When Steve Jobs entered the stage today one of the first things to appear on the screen was “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. Anyone saying he’s got no sense of humor: shut up, now!
But he didn’t wait long until he got to the meat of the show. The first announcement was that NBC is returning to iTunes. This means all the Heroes, BSG and 30 Rock loving people can get their fix now online at Apple again. And another good thing about the TV shows: they’ll be available in HD for 2.99 a pop (SD still at 1.99) and watchable on your Mac, thus not limited to the Apple TV like the HD movies.
After that Jobs presented iTunes 8 and its new features like Genius. Genius allows you to create a playlist “from songs in your library that go great together with just one click”. We’ll have see how good that works in real life situations. Also the interface has been updated with a redesigned overview for Albums, Artists, Genres and Composers. The Genius sidebar can be opened to give you recommendations from the iTunes store based on the currently playing track.
Next thing on the rather fast todo list were the iPods. First off, Apple killed the 160 GByte iPod classic and upgrades the 80 GByte version to 120 GByte for 249 USD. The new iPod nano is just like the rumors (and Kevin Rose) said. It looks more like the first two generations with its candy bar form factor. It has a larger screen than the old ones though. Apple shows once again its love for the rounded corners and aluminium. The glass is made of rounded glass, so it should be as scratch resistant like the iPhone/iPod touch. Jobs reiterated many times that it’s the thinnest iPod ever. He also showed of the green-ness of the iPod nano. They are using Arsenic-free glass, no Mercury, no PVC and no BFR.
On the inside it has an integrated accelerometer, just like the iPhone and iPod touch. The new user interface is completely new, but took some hints from the touch devices. Another nice thing they integrated is a new usage of the accelerometer “Shake to shuffle”. Let’s hope this feature can be disabled or Apple will lose many people who take their iPod for a run. Prices: 149 USD for 8 GByte, 199 for 16 GByte. Availabe in 8 colors, all but no white.
Accompanying the new device are new in-ear headphones for 79 USD which include a remote with controls like the iPhone plus volume control. The integrated microphone can be used for voice recording. I guess this will also be usable with the iPhone.
Next up was the iPod touch which looks like the iPhone 3G’s little sister and now includes a speaker and volume controls at the side. Nike+ is now built-in. Steve went on to mention the Genius tool, again. To quote Engadget: “Steve clearly never made a mixtape for a girlfriend”.
After some more mixtape creation, Jobs went on with the AppStore and invited Phil Schiller on stage to demo “Spore Origins”, the version for the iPod touch and iPhone. The other new games he demoed were “Real Soccer 2009” and “Need For Speed: Undercover”. Let’s hope the latter works better than the versions on the PC/consoles. NfS will be out in November.
Back to Jobs. Prices for the new iPod touch: The 8GB is 229 USD, 16GB is 299 USD and 32GB is 399 USD, all available today. Catchphrase: “The funnest iPod ever”.
Of course the new firmware won’t be available just for the iPod touch. It’s available for the iPhone too. Jobs promises “a big update, it fixes lots of bugs. Fewer dropped calls, big battery life improvements. No crashes with Apps. Backing up is faster.” It’ll be available “free to all owners” September, 12th. No word on the price for current iPod touch owners.