Apple Introduces New Social Network, iPods and Apple TV

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a pallet of new Apple toys Wednesday, including a new line of iPods, a social network for music lovers and an update to AppleTV.

At a press conference in San Francisco, the tech showman introduced updates to existing Apple products instead of introducing new gadgets. But the company did show of what Jobs called the biggest change ever to the iPod line up.

Starting next week, music lovers will be able to purchase smaller "better" iPods in "cute" packaging.

The new iPod Nano will get a touch screen instead of buttons and the entry level iPod Shuffle will be smaller and allow users to speak the names of play lists and songs.

But perhaps the most drastic change to the iPod line will come with the new iPod Touch. The iPhone-looking device will become more iPhone-esque with a camera and available FaceTime capabilities.

"(This is) the strongest line of the new iPods we've ever had and we are really excited about people getting their hands on them next week," Jobs said.

The new iPod Touch will have FaceTime and it will be priced at an  8GB for $229, a 32GB for $299 and a 64GB for $399, while a two-gigabyte version of the iPod Shuffle will sell for $49.

Jobs said there will be something for iPhone users as well. The smartphone will get a software update that offers the ability to upload high-definition video over Wi-Fi. And when people take photos, the new software will save three slightly different copies that, when combined, make for a sharper image.
The new software will be available next week for free. A second update to the iOS software will be out later this year, which will be geared for iPads in particular.

Perhaps the most dramatic change will come with an update to iTunes, which is available for download immediately. Jobs introduced a social networking component that will allow iPhone users to follow their favorite artists and their friends and see what they are listening to and even watch videos.

"People are always asking, 'what are my friends listening to? What are my favorite artists listening to?'"  Jobs said. "iTunes 10 will have Ping, which is sort of like Facebook and Twitter meeting each other."

But Jobs was quick to point out that Apple's social network will be different than what is already out there. It will be fully integrated with iTunes and allow users to "be as private or as public as you want" with a super simple set up. Perhaps a slight shot at recent concerns with Facebook's privacy settings.
"It's a social network all about music," Jobs said. Some early critics were already ripping the feature as a failure waiting to happen.

The company also validated the rumor mill when it announced a long awaited update to its "hobby," Apple TV.

Jobs unveiled a smaller, cheaper box that will allow users to stream content from Netflix and YouTube, along with allowing users to rent HD quality movies and television shows the day they are released on DVD.

A first run Hollywood movie will cost $4.99 to rent and a television show will cost 99 cents. But there is already an early knock on the new look AppleTV: not all television networks have signed on.

Apple will initially only be able to stream content from ABC and Fox.

"We think the rest of the studios will see the light and take the step with us," Jobs said.

An Apple TV box will cost $99.

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