Apple's got a San Francisco event planned for just a few minutes time. Traditionally the company announces new iPod at this event, so we're expecting an iPod touch with a camera, and possibly the same Retina display that's present on the iPhone.
Aside from the usual iPod rumors, there are also reports that Apple will announce it's new Apple TV streaming service, iTV. Though the invitation didn't hint toward anything of the kind, it would definitely be more interesting than just the regular iPod announcement.
Either way, I'll be tap-tap-tapping away at my keyboard to bring you a blow-by-blow of the event. Check back regularly for updates!
10:53 They're playing Alanis at the YBCA Theatre in San Francisco. "You Learn" if anyone's interested.
10:55 They've moved on to "Layla" by Eric Clapton. Much better, thank you Apple.
10:57 The 'turn off your phones' announcement just hit. Should be getting started in a few minutes now. Bye bye Clapton, hello Jack Johnson.
11:00 Anyone watching via the live stream from Apple.com is seeing a copyright warning right now. Aaaaaand, there's Steve. We're off!
11:01 Lots of clapping, cheering and whooping for Steve. Now Steve is demanding applause for Steve Wozniak, who's in the audience.
11:02 Updates on the Apple stores being built at the moment. First up is the genuinely stunning new Paris store. They spent 18 months restoring the building. Apple also opened up a store in Shanghai store recently. A 40-ft high glass cylinder with the store all underground. Lastly is the one in London's Covent Garden. Again, a restored building, but it's massive and Steve seems proud. Apple has 300 stores in 10 countries now. Several times a month there are days when a million people pass through the stores. Yowza.
11:05 Teaching 80,000 of the one-to-one classes. 50 percent of customers buying Macs are buying their first Macs.
11:06 Moving onto iOS discussions. "It's been a revolution in both touch and apps ... Mobile applications were completely different before the iPhone." Steve says they've now shipped 120 million iOS devices since the beginning. That's 230,000 new activations per day.
11:07 The App store has hit 6.5 billion application downloads. That's 200 apps every second. "Whoosh, there's another 200," Steve says. Lots of cheering and clapping for that. 250,000 apps in the App Store. Of those, 25,000 are iPad apps.
11:08 Today they're announcing iOS 4.1. This includes bug fixes for the proximity sensor and Bluetooth, and the introduction of HDR or High Dynamic Range photos.
11:10 HDR allows for better exposed photos. When taking pictures, it actually takes three images, with different levels of exposure, and combines them to make one image. Some of the examples are pretty impressive.
11:12 They're also adding Game Center, which is focused around multiplayer games. You can link up with your friends, "And if you don't have any friends, we'll match you up with some." Laughs from the audience.
11:13 Steve's invited Mike Capps from Epic games to show us a game that uses Game Center.
11:14 We've got a very graphically impressive game demo for a game called 'Project Sword.'
11:15 They're showing off multiplayer and how achievements unlocked are available for everyone to see on Game Center. Project Sword is going to be available this holiday season on iPad, iPod touch and iPhone. And Steve's back.
11:16 iOS 4.1 is available next week for iPhone and iPod touch for free via iTunes. 4.2 is coming later this year and is completely focused on iPad. Wireless printing, and something called AirPlay, which we'll hear more about later. Streaming, perhaps? Steve is demoing wireless printing now. Looks pretty neat and nifty.
11:17 So what's AirPlay? Well AirTunes is streaming music over AirPort, something we've heard of before. They're changing AirTunes to AirPlay because AirPlay is now about streaming video and music. "More about that later." Woo-heee! Now Steve is demoing iOS 4.2 multitasking on the iPad. Listening to music via Pandora and then emailing and Web browsing.
11:19 "When is 4.2 coming? It's coming in November and it's going to be a free update for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch."
11:20 "Now I'd like to get on to the entree today. This is our music event where unveil out cool music devices that we unveil for the holidays." Apple has sold 275 million iPods to date. Big clapping for that number. "One of the secrets to the iPods success is that we've never rested on our laurels. Every year we try to improve the iPod for users and this year, we've gone wild. All-new design of every single iPod design. It's really exciting and it's the biggest change in the iPod line ever."
11:22 The new iPod shuffle is a mash-up of the last two generations. It's got buttons, which people missed in the last generation model, and it's got VoiceOver playlists, something people loved from the last generation. It's got a 15 hour battery, comes in five colors and retails for just $49. Wow!
11:24 Next up is the iPod Nano. Steve says they want to make it "smaller and better." They're taking out the click-wheel and they're giving it a multitouch display. It's gorgeous. It's got the same clip as the iPod shuffle, and is 46 smaller and 42 percent lighter. FM radio, Nike Plus, Pedometer, volume buttons, 24 hours of battery. No camera, interestingly. That's something they only added last year. Not surprising they ditched it, as no one really understood why it was there. Steve is giving a demo right now, and showing navigation, which is similar to the iPod touch. Lots of swiping to different screens. Homepage holds four icons, e.g., albums, playlists, artists, now playing etc. It's also got photos and two-finger rotating of the screen. How much? It comes in seven colors, and it costs $149 and $179 for 8GB and 16GB respectively.
11:25 Next up is the iPod touch, which has become the most popular iPod and the number one portable game player in the world. Lots of clapping for that. "The iPod touch outsells Nintenod and Sony portable game players combined. It's got over 50 percent of the worldwide marketshare."
11:26 The new iPod touch is even thinner than the last. "But even more remarkable is what's inside it." It now has the new Retina display; 4X the number of pixels, 24-bit color, LED backlit. It's got the same A4 chip that powers the iPhone, 3-axis Gyro for better gaming, iOS's new Game Center and, drum roll, FaceTime, complete with front facing and rear facing camera. The latter does HD video recording (no stills?) and editing, and it's got 40 hours of battery. 8GB model for $229, 32GB for $299, and 64GB for $399.
11:36 All of these are available next week, pre-orders starting today. Watching the trendy people in the new iPod ads.
11:38 So those are the new iPods. Now he's talking about iTunes. They're just about to cross the 12-billion song downloads mark. 160 million credit cards accounts have downloaded 450 million TV episode, 100 million movies, 35 million books. Next spring, iTunes sales will surpass CD sales, so they're ditching the CD in the logo. They're adding album artwork to listview. If you have more than five songs from the same problem, they'll show you the album artwork using the space where they would have displayed the album title.
11:41 They're announcing a new feature called Ping. Steve says it's, "Facebook and Twitter meets iTunes. It's a social network all about music. You can follow your favorite artists and friends, and follow what music they're listening to." Ping will give you a custom top 10 chart comprised of all the stuff the people you're following are downloading. Posts from Lady Gaga show favourites songs, posts, music, shows. Now he's showing recent posts from friends, gigs he's going to, favorite songs. "Ping is for social music discovery." You can set yourself to "anyone can follow" or "I have to approve followers." There's also a 'circle of friends' option where you and ten friends can only follow each other. Over 17,000 concert listings and open to all users immediately.
11:46 Demo of Ping now, showing photos Jack Johnson posted from a tour he's on. Previewing a song his friend Eddie shared, which he can buy by clicking the buy button. Lists of concerts on the bottom right, and you can mark which one's you're going to.
11:49 Ping is available from iPod touch and iPhone too, so you can social network on the go. iTunes 10 is available today, for free from Apple.com. And we're done with iTunes! What next? C'mon, give us some iTV.
11:51 "We've got one more thing ... Actually, it's one more hobby." Steve is talking about how Apple TV hasn't really been a big hit in the last four years. "We talked to people who use Apple TVs and they love 'em! They use them a lot! So what have we learned in the last four years? The number 1, 2 and 3 things that they want is Hollywood movies and TV content. They also want everything in HD and they want lower prices. They don't want a computer on their TV -- they want to be entertained with their TV. They don't want to manage storage. When you buy a lot of stuff, you have to go into storage management. They don't want to sync to a computer. They want to pull content off it, they don't want to sync it. And, they want the hardware to be silent, cool and small." Sounds a LOT like streaming to us.
11:54 Introducing the new Apple TV. A quarter of the size of the old Apple TV and it fits in the palm of your hand. It's got a power supply built in, one HDMI port, Ethernet, and WiFi. It comes with a teeny remote too. It's all HD and they've gone to the rental model. "The prices are more affordable and there's no more storage problems."
11:55 You can stream stuff from your computer, including photo slideshows.
11:56 "iTunes has the largest library of HD movies in the world." $4.99 for first run movies, the day they come out on DVD. TV Shows used to be $2.99 to buy. Renting is now dropping to 99c. "Remember, these are commercial-free." Right now, they only have ABC and FOX. Steve is hoping the rest of them will have a change of heart when they see how popular it is.
11:58 You can also stream Netflix content, if you're a subscriber, and stream from YouTube. Again, streaming music, photos and videos.
11:59 The store shows Rotten Tomatoes ratings for movies as well as user ratings. TV shows are click-to-rent and you can start watching "within seconds."
12:00 We're getting a demo from Steve now. Slideshow, movie ratings, searching for movies with your favorite actor. You can rent a movie to watch later, or right away. Steve rented Iron Man 2 and he's skipping chapters and playing the movie for attendees. The quality is excellent from what we can see.
12:03 You can flag your favorite TV shows and it will show you how many new episodes have aired since you last watched. Steve is watching Glee now. "So that's TV shows. ... If you're a Netflix subscriber, you can get all this stuff for free. This is by far the best implementation of Netflix too."
12:05 So that's Apple TV. Now, back to AirPlay. "One of the things we can do with AirPlay is stream content from an iOS device to Apple TV." Steve is streaming Up from his iPad. All you do is select the AirPlay button, and select 'Apple TV living room' and watch it on TV. Also handy for showing iPhone photos as a slideshow on your Apple TV.
12:08 Content for Apple TV is available in US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Germany, and more countries will be added this year. The new Apple TV is available next month and costs $99.
12:09 Steve is recapping the whole show now. Looks like we might be done for the day. Steve is bringing out Coldplay's Chris Martin to entertain the masses. We're finished folks. Lots of smiling faces in the audience for Chris Martin who says the rest of the band were too lazy to come. "I'll just play one song and then you can ask for another one and another and we'll just keep going like that until you feel like lunch."