Today Apple held its media event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and unveiled its work in significantly evolving a number of its mobile and media products. I had a chance to see it all first hand and spend some hands-on time with the fruits of the company's recent labor.

The announcement that is likely of the most interest to our readers is the arrival of the new iPod touch, thinner than ever and featuring the same razor-sharp Retina display used in the iPhone 4. (And, holding the new device in my hand, I can confirm that the screen is every bit as sharp as that of the iPhone 4.) The upgraded device is, indeed, basically "an iPhone 4 -- without the phone," with a few exceptions. It utilizes the same A4 processor used in the iPhone 4 and the iPad, and features integrated gyroscopes for added in-game control precision. It has front- and back-facing cameras, as well, allowing FaceTime video chats. But the rear-facing camera offers a relatively low 960x720 pixel resolution, as compared to 2592x1936 pixels on the iPhone 4. That means it produces photos that are only 14% the size of those taken with big brother iPhone 4.

But, we're gamers here! And in that capacity, the new iPod touch is a golden mobile gaming device. During today's event, Steve Jobs indicated that the iPod touch is presently the #1 selling mobile game device, outselling Sony and Nintendo's devices, combined. He revealed that 1.5 billion entertainment and game app downloads have passed out of the App Store. With the dramatic enhancements on most every front that the new iPod touch puts in the hands of gamers, we don't expect the touch to give up the crown anytime soon.

Another big announcement that Steve had in store is the reinvented Apple TV. No longer a scolding-hot slab of metal and plastic with the footprint of a Mac mini, the new Apple TV is a quarter the size of its predecessor, shrouded in black plastic, and cool to the touch.

This time around, Apple dispensed with local media storage and has positioned the new unit as a video streaming device, built on a video rental model. First-run HD movies can be rented at $4.99 per, with HD TV shows available at $.99 an episode -- all HD. Netflix streaming is integrated, as well. And all of the local media sharing capabilities of the original device (tying to computers in your home for media display on TV) are preserved, with the notable addition of media streaming from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. And all that, which I can confirm fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, can be had for just $99.

The new Apple TV should be of particular interest to our readers for another reason -- it's based on Apple's A4 processor. Intel is not inside, this time around. Given that, it's clear that the new device is based on some form of OS X for the ARM processor. Apple isn't calling it iOS but, if it's not iOS proper, it's something extremely close. But, likely, it actually is iOS under the hood. Daring Fireball's John Gruber recently lent strong confirmation of that, as well.

And if, indeed, the new Apple TV is an iOS device, is there an App Store in its future? Let's hope so...

Apple also showed a new iPod shuffle which, happily, brings back the buttons of the previous versions and also demonstrated the new iPod nano. The nano is about the size of the shuffle, but features a multitouch display and a user interface styled after iOS (though it's not iOS-based). It's a pretty amazing device to play with, extremely light, small, and functional. It's not improvements all around with this one, though; the new nano lacks video recording as well as playback capabilities. It seems Apple's decided that's functionality to be found only in the iPhone and iPod touch.

On the software front, Apple has released iTunes 10 (available now), which offers several interface improvements as well as Ping, a new social network of sorts that allows iTunes users to follow one another and share news of what they're listening to online. Facebook integration is in place as well. iOS 4.1 will be released next week and will include a number of new features including the launch of Game Center -- Apple's leaderboard network. Other improvements include bug fixes, and performance enhancements for 3G owners. iOS 4.2 was also previewed which will finally bring OS 4 to the iPad and is due in November.

It's clear from today's event that Apple has been keeping a laser focus on the areas that have become its clear domain: media and mobile.

  • Blinky McWeird

    Shuffle: terrible. Much bigger physical size, and seems to have lost the 4GB capacity, with 2GB the only one now available. Best thing you can say is that the current one might come down in price.

    Nano: bad. Thicker, no video camera, won't fit in most docks, no video playback, a high price to pay for a touch screen.

    Touch: so-so. Retina display good, new processor good. No word on whether the battery life and RAM size will be improved to iPhone levels. Really, really disappointing camera. Didn't need to be any thinner

    • SalsaMD

      Did anyone with an iphone ever use the camera or video playback on the last generation nano?

      • Yrogerg212

        My friend has one and having no Internet capabilities, the video camera is pretty much useless. Its too much of a hassle plugging into the computer every time you want to do something with a video. He never used it. I, for one, will be buying a new nano for the gym to use only as an iPod... Duh.

      • LazyDay

        I used video playback all the time on mine. It's not as bad as you might think and it's great for long trips on the plane or train, especially since the battery lasts a lot longer than the iPhone. You don't want to watch Inception on it, but if it's loaded up with TV shows or even better, animation it's not bad at all.

        The camera, yeah, I always said I'd use it and never did. But I think the loss of video playback kinda sucks. Ah well, my old one still works at least.

      • Adams Immersive

        They may not be useful for someone WITH an iPhone, but for someone without, the video features nice—for some people (I bet most don’t use them often).

        But not as nice as the clippable size, maybe!

  • Brandon

    and iTunes 10 is sadly not available "now" but will probably be tonight at 12 or something...

    Makes me wonder if Steve just got the iTunes "available today" comment out of thin air, and all of the tech guys started sweating...

  • Noman

    Shuffle: Poor. It doesn't need buttons and it got bigger.

    Nano: So-so. It's smaller and has a clip but the touchscreen is just a gimmick and will not work well.

    Touch: Good. A4 chip, retina display, 2 new camera's, much lighter and thinner. The time has come for us old 8gb 2nd gen users to upgrade.

  • Trev

    I'm really glad they went back to the old shuffle design. I much prefer having buttons so that I can skip around to songs that I actually want to listen to.

    • Blinky McWeird

      Why do you have songs you don't want to listen to on your MP3 player?

  • Teddy

    It's no surprise that the iPhone 4 is better than the Touch (much better camera, better display, GPS, etc.) Sure it's fine for gaming, but so was the 3rd Gen Touch that I happen to own.

    • rev

      Better display? How do you know?

      • MidianGTX

        Easy, the High Reverend of Bullville told him.

  • dumas1000

    The extra gigs would be nice. I'm out of space. Music and apps combined for me far surpasses the previous 32GB threshold. However, I own an iphone 4, and iphone 3G, and a 3rd generation ipod touch. No way I would purchase this. Like many, I was disappointed with the 32GB cap on the iphone 4, but I'll deal with it. Plus, the piss-poor battery on the 3rd generation ipod touch is an utter embarassment. I couldn't possible have faith that the 4th generation ipod touch will provide significantly better results.

  • Lildave213

    Hey guys I'm wondering if I get my hands on an iPhone without contract or anything, would I still be able to use it over wifi as an itouch??

    • gootch

      Yes. No problem. 100 percent.

      • lildave213

        would i still be able to play games and have music too?

      • Guillaume

        If you don't have a contract, the only thing you cannot do is use the phone network (for data or voice). Anything else is still available. That includes the camera, video, games, applications and WiFi.

    • Blinky McWeird

      Where do you live? In the UK it's perfectly possible to use the iPhone as a phone on a pay-as-you-go basis with no contract.

  • tora

    dissapointed that there's no any announcement whatsoever for ipad. I've been holding out too long until they come up with the inevitable retina display and front facing camera..

    I just too conscious to get burned getting the 1st gen model from apple. Seen it before hand with my own eyes all those who gotten it, in just under 1 1/2 years their product gotten obsolete (my brother in law esp).

    so sad that now I am not sure what to spend my money on. New ipod touch looks good but I just got the 3rd gen last year and it's still far from obsolete IMO. iPhone 4 unlock is abt 80% of my budget and I need to buy a new headset, camera lenses, and something.

    any advice? >.<

    • Yrogerg212

      Wait... you seriously thought Apple would announce a new iPad 6 months after the first one was released? That would be ridiculous even by Apple terms. No one would kill the momentum they had with sales of a product like the iPad that quickly. iPads are still selling like hotcakes, my friend. Wait for next April if you must.

      • tora

        So do you think that it's still safe to buy ipad now instead of waiting until next year? I just dislike something I bought to be obsolete so quickly..

  • Lildave213

    Anyone care to answer my question pleeez :)

  • BDLatimer

    Apple TV is "No longer a scolding-hot slab of metal and plastic"? Perhaps you meant "scAlding", Blake?

    • bigred447uk

      I am so sick of people like you pedantically pointing out every typo or mistake in grammar. Get a life !

  • spiffyone

    seriously...we could've had Apple TV specific games...in true HD. Throw in a accelerometer and touch remote interface (think a cross between the Wiimote and Magic Mouse...or better yet a miniature trackpad with motion sensing capabilities) and we might've had something to be REALLY excited about. Apple TV could be something stellar...if Steve Jobs would just think about opening it up more as a standalone device with it's own App Store. Can't be standalone if it's all streaming...unless Apple buys one of those streaming game companies.... Hmmmm....

    • spiffyone

      Um...why was my last comment deleted? Odd that anything that MIGHT be construed as SLIGHT criticism against Apple is deleted.

      Here is the gist of what I wrote earlier: Apple should have left some amount of internal save space in the AppleTV. Now it's all about streaming, which is all fine and nice, but without internal save space (whether an HDD or SDD) the potential to have another pillar of the App Store, one not only for current iPhone/touch and iPad apps but also for exclusive AppleTV apps, is all but lost. Yes, Apple can add an external HDD or SDD later on for that, but as with all add ons it wouldn't get the type of market penetration that a built in solution would have.

      What part of that needed "mod justice"? Honestly....

  • chris

    well jobs next time go thicker, larger battery, better cameras.. not thinner.. damn.. i was excited till i just read this.. i see why he did not go into detail on the camera.. is this the camera the first iphone had? i think i will just get a 34gig ipod was gonna get the 64gig but man i aint gonna put a extra 100.00 into jobs pocket..

    thats to bad about the camera.. i was hoping it be good enough to use the barcode scanner apps.

    chris.

  • araczynski

    after enjoying my ipad gaming so much, i haven't spent much time with my itouch, nor do i feel absolutely any desire to buy another itouch, at least not until they get bigger than 64gb in storage, so i can have both my games AND my music on one stupid device.

  • fredostarr

    Boy you guys are some whining, complainers. Everybody above reminds me of my 4 year old kids. Cry, Whine while missing the whole point.

    I have a Iphone 3gs. I'm canceling my contract and I'm buying the new Touch 4. It's gorgeous, retina display, microphone, facetime. GPS i rarely used on my Iphone 3gs and I'm not a professional photographer so i dont care if the photos will be 14% the size of the Iphone 4 photos. 720 HD VIDEO is what I need and it looks flawless on the new IPOD TOUCH.

    Steve Jobs has done it again. IPOD TOUCH with the biggest upgrade EVER.

    • Xerito

      Amen to that my friend :D

    • Blinky McWeird

      Thanks for that, Apple PR Drone!

    • Soupbandit

      Add in better graphics, physical buttons , 3D without glasses , RE and FF9 remake and i might consider this over 3ds :D

  • Mister Mumbles

    "And if, indeed, the new Apple TV is an iOS device, is there an App Store in its future? Let's hope so…"

    That after saying it doesn't come with any kind of media storage (option). Yeeeaaah....

    The new Nano seems like an odd design decision to me. A teeny, tiny touch screen? It just sounds awkward to me. I shall give it a try whenever our local Apple retailer will have some demo units available.

    The Touch update is nice, although it's pretty much as expected. I actually was surprised to learn about the newly included cameras. Too bad they're so low in resolution.

  • psyc

    No white iphone 4? Thanks Apple.

    • Jon b

      poor baby.

  • Chocolate

    I ordered a 64GB Touch 4 today.

    It looks amazing, and I'm looking forward to it. I sold my 3rd gen Touch over the summer so I'm all set. :-)

    • justpassingby

      you're lucky my friend .... in my country i have to wait 3-4 months to get it shipped :(

  • MrMuesli

    I have to echo the sentiments of most here. The camera is really disappointing. 0.7 megapixels? Really?? As this was the only reason to up-grade for me I'll be sticking with my 3rd gen for now and lugging my compact camera around. Makes more sense.

    • Imtouched

      For heavens sake, who needs video chat on an iPod Touch without mobile internet? Pretty lame, Apple. Keep your toy camera and give me a 3G option instead. That would have been a big step for online gaming and browsing, and an instabuy for me. As it is, I'll happily stick with my iPod 2G for another year. Conclusion: another so-so iDevice, as was to be expected.

  • Ultimate Zohan

    sorry noob.

    but can a 0.7 megapixel camera shoot HD videos?

  • fredostarr

    The ITouch 4 and The Iphone 4 both have resolutions of 960x640 the highest resolutions screens on the market. So yes they both can shoot HD video very easily. Megapixels has nothing to do with picture quality. It only affects the size of the picture.

    For all you that want a professional camera, go buy a 32xOptical lens one..or go buy and IPHONE 4 unlocked for 600 BUCKS and shut UP. THE I TOUCH 4 is a MP3 PLAYER first, that blows away any other mp3 players features on the market out the water. The IPOD TOUCH 3g DIDNT have any cameras added at all and SOLD out like hotcakes. I think Apple added to many features of the Iphone 4 into the IPOD TOUCH 4 as it is. It's literally Incredible. I'M buying 2 of these things.

    Again, stop whining. If you don't like the most gorgeous feature filled MP3 player on the market "THE NEW IPOD TOUCH 4" then dont buy IT. Don't worry, the millions of people around the world on pre-orders alone will buy yours for you.

    • MrMuesli

      These sorts of 'accusations of whining' posts make me cringe. I don't want a professional camera. I was hoping for a camera that reflects what all bog standard mobile phones these days are equipped with. But its no biggy, I can live without an iPod Touch 4.

    • Blinky McWeird

      Posts like this make me want to smash my iPhone 4 with a brick so that I don't have anything in common with idiots like you.

    • Snipyro

      Agreed. Apple fanboys who complain about the whiners and refuse to see any fault with the iTouch are just as bad. I love the iTouch 4G, and I wouldn't really use the camera either. But honestly if Apple's going to put a camera in, at least make it a reasonable one, not an obsolete one outdated 5 years ago.

      • Soupbandit

        The better camera comes in Ipod Touch 5 of course

  • RogerThat

    Does the touch have a microphone? Facetime without a microphone would suck literally. Only feature missing in this new Touch is GPS (and microphone if missing).

  • Howard

    RogerThat: yes, the touch has microphone capability. You need to get a headset with microphone and earphone together. This is admittedly not well publicised. Even current touches can therefore be used as mobile phones via wifi.

    I'm dissappointed by the Apple TV. Really it is more of the same and Apple has to compete with cable companies and others like Roku. If they had produced an iOS device capable of playing games, that would have been a powerful games system. Many games use a virtual D pad, so just have an actual D-pad which maps to certain hotspots on the screen. For arbitrary screen tapping, use a laptop-style trackpad.

    With this Apple TV, Apple is beholding to TV companies for the content. TV companies have competing products and could pull the plug any time. If they allowed access to the App Store, that's Apple's own content (shared with developers who are not going to pull the plug)

    • spiffyone

      EXACTLY.

      Apple still doesn't "get it" with regards to the potential for AppleTV. To be fair they are closer to where they need to be on it by basing it on iOS and using iPhone/touch/iPad tech, but removing internal save space has shortchanged what could've been another pillar of the app store with exclusive content. Maybe they fear it horning in on Mac Mini sales or something, but even that doesn't make much sense. Give it a drive (say, 64GB of SDD space, or a larger capacity HDD); the price wouldn't have been much more, and the capabilities that would open up via the App Store would've made it worth the price.

      Missed opportunity on Apple's part...again.

  • Ginger Yellow

    I wish Apple would drop their obsession with thinness and just make the battery bigger. Battery life on the 3rd Gen Touch during gaming is atrocious - less than a PSP even on undemanding games, while a DS will run 10 times as long. It's fine for music and, bizarrely, video, but if they want to be serious about games they have to boost the battery.

    • Sera

      hell yes!

    • Blinky McWeird

      The iPhone 4's battery lasts almost three times as long for gaming as my 3rd-gen Touch (over five and a half hours compared to about two hours), so there's at least some grounds for hope that the Touch 4 including the A4 processor will boost battery life a fair bit.

  • NJD

    The only thing I am disappointed about is that the touch does not have a FM radio. I had hoped they would match the zune HD and put in an HD radio. Why put in an FM radio in the nano, but not in the touch?

    • Phosphorus

      The iPod Touch has an FM radio. The wireless chip supports FM but apple hasn't turned it on yet. Maybe in a future update?

  • Sam

    Does the touch have a built i microphone now? There was no mention of it but it seems silly to have face time and no mic.

  • http://ifonekit.com bomber

    It seems Game Center is enabled again for iPod Touch 2G / 3G 8GByte in the latest 4.1 build :)

  • Sera

    QUESTION:
    iPod Touch 4 with FaceTime, but without a microphone?
    sense?

    • Sera

      found it
      has a mic

    • Howard

      MY understanding is it doesn't have a built in microphone but you can attach an external one to the earphone socket:

      see the picture here
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipod_touch#Third-party_applications

      • MrMuesli

        Hmm, this iPod Touch seems less and less interesting now. No mic, toy camera, and I also notice on that link that if you want it to sync to your computer you will need at least OS 10.5.8 : (

  • Soupbandit

    Well this was a letdown, hopefully sony will do a better job with their playstation phone in november ;P

  • fredostarr

    The ipod touch 4 has a built in mic on the back genius.. How do you think Facetime calls work??? With sign language???

  • Amil

    Ipod touch 4 >>>>>>>has a microphone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!