Apple announces new iPods, Apple TV and iTunes 10 with Ping social network
Apple Computer announced several new products today and true to the rumors, most of what was announced centered around music. Beyond that though, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and the Apple team continues to innovate with hardware that squarely places Apple in a position to control the lion's share of digital music, video and game delivery for some time to come.
After some sales data and an announcement of the iOS 4.1 update for iPods and 4.2 update for the iPad, Jobs launched right into the iPod lineup, introducing new iPod Shuffle, Nano and Touch models. The Nano, now much smaller and lighter due to the loss of buttons in favor of a Multi-Touch screen, received the largest aesthetic redesign.
(iPod Shuffle) (iPod Nano)
The iPod Touch also received and overhaul and now comes with the same high-definition Retina display as the iPhone 4, front and rear-facing cameras with FaceTime chat over WiFi, the same A4 processing chip used in the iPhone 4 and iPad, 3-axis gyro for better gaming, the new Game Center for multi-person gaming and HD video recording. It essentially has become an iPhone without the phone (and as Jobs joked, without a contract).
(iPod Touch with FaceTime)
Jobs also showed iTunes 10 with several different features, the most significant of which was Ping. He called it "Facebook, Twitter and iTunes all rolled into one." It's basically a social network built into iTunes where you can share your favorite songs, TV shows and videos, then track the "likes" of the people in your network. It also lists information for live concerts. Jobs went on to do a demo, acting like it was something new. It looked very much like Facebook and he commented that with 160 million iTunes accounts they expected the Ping community to grow quickly. I'm not so sure, since Facebook already has a stronghold in that area. He did show how you can track and interact with individual artists and that star-power may help with Ping's popularity.
The show-stealer was the new Apple TV. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the Apple TV comes with a built-in power supply, HDMI out, ethernet and built-in WiFi for easy networking. It's roughly 75% smaller than the previous version and costs only $99. Apple is switching to a rental model for content on the Apple TV and first-run movies will be $4.99 with HD TV shows available for only $.99. You also can use the Apple TV to stream content from your Mac at home (videos, music and photos), access YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe accounts and stream videos from your Netflix account. Bye, bye Blockbuster. This positions the Apple TV to be the entertainment hub of people's dreams.
Jobs also showed a new feature in iOS 4.2 that will provide for WiFi printing from iPads. He also did a demo of AirPlay (formerly AirTunes) that lets you stream audio, video and photos over WiFi. Using an iPad he showed how photos and videos could easily be streamed wirelessly from an iPad to a widescren TV using an Apple TV. Really slick stuff!
What's the timeline for all this new stuff? Well, iTunes 10 with Ping was supposed to be available for download immediately but all the links I've found so far today download version 9.2.1 instead. So stay tuned for that. The iOS 4.1 update for iPod Touch and iPhones will be a free download available next week. The iOS 4.2 update is slated for release in November. The new iPod lineup is available for ordering today and begins shipping in a week. And the Apple TV can be ordered now and ships in four weeks.
In the spirit of Jobs' press conferences...just one more thing. As part of the iOS 4.1 update an new feature called High Dynamic Range photos is being introduced. This feature is reported to create three photos each time you make a shot, with one shot maximizing highlights, one maximizing shadows and the last capturing the middle ground. The samples displayed looked remarkably good. If this feature works as advertised it really will turn things up a notch when deciding if your iPod or iPhone can permanently replace your point-and-shoot camera.
(Photo from Engadget)