Apple Announcements: iTunes 9, iPhone OS 3.1.1, new iPods, and More

In a moment greeted with much applause, Steve Jobs made his grand re-entry to the stage today, complete with glowing smile (and a brand new liver.)  What a great way to preface some fresh new announcements, eh?  Frankly, I'm not going to cover the minutiae of each and every announcement (you can follow a liveblog that covers EVERYTHING here) but rather, what I feel is most significant or that really stands out.

iTunes 9

Since it's the software I use for managing my music library, I'm always looking forward to iTunes updates.  I know I'm not the only one, as it's an incredibly popular software suite.  Notable in iTunes 9 are the new Genius playlists and Home Sharing, which allows you to "natively" share libraries across computers in your home network.  

iTunes Store

I personally consider this a "minor" update, since I don't ever use the iTunes Music Store... but it wouldn't be fair of me to not say anything about it, since it's so incredibly popular.  The interface of the store has been markedly improved and is much cleaner and easier to navigate.

In addition, Apple has added something called "iTunes LP" and "iTunes Extras."  Basically, this is analagous to buying a physical "album" complete with liner notes and extras, or a DVD with extra content or a bonus disc.  Props to Apple for offering this in digital form, but again, I don't really care.  This is a great feature if there's a band you're a huge fan of and crave this extra content, but I don't see it becoming an "everyday" thing for most iTMS users.

iPhone 3.1.1

In my opinion, this is a much bigger announcement - enhancing the functionality of the iPhone.  There are two main differences here.  The first is improved syncing.  They've really cleaned up the sync menus and expanded your available options, such as being able to sync individual artists under Music, or individual episodes of Podcasts.

Second, my favorite, is the ability to re-arrange your iPhone app panels right through iTunes.  A much needed feature.

New iPods

Apple also announced the third generation iPod Touch, 5th generation iPod nano, and new Classic and Shuffle models.  The Classic and Shuffle models didn't experience any truly exciting changes; the tweaks to the Touch are moderate, and the nano contains some interesting feature upgrades.

The new Touch models come in 16GB ($199), 32GB ($299), and 64GB ($399) sizes - with the latter two receiving a speed upgrade, courtesy of a new processor.  Meh, but for those looking to buy a Touch, certainly an improvement.

The nano is much more interesting.  Aside from a blindingly shiny new exterior, the biggest change here is the addition of a camera, which is capable of capturing video in 640x480 resolution.  With this, the nano is poised to directly compete with the Flip and other ultra-portable video recording devices, but admittedly with tons more features.  Apple has also added a pedometer (which will sync somehow with Nike+,) and the Voice Recorder from the iPhone.


All in all, this isn't, to me, a truly "riveting" announcement, but for avid users of the iTunes Music Store or for those who are looking to purchase a new iPod, it's great news.  I'll reserve my drooling frenzy for the netbook/tablet announcement... *holding breath*


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