At a media briefing in San Francisco today Steve Jobs took the stage to unveil what he claims is "the biggest change in the iPod lineup ever." Most notably, Apple added a front-facing camera and FaceTime to the iPod touch, as well as the stunning 'Retina Display' from the iPhone 4, an Apple A4 core, rear camera with HD video, 3-axis gyroscope, and Game Center support for multi-player gaming. Quite a hefty refresh which essentially makes this an iPhone without 3G calls or contracts, available next week in three versions: $229 for 8GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB.
On the other side of the spectrum Jobs introduced a $49 2GB iPod shuffle model that brings back buttons and includes popular features such as voice over, playlists, and genius mixes. A completely new iPod nano eliminates the click wheel and instead features a tiny screen and multi-touch user interface. Users can swipe through or tap on app icons to navigate music playlists, artists and Genius mixes. It also has Nike+ and a pedometer, FM radio, "Shake to Shuffle" and is wearable with a clip. It will be available in six colors and two capacities: $149 for the 8GB unit and $169 for the 16GB.
On the software front, besides quickly sharing some statistics and highlighting the latest iOS 4.1 release, slated for next week, Jobs took an unusual step by pre-announcing the next version of Apple's mobile platform which he pledged would "be all about iPad" when it ships in November. Key features of iOS 4.2 include wireless printing, AirPlay (the new name for AirTunes), and audio, video, and photo streaming to other devices via Wi-Fi. Apple also introduced iTunes 10 and a new music-focused social network built into it called "Ping" -- according to Jobs it's Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes.
Last but certainly not least, Apple also announced 99-cent rentals of 720p high-definition TV shows through iTunes (initially from ABC and Fox) and a new version of its Apple TV hobby device to boot. Jobs acknowledged that the latter hasn't been a huge hit with customers, but he's hoping that will change with the latest refresh. As expected, the Apple TV (no name change) is now a streaming-focused device with Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, and Mobile Me integration. It has HDMI, Ethernet, optical audio, and USB plugs around back, as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi and an all-time low $99 price tag.