News: New iPods, iTunes 9, Steve Jobs is Back

by on September 9, 2009

Unsurprisingly, the iPod lineup got a refresh today. The iPod touch received a 50% speed increase and new price points ($199 for 8GB, $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB). The iPod shuffle is now available in multiple colors and is cheaper ($59 for 2GB, $79 for 4GB, and $99 for the 4GB Special Edition). The iPod nano was the big winner with both price breaks and major hardware changes.

While many expected the iPod touch to receive updates, such as a video camera, to make it more in line with the iPhone 3GS, the iPod nano received a video camera, a pedometer, and a pause-ready FM tuner. The screen is now slightly larger, although the nano’s size and shape are much the same. The case is a glossy aluminum, rather than the matte finish that has become familiar for iPod nanos. Pricing starts at $149 for the 8GB model and can go up to $179 for the 16GB model.

Many wonder why the iPod touch didn’t receive a camera, and Steve Jobs explained it to the New York Times:

“Originally, we weren’t exactly sure how to market the Touch. Was it an iPhone without the phone? Was it a pocket computer? What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine,” he said. “We started to market it that way, and it just took off. And now what we really see is it’s the lowest-cost way to the App Store, and that’s the big draw. So what we were focused on is just reducing the price to $199. We don’t need to add new stuff. We need to get the price down where everyone can afford it.”

The nano’s camera can only record video, and does not have the sensors to take photos:

That reason, he said, is technical: the sensors you need to record video are extremely thin these days—thin enough to fit into the wafer-thin Nano. But the ones with enough resolution for stills, especially with autofocus (like the sensor in the iPhone), are much too thick to cram into a player that’s only .02 inches thick.

Apple also released some software updates, both major and minor. iTunes was bumped to version 9, featuring a new look both within the application and within the iTunes Music Store. New features such as Home Sharing, better app management, iTunes LP, and Genius Mixes make this a big, but evolutionary update. The overall interface has changed to be a bit “glosser.” Also, the iPhone and iPod touch received the 3.1 update (free for 3.0 users), which includes some bug fixes and iTunes Store enhancements.

The biggest news was probably the return of Steve Jobs to his post at Apple, at least from a visibility standpoint. He did take a moment to thank the person whose liver he received and speak about how important being an organ donor is.

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