Home It’s Only Rock and Roll: Steve Jobs is Back, iPhone 3.1, iTunes 9 & iPod Updates

It’s Only Rock and Roll: Steve Jobs is Back, iPhone 3.1, iTunes 9 & iPod Updates

Steve Jobs returned to a standing ovation at Apple’s annual iPod event today, where Apple introduced version 3.1 of the iPhone OS and the next version of iTunes. With iTunes 9, Apple introduces a Genius-like recommendation feature for apps and 30,000 premade ringtones for $1.29 in iTunes. Version 9 of iTunes has also seen a major redesign. The application and the iTunes store now look much cleaner. Apple also introduced ‘iTunes LPs‘ that will bring liner notes and artwork to digital albums (the much rumored ‘Cocktail‘ feature), as well as app management for the iPhone and iPod touch that is built in to iTunes.

iTunes 9: App Management, iTunes LPs, Extras

During the presentation, Jobs stressed that the Genius feature in iTunes will now be applied to other areas in iTunes. Jobs also announced that Apple has received over 27 million libraries from its users, each with about 2,000 songs. Building on top of this database, Apple is introducing ‘Genius mixes’ in iTunes 9. You can now basically create Pandora-like radio stations with the music you already own by giving iTunes a few songs or artists to start out with. Update: Looks like we misunderstood this feature at first. ‘Genius mixes’ are actually build automatically after Apple looks at your library. iTunes simply creates 12 Genius playlists based on the kind of music you have on your machine (Alternative Mix, Classic Rock Mix, etc.). Users can’t control these playlists or even see what song will play next.

The iTunes store is also getting a make-over, though the most important new feature here is that Apple is introducing ‘iTunes LPs’ – the much rumored ‘Cocktail’ feature that will bring artwork and liner notes and other ‘memorabilia’ back to digital music (as long you purchase it through iTunes, of course). The price of these digital LPs will be around $20. Apple is also extending this concept to movies and will bring DVD extras to movies in the iTunes store.

The store itself now looks a lot cleaner, and it does feature the rumored ability to send out tweets and Facebook status updates about songs.

We will have a closer look at the new iTunes and iPhone 3.1 update once Apple releases them later today.

Home Sharing

In addition, Apple announced that users can now share songs, movies, and TV shows with up to 5 authorized computers in a household. Apple always allowed users to share songs on a local network, but this new feature takes this a bit further as it also allows users to automatically transfer purchases between different computers on a home network.

Manage iPhone Apps in iTunes 9

iPhone and iPod touch users will also be happy to hear that iTunes now allows you to manage your apps directly in iTunes, making it far easier to arrange icons on the small screen than ever before. iTunes will now give you an overview of all the pages you have filled with apps on the iPhone and lets your reorganize those apps right from within iTunes. You can also move a complete page around.

iPhone Games

During the second part of the event, Apple gave iPhone and iPod game developers a chance to showcase a number of new games, including the upcoming iPhone version of Madden 2010, Riddim Ribbon (a new take on the Guitar Hero/Tap Tap Revenge music genre and maybe the most interesting game demoed today), Assassin’s Creed, and Nova, a new first-person shooter from Gameloft.

iPod News: Cheaper & Bigger

Schiller also announced new prices for the iPod touch: $199 for 8GB, $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 65GB). The 32GB and 64GB version of the touch will now also support OpenGL ES2.0, making games on the iPod a lot smoother. Apples says these iPods are now “50% faster.”

As for the iPod classic, the rumors of its demise came a bit too early. Instead of taking it out of Apple’s lineup, the classic now features a 160GB hard drive for $250.

The iPod shuffle will now also come in a 2GB version for $59 and Apple introduced a special edition (with 4GB of memory) that is made out of polished stainless steel for $99.

iPod Nano Now With Video Camera

The iPod nano will now get a video camera  – the other iPods, despite all the rumors, will not. Apple also built an FM radio and a pedometer right into the nano, which will also now sport a slightly larger display (2.2 inches). In addition, the nano now has a built-in microphone and speaker. These new iPod nanos will retail for $149 with 8GB of memory and $179 with 16GB.

Maybe the rumors about the delayed cameras for the rest of the iPod lineup were indeed true. It seems odd that Apple would only introduce this feature in the nano.

Tip of the hat to the team at GDGT for providing the best live coverage of the event today!

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