Apple Revamps iPod Line, Upgrades iTunes, Apple TV
Apple made a series of major announcements about its digital music players and iTunes music store Wednesday.
At a media briefing in San Francisco on Wednesday, CEO Steve Jobs said that Apple had entirely revamped its iPod line and made improvements both to its music store as well as the iOS operating system powering its mobile devices.
As expected, Apple also announced 99-cent rentals of TV shows through iTunes. The shows will be available from News Corp.'s Fox and Walt Disney's ABC starting today. Not all studios wanted to do this, he said. "We think the rest will see the light and get on board with us," Jobs noted. Users also will be able to stream Netflix to the device if they are already customers.
Jobs acknowledged that Apple TV, which came out four years ago, has "never been a huge hit." He said a new version of the device would be a quarter of the size of the older unit with a built-in power supply , an HDMI connector and Ethernet as well as Wi-Fi. The price was cut from $229 to $99.
Dressed in faded jeans and a black sweater, Jobs spent the first few minutes of his presentation showing pictures of Apple's new stores in Shanghai and Paris. He also used the occasion to tout the popularity of Apple retail stores, which he says now draw 1 million visitors on some days.
Apple has sold 275 million iPods, Jobs said. Jobs said Apple was releasing an "all-new design for every single model of iPod. it's the biggest change in the iPod lineup - ever."
iPod Shuffle: A new $49 iPod shuffle that's smaller than the earlier generation model. This one is a square with the old button navigation back, as well as a playlist. It will run for 15 hours.
iPod Nano: This sixth-generation music player eliminates the click wheel and instead features a multi-touch user interface. That allowed Apple to reduce the size of the device by 46% - Jobs said that it's 42% lighter - and now is wearable with a clip. The battery life lasts 24 hours. It also includes FM radio, a built-in clock, as well as photos. There's also an accelerometer that rotates the screen if you turn the unit upside down. The unit will retail for $149 for the 8 gigabyte version and $179 for the 16 GB model.
The Newest Digital Products From Apple
In the last year, the iPod Touch has become the most popular device in Apple's iPod line, according to Jobs. Apple hopes to build on that trend in the device's latest rendition. This slimmer version will include the same retina display that's included in the iPhone with 326 pixels and a 24-bit color LED. It also has a front camera with FaceTime as well as a rear-facing camera. The unit will 40 hours of music playback. Users will be able to edit videos just as you can do on the iPhone with an iMovie app. All three models - an 8 GB version for $229, a 32 GB unit for $299 and a 64 GB model for $399 - are available for pre-order and will ship next week.
Apple announced a new release of iOS, the operating system that powers Apple's mobile devices. In the upgrade, available next week, Jobs said Apple had fixed many of the bugs which users had previously complained about. He also released a few statistics testifying to the popularity of Apple units running iOS. He said 120 million IOS units have shipped and that 6.5 billion applications have been downloaded from Apple's App Store - 25,000 of them apps for the iPad.
Jobs took an unusual step by pre-announcing the next version of the iOS, which he pledged would "be all about iPad" when it ships in November. He said Apple will add wireless printing to iOS 4.2, as well as AirPlay, the new name for AirTunes. The upgraded technology will also stream audio, video and photos over Wi-Fi to other devices.
So far 11.7 billion songs have been downloaded from iTunes. At the same time, 450 million TV episodes and 100 million movies have also been downloaded, as well as 35 million books.
The 10th major version of iTunes features a hybrid view that displays album artwork if you have five songs from the same album. Apple also added a feature to help users discover music with a technology called Ping, a social network for music, according to jobs. "Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes," he said, which is built into iTunes, that allows you to follow your favorite music and friends and find out what they're downloading and talking about. It will include a Top 10 chart customized with information about the people who you're following. It also features security controls allowing you to be as private or as public as you prefer in sharing your data with a wider circle of friends or the public.
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