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Apple Announces Apple TV, Three New iPods Designs, Social Network in iTunes

Apple's event today packed plenty of surprises. If you missed our live blog, you can check it out here. But it's hump-day and we're all busy people so there's a condensed version below if you're short on time.

New iPods

The fall Apple event is always iPods and music orientated. Though this year did bring an Apple TV announcement (it's not called iTV), the biggest surprise still involved iPods, amazingly enough. This is because Apple decided to completely revamp the iPod line, introducing all new designs across the line.

The iPod shuffle is both regressing and progressing as Apple is bringing back the click-wheel from the second generation shuffle, but keeping the VoiceOver playlists that everyone loved about the third generation shuffle. It's teeny, holds 15 hours of battery and it comes in five colors. Available next week, it's got 2GB of storage and it costs $49.

The iPod nano also got a major redesign, despite the fact that it was updated last year. Apple ditched the video camera that they added just recently, completely took away the scrollwheel, made the screen smaller and added multitouch. It's now a tiny little cube with a multitouch display covering the front of the device. Steve and his friend's also added the clothes-clip that shuffle users will be familiar with. It's still got Nike+, an FM radio, a clock, etc, everything is just in a really small package. While the old iPod nano was supposed to be pretty good for watching videos (hence it's widescreen display), I can't imagine anyone but Thumbelina would want to watch video on this thing. Swipe to either side to reveal more menu items (playlists, artists, radio, Nike+), and use two fingers to rotate the screen. This has 24 hours of battery and comes in seven different colors. It sells for $149 for the 8GB version, $179 for the 16GB. Again, it'll be available from next week.

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Last in the line of iPods is the iPod touch. The touch went on a diet this summer and the new model is much skinnier and sleekier. Other than that, it's pretty much the same aesthetically. This generation comes with the iPhone's Retina display, offering 4X the number of pixels, the Apple A4 chip, 3-axis Gyro, iOS 4.1 and two cameras. The front-facing camera is for FaceTime, which allows users to video call with other iPhone and iPod touch owners. The back camera is capable of shooting HD video. Again, just like with the iPhone, you can edit and upload these videos directly from the iPod. It's got a 40 hour battery life and it's retailing for $229, $299, and $399 for the 8GB, 32GB and 64GB, respectively. Like the other two, it's also available next week.

iTunes

Steve Jobs also revealed some details about iTunes 10, which is available for download starting today. The biggest change in iTunes 10 is Ping, a new social networking service that allows you to follow updates from friends and favorite musicians. With Ping you can see your friends favorite music, gigs that bands you like are playing, and photos from various different artists. You can follow tons of people or just a few, and there's the option to have all your shared posts, songs, and photos visible to just a few people, or you can share with everyone.

Also added in to iTunes 10 is a space-saver that makes list-view look a little more colorful. If you have more than five songs from the same album, Apple will take the space from the repeated album name listing and use it to display that albums art work instead. For songs where you don't have the complete album, iTunes will still display the name of the album where it always has.

Apple also changed the logo of iTunes, ditching the CD and opting for a music note inside a blue circle.

Apple TV

This is the one a lot of people have been waiting for: A streaming TV service from Apple. Rumored to be called iTV, Apple has instead kept the Apple TV moniker and reinvented the old version. The company reduced the size of the device, so it's now 75 percent smaller, and a cool graphite color instead of the old brushed silver.

Portswise, it's got just three in the back: Power, HDMI and Ethernet. If you don't want to use Ethernet, it's also got built-in WiFi. To keep the price of content down, Apple is moving away from purchasing and towards rentals. Renting movies costs $4.99 for new movies on the day they're released on DVD. This price will drop as the movie gets older. Renting TV shows costs just 99c an episode. Apple has currently only partnered with ABC and Fox, but hopes that more networks will come onboard when they see how great the service is. In addition to renting, Netflix subscribers can stream content from the service like nobody's business. Steve Jobs called this, "the best implementation of Netflix yet." As for price, Appe is killing the old $299 price and replacing it with the much more wallet-friendly $99. The new Apple TV is available in four weeks time. 

iOS 4.2

Steve also briefly demonstrated iOS 4.2, which will focus completely on iPad. When it comes out in November, it will bring wireless printing; AirPlay, which allows users to stream photos, video or music to their Apple TV from their iPad or iPod; and of course, multitasking.

Check out the live blog for a more detailed run down of today's event!