09. 10. 2008
Apple event! New iPods, iTunes, NBC is back
An Apple event always inspires feverish speculation and the "Let's Rock 2008" was no exception. There were rumors of touch-screen Macbooks and ultra-tiny sub-Macbook Air sized UMPCs and of a new iTunes subscription plan which would give you unlimited music downloads for a monthly fee. And of course, iPods galore. What actually happened? New iPods, a new version of iTunes, and the announcement of an iPhone firmware upgrade which will bring significant improvements and enhancements.
The new Nano got the biggest makeover, going back to its roots as the tall, skinny model. It has curved angles, and the slimmest profile ever. While there isn't a touch screen, there is now an accelerometer like the one on the iPhone and the Touch, so you can turn it sideways for a Cover Flow view of your music or to watch video in widescreen mode. You can also shake it to shuffle your songs. There are nine bright colors, more than ever before. 24 hours of battery life for audio and 4 hours of video. Comes in 8GB and 16 GB, at $149 and $199 respectively. The 8GB model is shipping/available now and the 16 GB within a couple of days
The Touch got a few changes, but more of a "refreshment" like Botox and restylane instead of the whole hog facelift. The stainless steel design is a bit thinner, with more rounded contours. There's a built-in speaker, side volume controls, and built-in support for the Nike + iPod running system. The battery life is improved, with 36 hours of audio, and 6 for video.
The iPod Classic remains relatively unchanged since the big move to add video support. The Classic now comes in one size only, 120 GB, and comes with 36 battery life (for music, video is 6 hours). It comes in black now, though, and both colors are $249.
The smallest iPod, the half ounce Shuffle hasn't changed but gets four new colors. The 1 GB is $49, the 2GB is $69.
iTunes 8 comes with a new feature Apple seems to be pushing heavily: Genius. Genius scans the music in your library and makes suggestions for music you might like, and also creates playlists from complementary music you already own. You can get suggestions based even on a single song in your library with a click of the Genius button. What's happening is that Apple is collecting anonymous data from all iTunes users who use Genius to see what other people who have the same song have in their libraries. As it's new, the results are so far pretty sketchy for me, but I expect it to get a lot better quickly.
Also, NBC shows are back, after a year away (The Office, Battlestar Galactica...) and many shows can now be purchased in High-def for $2.99. iTunes 8 is a free download, and available now from Apple.
Last but not least, a big firmware update is coming to the iPhone on Friday. The 2.1 update should bring much needed stability to 3rd party apps, better reception, and possibly new functionality such as true turn-by-turn GPS navigation.