Ok, Here's What Apple Announced Today

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Steve Jobs took the stage in San Francisco and made a slew of announcements today. New hardware. New software. The whole spectrum. I was at the event – my real time notes are here and my pictures are here. The bottom line: Improvements were made to the existing line of iPods but no serious modifications were announced (like a rumored touch screen iPod), Apple now has movie downloads and Apple will launch a new hardware device called iTV (not the final name) that will bring iTunes to the living room.

Here’s more detail on each announcement:

iTunes 7 With Movies

iTunes 7 is available now. Steve Jobs announced that over 1.5 billion songs have been purchased and downloaded on iTunes to date. Every major network now provides television shows to iTunes, and over 220 shows are included (it took Apple one year to get to that point).

The biggest change is that movies are now available for download. Only Disney units are participating: Miramax, Pixar, Touchstone, and Disney. Movies are available at time of DVD release. 75 movies are available now. Prices: $12.99 for pre orders and during the first week of release, $14.99 for new releases after that. Library titles are $9.99. Same use rules as tv shows – so no burning to DVD.

A number of games are also available through iTunes, available on the iTunes site and store.

Also, tv shows (and I believe podcasts) can be subscribed to instead of simply syncing on the iPod. For example, just the last ten episodes of a show can be placed on the iPod, so older shows are auto removed as new ones are added.

iTunes has significantly better organization now, too. Cover art will auto download for all songs, even ripped MP3s, as long as you have an iTunes account. They are including a new interface to allow people to scroll through artwork, organized by album name or artist, to find songs quickly. When you see the album you want, all songs appear below for that album. I have a bunch of pictures of this but you have to see it scrolling to really appreciate it.

iPod Updates

Nothing too important to note here. The big iPod is not physically changed much, although there are new standard earphones and the iPod is now available with 80GB of storage. Prices have dropped with the 30 GB iPod at $250. 80 GB model is $349.

New Nanos and Shuffles were released. The Nanos basically doubled storage capacity for the same price, now up to 8 GB. Lots of new colors to choose from, but the 8GB only comes in black.

The shuffle has been completely redesigned (see here and here) and is less than half the size as before. 1 GB option only now, and it’s $79. It comes standard with headphones and a dock.

All models have brighter screens and longer battery life.

iTV

This is the big announcement, along with movies. iTV is a new hardware device that is connected to the home network via wifi and to the TV. It basically brings iTunes and iPhoto content to the TV, and works with PCs or Macs. It will be available starting Q1 2007 for $299. Pictures of it here, here and here. Given the large library of television shows now available on iPod, this device is a serious alternative to Microsoft Media Center. One thing that isn’t clear is whether iTunes will allow the addition of ripped DVDs as it does with music. That would make the iTV a much more useful device.

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