iPad 045 Steve Jobs had some interesting things to reveal today. In the iPod line, the Shuffle, Nano, and Touch get refreshes. No mention at all of the Classic line; I suppose they’ve had their day.

The Shuffle moves forward by taking a step back—the new one resembles a smaller version of the second in form factor, bringing back the buttons everybody missed from the third, but with the Voiceover and other nifty features that people did like from the third.

The Nano loses the physical controls and goes multitouch, looking like a smaller version of the iPod Touch (but without apps). Now we know what that mysterious small square touchscreen we mentioned in an Apple rumor post I don’t have time to dig up right now was for.

And the Touch is about as expected. Slimmer than ever, Retina Display, A4 chip, Facetime camera, and rear-facing HD video camera. No mention of photographic capability, so presumably it’s a video-only camera like the one from last year’s Nano. If it can’t take photos, that’s a bit disappointing (especially with the new HDR photo capacity in OS 4.1), but on the whole it’s still a considerable improvement over the previous generation. Price points remain the same $229/$299/$399; it is available for pre-order today and ships later this month.

Even Steve Jobs pointed out one of the big benefits it has over the iPhone: "A lot of people call it the ‘iPhone without the phone’. It’s also an iPhone without a contract." Of course, it doesn’t include everything that the iPhone does; there was no mention of 3G wireless or GPS, two of the features I know at least some people had been anticipating. (I must admit to being so impressed by the presentation, I forgot to snap screenshots of it, and don’t have time to hunt for any now. Oops.)

iPad 046 OS 4.1 includes a number of bug fixes, HD video upload to the Internet over wifi, TV show rentals, and the premiere of Game Center. (A couple of people from Epic Games demonstrated an Unreal-based first-person fighting game that ran in realtime on the new hardware and looked really impressive.) And also pretty impressively, the new OS includes the ability to take HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos—snapping three pictures of varying exposures and combining them to create some amazing images. That’s going to add some fairly impressive photo capabilities to the iPhone (if not the iPod Touch).

Jobs also previewed OS 4.2 for the iPad, which largely consisted of multitasking, but later on showed how the iPad could stream video content to the new Apple TV. And the new Apple TV is smaller than the original, $99, and can stream Netflix content as well as content from other computers on the network. Apple is moving away from TV show or movie ownership for Apple TV, and instead going to a rental model, offering $4.99 HD movie rentals day and date with their release to DVD.

iTunes 10 is coming out today, and adds social networking features called “Ping” which seem mainly centered around music. (There was no mention of whether they could be used to promote movies, TV shows, or e-books, too.)

There were the usual Jobsian statistics: 120 million iOS devices have been shipped, there are 230,000 new iOS device activations per day, 6.5 billion apps downloaded and 200 more every second. And Apple boasts 160 million unique credit card accounts registered with iTunes in 23 countries.

The streaming video performance was good, but not great. Several times the video unexpectedly jumped all the way back to the beginning, and I had to tap the chapter skip icon to catch up. And a few times the image simply started cutting out (especially during the Apple TV presentation).

Tonight I’ll look at other coverage of the event and pick up any insightful points others made that I missed. For now, I have to go get ready for my day job.


  1. “No mention of photographic capability…”

    That can be found on the specs page at apple.com: http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/specs.html

    * Video recording, HD (720p) up to 30 frames per second with audio; still photos (960 x 720) with back camera
    * VGA-quality photos and video up to 30 frames per second with the front camera
    * Tap to control exposure for video or stills
    * Photo and video geo tagging over Wi-Fi

    So, it can take photos but at a cellphone level, not the 5 mp iPhone level. Kinda disappointing.

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