Even though they are still work in process, it's still not too early to plan for uses for the new hopper block.
Let me first explain what exactly these things are.
In the first snapshot of 2013 (and 1.5), hoppers were added to the game as something to store a maximum of five stacks, or to fairly quickly transfer items into chests simply by throwing them out of ones inventory, though only if the hopper is touching the side or top of the chest (you have to hold shift while placing it so the chest isn't opened). In order to create it, there is a simple recipe that can be found here.
Your chest and hopper(s) should look something like this:
Anyway, I thought, since using lava or cacti is rather dangerous, destroying items in survival could be made easier by making a simple hole leading down to a hopper which would dispense a certain amount of practically useless or abundant items into chests, which later you could loot if you felt the need for extra dirt or cobble.
Also, there is the ability to have fully automatic mob farms and wheat farms, with no need to even be present to collect your items, as long as you have many hoppers connected up to your flowing water.
Some other uses:
•Hoppers can be used to transfer items to any other block with slots, like furnaces, brewing stands, hoppers, and trapped chests (a new type of chest which sends out a redstone signal when opened). This means it can be used to brew potions easily.
•They can be used to suck items out of containers into themselves, so you can create a long funnel to transfer items to an underground chest room, though this can be done using ender chests as well. Unfortunately, this cannot be done the other way around, which would be going up to the surface.
Have fun with the new snapshot, and comment any other hopper ideas you may have!
guys guys... you can actually use chest minecarts to transport items long distances with the assistance of hoppers for loading and unloading. a hopper can dispense items into a chest minecart, which could then travel uphill on tracks and a hopper could then unload from the chest minecart (put the chest minecart on top of the hopper using pistons) and then push the chest minecart onto another track to return and potentially do a loop. I believe this is the intended method of use (as opposed to pipes).
I really think they will add some advanced uses for the Hopper, so you can create some more automated systems for boring work. Not as advanced as Buildcraft systems, but more Minecraft-y.
The Hopper should really be able to put items in different sides of the Furnace to put it in different slots. Like: Top = Input for the top slot, Bottom = Output for the finished product slot, any side = Input fuel.
Very simple, semi-automated cooking system:
If you didn't see it already, Iron pants are Hoppers
You dump your ores in the top Chest, and a Hopper puts your ores in the Furnace. Once everything is cooked up, it gets transferred to the bottom Chest.
By adding a simple branch, if the sides of a Furnace would allow fuel input, you could make it even easier:
The other chest could be used to store Charcoal, Coal, and a bunch of other fuels.
I would really love it if they added a filter function for the Hopper, so you can create a system that distributes the various items over various Chests/Furnaces, but I guess they'll keep it quite simple, which I like too.
Also, Hoppers should be able to be placed sideways, so it looks better. Since the Hopper is actually quite cheap (a good wood farm and a Cobble generator will supply you with enough Chests and Stone (by cooking Charcoal and putting in the Cobble), you can easily make some pipe-like systems.
I really think Dinnerbone will add a way to close the Hoppers by using Redstone, probably like this:
This is just a sketch I made, but what do you guys think? If this would be possible, it would allow for even more awesome contraptions, perhaps using the tile entity capacity sensor function the Comparator has.