New iPods lands on planet Apple

A mixture of expected and unexpected

APPLE’S THREE NEW iPods are likely to make many of its fans part with their money as soon as they become available next week, but we can’t say that we’re ecstatic about the new models. Most of it was expected, but Apple did throw in a couple of surprises to keep everyone on their toes.

Let’s start from the bottom with the Shuffle, the iPod that everyone loves to hate. This was really the big surprise, as due to overwhelming demand, Apple has brought back the same control pad as the Shuffle had two generations ago. The new Shuffle is larger than the 3rd generation, but smaller and more square than than the 2nd generation and it retains the same features as the 3rd generation. It’s got 15h of battery life which is better than any previous Shuffle, but unlike the 3rd generation, the new Shuffle will only be available in 2GB, although it will come in five colours and it’ll set you back $49.

Next we have the new Nano which, as anticipated, has a touch screen display. It’s the smallest Nano to date at 1.48×1.61×0.35 inches (37.5×40.9×8.78mm) HxWxD and it has a tiny 1.54-inch touch screen display with 240×240 resolution. The camera of the previous generation is gone, but this is a feature that’s unlikely to be missed. It will be available in either 8 or 16GB capacities, has up to 24h battery life and it has a full size Apple dock connector. It also sports an FM radio and support for Nike+.

One cool feature is that you can rotate the display which means that you can use it up-side-down if you prefer, or sideways. As it has a similar UI to the iPod touch you can also move around the icons and you have multiple screens that you can flick between. The downside is that due to the small screen, you can only fit four icons per screen. The new Nano will be available in seven colours and the 8GB model will set you back $149 with the 16GB being only slightly more expensive at $179.

The device many have been waiting for was the new iPod Touch and this time things are a bit different, as it doesn’t look like the iPhone 4G at all. Apple has managed to slim it down to a mere 0.28 inches (7.2mm) which is fairly impressive considering that it has more features than before. Apple has finally listened to its customers and added not one, but two cameras to the iPod Touch. It has a rear mounted camera – albeit still without any kind of flash – as well as a front facing camera for use with Facetime. The rear camera will also shoot 720p video, but for whatever reason Apple has limited it to 960×720 stills which seems just plain crazy.

Most of the other bits are the same as the iPhone 4, as the new iPod Touch has the same A4 processors, the same 3.5-inch 960×640 resolution display, support for 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and Nike+ support. There’s no GPS unit in it though, so any geo tagging of photos has to be done over Wi-Fi which is’t going to be all that accurate. Gamers will be happy to know that the new iPod Touch also has the same 3 axis gyro as the iPhone 4 which means that it should work better with upcoming games that take advantage of the gyro. The battery life is good for up to 40h of music or 7h of video. Price wise you’re looking at $229 for the 8Gb model, $299 for the 32GB model and $399 for the 64GB model.

So no major surprises here, although Apple did also launch iTunes 10 today which adds a new social media feature called Ping. This allows iTunes users, as well as artists to share information in much the same way that Facebook works. Apple also announced iOS 4.1 and the upcoming 4.2 version which will be out in November. Epic was also attending the event and demoed a new iOS game codenamed Project Sword which is using the Unreal 3 engine which looked quite impressive. Apple has also added support for multiplayer games in iOS 4.1which is set to make its devices even more popular than they have been today, at lest for anyone that play games on iOS devices.

Oh and for those of you that use your iPhone camera a lot, Apple has added support for in-phone HDR support and the ability to upload HD video over Wi-Fi. Overall we’re not blown away by anything that was announced today, as Apple is still Apple and offers feature restricted products as always. The new additions to iOS is likely going to make the platform even more appealing for both gamers and game developers and with Jobs claiming to outsell both Nintendo and Sony when it comes to mobile gaming devices, this seems like the right move for Apple.S|A

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