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Apple Launches iPod Touch

Technology
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Wednesday morning, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco in a highly-anticipated keynote address. For the last two weeks, leaks of a "fatty" iPod hinted at a long expected updated or refresh of the iPod line.

First up was the new ability to select any iTunes Store-bought songs to use as ringtones. With an upcoming iTunes update, users will be able to choose any 30 second portion of select songs and use them as a ringtone. The downside? You have to purchase that 30 second ringtone...

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That’s right, you have to pay another dollar for a song you already have to have the privilege of using it as a ringtone. That sucks.

But when the keynote moved on, people got excited. "Now, let’s talk about the iPod," Jobs said.

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The iPod Shuffle gets a "refresh", with a couple new colors. Included is a Product Red Shuffle, as part of the project that donates money to charities in Africa. They’re shipping today, at the same price as before.

Next came the new iPod Nano, and yes, it was the leaked "fatty" :)

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It’s a tiny, square device that has a gorgeous 320x240 resolution, 2-inch screen, and has all the functionality it’s bigger brothers, the full sized iPod sported: photos, video, games. As an extra bonus, it sports some small interface tweaks, has Cover Flow, and has a price of US$149 for the 8GB model (down from US$199).

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The original iPod has been rebranded as the iPod Classic. It inherits the new metal finish the iPod Nanos already enjoy, and jump up in size to 80GB and 160GB.

Both the new iPod Nano and the iPod Classic also had their battery life touted, with the Nano getting an estimated 4 hours of audio playback and 5 hours of video playback, and the Classic getting 30 hours audio and 5 hours of video playback. Perfect for those long plane trips where you’re not interested in suffering through some cut-up in-flight version of Father Of The Bride 2 or some nonsense.

The last product was the one we were all waiting for... the new touchscreen iPod, formally called the iPod Touch.

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If you know what the iPhone looks like and what the iPhone can do, then you already know what the iPod Touch is. Just remove the cellular phone elements. It has the same multi-touch screen interface and the same sort of home screen. The video functionality, music features, and media playback work exactly the same way, including turning it on it’s side to activate "landscape mode" and Cover Flow.

It’s new feature, however, is WiFi. That’s right, the new iPod Touch can get on the internet like it’s big brother.

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The Touch even comes with the Safari web browser and the Youtube application. Find a WiFi hotspot, and you’re in business. Taking advantage of this capablilty, the Touch now has WiFi enabled iTunes. Using WiFi and the Touch, you can access iTunes, preview songs, purchase songs, and download them. Fantastic!

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You lucky Americans who already have the iPhone, do not panic. With an upcoming patch, the iPhone will be getting the new iTunes Music Store application as well.

The WiFi feature is also being leveraged in a deal with Starbucks. It’s actually very underwhelming and forgettable: if you’re in a Starbucks that has WiFi, and you like the music they are playing, you can access a specific application to purchase that song. Whoopie. At least the WiFi will be free at the coffee shops for iPod Touch and iPhone users.

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The new iPod Touch comes in an unfortunately small set of sizes; 8GB at US$299 and 16GB at US$399. Both models will be available in a couple weeks, so Jobs says.

All in all, an exciting keynote, finally bringing out some new toys people have been holding off buying iPods for. We still don’t have the Beatles available on the iTunes Store, but there are always more keynotes.

By the way... anyone want to buy a used 30GB 5th generation iPod? :)