora but built out of your music collection.
Improved Sync – Sync’s gotten a lot better in iTunes. I can now for example sync
particular playlist but at the same time, I can add individual artists. Likewise,Movies,TVs and Podcast settings can all be adjusted on overridden by the user. Even more important, Apple now shows a user layout of the iPhone and iPod Touch making it dirt simple to set up your app screens.
Home Sharing – I’ve wanted this feature for a long time. I can finally compare what’s on
my different computer iTunes libraries, see what’s missing from both and then easily consolidate them together. I can also make sure that future purchases for music, video, apps etc all stay in harmony. Excellent. I’ve been looking for something to do this for a long time. Nice to see this at last. Of course, I can still stream from different libraries across my network.
Re-designed Store – The store’s been totally revamped. Just got a lot of easier to find things, and in general get around. Lots of content can be seen and bought inline. There’s also some cool Twitter and Facebook integration. Yep, iTunes is getting social.
iTunes LP – This is an interesting feature and helps re-create the album experience of old with liner notes, lyrics, song lists, videos photos and memorabilia. At launch there will be eight titles with two to three a week. Sometimes the content will be an album, sometimes just a few songs. It’s a good idea but it’s not likely to drive consumers back to the album purchase model (although Apple did point out that 50% of music bought on iTunes is albums). There’s no price premium for it, but it’s likely we won’t see it on every album for some time. At the end of the day, if it’s good music, people will buy it and if it’s not, this won’t be a purchase driver.
Bottom line? Nice update of the software line that will help keep Apple in the lead with the most refined mobile entertainment experience.