Apple said today that it has teamed up with more car makers to provide iPod integration with their car stereos. The company said it has formed partnerships with Acura, Audi, Honda and Volkswagen to include iPod connectivity for their 2006 model lines. Apple noted that there are now 15 car companies around the offering iPod integration and that more than 5 million cars - 30% of the total US market - will ship with iPod support in the US in 2006.
Audi will add iPod integration in its A3, A4 and TT models in November, and Volkswagen will offer iPod connectivity “for the majority of their 2006 US lineup.” Certain Volkswagen cars dating back as far as 1999 model year will be capable of using the $249 iPod integration kit, which includes installation for that price. Apple said Acura and Honda will also feature iPod integration in “the majority of their lineup beginning later this year” and that the Honda and Acura Music Link will be the first to include text-to-speech capabilities or VoiceID, which is used to search for playlists, artist and album names or genre information.
Apple representatives at the San Francisco special event told iLounge that there will be substantial variation between the kits offered by companies, noting that automotive companies are now tapping a wide variety of after-market car accessory designers (including Dension and others) to provide their in-car options. Dension, for example, has provided the Volkswagen integration system.
Our impressions of the systems we saw were mixed. Many used the simple “pick from five playlists” selection concept originally introduced in BMW’s iPod interface, but each added a new feature or two. Volkswagen’s car enabled you to shuffle songs with one of the car’s buttons. Honda’s system, by comparison, uses a text-to-speech interface to read letters and words from your collection for easier iPod navigation, but uses a confusing array of buttons and a one-line text display taken from a CD changer interface to display information.
Fairly describing the current system as a “stopgap” measure intended to offer as much iPod integration as is technically possible immediately, a Honda representative noted the inherent difficulties of adapting cars designed before the growth of the iPod phenomenon for use with devices with unique controls and the ability to output ID3 tag information. Honda and Apple representatives said that because of standard industry planning and timing issues, more sophisticated and intuitive iPod integration kits would begin to appear in cars released for model years 2008 and 2009.
Among the other announcements today, Apple said that there are now more than 1,000 accessories made specifically for iPods. The company also announced that there are over 700 products bearing the “Made for iPod” logo on the market or in development.
“The iPod economy is thriving with over 1,000 accessories now available,
At its special event in San Francisco today, Apple introduced the iPod nano, a completely new iPod that’s thinner than a standard #2 pencil and weighs only 1.5 ounces. The iPod mini replacement is available in 2GB ($199) and 4GB ($249) capacities in either white or black designs. The ultra-compact device features a high-resolution color screen, Click Wheel, and offers up to 14 hours of battery life.
“iPod nano is the biggest revolution since the original iPod,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “iPod nano is a full-featured iPod in an impossibly small size, and it’s going to change the rules for the entire portable music market.”
The iPod nano has a standard 30-pin Dock Connector (allowing it to work with many current accessories), is compaible with both Mac and Windows via USB 2.0, and offers the ability to display photos and album art. Because it uses flash memory instead of a tiny hard drive for music storage, it provides completely skip-free playback. The updated iPod software also adds a new stopwatch, world clock and screen lock applications.
The iPod nano is available worldwide immediately through the online Apple Store. Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers will begin receiving shipments on or before this weekend..
iPod nano Accessories
Alongside the new iPod nano, Apple announced several new accessories for the device, which the company calls the “most fashionable and wearable iPod ever.” The new gear includes lanyard headphones ($39), which integrate the headphone cables into the lanyard; armbands in five colors, including gray, pink, blue, red and green ($29 each); a set of silicone “Tubes” in five colors, including pink, purple, blue, green and clear ($29); and dock ($29).
iLounge editors Jeremy Horwitz and Dennis Lloyd have had the opportunity to test the iPod nano and check out all of its upcoming accessories. On the accessories front, most interesting is the fact that the new iPod nano Dock is the first such Apple device to include a “variable line-out” port, which attenuates the standard line-out signal downwards from the iPod’s Click Wheel. The company’s silicone “nano Tubes” provide complete protection for the entire iPod nano save its bottom ports, including thin coverage for the Click Wheel and top Hold switch. The lanyard headphones plug simultaneously into the iPod’s bottom headphone port and Dock Connector, using the Connector solely as a securing mechanism and the headphone port as a means to direct headphone audio. Armbands in all of the various colors are similar in perforated arm design to Incase’s recently reviewed iPod and iPod mini neoprene armbands, except open on their tops.
We’ve also learned that the iPod nano will be the company’s first to include the “Universal Dock Adapter,” a plastic plate which guarantees iPod nano docking compatibility with any accessory designed to include it. Nearly 20 companies are already planning products around the UDA design, which is similar to the plastic plates included with speaker accessories from Altec Lansing, Bose, iHome and JBL, and will eliminate the need for participating companies to design iPod-specific plates in the future. The UDA will come in the nano box alongside a USB-to-Dock Connector cable, headphones, the nano hardware, and iTunes 5 software.
We tested the iPod nano briefly with both stock and high-end Ultimate Ears UE-10 Pro earphones, and found the audio quality of the newest iPod to be similar to existing iPods. Bass performance does not appear to have been markedly improved in the nano, and other audio and feature functionality often requested by iLounge readers (enhanced equalizers, FM tuner, etcetera) has not been included. However, the nano’s new stopwatch and lap timer works well, and features a nice metallic interface similar to the one in Apple’s Mac OS X operating system. The new security screen lock and world clock work well and are also easy to set.
The iPod nano will be able to display photos and transfer them from iTunes. According to Apple representatives, it will not be compatible with Apple’s or other photo connectors for straight-to-nano digital picture transfers, and will not be compatible with voice recorder devices, either. Like the iPod mini, nano is solely intended to be a device for media playback and storage, not creation.
Screen quality on the iPod nano is precisely what you’d expect from Apple: highly visible, with bright white backlighting and good resolution comparable to that used on the full-sized color iPod. Despite its small size, it displays text and photographs legibly, and with ease. It duplicates in all key ways the interface of the color iPod, and plays back all the same genres of audio - audiobooks, podcasts, music - without any problems.
Of the new products introduced today, iPod nano is unquestionably the superior, smarter offering. It takes all of the most popular features from the full-sized color iPod and makes them work in a smaller, cheaper enclosure. It’s especially stunning in that it replicates the look and feel of a full-sized iPod in a matching enclosure, rather than shrinking the iPod mini’s anodized aluminum body, as most expected it to do. The black version is especially slick, with its dark gray Click Wheel, but the white version offers familiar beauty in a small size. We cannot wait to provide our full review.
In addition to the iPod nano and iTunes 5, Apple today introduced the long-awaited iTunes phone from Motorola. The new Motorola ROKR, which will be available exclusively through Cingular as expected, holds up to 100 songs and features a mobile iTunes player and dedicated music button to easily switch from phone to music and back again.
The Quad-band GSM/GPRS phone has a microSD (TransFlash) slot for up to 512MB of storage, a VGA Camera with 4x zoom, Bluetooth, a color display for viewing album art, and built-in dual-stereo speakers. It is incompatible with standard headphones, but comes with an adapter as well as a set of stereo headphones that also serve as a mobile headset with microphone.
Apple said users can randomly autofill or manually fill the phone with playlists of music, audiobooks and Podcasts from their iTunes library via a USB connection. The phone also pauses music automatically when users take a call.
The Motorola ROKR with iTunes pre-installed is available immediately for $249.99 with a two-year commitment. Pricing without contract was not immediately available.
“We’ve worked closely with Motorola to deliver the world’s best music experience on a mobile phone,
Apple also today announced iTunes 5, a major new version of its digital music jukebox that brings new features and a “refined look.” iTunes 5 includes a new Search Bar for searching your library and the iTunes Music Store faster; the ability to organize playlists into folders; Smart Shuffle, which lets the user change the “randomness
The Shufflicious is a new pendant-style case for Apple’s iPod shuffle. Made of silicone rubber, the product is available in pink and black, and comes with an enameled metal lanyard in gloss white (with pink) or matte black (with black). The case also has molded grooves that allow you to wrap your headphone wires around the case to control the amount cable. The Shufflicious $16.95 and will begin shipping at the beginning of next week.
Apple said yesterday that its iTunes Music Store has seized 80 percent of the UK’s digital music market. The company cited figures from the Official Charts Company (OCC) and declared iTunes to be the number one UK digital music service. Apple said the UK store has over 1.7 million tracks available.
“We’re thrilled that music fans in the UK have made the iTunes Music Store their number one choice for purchasing digital music,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We feature the largest catalogue in the UK with over 1.7 million songs and strive to bring iTunes customers the hottest new and exclusive content in the world.”
Klipsch today introduced the iGroove, a new all-in-one iPod speaker system. The iGroove features dual 2.5-inch fiber-composite woofers in a ported enclosure, dual 1-inch MicroTractrix Horn-loaded tweeters and a built-in iPod dock.
“The iGroove is designed to deliver superior dynamic range, detail and clarity, allowing users to hear the subtleties in their favorite music that were once hidden beneath the surface,” says Klipsch.
The two-way system comes with a wireless remote and accepts and charges all iPods with Dock Connector ports. It also works with other audio devices using an included J-Cup adaptor. The Klipsch iGroove will be available later this month for a retail price of $279.99.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters today announced the DLO mini fm, a new iPod mini accessory that combines an FM radio and headphone amplifier.
The compact attachment is self-powered and allows users to quickly switch from their iPod mini’s music to FM radio with the push of a button. iPod mini owners can manually tune or automatically search up or down for available FM stations. The mini fm also amplifies the iPod mini by boosting the volume capacity by over 25 percent, according to the company.
The mini fm, which fits onto the top of the iPod mini, is designed to match the shape and style of all iPod minis, but is currently only available in silver. It’s scheduled to begin shipping early next month for $39.99.
See iLounge’s first look special for more details and photos of the DLO mini fm.
Research firm Piper Jaffray recently conducted a 200-person survey that shows unsurprising interest in an Apple “iPhone.” The firm said in an in-depth report provided to iLounge that the hypothetical product would be capable of serving as both an iPod and a cell phone, and be manufactured and branded by Apple (different than Motorola’s upcoming line of iTunes-compatible mobile phones). On average, the respondents said they would pay $255 for such a device.
“We believe a normalized interest level of 18% is enough for Apple to be considering such a product,” said Piper Jaffray senior research analyst Gene Munster, noting that the phone market is 13x larger than the MP3 player market. “We believe Apple has a powerful brand that can be applied to markets not yet addressed. If Apple executives are tuned into the strength of the Apple brand, we expect the company’s target markets to expand in the years ahead to capitalize on its namesake.”
Eddie Cue, Apple’s vice president of applications, will deliver a keynote speech at Popkomm, a leading European music and entertainment industry event that takes place September 14-16 in Berlin, Germany.
iLounger James McHugh has gotten what could be the first iPod-inspired tattoo.
In an article entitled “What’s the Next Verse in Apple’s Song?”, BusinessWeek’s Peter Burrows says: “As Jobs remains on his current course, Apple could face a rebellion among partners and consumers who want more alternatives and more flexibility out of digital music’s current king of the hill.”
A New Zealand man found a colony of Singapore ants inside the packaging of a new iPod he had purchased at a Fiji airport. “About 50 live Singapore ants—highly destructive ants that can eat through plastic and wiring—were crawling around the iPod.”
Reuters reports that the “cut-throat pricing battle in the portable music segment has been decisively won by Apple” and that Asian MP3 player makers are “targeting higher-margin devices with sleek designs to wow fashion-savvy users as they struggle to survive.”
Sony said yesterday that it is in talks with Apple to offer its music on the Japanese iTunes Music Store. “We are negotiating with Apple over the download business and hope to expand our customer base to iPod users,” said Yasuhi Ide, a spokesman for Sony Music Entertainment (Japan).
As previously reported, the iTunes Music Store launched in Japan last month without some local record labels, including Sony. “We simply want iPod users to listen to our music,” Ide said, adding that the deal could bring more than 25,000 songs by the company’s Japanese artists to iPod users.
Contrary to earlier reports, Apple CEO Steve Jobs will not be delivering a keynote presentation at Apple Expo in Paris this month. The show’s organizers updated the Apple Expo website today with a brief message saying that there would be no keynote at the event. Apple confirmed the news, but said Jobs and other Apple executives would be at the event to host a Q&A session for media.
“While this year’s Apple Expo will not feature a formal keynote presentation, members of Apple’s executive team will be hosting a Q&A session for members of the media on the opening day and will be at Apple Expo throughout the week,” an Apple spokesperson told iLounge.
As previously reported, Apple Expo takes place September 20th through the 24th. There has been much speculation that Apple would unveil new products at the event. With no keynote, it is unlikely that the company will make any introductions at Apple Expo this year, and puts even more significance on Wednesday’s special event in San Francisco.
Still wondering what to make of this whole ‘podcasting’ thing? Understanding the Podcasting Revolution & Bookmarking might clear things up for you….
With the publication of the comprehensive iLounge Fall 2005 FM Transmitter Shootout, some other options for FM transmitters may be found in the In Car Solutions forum. If, after reading the “Shootout,” you still feel that you want another option, see what methods other iLoungers have employed integrating their iPods into their cars.
The most recent Lounge Poll, “What’s the highest price you would pay for a video-equipped iPod this year?”, is now closed.
With nearly 5,000 votes cast, the single most popular response was $399, with 36% of respondants choosing this price. Roughly a quarter of those surveyed were willing to pay $499 or more, while 37% said they would pay $299 or less ($199). The numbers were surprising in that they suggested that a majority of respondants were willing to pay some premium for video functionality on an iPod.
Complete results are available in Read More below, and at the Lounge Poll archives. Our new poll, “Will you buy an iTunes-compatible phone?”, is now open. You can find it on the left column below Ask iLounge.
Now available is the eighth iLounge Week in Review podcast, hosted by iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz.
This week, we’re debuting a visually enhanced podcast format, complete with pictures and direct-to-iLounge links for all of the stories and reviews we’ve covered. News topics for the podcast are Apple’s special event to be held next week, reports on Motorola’s iTunes phone, battles between Apple and record lables over iTunes pricing, allegations by Creative of an iPod patent violation, and a request for support for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. We also cover reviews of Griffin’s new iTrip with LCD Screen, our FM transmitter shootout, new speakers from Sonic Impact and Ignitek, and more.
Past podcasts, including last week’s edition with audio samples from the voice recorders iTalk (2) and iFM, are available through our iTunes Music Store podcast pages, as well as our podcast feed below. As always, your comments are welcomed.
A writer from Giant magazine wants to hear from iLoungers who purchased a first-generation iPod the day it was released (November 10, 2001).
“I would love to see a dated receipt to reproduce in the mag, also interested in original packaging, or even a shot of your well-loved original iPod if still in use,” he says. “But mainly I want to hear about why you bought it in the first place, what it’s meant to you, and, of course, what you’re listening to these days.”
Email Giant with contact info at [email protected]
Apple’s new iTunes Worldwide Charts let you quickly see the top selling songs and albums from the 20 different iTunes Music Stores across the globe.
Taiwanese iPod part supplier Inventec Appliances Corp. reported its revenue more than doubled in the first half of this year to NT$47.9 billion (US$1.47 billion).
T-Mobile may offer an iTunes-compatible phone from Motorola. The company hinted at such plans in a slide during a German press conference yesterday.
BusinessWeek looks at Napster’s brand in the uphill battle against Apple. “The online music service has iTunes in its sights, but the latter may have developed a huge lead that’s tough to overcome.”
The new iTrip gains a backlit LCD screen and tuning knob to more easily select a broadcast frequency. The device also features selectable LX or DX broadcasting modes for optimal clarity, the ability to set the iTrip to either US or International tuning modes, and an auto volume control.
Griffin’s new iTrip, which works with third and fourth-generation iPods, retails for $49.99 but is available for an introductory price of $39.99.
As relief efforts begin in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, we urge you to please make a donation to the American Red Cross. By providing financial support, you’ll be helping the hundreds of thousands of victims of the tragic disaster. In addition to the Red Cross website, you can donate through Amazon.com and the iTunes Music Store. Our hearts go out to all of those affected.