DVICE: Apple completely overhauled its iPod line while also showing off coming updates to iOS, promising impressive new features for iPhones and iPod Touches. Besides completely redesigned versions of the iPod Shuffle and Nano, Apple unveiled iOS 4.1, which introduces a Game Center, a new system that will tie iOS users together in a network similar to Xbox Live. But wait, there’s more!
iOS 4.1: With Game Center, you have two lists: a list of games that go through Game Center, and a list of friends that you can play said games with. If you’ve used Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, the features here will be familiar. You can invite people to play games with you, and you earn achievements for accomplishments in-game. Developers will be able to build Game Center into their games, so don’t be surprised if most big games from now on use it. Luckily, it’s free. Look for the iOS 4.1 update to drop next week.
The update will (hopefully) fix some proximity sensor problems on the iPhone 4 and add some HDR photo support, and — this is really cool — the ability to upload HD video wirelessly. That’ll come in handy for the iPod Touch’s new HD video camera (which you can read about down below). Sorry, iPad users — this ain’t for you. Keep reading to see what you’re getting.
iOS 4.2 Apple also offered a glimpse of iOS 4.2, which will land in November and be geared toward the iPad and improving AirTunes. AirTunes will now be AirPlay, and will allow you to stream music, videos, photos and what-have-you right to your iOS device.
We may hear more as we get closer to its release, but right now the only other exciting addition will be wireless printing. That’s right: you’ll now be able to print from, say, an iPad using Pages, over your home network.
iPod Shuffle: The other big tidbit that Apple has dropped is the announcement of a super cheap, ultra compact iPod Shuffle. For only $50, you’ll get 4GB worth of music storage and a clickwheel much like on the Shuffle’s larger cousins, though no screen. It’s nice to see that the clickwheel is back — the previous Shuffle felt a little bit like a shot in the dark without any real controls.
iPod Nano: The Nano has been my iPod of choice since it came out, and it’s looking good with the latest refresh. Its new stamp-like body is all display and no body thanks to the addition of a multi-touch screen. So for $150 you get a touchscreen Nano with with 8GB of storage ($180 for 16GB) in any of four colors and a sleek new interface.
iPod Touch: There’s also a new, slimmer iPod Touch on the way. It’s still mostly the Touch you know and/or love, though now it’s got a rear camera for HD video recording and a front-facing cam that can make FaceTime calls between other iPod Touches and iPhone 4s over Wi-Fi. There are three models: $230 gets you 8GB, 32GB for $300 and a 64GB unit for $400.