Apple holds an iPod/iTunes-related event each Fall and this year is no exception. However, in addition to the inevitable stat reporting and iPod/iTunes upgrades, I think there’s finally a real possibility of a significant Apple TV update and some cool streaming advances (as has been reported in many other places).
I have a pretty clear idea of how I’d like the rumors I’ve heard to coalesce. My little hypothetical braid combines three things:
- A new iOS-based Apple TV (iTV?) that gets content by streaming and omits a hard drive altogether;
- A music streaming service that leverages Apple’s purchase of Lala, enabling your iTunes Library to exist in the cloud and be broadly accessible;
- and, outside of the rumor mill, the increasing ubiquity (and usefulness) of iTunes (with an expanded request/streaming system for the iTunes DJ feature, which is quite cool but hasn’t yet gelled) and the iOS devices, ie. iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad (as an aside, the last two of these will certainly see FaceTime at some point soon – I’d say iPod Touch at this event and iPad at an update at Macworld 2011 in January).
Here is my vision:
- Apple TV becomes iTV, a substantially smaller and very portable iOS-based unit that answers the call about the lack of video streaming output in the wonderful but limited Airport Express and fully realizes the power of the included audio streaming output capabilities of that device (which do exist in the current Apple TV to some degree);
- An enhanced Remote Control app for anyone that has an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad for iPod/Video functionality that is optimized for the Apple TV and includes an expanded iTunes DJ service (from what now exists in the current iTunes) – note that people also carry a lot of music on these devices themselves;
- An iTunes Library in the cloud for everyone, or at least some subset of one’s Library (and note that this requirement can be fulfilled simply by streaming the libraries on anyone’s iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, as well);
- Now here’s the magic: assuming that streaming (and I’m talking music streaming more than anything here) is fully integrated throughout the iTunes/iOS ecosystem (and assuming that the rights can be managed – this is a far bigger IF than any technical hurdles), you now have…
- a portable device (the iTV and perhaps subsequent third party docks, etc.) that you can take with you anywhere and hook up to speakers…
- through which you can stream music from the cloud or any of your iOS devices…
- with an integrated iTunes DJ request/cueing system (with restrictions to limit musical choices as desired by the system owner, e.g. no explicit, no country, etc.) that allows for anyone on the network to vote music up and down the next played list and contribute musical choices from their own iOS device (or even cloud-based iTunes Libary)…
- enabling a live, local social network of people DJing music through their iOS devices and associated infrastructure (iTV, speakers, etc.) at parties, events, dances, and other gatherings.
While I’m exited about the new technologies, hardware, and software features that will inevitably be announced, I see the above as something bigger in a way. There are few things that hold such a special relationship with the human experience as music does. Yet music still tends to be something dictated by one person (the DJ, the party host, the driver, etc.) to a larger group of people, many of whom are perfectly capable of sharing great music that others would like.
When I build a playlist, I’m always thinking of “music that others will like that I also like” so that the most people can enjoy it without my own enjoyment suffering (hence being able to put restrictions on some choices, as above) – but I’m always getting great new music from friends that I haven’t heard and spend lots of time hunting for new music on my own. Why not combine the two ideas in a wireless DJ iTunes/iOS ecosystem and bring music sharing to a new level for the enjoyment of all.
I’m even fine if a “Buy from iTunes” button needs to appear next to each entry in the DJ playlist, too . (As an aside, some of the above would work spectacularly well for Music Videos as well – and a portable Apple TV would be great for streaming those potential 99 cent TV rentals wherever you’d like, too)
What do you guys think? What would you like to see happen? Leave your thoughts in the comments!