Sep 092008
Authors: Ryan Gibbons, Glen Pfieffer

After the Bloomberg financial newswire mistakenly released Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs’ 17-page pre-written obituary on August 27, Jobs walked on stage Tuesday at Apple’s “Let’s Rock” event and announced that “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”/

This annual event is undertaken to announce updated Apple products in preparation for the holiday season — who knows where the world would be if there weren’t a new iPod to buy at Christmas. An hour-long presentation about all that is new and cool followed the introduction, and we watched the whole thing so that our readers wouldn’t have to.

Products with major updates include the iPod Nano, iPod Touch and iTunes. While the 160-gigabyte iPod Classic has been discontinued due to low sales, the 80-gigabyte version is getting upped to 120 for the same price of $249./

The iPod Nano saw the most significant changes — namely, it is moving back to the long and thin style of the generation before last, instead of the now departed short and squat version./The Nano now officially holds the title of thinnest iPod to date. It will be sold in an eight-gigabyte version for $149 and a 16-gigabyte for $199. Did we mention it will come in eight colors, none of which are the pastel colors of previous Nano generations?

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the presentation was that the Nano will now have a built-in accelerometer — that motion-sensor thing in the iPhone/iPod Touch that allows the screen to reorient when you tilt it — so now you can easily flip it sideways to watch movies and T.V. shows on its two-inch widescreen display. In addition, you can set it to shuffle just by shaking it — a cool feature, but perhaps the end of wild dancing and iPod shaking as seen on those ubiquitous iPod commercials, lest your ‘Pod start shuffling uncontrollably. iTunes also received some fairly significant improvements, most notably the addition of Genius playlists. This new feature enables a user to select a song and with a click of the mouse have iTunes create a playlist consisting of similar songs.

However, the playlists are limited to your own music library, unlike the similar Pandora Internet Radio service that was featured in last week’s column. We’ve found the service to be fairly accurate and quite refreshing — amusing even, as we found out when it played Tenacious D’s “Tribute” on a playlist for the band Blur. Software updates will allow Genius playlists to be played on all iPods, new and old.

Apple was also able to coax NBC back to the iTunes Music Store, bringing shows like The Office and Heroes with them. For those of you who can’t watch a show unless it’s in crisp, mind-boggling high-resolution, the store now offers high-definition downloads of T.V. shows and movies viewable on your computer./

The user interface of iTunes saw some minor cosmetic changes — most notably a new visualizer, which gives the ending scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey a run for its money in terms of trippiness.

The iPod Touch, dubbed by Jobs as the “funnest iPod ever” due to the almost 700 games available to download, is now much cheaper. Starting price is $229 – compared to $299 before Tuesday – for the 8 gigabyte model, which now has a built-in speaker/and volume controls. /

Those of you with iPhones will be pleased to hear that Apple is releasing a software update this Friday that will address many issues that have plagued the phones for the past two months. The update/promises increased battery life, fewer dropped calls,/faster back-ups and less frequent application crashes./

Staff writers Glen Pfeiffer and Ryan Gibbons can be reached at

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