Apple unveiled a refreshed lineup of iPods, as well as new iTunes, and iPhone/iPod Touch system software at an invite-only event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco.
Read on to get a quick overview of what was announced, and why it matters.
The new iPod Nano will come in two versions, one 8GB ($149), and one 16GB ($179). That represents a $20 price cut on the high end. The system software also makes use of some of the added features in iTunes 9, like Genius Mixes. And it's inherited the VoiceOver control from its siblings, the iPod Shuffle and Touch.
The buttonless iPod Shuffle remains, though there are new colors, capacities and a lower entry price. The new 2GB flavor, which is available in five colors, runs $59, along with the same colors in a 4GB version that costs $79. There's also a $99, 4GB "special edition" that's made of polished stainless steel and currently available only at Apple's online and retail stores.
The low end of the iPod Touch line got price cuts, and the device got capacity bumps on the higher end. The 8GB model is now $199, down from $229. Meanwhile, the 16GB model has been shelved in favor of a 32GB version, which costs $299. At the high end, users can now get a 64GB model, which runs $399. Both the 32GB and 64GB models are packing faster internals, similar if not the same to the recently released iPhone 3GS, and are now capable of OpenGL ES 2.0 which boosts 3D performance.
The iPod Classic remains untouched in features and price, although the capacity has been bumped from 120GB to 160GB.
At its special event Wednesday, Apple announced the latest iPhone software update iPhone 3.1. We're still downloading it now, but below you can read the list of changes as provided by Apple. Keep in mind that the ability to save a video from a multimedia message is dependent on MMS going live on September 25.
* Genius recommendations for Applications
* Support for iTunes 9 (Mac and Windows downloads), which offers Genius Mixes, app organization in iTunes,
* improved syncing options for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and photos, iTunes U Content organization Redeem iTunes Gift cards, codes, and certificates in the App Store
* Display available iTunes account credits in the App Store and iTunes Store
* Browse and download ringtones wirelessly from the iTunes Store
* Save video from mail and multimedia messages into Camera Roll
* Option to "save as new clip" when trimming a video on iPhone 3GS
* Better iPhone 3G Wi-Fi performance when Bluetooth is turned on
* Remotely lock iPhone with a passcode via MobileMe
* Use Voice Control on iPhone 3GS with Bluetooth headsets
* Paste phone numbers into the Keypad
* Option to use Home button to turn on Accessibility features on iPhone 3GS
* Warn when visiting fraudulent Web sites in Safari (antiphishing)
* Improved Exchange calendar syncing and invitation handling
* Fixes issue that caused some app icons to display incorrectly
iPhone/iPod OS 3.1
Apple announced the release Wednesday of OS 3.1, which will be a free update to both iPhone and iPod Touch owners.
With 3.1, users on both platforms can now get Genius recommendations for applications they've purchased. These show up in the App Store app, as well as in iTunes, and function in a similar fashion to Genius for music. It takes your purchase information and sends it to Apple, which will analyze it for similar purchases, and offer up recommendations. This may end up being a more precise system since there are fewer apps than music tracks.
3.1 also adds a new security feature for iPhone owners--the capability to lock down the device over the air using MobileMe. Previously, if your phone was lost or stolen, this feature would only be enabled if the user had set it that way.
Apple introduced a new version of iTunes, which offers iPhone and iPod Touch users a way to better organize applications they have added to the device. Users can now drag and drop apps to multiple home screens at once, instead of doing so on the device itself.
Another new feature in iTunes 9 that you'll have "Share on Facebook" and "Share on Twitter" options in a drop-down menu on album purchase pages in the iTunes Store to broadcast which music in which you're interested.
The Genius feature and DJ feature have been mashed together to create something called Genius Mixes. The software can create multiple stations of music without the user having to pick a song for it to start from.
The software also has a new purchase-centric feature called iTunes LP, that adds a handful of digital pack-ins to purchased albums such as liner notes, photos, videos, lyrics, and links to online resources. This confirmed rumors Apple had been cooking up such a feature going back earlier this year.
In the same vein of iTunes LP, there's iTunes Extras--basically repackaged bonus features from movies and TV shows. This aims to add a little more value to rented and purchased video content, and steer customers toward Apple's store instead of some of the competition.