Remember the iPod? Apple hopes you do. The company is updating its iPod Touch music player for the first time in nearly three years in an attempt to make the device an essential offering again. Apple also updated the $149 iPod Nano, which now has 16 GB of memory, and the $49 iPod Shuffle, with 2 GB.
The new Touch does more than play music, according to Apple. The updated model has a faster processor and superior cameras, as well as a software update that lets users get Apple Music, the two-week-old service that offers unlimited playback of millions of songs.
With the same operating system (iOS 8.4) and many of the same apps, the new iPod Touch could be called an iPhone without the phone part. (The device can make FaceTime video conference calls with the help of a Wi-Fi connection.) Apple seems to be betting that the new device, which starts at $199, will appeal to young users who either don’t need cell phones or don’t have access to cell service.
The processor in the new iPod Touch is the same Apple-designed A8 chip in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. According to Apple, the new chip is six times faster for general tasks and 10 times faster for graphics. The company also said that the rear camera can take sharper pictures, at 8 megapixels. That matches recent iPhones and is superior to the 5 megapixels in the previous Touch.
The front and rear cameras in the new model can take 10 shots per second and shoot slow-motion video at 120 frames per second. The iSight and FaceTime HD cameras enable slo-mo and burst mode. However, the device still sports a 4-inch diagonal screen, as opposed to the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch diameter screens found on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, respectively.
The A8 chip also allows users to play immersive games for hours at a stretch while preserving battery life. The iPod’s Retina display and access to gaming titles are further enhanced with graphics performance and thousands of Metal-optimized games, according to Apple.
Past Its Prime?
The revamped Touch comes at a time when iPod sales have slowed. In the July-September quarter last year, the most recent period for which figures are available, the company sold 2.6 million iPods -- down 24 percent from the previous year, and a negligible amount compared to the 39 million iPhones sold in the same quarter.
"IPod has passed its prime time as a portable music jukebox and Apple knew it," Harry Wang, health & mobile product research director at Parks Associates told us. "iPod sales have declined substantially since 2011 as consumers have shifted music consumption habits from download to streaming. This may be the last refresh for this iconic product before we see it fade into history."
The new iPod Touch comes in space gray, silver, gold, pink and blue, and starts at $199 for the 16 GB model, $249 for 32 GB and $299 for 64 GB.
Image credit: Product shots by Apple.