Saturday, October 30, 2010

Apple reinvents the iPod, again

AppleTV, iTunesand iPod updates announced in Jobs’ annual speech

Apple is seeing 230,000 new iOS devices go into use every day, said Steve Jobs, opening his annual September music product keynote speech. He introduced a new iPod touch, iPod nano and iPod shuffle. The iPod classic wasn’t updated but continues to be available for sale.

Apple also gave us a redesigned Apple TV and iTunes 10, now equipped with music-focused social network, Ping. Apple’s new range includes the £39 iPod shuffle; the iPod nano (from £129), the iPod touch (from £189), and the iPod classic in a 160GB model (£193).

iPod touch
The iPod touch boasts a Retina Display with front and rear-facing cameras and support for FaceTime video chat. You get HD video recording and, because the touch runs on Apple’s A4 processor, you can edit video using the iMovie app. Additional features include a three-axis electronic gyroscope, iOS 4.1 and Game Center. The latter is Apple’s new service, which lets gamers challenge and play against friends or new opponents. The iPod touch is like an iPhone without the calling features, but offers only half the memory – just 256MB. You can expect 40 hours of music playback and seven hours of video playback on a single battery charge. £189 gets you an 8GB model, 32GB (£249) and 64GB (£329) models are also available.

iPod nano
The all-new iPod nano loses the video camera and big screen to become an attractive touch controlled music player. You control what’s playing using a 1.5-inch Multi-Touch screen, through an interface that will be familiar to anyone who has used iOS, though the music player isn’t running iOS proper. Half the size and weight of the previous model, the de vice is manufactured in aluminum and glass, and boasts a robust clip, so you can wear the player if you like. Features include a built-in FM radio with live pause and support for Genius Mixes and playlists. ‘Shake to Shuffle’ means you can shake the device to mix up the song order. The 8GB model costs £129, while a 16GB model costs £159.

iPod shuffle
The new 2GB iPod shuffle lacks a screen but gains a familiar-seeming iPod control wheel. The player is tiny and has a strong clip to attach it to clothes or a bag, and can be controlled using VoiceOver spoken controls. Available in silver, blue, green, orange and pink, you get more than 15 hours of music playback on a single battery charge. The VoiceOver button on top of the iPod shuffle enables you to hear the name of the currently playing song and to switch between songs, playlists or Genius Mixes.

Apple TV
Apple is moving its ‘hobby’ device to an all-rental streaming model, which means the new Apple TV lacks any internal storage. Priced at just £99, Apple offers movies for rent in the UK, but TV show rentals are currently confined to the USA, where they cost just 99 cents. Apple had been expected to offer a range of subscription-based services to support the new device, but is understood to be stuck in tense negotiations for this.

Apple TV will stream content from Netflix (US-only), YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe, as well as music, photos and videos from PCs and Macs to your HD TV. Less than four-inches square, the charcoalgrey Apple TV uses 80% less power than the previous model. On-screen menus are clear and easy to navigate. The system runs on an A4 processor, but as yet lacks support for iOS apps.

iTunes 10 and Ping
Many users complained at the appearance of iTunes 10, which dispenses with those familiar-coloured controls in favour of a uniform grey interface. Some users have found ways to hack the software and put some colour back. There are a few improvements: for example, if you plug an iPhone or iPod into your computer, you can then play music contained on the device via iTunes by default.

The big new feature announcement was Ping, which Jobs describes as a “social network for music”. As part of iTunes 10, Ping will let you follow your favorite artists and link up with your friends, however it does have limited features for users: while artists can post images, videos and snippets of text, users can only comment and recommend tracks.

Apple bins free bumpers
Blink and you missed it, but Apple no longer offers a free case to iPhone 4 owners who find holding the device in certain ways can cut connections, saying the issue is “even smaller than we originally thought.” If your iPhone is afflicted, contact Apple and they may sort things out. For everyone else, Apple ended the free case offer on all iPhones sold after 30 September, 2010.

Source of Information : Mac Format November 2010 (UK)
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