Apple CEO Steve Jobs made no bones about it as he introduced an entirely new set of iPods today: “It’s the biggest change in the iPod line-up ever,” he said.
The first model Jobs discussed was the iPod shuffle, documenting the different iterations the device has gone through since its inception, culminating in the button-less iPod shuffle that came out last year.
The redesigned iPod shuffle returns the buttons from the second-generation model.
“But people clearly missed the buttons,” said Jobs. So Apple combined elements the second- and third-generation models to create an iPod shuffle with the same circular playback controls that appeared on the second-generation iPod shuffle: Play/Pause, next track, previous track, and volume up and down. The fourth-generation shuffle also includes the third-generation iPod shuffle’s support for multiple playlists and the VoiceOver feature that can announce artists, songs, and albums. Apple’s also added support for Genius playlists and the company says the built-in battery can last for 15 hours of music.
The aluminium exterior of the shuffle comes in five different colors: blue, pink, green, yellow, and silver. Like its predecessors it comes in a single 2GB capacity for $69.
Of course, as Jobs said, the shuffle was not alone in its design revamp. The company also showed off a new design for its iPod nano music player.
Apple revamped its iPod nano with a multitouch iOS-inspired interface.
“How do we make this better?” Jobs asks. “The iPod nano has been super popular.” The conclusion: Apple eliminated the Click Wheel and instead made the music player touch-based. Like Apple’s other touch devices, it’s capable of multitouch. And for all of that, it’s 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than the previous version. “Almost half as small, almost half as light as its predecessor,” Jobs said.
Like the shuffle, the nano has a clip on it, along with physical volume buttons, and the same VoiceOver technology. There’s also an FM radio, support for Nike+, a pedometer, VoiceMemos, a Photos app, and support for 29 different languages. According to Apple, the built-in battery can handle 24 hours of audio playback.
Given that the nano’s software is entirely different from that of the previous version, Jobs gave a quick demo, showing off an interface that – if it’s not iOS itself – is certainly reminiscent of iOS devices. The device has multiple Home screens, each capable of holding up to four icons. As on Apple’s iOS devices, you can rearrange the icons by tapping and dragging them. Unlike iOS devices, there’s no Home button – you tap and hold on the screen to return to the Home screen.
While you’re playing back a track, you can tap to bring up the controls as a translucent overlay over the album art. Just in case you clip the nano to your clothes upside down, you can use the two-finger rotate gesture to turn the Home screen.
As with previous versions of the nano, there’s the usual 30-pin dock connector and a headphone jack. However, unlike the fifth-generation iPod nano there appears to be no support for video, either for playback or for recording.
The new nano comes in the same five colours as the new iPod shuffle – silver, pink, blue, yellow, and green – plus two additional shades: graphite and a Product Red version. The new iPod nano will be available in two capacities: a $199 8GB model, and a 16GB for $229.