There is a lot for iPod fans to be happy about today. I'm not a huge gadget person across the board, though my wife might argue with me on this, but I do have to say that I have a weakness for Apple products. Today Steve Jobs did one of his over-hyped press conferences. I was impressed with the number of changes to the iPod line that some of the apple gossip sites had predicted that actually became reality today.
The basic changes are the Shuffle has a bunch of new colors. No changes in memory. The Nano has a new format for viewing cover art and can now play video. To make the viewing feasible the shape of the Nano has changed to shorter and wider with a larger 2" screen. It also has increased pixilation so the screen is not only larger, but more vivid than the one on the previous Nano. It is available in 4 and 8 GB sizes. The Nano as well as the larger iPod, now called the "iPod classic", both have a split screen feature now that previews cover art on the right side of the screen as you navigate the familiar menu on the left. Both also now can be navigated via "cover flow", which uses animated cover art that looks like flipping through an old juke box. Most iTunes users will already be familiar with the look of Cover Flow. The iPod classic is now encased in aluminum and is available in 80 and a whopping 160 G sizes.
Finally one of the bigger rumors fulfilled is the "iPod touch", which turns out to be essentially an iPhone without the phone service (or contract). It is very close to the same dimensions as the iPhone. The iPod touch comes with WiFi that allows users to download music as they walk around, so long as they're within range of a hot spot, rather than needing to be at the computer. Apple has started a partnership with Starbucks to make those hot spots more predictable. iPod touch users will be able to instantly download any music they hear at Starbucks with the press of a touchscreen button (this can also be done with laptops). iPod touch also has web browsing capability. The storage is only at 8 and 16 GB, which some are saying is too small for the price, and is not a good match for the beautiful wide screen and touchscreen experience. Presumably users would want to use the widescreen for video, but the memory won't allow for much storage. I've heard speculation, which seems plausible, that Jobs will announce larger storage sizes for the iPod touch just prior to Christmas. The touchscreen interface truly is remarkable. If you haven't had a chance yet, it is worth stopping by the Apple store to experience it even if you're not remotely interested in buying one.
On a related note Apple dropped the price of the 8 GB iPhone to $399, $200 lower than it debuted, and discontinued the 4 GB model. I will leave the more detailed analysis to the folks at Macworld and other gadget sites. Here is the lineup at Apple. I can't be held responsible for any impulse purchases you might make. Please weigh in on the the poll over to the right.