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New iPod touches offer increased speed, storage

  • September 9, 2009
  • iPod,

Apple has introduced its updated line of iPod touches, lowering the price of the entry model and increasing storage and speed in the two more expensive models. The price of the 8GB model has dropped from $229 to $199, marking the first time the iPod touch has broken the $200 barrier. The $299 16GB and $399 32GB models have been replaced with 32GB and 64GB versions selling for the same prices, respectively; both larger models also feature OpenGL ES 2.0 support, Voice Control, and up to 50 percent faster performance. Notably, none of the new iPod touch models sport a camera, as had previously been reported, and look virtually identical to last year’s models. All three models are available immediately.

Update: A hands-on video of the iPod touch 3G is now available for viewing on Vimeo.

iPod nano 5G gains larger screen, video camera, FM radio

During its Rock and Roll media event today, Apple unveiled the fifth-generation iPod nano, sporting a larger screen and on-board camera amongst other improvements. The device’s screen has grown to 2.2-inches with 240 x 376 resolution, running farther down the front of the nano, allowing for a wider aspect ratio when watching movies in landscape orientation and more menu items when held vertically. Also new is a video-capable camera on the lower back left corner of the nano, matching a previous report from iLounge, which captures H.264, 640 x 480 VGA video at rates of up to 30 frames per second with AAC audio. The video function also offers 15 real-time special effects, including Sepia, Black and White, X-Ray, Film Grain, Thermal, Security Cam, Cyborg, Bulge, Kaleido, Motion Blur, Mirror, Light Tunnel, Dent, Stretch, and Twirl. The iPod nano 5G also packs a built-in microphone and speaker, built-in FM radio with live pause and iTunes Tagging features, support for Genius Mixes, a shiny, polished anodized aluminum finish, and a built-in, Nike+ capable pedometer. According to Apple, the iPod nano 5G offers up to 24 hours of music playback time and up to 5 hours of video playback time when fully charged, the same promised audio playback as the fourth-generation model, but one hour more of video playback. The fifth-generation iPod nano is available now in nine colors—silver, black, purple, blue, green, orange, yellow, red, and pink—and sells for $149 for an 8GB model or $179 for a 16GB version.

Update: A hands-on video of the iPod nano 5G is now available for viewing on Vimeo.

Apple boosts iPod classic storage to 160GB

  • September 9, 2009
  • iPod,

Apple today announced its latest update to the iPod classic. The new model—the third iteration since the hard disk-based model was given the “classic” moniker—features a 160GB drive, up from 120GB in the prior model, but retains the same dimensions. In addition, the new model retains the $249 price of its predecessor, and remains available in both silver and black finishes. The new iPod classic 160GB is available now.

iPhone OS 3.1 adds BT Voice Control, Genius for Apps, Ringtones

Apple today released iPhone OS 3.1, adding Bluetooth Voice Control, and a new feature called Genius for Apps. Utilizing the Genius technology the company debuted in iTunes 8, iPhone OS 3.1 and iTunes 9 will be able to make recommendations based on the apps the user already owns through the Genius for Apps feature, which gets its own listing in the App Store. In addition, iPhone OS 3.1 adds the ability to buy and directly download pre-made ringtones. The new offering will launch with 30,000 ringtones from all four major labels, priced at $1.29 each. Finally, iPhone OS 3.1 adds the ability for iPhone 3GS users to access the Voice Control feature using a Bluetooth headset, the ability to redeem iTunes Gift cards, code, and certificates in the App Store, display iTunes account credits in the App and iTunes Stores, remotely lock an iPhone or iPod touch with a passcode via MobileMe, and a warning when visiting potentially fraudulent websites in Safari. The 3.1 update is free for all iPhone owners, while iPhone OS 3.1.1 is free for all iPod touch owners running OS 3.0, and both available now via the Update feature in iTunes.

Apple sales update: 220 million iPods, 30 million iPhones

During today’s Rock and Roll media event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the company has now sold 30 million iPhones in just over two years. The App Store now offers 75,000 apps, and has seen 1.8 billion apps downloaded—a figure that does not include updates, Jobs disclosed for the first time. iTunes is now in 23 different countries, and is the #1 music retailer in the world, with sales of over 8.5 billion songs. Overall, the iTunes Store has 100,000,000 accounts with credit cards, making it one of the largest stores on the web.

In addition, Apple revealed that it has now sold 220 million iPods to date, including 20 million iPod touch units and 100 million iPod nano units. Based on the latest data, the iPod accounts for 73.8% of the US MP3 market, followed by “other,” Sandisk, and Microsoft, which accounts for 1.1%. Overall, the company said that 50% of iPods sold are bought by new to iPod customers, and that the iPod touch is the company’s fastest growing model.

Apple intros iTunes 9 with iTunes LP, app organization, more

Apple has released iTunes 9, brining with it support for Apple’s new iTunes LP enhanced album format, app organization features, an improved iTunes Store layout, smarter syncing, Genius Mixes, and Home Sharing. iTunes LP is a new enhanced album format that gives users an interactive, DVD-style presentation of the content, including lyrics, photos, writing, videos, and more. The new content will launch on a number of new albums, including Pearl Jam’s upcoming release Backspacer, as well as “Deluxe Edition” reissues of classic albums such as Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, American Beauty by the Grateful Dead, and The Doors: 40th Anniversary Mixes. An equivalent feature called iTunes Extras will be included with select movies, offering a DVD-style interface with extra features, including (for Wall-E) 3-D set fly-throughs, details on different robots, and more. Continue reading for more on iTunes 9 and for screenshots of the new software.

 

Complete transcript of Apple’s Rock and Roll event

  • September 9, 2009
  • Apple,

Below is a complete transcript of iLounge’s live coverage from Apple’s Rock and Roll media event, held on September 9, 2009. Updates are presented in reverse chronological order; photos from the event can be seen on iLounge’s Flickr account.

Live pre-event updates from Apple’s Rock and Roll event

iLounge editors are now on-site outside the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in preparation for Apple’s Rock and Roll media event. Currently, there is a light crowd of journalists outside the venue, and two tables set up with white MacBooks for media and guest registration, which begins at 9:00. We will be updating this story—and our Flickr photostream—continually until we switch over to our Live Event page several minutes before the event starts at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Update 9:01: iLounge editors have received their media badges for entry into the event, and continue to wait outside as the crowd builds. While waiting, they also spotted Greg Grunberg from the NBC series Heroes; continue reading to see more pictures from outside the event.

Update 9:23: Representatives from both Nike and Pandora have been spotted outside the event.

Marware rolls out SportShell for iPhone 3G, 3GS

Marware has announced its new SportShell case for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. Like the previously released SportShell Convertible, the SportShell uses interchangeable parts to allow the user to attach a ratcheting belt clip that doubles as a stand, a thin, flat back piece that makes the case easier to insert and remove from pockets, or remove both and leave the Apple logo visible through the back of the case. The SportShell also offers full access to all ports and controls and includes a clear screen protector and cleaning cloth. Marware’s SportShell for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS is available now and sells for $35.

Harman Kardon PR points to iPhone, iPod HD output

In a press release touting its latest home theater receivers, Harman Kardon has made mention of yet-unannounced high-definition video output features for the iPod and iPhone. Both the Harman Kardon AVR 3600 and AVR 2600 are compatible with the company’s The Bridge III Universal Dock for the iPod and iPhone, which, according to the release, allows the receivers to “play back HD videos from iPod or iPhone products.” While it was previously discovered that the iPhone 3GS is capable of playing back HD content on the device itself using a third-party application, this is the first mention of HD output for the iPod and iPhone, suggesting Apple may be planning to announce such a feature at its media event later today.

Mix: T-Mo + Orange, Beats by Dr. Dre, Navigon, Sony

  • September 9, 2009

T-Mobile and Orange in the United Kingdom have announced plans to merge, creating the country’s largest mobile operator with a combined subscriber base of 28.4 million, or roughly 37% of all UK mobile subscribers. Among the benefits of the merger will be what Orange UK CEO Tom Alexander calls a “huge advantage” in negotiations for popular handsets like the iPhone. “We [Orange] are already the network of choice for multimedia devices, we’ve already got the biggest 3G network (which is used to deliver mobile phone broadband), now with T-Mobile we’ve got an even stronger 3G network,” Alexander told the Telegraph. “We’ve got a fantastic platform and are obviously the network of choice for all multimedia devices, including potential [sic] the iPhone in future.” The merger will be subject to the approval of both companies’ boards of directors, and from European Union regulators.

Monster and Beats By Dr. Dre have announced the new Beats Solo on-ear headphones and the Heartbeats by Lady Gaga in-ear headphones. Beats Solo will serve as an entry-level model for the Beats by Dr. Dre line, offering a lighter weight and smaller body than the full-size Beats Studio. Available in black or white, they will launch this November and will sell for roughly $180. Heartbeats by Lady Gaga are in-ear headphones with a unique design, inspired by the artist, that has them doubling as a fashion accessory. Heartbeats feature a multi-faceted glossy surface with a jewel-inspired earpiece, a flat, tangle-free cable, and an included red carrying case and assortment of eartips. Available with a metal body and either red or chrome jewel-shaped earpiece, or in a black-on-black version, Heartbeats by Lady Gaga are expected to ship in October for $100-$150. In addition, both new headphones will be available with Monster’s ControlTalk in-line remote and microphone for the iPod, iPhone, and other portable music devices.

Navigon has announced its own “Car Kit” for the iPhone. While details are scant, the mount appears to eschew GPS antenna enhancements,, speakerphone enhancements, or built-in charging capabilities of the competing TomTom kit, but is also expected to launch at a lower price when it becomes available in October.

In an interview with Develop, Sony Europe’s head of developer relations Zeno Colaco said that the company plans to offer developers of PSP Mini games—smaller games than the handheld’s traditional offerings—more help than Apple does with its App Store developers, although the company’s focus “isn’t directed straight towards the App Store.” “Right now, we’re looking for a good portfolio of games. Unlike with the App Store, we’re looking to support everyone that develops for us, instead of leaving developers out in the wilderness. We’re not immediately interested in giving developers free access and no help,” Colaco said. “There are dangers in having total open access; having six thousand applications where probably only thirty are discovered by the consumer. Some of the developers working on the App Store and PSP Minis tell us that they prefer our approach because they get more visibility.”

Apple drops iPod pricing ahead of event

  • September 9, 2009
  • iPod,

Apple this morning quietly lowered its prices on the current-generation iPod nano, iPod touch, and iPod classic, ahead of its Rock and Roll media event which is set to begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Pricing on the 8GB and 16GB iPod nano dropped to $129 and $149, respectively, while the three tiers of iPod touch—8GB, 16GB, and 32GB—saw their prices cut to $189, $249, and $279, respectively. Finally, the iPod classic dropped $20 to $229, while the third-generation iPod shuffle remains $79. Interestingly, the pricing has only been changed on the individual item pages, and not anywhere else on Apple’s online store or website; it is unclear whether the lower pricing will be carried over to the new models Apple is expected to announce today, or whether this will be considered “closeout” pricing on these older iPods once they are supplanted by new models.

Photo of the Week: iPod touch in Bulgaria

This week’s featured photo is from our iPods Around the World gallery, and shows an iPod touch in front of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria. To share your photos and to be considered for our Photo of the Week, you simply need to submit your own photo to one of our galleries. So get out there, take some pictures with your iPod or iPhone, and maybe your submission will be our next Photo of the Week!

Yoko Ono, EMI dispute Beatles on iTunes availability

Conflicting reports out of The Beatles’ camp are casting doubt over whether or not the arrival of the band’s newly-remastered back catalog on the iTunes Store will be part of tomorrow’s Apple media event. EMI’s global catalog president Ernesto Schmitt told the Financial Times that “[c]onversations between Apple and EMI are ongoing and we look forward to the day when we can make the music available digitally. But it’s not tomorrow,” backing up a story from AllThingsD that cited a “source familiar with the band’s plans” claiming no announcement was scheduled for the event. Yoko Ono, however, is believed to have told UK outlet Sky News that the catalog would indeed debut on iTunes during the special event; both the original and Google cache of the article are now gone, while screenshots of the article appearing on Google News and being linked on Twitter are still available at 9 to 5 Mac.

As part of an interview for a special edition of music publication NME, Paul McCartney addressed the iTunes situation, saying that “We were having problems with iTunes – well not iTunes, EMI was the problem – with downloading, which we’d like to do because that’s how a lot of people get their music.” Tomorrow also happens to mark the CD release of the newly-remastered back catalog and the debut of the new The Beatles: Rock Band video game.

App Mix: Flickr, Commodore, T-Pain, Solitaire

Photo sharing service Flickr has launched its official application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new native app was preceded by a large number of third-party solutions, many of which we reviewed previously, and is also complimented by the service’s iPhone-optimized mobile site, available at m.flickr.com. Flickr for iPhone allows users to shoot, upload, and share photos and videos, geo-tag photos, view photos by set or tag, see recent photos from friends and family, search and view photos by contact, make comments or mark photos as favorites, and explore other photos by subject, people, or places. Flickr for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now as a free download from the App Store.

Following an initial rejection by Apple and a later reversal of that decision, Manomio’s C64 Commodore 64 emulator application has been released and then pulled from the App Store. Meant to serve as a game emulator, C64 was rejected in June for violating terms of the iPhone SDK despite being fully licensed for both the Commodore ROMs and the five included games, with promises for in-app purchases of more games as they were licensed from the original developers. A slightly modified version was accepted into the App Store over the weekend, after the developer disabled a BASIC interpreter function that would have allowed the app to run arbitrary code. Following its release, the app was pulled from the store when it was discovered that users could re-enable the BASIC interpreter through the software; a revised edition has been re-submitted to Apple for approval.

Smule, in collaboration with hip-hop artist T-Pain and Antares Audio Technologies, has released I Am T-Pain, its latest application for the iPhone and iPod touch. Thanks to audio processing software provided by Antares, I Am T-Pain allows users to sing along to the artist’s tracks, or record their own, using Auto-Tune to create an effect similar to the one heard on T-Pain’s albums. Users simply choose a song to sing or select freestyle to record their own and sing into either the iPhone’s built-in mic or an external mic connected to a second-generation iPod touch. The app includes five full songs with lyrics, integrated Auto-Tune settings, and timings, three background tracks, and lets users expand the functionality by purchasing more songs from within the application. I Am T-Pain is available now and sells for $3.

Namco has announced Solitaire: Deck of Cods, its latest game for the iPhone and iPod touch. Developed in partnership with Red i Studios, the game expands on the traditional solitaire formula by having players move cards from the playing field to the deck below in sequential order, with them catching larger fish the more cards they are able to move in succession. Wildcards help the player increase the size of their catch, and varying levels challenge the player to bring in a different size catch or multiple catches per round. Other features include Facebook Connect, access to the music library, and a Bluetooth two-player mode. Solitaire: Deck of Cods is expected to hit the App Store soon and will be priced at $1.

Live iLounge Coverage of iPod Rock and Roll Event: 9/9, 10 a.m. PT

iLounge editors are currently en route to San Francisco to bring you live coverage of Apple’s Rock and Roll media event, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow, September 9, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. As with past iLounge live events, the frontpage of iLounge.com will switch over to our leaner Live Event page several minutes before the event starts. Apple is widely expected to announce its fall 2009 iPod lineup during the event, with a new version of iTunes and the launch of The Beatles’ catalog on the iTunes Store also possibilities. We look forward to having you join us for our live coverage.

Updated: iLounge editors are now arriving in San Francisco; continue reading for a larger look at the outside of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, which has been decorated in preparation for tomorrow’s event.

Apple CFO: No DVR, cable box features for Apple TV

During a recent meeting with Caris & Company analysts, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer dispelled speculation that the company would soon add DVR or other cable box-like functionality to the Apple TV. AppleInsider reports that Oppenheimer said the idea of adding live TV recording or other cable integration features doesn’t fit into Apple’s business plan. Oppenheimer’s comments follow a separate report from The Loop stating that a rumored Apple TV refresh would not be part of tomorrow’s Rock and Roll media event; Apple released its last major Apple TV update in the form of software 2.0 in early 2008.

Altec Lansing debuts inMotion Classic speaker

Altec Lansing has unveiled its new inMotion Classic portable speaker system for the iPod and iPhone. Based on the company’s prior iM600 system, the inMotion Classic features a rechargeable battery, a slim design with fold-out handle that also serves as a kickstand and battery power control, a digital FM radio, proprietary Audio Alignment balancing for optimum sound, a full-featured remote with navigation controls, a high-contrast LCD for track, artist, album, and station display, a built-in Dock, an auxiliary input, a cubby for storing the remote when not in use, and Works With iPhone certification. Altec’s inMotion Classic will be available later this month and will sell for $150.

Reports: Camera issues to delay iPod releases?

  • September 8, 2009
  • iPod,

Apple has experienced technical difficulties with cameras intended for updated iPods, according to two reports. Separately citing “reliable” and “strong” sources regarding upcoming Apple announcements, HardMac and AppleInsider report that camera problems may push back the release of new iPods until after their official unveiling at Apple’s Rock and Roll media event this week. The reports differ, however, in the specific models said to be impacted by the issues; HardMac claims that the problems are limited to the third-generation iPod touch, while AppleInsider suggests problems with both the iPod touch and the fifth-generation iPod nano. According to HardMac, “the problem has been spotted in the first dozen of thousands units produced,” and those units have been “put aside.” Apple has in past years had new iPods available within days of announcement; it is unclear whether the reports are accurate, and if so, how much of an impact the issues will actually have on the rollout and performance of the new models. Possible scenarios include no delays—under conditions that the rumors are unfounded, that potentially problematic units are released anyway, or that all potentially problematic units have been isolated—as well as delays related to additional quality assurance.

iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter, coming soon

iPodweek, iLounge’s weekly newsletter recapping the last seven days in iPod, iPhone, iTunes and Apple TV news, articles, reviews, and more, will be sent out later today. In addition to rounding up the week’s top stories, iPodweek also features giveaways and accessory discount offers from various companies. If you haven’t yet signed up to receive iPodweek, there’s still time to register and receive this week’s edition — just use the simple form below to submit your email address.

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