Apple Special Event - everything you need to know

An Apple Special Event is always one of the biggest dates in the tech world calendar and, this week, Steve Jobs did not disappoint. Along with an entirely new lineup of iPods, he also unveiled a revamped version of Apple TV, along with iTunes 10, which includes a social network to rival MySpace. He also announced iOS 4.1 and even gave a sneak preview of iOS 4.2. Read on for a bite-size roundup of all the latest Apple news.

iOS 4.1 and 4.2

Due to land next week, this free software update boasts three major draws. HDR Photos takes three photos simultaneously, an over-exposed one, an under-exposed one and a normal one. It then combines them and gives you the option of which looks best. HD Video uploading has been introduced so that 720p footage can be uploaded automatically - a task that was not possible using the older software. Lastly, the Games Center social gaming platform has been taken out of its development stage and shown the limelight.

Attendees at the Apple event in San Francisco were also treated to a sneaky peek at iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPhone and iPod, which is due to land in November. iPad owners will get "everything for iPad", meaning that they'll have access to some of the features that were introduced with iOS 4, such as the ability to create folders. Additional features include wireless printing and AirPlay - an updated version of AirTunes which enables streaming of music, video and photos over Wi-Fi.

 

iPod Shuffle

Reports of the Shuffle's death have been greatly exaggerated, it seems, with the diminutive music player living to fight another day. A hybrid between the previous two incarnations, the new iPod Shuffle now has buttons again, along with a clickwheel and there's a handy clip to attach it to your jacket or bag or wherever else takes your fancy. It still includes playlists, with the added bonus of Genius and it offers 15 hours of playback. There are five different colours available and it's priced at £39 for 2GB from next week.

iPod nano

The new nano looks considerably different thanks to a design overhaul which has added a touchscreen and made it 46 per cent smaller than the previous model. The square device has a clip on the back to make it just as portable as the Shuffle, and it also includes an FM radio and a clock, as well as a pedometer for sporty types. It's available in grey, pink, blue, green and orange and it'll set you back £129 for the 8GB model and £159 for the 16GB version.

Read our Apple iPod nano - First Look review.

 

iPod touch

We all knew it was coming, but that doesn't make the inclusion of FaceTime on the new iPod touch any less exciting. Benefiting from the new iOS 4.1 software, the device is equipped with a front facing camera for FaceTime calling, along with a camera that's capable of filming HD videos. The new iPod touch also sports a slimmed down design along with the same Retina Display as the iPhone 4, along with the same A4 chip and 3-axis gyroscope. Offering 40 hours of audio playback time, the new model is available in three sizes - 8GB (£189), 32GB (£249) and 64GB (£329).

Read our Apple iPod touch 4G - First Look review.

 

iTunes 10

The latest version of Apple's downloadable iTunes software has several clever new features. It was only a matter of time before Apple got in on the social networking action, which appears on iTunes 10 in the form of Ping. Using the new feature, you can follow artists and friends and see what music your friends are listening to and then buy it for yourself, assuming that your friends have decent taste in music, that is. It also tells your friends whenever you buy a new song so that they can benefit in the same way.

If you're in the US, then you'll be able to rent HD TV shows for 99c, which you can then watch on your computer, iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. You get the programme for 30 days from the time you rent it and you have 48 hours to watch it. No news on UK availability yet.

Another new feature is AirPlay - an updated version of Air Tunes - which lets you stream music through your house wirelessly. The idea is that the new technology will be built into devices such as AV receivers and speaker docks. No products have been announced yet, but brands said to be signed up include Denon, Marantz, B&W, JBL and iHome.The new version of iTunes also includes support for the revamped Apple TV along with a new capacity bar that keeps you updated on your storage details in real time.

iTunes 10: What's new detailed and explained

 

Apple TV

It's been around for a few years now, but hasn't really seen the same amount of success enjoyed by some of the brand's other products. That could be about to change with the revamped version of Apple TV, which is a quarter of the size of the original device and designed to stream all content in HD (where possible). It's equipped with just five ports - HDMI, mini-USB, power, optical audio and Ethernet - and is also Wi-Fi enabled. You can rent HD movies for £4.49 and TV shows for 99c (only available in the US at present). Presently Fox and ABC are involved, but Jobs said that he hopes that others would be on board soon. Netflix subscribers will be able to stream Netflix films for free, while users will also have access to YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe. What's more, you can stream films from your computer or other Apple devices. It should be out by the end of September, priced at £99.