Today in Shiny, White Toys

It was a good day for the kings of white gadgets.

Apple Inc. and Nintendo Co. came out swinging this morning with their respective software and hardware updates.

Wii Shop MenuNintendo got things started early with a major software update to its Wii game console. Unlike previous updates, 3.0 did not add any new channels, but it tightened the overall software interface.

A Shop channel overhaul and improved bulletin board for exchanging messages, along with the additions of a clock, at-a-glance weather and news all on the home screen go a long way in tightening the overall user experience. These tweaks boost the system’s living room “stickiness,” meaning Nintendo is closing in on its goal of making Wii the household central hub.

And when I was checking out the new virtual console shop, I noticed Wave Race 64 was added to the roster of downloadable games. That game was my bread and butter 10 years ago.

Just a few hours after we got a nifty update to one little white box, Apple was giving us every reason to throw out the shiny, white iMac computer it touted for the past year in favor of an even shinier, aluminum one.

While I’m sticking to my MacBook for the long haul, podcaster Leo Laporte is already opening up his wallet. “Trying hard not to push the ‘buy’ button,” he said, obsessively refreshing the Apple Store web site shortly after the announcement.

On the software side, Apple introduced iLife and iWork ’08, both on shelves today. One great feature that’s making its way across the iLife suite, starting with iPhoto and iMovie, is the arrangement of photos and home movies into “events,” merging everything from that day into one easy-to-navigate group.

With iMovie, Apple has finally put together the application I’ve long been rallying for. The new version, in addition to being a great video editor, acts as a library organizer for your home movies.

I run Microsoft OfficeI don’t know why it took so long for this to happen. Apple got its feet wet in that respect years ago with iTunes for video organization, but it wasn’t until one coder took it upon himself to put together the product that it actually got done, said Apple CEO Steve Jobs today in his Cupertino keynote.

For the iWork update, a much improved Pages word processor and a new app called Numbers, filling the Excel gap with the delay of Microsoft Office ’08 for Mac, may make this year’s suite actually worth owning.

Other notable updates today were Mac minis with the Intel Core 2 Duo chips, a new keyboard and a huge .Mac upgrade.


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