Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Apple lowers iPod prices, unveils iTunes 9

September 9, 2009 by Robin Parrish  
Filed under Electronics

In the “no” column: the iPad tablet. The Beatles catalog. iPod Touch w/ built-in camera.

In the “yes” column: iTunes 9.0. Full-length album download format. Facebook & Twitter integration in iTunes. Lower iPod prices. Whole new iPod Nano with built-in video camera, FM radio tuner, microphone, speaker, pedometer, available today.

And all this under the long-awaited return of Steve Jobs.

Let’s break it down.

iTunes

iTunes got a major upgrade today in the form of iTunes 9.0, which sports a clean, fully redesigned interface and tons of enhancements both big and small:

  • The big news is iTunes LP (the project formerly code-named Cocktail), a snazzy new format for downloading entire albums. Purchase a full album that’s LP-enabled and in addition to all the songs, you get full lyrics, photography, liner notes, videos, and other “extras” similar to what you might get on a DVD.
  • Similar to iTunes LP is iTunes Extras, additional interactive content and “DVD Extras”-style features for downloadable movies.
  • Greatly hyped was the new ability to manage iPhone/iPod Touch Apps from inside iTunes. This is something users have been begging for, for years: the ability to reorganize how Apps are displayed on your home screen.
  • Genius Mix is a new function that culls together music from your playlist in a never-ending stream of like-minded songs, like your own personal radio station.
  • Home Sharing lets you copy any media from one version of iTunes in your house to any other version of iTunes in your house — on up to 5 computers.
  • Twitter and Facebook have been integrated with iTunes at last, thanks to little arrows next to the “Buy” button on each song, that let you do more than just buy: you can add a song to a wishlist, gift a song to someone else, or microblog about a song on Facebook and Twitter.

iPod

There was less unveiled here than everyone seemed to be hoping for, with the biggest news being the new model iPod Nano. The Nano, which Apple says is the “most popular music player in the world,” now comes with a built-in video camera, a built-in FM radio tuner, a pedometer that can be synced to Nike’s popular workout software, a microphone, and even a speaker — a first for a non-Touch iPod. Two models are available: an 8GB version for $149, and a 16GB version for $179. They come in nine high-gloss colors.

The iPod Touch saw no major enhancements, but got a price drop down to $199 for the 8GB version, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for the new 64GB version.

The iPod Classic did not get discontinued, as some had speculated it might. Instead it also got a bump up in capacity, from 120GB up to 160GB, but the price remains the same: $249.

The iPod Shuffle was another device some thought might end up on the chopping block, but it ain’t so. The device itself got no major improvements but Apple announced that new and different kinds of headphones will soon become available for the Shuffle, all with the Shuffle’s controller built into their connector cord. Five new colors were introduced for the Shuffle, which sells for $59 (2GB) and $79 (4GB). A special edition brushed stainless steel version was also shown off.

iPhone

Not to be left out, the iPhone got a little love today as well, in the form of iPhone OS 3.1, which adds the Genius function to Apps, to recommend Apps you’d like based on ones you’ve already bought. Also included is the ability to buy and download Ringtones right from your iPhone for $1.29 a pop. Apple claims to have 30,000 Ringtones available from all four major record labels. OS 3.1 is a free download that’s available today.

Looks like that’s about it, kiddies. The fabled iPad tablet remains exactly that: a fable. The Beatles catalog won’t see the light of day for a while, if ever. But we have a whole new iTunes and some mild upgrades to the various iPod models.

So are you excited by what Apple showed off today? Or was it too much hype and not enough action?

Images: Apple Inc.

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