Apple’s September 09 Music Event

Now that we are done celebrating the Sega Dreamcast’s 10th Birthday, let’s move on to other things that happened on that day too. There is, of course, the release of The Beatles: Rock Band for the 360, PS3 and Wii, but we’re not here to discuss that, though I think that the game looks great and I think it will be a good buy for music gamers. Speaking of music, that is just what happened in the Apple Keynote Address today. In all honesty, the announcements made yesterday will either please or disappoint some people, so don’t feel bad if you happen to feel the latter. With that out of the way, let’s see what Apple cooked for us.

The biggest news to everyone is, of course, the return of Steve Jobs! That’s right. Apple’s CEO is back showing himself to us once again. After a few minutes of assuring the audience that he was healthy and well, Jobs went on to bring in the updates. The first of these updates is iPhone OS 3.1, which is composed of updates and some tidbit features that will be to the liking of some. I will not dive into these updates, though they are the updates are fairly substantial. These updates will be free for all devices running OS 3.0, while iPod Touch users using older firmware can update at a now lower point of $4.95.

The next big news was iTunes 9, which brought in new refinements to the music player application. The first of these is a revamped Genius, which now extends itself into music genres in the form of Genius Mixes. Another way to discover complementary music, but nothing very astounding. The next update is a redesigned iTunes Store, which gives a cleaner interface and allows one to listen to previews and make one-click transactions, without even leaving most pages. Another update is improved device syncing, which gives even more parameters for syncing specific content to your iPod or iPhone. This also includes an app organization feature, which allows one to add, remove and/or organize apps on your iPhone or iPod Touch, all within your Mac or PC. The last of the additions to iTunes 9 is iTunes LP, which gives some of the albums on iTunes a rather vintage feel, accomplishing this by providing digital album sleeves that bring music lovers back to the pre-CD era of music. It’s a nice feature that will hopefully go beyond the simple interface in the future. iTunes 9 is available today for free, so head on to Apples site to download.

The second of these announcements is the iPod Line-up, which usually get their usual annual changes. The iPod Classic was very brief, only announcing an increased storage of 160 GB from 120 GB at the same $249 price point. The iPod Touch has some changes as well. For those looking to get an iPod, you’re in luck! The 8 GB model is now only $199, reaching out to a broader audience who want a taste of the iPod Touch and the App Store. The 16 GB model is now at 32 GB capacity at $299, while the 32 GB is now at the incredible 64 GB capacity at $399. Note that the 32 GB and 64 GB models also received a 50% bump in CPU speed, as well as support for OpenGL ES 2.0, which in layman’s terms mean snappier performance and better looking 3D games, as well as more frames per second. Surprisingly, there’s no camera as many rumors suggested, though Apple claims it had to be omitted to drive prices down.

There was also the iPod Shuffle, which now supports extra voice commands as well as additional colors: pink, green and blue to be exact. It also has a new entry level price point, with a 2 GB model at $59, and the 4 GB model remaining at $79. There will also be a special edition, made from polished stainless steel, at a premium price of $99. Now there’s the iPod Nano, which received the most radical changes of the four. The first of these is that the Nano has a built-in video camera, microphone and speakers, apparently being advertised as an “ultra-thin, ultra-tiny Flip Mino”. It now has a built-in FM Radio, just like the Zunes that have been around since 2006. The screen has also been widened, giving the Nano an even wider widescreen aspect ratio. Another tidbit is that the Nano’s shell is now made of polished stainless steel, at the same time retaining its chromatic colors. The most important news for the Nano, however, is it’s price point. While the 8 GB model is still $149, the 16 GB version had its price slashed to an even lower $179, effectively leaving the $200 range for good and becoming even more affordable.

So that’s the round-up. While I am happy for Job’s return to Apple, as well as the slick updates to iPod Nano, I think the event was still somewhat a disappointment. In all honesty, I was really, really looking forward to the iPod Touch getting more than just a speed bump and increased capacity. It was ironic in that the iPod Touch was even more likely to get the camera over the Nano, especially since there are many apps that use a camera. Another thing to notice is that the Classic line-up is getting stale, receiving almost no noticeable updates since 2007. Oh well, at least we get price cuts in anticipation of the holidays, and we can still look forward to the next event where can hope we will really be wowed by Apple. Anyway, you can always look up more information at Apple’s site and look deeper into its features. I will also try to cover the Zune HD and make a comparison with the revamped iPod line, making recommendations from there. To close this entry, hope you enjoy the new iPods and keep rocking!

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~ by Ian on September 10, 2009.

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