As expected, the big fall Apple event today was filled with new iPod updates as well as a few other surprises. The biggest changes were with the new iPod Nano, but the iPod Touch, iPod Shuffle, and Apple TV all got updates as well. Going into the Apple event it was rumored that the new iPod Nano was going to take a radical redesign, and that’s exactly what happened.
The previous generation iPod Nano featured a click-wheel for navigating menus and controlling playback. With the new one they ditched the click-wheel and replaced it with a single multi-touch screen, and made it much smaller so it that it can clip onto clothing like the iPod Shuffle can. By comparison, the new iPod Shuffle is similar, but instead of a touchscreen it only features a click-wheel for controlling playback. Not to be overshadowed, Apple also revealed a new iPod Touch 4th generation which has an even thinner design and carries the same Retina Display and FaceTime features as the iPhone 4.
Similar to the iPhone 4, the iPod Touch also has a camera on the back for shooting HD video. Unfortunately this camera is not as good as the 5 megapixel camera found on the iPhone. At least there is an A4 processor in it now, when combined with the Retina Display, Gyroscope, and FaceTime for video chat, it is now very close in features to the iPhone 4. It was very clear that they were not afraid to advertise it as an “iPhone without a phone,” and that statement is now truer than ever.
The new Apple TV was a bit of a surprise. At the new low price of $99, it carries a much smaller form factor which they achieved by removing the hard drive from it. It is now a rental and streaming device only, because you can no longer sync your media to it. To help facilitate this they announced a new TV show rental service for only 99 cents per episode. Currently only ABC and Fox are on board, but there is hope that other networks will be added. Netflix streaming has also been added, along the previous YouTube, Flickr, and MobileMe internet streaming functions. Apple says the Netflix function is better than any other device on the market.
Apple has also added a new feature called AirPlay, which allows streaming of content (including video) directly from an iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone. AirPlay is not limited to the Apple TV, it also has the ability to stream to (supported) home audio equipment made by Denon, Marantz, JBL, and more. The new iTunes 10 plays a part in this, allowing you to stream your media right on your computer. This might sound familiar to people who use AirTunes, which only allowed audio streaming. This replaces that by adding support to stream video, audio, and even photos.
iTunes 10 introduces the first social network for music built right into iTunes. It’s called iTunes Ping, and it allows you to network with friends and musicians to see what they are listening to and what new concerts are coming up. It keeps track of your music and allows you find other friends who like the same artist and see what they like to listen to. It is similar to Facebook or Twitter, but focused on music. This seems like a great way to discover new music, and it fits in with other features already in iTunes like Genius Playlists. Apple has said that iTunes 10 with a brand new “slimmed down” interface will be available for download sometime today.
Wrapping up, they also showed a sneak peak of the upcoming version of iOS 4. One of the most exciting things for iPad users is that iOS 4.2 will finally be coming out. The release is scheduled for November, and it will finally bring feature parity amongst all of Apple’s iOS devices. Multitasking has been certainly missing from the iPad, and the new version will allow it. Support for printing has been an often requested feature for the iPad and Apple has finally added it in the upcoming iOS update. The details are still not clear how it works, but it is definitely something the iPad has needed.
So there you have it, a ton of Apple news for one day. I am looking forward to trying out some of the new products, especially the new Apple TV. Every year there seems to be one big Apple announcement at these events that people really focus on. This year might be the first where I am not even sure which news is the biggest. They really pulled out all their cards today and updated the entire iPod lineup. Well, except for the iPod Classic, but don’t worry it’s still available, just not updated today.