Earlier today Apple held its annual live media event covering all things new in the land of iPod, iTunes and even AppleTV.
They’ve released a ton of enhancements and upgrades across the board and we’ve got your one-stop coverage. Below you’ll find a brief overview of all the goodies you’ll be blowing your paychecks on in the coming weeks.
iOS 4.1: Launches Next Week
The next iteration of Apple’s iOS features a few bug fixes that Steve jokingly noted that they’ve been receiving emails about. These mostly revolve around Bluetooth, the proximity sensor and the reported iPhone 3G issues. iOS4.1 will be a free download for all users and should show up sometime next week.
An unexpected but welcome update comes in the form of automatic HDR photos. These aren’t the heavily stylized versions you see in countless blog posts but rather a practical way to get great photos from a not-so-great cell phone camera.
Activating the HDR option will cause your device’s camera to take three photos in rapid succession: one underexposed, one normal, and one over exposed. These three photos are then automatically combined to create a single photo with a much better range of highlights and shadows than you could otherwise achieve.
Game Center brings social gaming to iOS devices. Using the new game center app you can hook up with friends and compete/cooperate in live game matches, compare scores, and more.
Other providers have been experimenting with social game networks for a while on iOS but Game Center promises to be the ultimate experience by bringing in truly interactive multiplayer gaming.
iOS 4.2: Launching in November
iOS4.2 brings all the cool new features of the iPhone and iPod Touch to the iPad. So starting in November iPad users will get multitasking, Game Center, folders, etc.
One interesting thing to consider is that Steve listed “HDR Photos” as one of the features that will be coming to the iPad. However, there is currently no camera on the iPad, nor was one announced. It’s probable that this just refers to overall system support for the new format and might indicate that iPhoto will require a similar update.
iOS4.2 is coming in November and will be a free download.
AirTunes has been around for ages and is now being upgraded to AirPlay. Where AirTunes streamed only music, AirTunes will stream music, video, photos, etc. over a Wifi Connection.
Steve claimed that the entire iPod lineup was getting an update, but the Classic was strangely ignored. They didn’t exactly say they were killing it and it is in fact still on the store, but they sure didn’t include it in the current lineup of products.
Everything else got a complete makeover. Let’s take a brief look at each below.
In the last generation of the iPod Shuffle, Apple ripped off all the buttons and made it a VoiceOver only device. Obviously, users completely hated this idea and missed the presence of a physical way to control the device.
Consequently, Apple has reverted to the older design, albeit a slimmer, sleeker version of it. Here is a rundown of the features and specs:
- 5 Colors
- Clothing Clip
- 15 Hour Battery Life
- Genius Playlists
- $49: 2GB of Storage
Thanks to the iPod Touch, the iPod Nano has been knocked off its throne as the most popular iPod. Apple has responded by changing just about everything about it in the newest generation (the 6th).
The most notable change is that the Nano is now a Multi-Touch device running a sort of scaled-down version of iOS without custom apps. But it doesn’t stop there. The previous version was widescreen, this version is square. Also, the previous version was the first to record video, this version has dropped that ability completely.
Despite the fact that it would suck to watch movies on, the new design is quite stylish. Steve made a joke about one of the Apple board members wanting to wear it as a watch and I can already see arm band and case producers scrambling to create just such a product. Heck, I almost think a multi-touch iPod Watch sounds cooler than just another Nano so sign me up on the list of people that would buy such a ridiculous contraption.
Here’s the feature rundown:
- 42% Smaller
- Clothing Clip
- Physical Volume Buttons
- FM Radio
- Rotating Screen (pinch and twist)
- 7 Colors
- $149: 8GB
- $179: 16GB
I can’t imagine why anyone would buy the 8GB version when you can double the storage for an extra $30!
The iPod Touch finally received the update we’ve all been waiting for. Apart from being even thinner (it’ll be invisible soon) it now has the beautiful retina display, an Apple A4 chip (like the iPhone), a 3 axis gyro for improved gaming, two cameras (front and back), FaceTime video conferencing with other iPods and iPhones, HDR photos, Game Center and HD video recording.
In case you were digging the bullet points, here’s all that in a list:
- Retina Display
- A4 Chip
- 3 Axis Gyro
- Front and Rear-Facing Cameras
- HDR Photos
- HD Video Recording
- Game Center
- iMovie Compatible
- 8GB: $229
- 32GB: $299
- 64GB: $399
iTunes 10: Available Free Today
Apple launched a new version of iTunes today, ditching the antiquated CD-themed logo and replacing it with a simple round icon.
iTunes 10 has been given a slight facelift with a few UI improvements including inline album art in list mode. By far though the biggest new enhancement is Ping.
Ping: A Social Network for Music
For years, LastFM has cultivated and grown a music-based social network. Today Apple dealt them a major blow by dishing out a competing network built right into iTunes.
Ping allows you to follow your friends and favorite artists just like you can on Twitter. You can view their favorite songs, what they’ve been listening to and purchasing, upcoming concerts that they’re either playing or attending, leave comments, make posts and more.
Apple is spinning this primarily as a new way to discover music. Ping is also an iOS app that you can use right from your iPhone and iPod Touch.
It’s interesting to note Apple’s strategy here. First, they’ve discovered the holy grail: a monetized social network. This is something the major players like Twitter and Facebook are still struggling with. Second, Steve made a big deal about privacy. This is key because Facebook has made so many people angry about it. With Ping you can elect whether or not you want everyone to be able to follow you, no one to be able to follow you, or just open following up to a specified “Circle of Friends.”
It’ll definitely be interesting to watch Ping unfold and evolve in the future. Will this be a major milestone for Apple or a failed experiment that we’ll laugh at five years from now? Let us know your thoughts.
One More Thing: AppleTV
Today’s “One More Thing” was of course the AppleTV, which has not been rebranded to iTV as many predicted. It is also not the iOS wonder device that many thought it would be but rather a refocused attempt at a media console.
The Apple TV is now black and is a quarter of the size of the old version. It has a brand new interface and a new strategy: rentals. You can no longer purchase movies or shows on the AppleTV, only rent them. This may sound like a bad thing but in reality it does in fact solve countless storage and syncing problems and you can in fact stream purchases from your Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc.
The AppleTV will feature new release rentals for $4.99 with older movies being even cheaper. ABC and Fox have jumped on board to provide TV show episodes for a mere $0.99 a pop with the hope that other networks will soon follow.
AppleTV is integrated with a number of services including Netflix, Youtube, Flickr, RottenTomatoes and MobileMe. On top of being a place to consume video content it also has some awesome new photo slideshows that can be wirelessly streamed from your Mac or iOS devices.
What Do You Think?
That’s the latest from Apple. Be sure to stop by Apple.com to check out more detailed information and to grab the new iTunes.
Before you go, leave a comment and let us know what you think of all the new goodies. Do you love or hate the new iPod Nano? Will the new AppleTV make up for the poor sales of the previous version? Will Ping be the next big social network? Tell us your thoughts!