Steve Jobs took the stage on Wednesday at his annual September Apple event to announce and discuss the new iPod line, Apple TV, iOS 4.1 &- 4.2 and the debut of Game Center.
The Apple September event has been an indicator of new iPods for years, and this year perhaps even redeems itself for the failure of last year’s event, when iPod fanatics had their hopes and dreams crushed finding out there were barely any changes to the iPod line, and the ever-so-desired and speculated iPod Touch camera was a no-show.
The new iPod Touch line now sports the beautiful 640 x 960 resolution Retina Display- the new A4 chip found in the iPhone 4 and iPad- 2 cameras: front-facing and back (almost as if to make up for the lack of even one camera in the 3rd Generation iPod Touch) along with FaceTime for the front and HD video for the back, as well as the 3-axis Gyrometer. Along with all the new features, chip and cameras, the iPod Touch is now somehow even thinner than its predecessor.
Now having the ability to use FaceTime between 4th generation iPod Touch and iPhone 4, iPod touch users will get another feature from the iPhone 4: iMovie. Yes, iPod Touch owners will now be able to record, edit and export high definition video within the iPod itself. The capacity of the iPod Touch, however, remains the same, 8 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB are available for preorder today, and should arrive next week priced at $229, $299 and $299 respectively. It appears that even the 8 GB will be getting all the mentioned upgrades, unlike last year, where the 8 GB remained in 2nd generation land.
During the event, Steve Jobs proclaimed that the iPod Touch has become the leader among portable game systems, outselling the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP combined. Over 1.5 billion games have been downloaded to the iPod Touch units all over the worlds, causing it to take over half of the market share for portable gaming.
While no news might be quite as exciting as the new and improved iPod Touches, there are a few things definitely worth mentioning. Among them, the iOS 4.1 update, which eliminates tons of bugs, fixes the proximity sensor and Bluetooth issues, and gives the iPhone 3G a much needed performance boost. The update also allows for HD video upload using a WiFi connection. The iOS software update will also feature the debut of Apple’s new multiplayer, leaderboard and achievement app called Game Center, a streamlined application for easier access to multiplayer games.The new update will be available next week and will be free iPhone and iPod Touch users.
Game Center will not be available for the iPad until November’s release of iOS 4.2 which will primarily focus on the iPad and will include the new “AirPlay” service, which will easily stream media content from iTunes directly to the iPad. The iOS 4.2 update will also apply to the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The new iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano have also gone through a dramatic transformation, though in slightly different ways. The iPod Shuffle has actually reverted to an earlier generation design, featuring the buttons of the 2nd generation iPod Shuffle while retaining the later generation features like VoiceOver and custom playlists. The iPod Nano probably went through the most drastic change design-wise then any iPod this year. Apple decided to get rid of the original click wheel, widescreen and camera, replacing it with a small, square touch screen that fits 4 app-sized icons across multiple pages. Unfortunately, these are not apps you would find on the iPod Touch, and there is no AppStore for the iPod Nano, though I definitely think there should be. Still, I find the design of the new iPod Nano so appealing, that I can see it being an excellent companion for the iPod Touch aficionado. With the it’s small frame and Shuffle-like back clip, the Nano could potentially save space for those precious apps on the iPod Touch, while not overburdening the pockets. You wallet, however, might feel the hit. The iPod Nano is priced at $149 for the 8 GB model, and $179 for the 16 GB, still, not bad for a mp3 player from Apple, especially one that is so handsome.
Jobs also unveiled the new Apple TV. Since its release four years ago, the Apple TV has been adored by its owners, but never became a huge success. Maybe due to the variety of other online streaming methods, or on-demand cable access- or perhaps media streaming on gaming consoles or the somewhat heavy price tag. This time might be different. The new Apple TV is very reasonably priced at only $99 and will feature $3.99 movie rentals and $0.99 TV show episodes. The new Apple TV will emphasize renting streamed media, instead of downloading and storing the contents. It will support Netflix streaming, MobileMe services, YouTube and Flickr as well as streaming media from a computer. Like the new iPods, Apple TV will be available for pre-order today and will ship in about 4 weeks.
Last but not least, Steve Jobs announced a new music oriented social network service called “Ping”. This new addition will be in the iTunes Media Player for the PC/Mac and integrated into the iTunes app in the iPhone and the iPod Touch. “Ping” will allow you to follow your friends, in Twitter-like fashion, along with indie and celebrity artists to find out what is on their playlist.
To sum the event up: all the new iPods, Apple TV, iOS4 with Game Center, and “Ping” will be available next week, and pre-orders start today. Are you on board?