Apple Let’s Rock Event – SlashGear Summary

Chris Davies - Sep 9, 2008, 1:53pm CDT

As expected, Apple’s Let’s Rock event this morning was decidedly focused on music, with updates to iTunes, the iPod nano and the iPod touch taking center stage.  Most significant change comes in the freshly-slimmed iPod nano: it’s the thinnest iPod to date, despite the 8GB and new 16GB sizes, with a curved metal and glass casing and new, longer display.  Inside, Apple have borrowed the accelerometer technology from the iPhone and iPod touch to bring slick transitions from portrait to landscape mode.  More details about the new iPod nano here.

You can find more details, video, plus the full Live Blog transcript, after the cut

The iPod touch has also lost some weight, with a new, iPhone 3G styled profile only using a stainless steel back rather than the cellphone’s plastic.  Storage remains the same – 8GB, 16GB or 32GB – but the PMP gets hardware volume controls, a built-in speaker, and integrated Nike+ receiver.  More details about the new iPod touch here.

The iPod classic got a minor tweak, too.  Gone are the 80GB and 160GB versions, replaced with a single 120GB model that coincidentally matches Microsoft’s latest HDD-based Zune in capacity and, at $249, price.

iTunes v8 introduces high-definition TV shows, including content from the freshly re-woo’d NBC, and priced at $2.99 each.  It also brings a new intelligent playlist system called Genius, which can analyse your current track and suggest both similar music from your library and from the iTunes store.  Genius playlists have been added to both the iPod nano and touch, too.  More details about iTunes v8 here.

Finally, Apple announced firmware v2.1 for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  Intended to speed up iPhone 3G backups, clear out some of the bugs and reduce the number of dropped calls, it’ll be available on Friday.  On the iPod touch, meanwhile, it offers all of the new software features from the updated model (such as Genius).  If you’re currently running v2.0 on your iPod touch, the update will be free; if not, you’ll need to pay $9.95.  More details here.

We’ll have hands-on photos, video and feedback on the new iPod ranges very soon, so keep reading SlashGear!


Live Blog Transcript:

08:53 am : A little over an hour to the event – received press badge
09:10 am : Video – Lining up and waiting
09:19 am : Apple PR people are saying it’ll be a tight squeeze inside – sounds like the room was smaller than they anticipated
09:27 am : The Apple store is, unsurprisingly, down
09:36 am : We’ll be putting as much video as possible up on Qik: check it out here
09:39 am : The latest rumors are new 8GB/16GB iPod nanos, replacing the existing 4GB/8GB models, with new colors: purple, yellow & orange.
09:40 am : An accelerometer has also been tipped for the nano, allowing you to shuffle tracks by shaking it
09:42 am : However the latest iPod touch rumors are saying that there won’t be a storage increase, and the 8/16/32GB sizes will continue. No word on what exactly might be changed; with capacity out, GPS moves to the top of the list
09:47 am : We’re inside, and there’s places for bloggers to plug in
09:48 am : Unfortunately, Apple seem to be cracking down on photography – there’s a roped-off area for broadcast media and photographers, but everyone else isn’t allowed to take pictures
09:50 am : However we’ve got a private briefing with Apple straight after the event, so we’ll have hands-on pictures and feedback then
09:52 am : Whoever loaned their iPod to the PA team obviously loves their rock music – we’ve had Cream’s “Sunshine of your Love” and Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” so far
09:54 am : And now the Rolling Stones. We’re hoping for a Mick Jagger special edition “Losing my (iPod) touch”
09:55 am : We’ve been asked to turn off all cellphones and PDAs as the presentation “will begin shortly”
09:56 am : Considering Apple’s PR were calling this room small, there are a lot of people here – two floors all full, in fact
09:57 am : With a mixture of broadcast press, newspaper people, bloggers and “guests”
09:59 am : Stage currently has two black iMacs on it, as with other events
10:00 am : Music is currently “Touch Me” by The Doors. Should we take that as a hint?
10:00 am : Lights are dimming
10:00 am : Steve Jobs is on stage
10:00 am : Those who wonders where we are, here is the entrance to the hall
10:01 am : He’s looking thin but not short of energy
10:01 am : He’s just made a joke about the premature obituary
10:02 am : And is promising “some exciting stuff” today
10:02 am : Music will be the main topic, with iTunes first
10:02 am : He’s describing it as “the ubiquitous store and music player”
10:03 am : Over 8.5m songs, over 125,000 podcasts, over 30,000 TV shows, 2600 movies and over 3,000 iPhone apps
10:03 am : #1 distributor
10:04 am : and now they’re adding HD TV shows
10:04 am : $2.99 for HD and $1.99 for regular SD
10:04 am : which you can watch on Apple TV and your Mac/PC
10:04 am : NBC is back on board
10:05 am : and iTunes is getting the expected upgrade to v8
10:06 am : You can expect The Office, Monk, Battlestar Galactica, 30 Rock and Heroes to be offered
10:06 am : Accessibility has been improved, there’s new browsing and “Genius”
10:07 am : Rather than just cover thumbnails, you can now see anything graphical in thumbnails – movies, TV shows, podcasts and of course music
10:07 am : Genius is used to intelligently create playlists – automatically matches songs that “go together”
10:08 am : With a sidebar that offers up suggestions of similar tracks from the iTunes store
10:09 am : Anything that Genius figures out will be uploaded, anonymously, to Apple
10:09 am : Presumably to better improve the recommendation algorithm
10:09 am : You’ll be able to opt-out if you don’t want to take part
10:10 am : They’re demonstrating the system
10:10 am : Genius will be updated every week based on the anonymous feedback
10:11 am : Steve is using Aretha Franklin to demonstrate Genius
10:12 am : and now choosing album browsing by Genre & Composer
10:13 am : A search for John Mayer brings up similar artists, etc.
10:14 am : And if you buy a track – Steve’s demonstrating with “Heartbreak Hotel” (by Elvis, of course) – the playlist automatically suggests similar music
10:14 am : in this case Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly
10:14 am : iTunes 8 is available today at
10:15 am : Now for the iPod, which currently has 73.4% market share
10:15 am : in the US
10:16 am : Over 5,000 accessories – some of which, Steve jokes, get announced before they’re supposed to
10:16 am : the crowd laughed at that one
10:16 am : (Microsoft, incidentally, has a tiny 2.6% of the US market; Sandisk has 8.6%)
10:16 am : (“Other” is 15.4%)
10:17 am : iPod Classic is changing – new 120GB model replacing the 80GB, 160GB is being discontinued
10:17 am : 30,000 songs on the 120GB – same as the new Microsoft Zune
10:17 am : Will cost $249 – again, like the Zune
10:18 am : New iPod nano is confirmed
10:18 am : Combines the “much loved” form factor of the 2nd gen model with the 3rd gen’s ability to play video
10:18 am : It looks exactly like the spy shots, complete with curved casing
10:19 am : Same height as 2nd gen nano
10:19 am : “You will be blown away by how thin it is”
10:19 am : Aluminium casing with curved glass
10:19 am : As rumored today, it gets an accelerometer
10:20 am : You can use the Genius feature from iTunes 8
10:20 am : Also an “enhanced UI”
10:20 am : Thinnest iPod ever
10:20 am : Just as with the iPhone/iPod touch, turn the new nano on its side and the screen rotates
10:21 am : full-size album art and photos in coverflow
10:21 am : Push and hold the center button and you get a pop-up contextual menu
10:22 am : If you attach a microphone you automatically get a voice recording option
10:22 am : Also calendar and stopwatch functions
10:22 am : Steve is demonstrating the nano now – slickly flips from portrait to landscape
10:23 am : Can rotate while music is playing and get into coverflow mode
10:23 am : They’ve added the ability to shake the nano to shuffle tunes
10:23 am : “Shake to Shuffle” Steve calls it
10:24 am : and John Mayer is getting another play
10:24 am : Photo browsing works the same way – turn it landscape and thumb through with the scrollwheel
10:25 am : 24hr battery life for music, 4hr video
10:25 am : That’s a bit disappointing, but Steve points out (again) that it’s the thinnest iPod ever
10:25 am : Environmentally friendly too – highly recyclable and toxin-free inside
10:26 am : Arsenic free glass, no mercury, BFR or PVC
10:26 am : the “cleanest” iPod evr
10:26 am : $149 for 8GB, $199 for 16GB
10:27 am : and lots of color options
10:27 am : Black, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, violet, red
10:27 am : 8GB available today, 16GB next week at the latest
10:27 am : most likely this weekend
10:28 am : “nano-chromatic” is the pun
10:28 am : New headphones, too
10:28 am : with a pause/play control and volume keys
10:29 am : double-click skips forward a track, triple-click goes back
10:29 am : Also a microphone for voice recording
10:29 am : cost $79 and come with three earbuds
10:29 am : They have two drives – woofer and tweeter
10:30 am : New advert is showing – lots of dripping paint and melting nanos
10:30 am : iPod touch is next
10:30 am : gets a new casing – contoured stainless steel
10:31 am : same display, but the touch is thinner
10:31 am : profile is like the iPhone 3G, but in metal
10:32 am : has volume controls on the side, a speaker and Genius autoplaylist creation
10:32 am : Same b/g WiFi and AppStore
10:33 am : UI has been improved, with better album artwork and Nike+ integrated
10:33 am : as in, the Nike+ receiver is built into the touch,not a separate dongle
10:34 am : All you’ll need to buy is the transmitter for your shoe
10:34 am : Steve is demonstrating the Genius playlist creation on the iPod touch
10:34 am : works basically as it did on the desktop; playlists are stored
10:34 am : Now talking about the AppStore – 100m apps downloaded in 60 days
10:35 am : 700 games now available
10:35 am : The store can be accessed in 62 different countries
10:37 am : Demonstrating playlist creation on the touch again
10:37 am : Genius button is at the top of the list
10:38 am : Greenday’s American Idiot brings up suggestions of Jimmy Hendrix and U2
10:38 am : Now playing the Iron Man film
10:38 am : Steve thinks the iPod touch’s screen is “great for watching video”
10:38 am : Phil Schiller is coming up on stage to demo some unreleased games
10:39 am : “Spore: Origins” is first
10:39 am : the iPod touch version
10:40 am : Looks quite a lot like the PS3 version
10:40 am : you can create your own characters directly on the touch
10:41 am : We’re not really seeing anything new here
10:41 am : It’s more just an advert for Spore since the game has just been released
10:41 am : Schiller is VERY enthusiastic, however
10:42 am : you can control the on-screen character by tilting the touch
10:42 am : Now “‘Real Soccer 2009” which is shipping today
10:42 am : He’s selected US versus Italy, and is choosing a stadium to play in and uniforms to wear
10:43 am : Graphics are reasonable, but you’re not going to cast aside your PS3
10:43 am : control is good, though
10:44 am : combination of gestures and a transparent D-pad that’s overlaid onto the gameplay
10:44 am : Could get your iPod pretty greasy, though
10:44 am : You can customize your car, and the 3D graphics are impressive
10:45 am : Task is to make a delivery across town
10:45 am : Phil is on the run from te cops
10:46 am : Now Steve Jobs is back on the stage
10:46 am : in the game, that is
10:46 am : 36hrs music, 6hrs video from new iPod touch
10:46 am : same environmentally-friendly design
10:47 am : Need for Speed will be available in November, btw
10:47 am : Can use the same new headphones with microphone and track controls
10:47 am : No change in capacity: 8GB for $229, 16GB for $299, and 32GB for $399
10:47 am : All available today
10:48 am : Now showing us the new advert
10:48 am : According to Steve it’s “the funnest iPod ever”
10:48 am : which is the slogan in the advert, too
10:49 am : Ad concentrates on gaming, positioning the iPod touch as a mobile gaming device
10:49 am : “It’s the best portable device for playing games” says Steve
10:49 am : Talk about a challenge to Nintendo and Sony!
10:50 am : If you never upgraded your original touch to v2, it’ll cost you $9.95 to update to v2.1
10:50 am : iPod touch has firmware 2.1; existing owners get free update from v2
10:50 am : Now the iPhone
10:51 am : Firmware v2.1
10:51 am : “This is a big update, it fixes a lot of bugs”
10:51 am : “Fewer dropped calls, big battery life improvements. No crashes with Apps, backing up is faster”
10:52 am : That’s the only iPhone news – we’re back to iPods/iTunes
10:52 am : Steve thinks “it’s the best line-up we’ve ever had”
10:52 am : Jack Johnson is coming on stage to perform
10:53 am : #1 selling male artist in iTunes history
10:53 am : Jack has sold over 60m albums
10:54 am : And more importantly, today he’s brought his guitar
10:54 am : Looks like we’re finishing for today
10:56 am : Considering how “rock” the event started out, an acoustic performance by Jack Johnson seems a big strange
10:56 am : A lot of people are crossing their fingers for something else after Johnson wraps up…
10:57 am : There’s still a couple of minutes to go until 11am PST, after all
10:58 am : Clock still ticking, but it’s not looking good
10:59 am : Don’t forget, there’s recaps of all today’s news on the SlashGear frontpage right now, and we’ll have hands-on, live coverage of the new iPod range very soon
11:01 am : Jack is finishing now – thanking Apple being “really supportive”
11:01 am : Apparently he’s more used to 20-something girls than a room full of rabid journalists craving iPod news
11:02 am : But just to show he’s comfortable with the suits and hacks, he’s breaking into song again
11:03 am : I guess this means there’s no “one more thing”
11:04 am : If you’re big Jack Johnson fans, you’ll be exhilarated to know that he played the Curious George music and “Better Together”
11:05 am : Standing ovation for Jack (or maybe the iPods)
11:05 am : And Steve is back out to say “Thank you for coming!”
11:06 am : Don’t forget, all the Let’s Rock news is up on the frontpage of SlashGear if you want to check prices, specs or release dates. We’re really interested to know what you think about the new iPods, so make sure to get vocal in the comments
11:08 am : To recap, there’s a new iPod nano with a bigger screen, accelerometer and super-skinny body, a new iPod touch with thinner metal casing, iTunes v8 with Genius intelligent playlist creation and iPhone firmware v2.1
11:10 am : Thanks for joining us today, and keep checking back on SlashGear for our hands-on coverage with the new iPod range!

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