As expected, the highly-anticipated iPhone 5 was unveiled at Apple's event on Sept. 12. But it was far from the only eye-opening debut made by the tech giant during the presentation. Apple also announced some significant changes to its musical offerings — including the iPod Nano, the iPod Touch and iTunes for both mobile and desktops — as well as a major overhaul of its iconic headphones.
Apple's Senior Vice President of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, took to the stage for the big unveiling of Apple's new iTunes software. Cue demonstrated a new store interface for both mobile devices, highlighting that 60 per cent of Apple's iTunes downloads comes via mobile. The new interface shows a big carousel at the top, whether you're browsing movies, television shows or music. The same general interface will also be used on the desktop version of the iTunes store, too.
The iTunes library for desktop has received a facelift, now showing a user's albums in a more simplified grid format that splits down the middle when you select an album. Users can share songs they're listening to directly to Facebook and Twitter, virtually killing Apple's previous social music experiment, Ping. New buttons now appear in iTunes that make it easier for users to give Apple even more of their money shop in the iTunes store, with the "In the Store" button that will connect you from the song or album you've chosen to more related content.
For me, the most interesting part of the iTunes update is the redesigned mini-player. Users can now search for songs through the mini-player, with search results shown inline. You'll be able to see the new look for yourself when the revamped iTunes comes in October.
Definitely the most curiously named of Apple's debuts today, the company has redesigned those famous white headphones to better suit a wider range of people.
"Doing a great headphone is hard, because ears are really, really challenging, because everyone's ears are different," said Apple's SVP Jony Ive in a video shown during the press event. Ive said that the team scanned hundreds of sets of ears, trying to identify a commonality in them, and these new EarPod headphones should be able to overcome the differences.
The distinctly-designed earbuds have a speaker port that points forward into the wearer's ear canal. They also have a port in the back and a port in the stem, all designed for better airflow and sound quality.
The new EarPods begin shipping today.
If you're looking for something to plug your new EarPods into, fear not: Apple has you covered. The iPod Touch got a major overhaul, beefing up its processor to a dual-core A5 processor, which will help Apple live up to its claim that the iPod Touch is actually the most popular video game player in the world. That processor will help the iPod Touch perform tasks seven times faster than its predecessor. It also gets some slight improvements to the battery life with up to 40 hours of music playback and 8 hours of video. The 6.1mm thick, 88-gram iPod Touch now has a 4-inch display, just like the iPhone 5.
For the first time, the iPod Touch will be getting a 5-megapixel iSight camera, with auto-focus, flash and a sapphire lens. Like the iPhone, it can also take Panorama shots and share photos via Photo Stream. In a clear move to get people to replace their traditional point-and-shoot cameras with an iPod Touch, Apple has included a button on the back that pops up, revealing a spot to attach a colour-coordinated wrist strap to the device. The iPod touch also has a front-facing FaceTime HD camera with which can take 720p video, complimenting that rear-facing, 1080p camera with image stabilization.
The new fifth-generation iPod Touch will go on sale in October, priced at $299 US for a 32GB and $399 US for a 64GB. It will be available in five different colours: silver-aluminum, black, blue, yellow and red (as part of the PROJECT (RED) campaign).
The iPod Nano also got a bold new look today, being whittled down to 62 per cent the thickness of the previous Nano at 5.4mm. Despite the slimdown, the seventh-generation iPod Nano has large volume buttons and a third function button for play, pause and track advance. Still much smaller than the Touch with a 2.5-inch multitouch display, it should be a little easier to navigate than the previous Nano, which was about the size of a graham cracker.
In that little package, Apple has managed to pack quite a punch: it includes an FM tuner with DVR functionality (like pause or rewind), Bluetooth 4.0, photo and video browsing and 30 hours of playback. Still no app compatibility, but for a small music player, it's hard to beat.
The iPod Nano will also be on sale in October, priced at $149 US. You'll have your choice of seven colours: silver-aluminum, black, purple, green, blue, yellow and red for PROJECT (RED).
As for the lowly iPod Shuffle, it looks like it's going to have the same look and price point of $49 for now.
Apple fans can look forward to another big announcement in October, when we're expecting to hear about the new iPad Mini.