Steve Jobs made a surprise comeback at the Apple event in San Francisco today, announcing an upgraded operating system for the iPhone and iPod Touch, a new version of iTunes, and new generations and pricing for the Touch, the Shuffle, and the Nano.
Much to the disappointment of many fans, none of the new products include a still camera; however, the fifth generation Nano, which goes on sale today, has an integrated video camera with speakers so you can shoot and watch videos instantly. Two other key announcements made today were the iPhone and iPod Touch’s new OS 3.1 and iTunes 9, both available online now.
In addition to the video camera, the new Nano has a pedometer that can be synced with Nike Plus, an FM radio, and a voice recorder. It’s available in seven colors at $149 for the 8GB version and $179 for the 16GB. Apple also unveiled a new and improved Shuffle in five new colors with the option for multiple playlists, a voice that speaks to you about battery life, and controls integrated into headphone wires. The new Shuffle comes in a $59 2GB version, a $79 4GB version, and a limited edition stainless steel 4GB version sells for $99. Also announced were new pricing and a faster graphics for the iPod Touch (8GB at $199, 32GB at $299, and 64GB at $399). The original iPod retains its $249 price point, but now holds 160GB instead of the previous 120GB.
iTunes 9 has several new exciting features including media sharing, an on-screen app manager, and a redesigned Store. Genius Mixes, an extension of the music recommending Genius function, creates playlists from the iTunes library based on songs that go great together. Syncing has been improved, and a new interface for managing iPhone and iPod Touch apps allows users to drag and drop and rearrange apps on-screen from the iTunes app. Media can be shared through Home Sharing, which allows up to five computers in one house to copy the contents of their iTunes libraries freely. Finally, the new Store has a cleaner looks and and two new features, iTunes LP and iTunes Extra, which provide photos, liner notes, exclusive interviews, etc for music and movies, respectively.
The iPhone’s new OS 3.1, which is available today at the iTunes store, will include a Genius function for Apps that recommends apps much like how Genius in iTunes recommends music. It also includes Genius Mixes, peer to peer gaming, and ring tone downloads.
Jobs, who has been absent from the last couple of Apple events due to health problems, prefaced the announcements by confirming that he had had a liver transplant five months ago. He thanked the donor — a twenty-something year old who died in a car crash — for his generosity.
Apple has sold 30 million iPhones in just over two years, with 1. 8 billion apps downloaded from the App Store. Jobs claimed the Nano is “by far the most popular music player in the world” with over $100 million units sold. Similarly, iTunes, which is now available in 23 countries, is the number one music retailer in the world, with 8.5 billion songs sold on 100 million accounts with credit cards.