back to article New iPod crew: 'Phoney, futuristic, retro, doomed'

Apple has revamped three quarters of its iPod line. Or, more accurately, it upgraded one quarter, redesigned another, took a step back in time with a third, and left the final, not-even-mentioned quarter alone. iPod touch The flagship of the iPod line, the iPod touch, is often derided as being merely an iPhone without the phone …

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Happy

Umm.. half priced iPhone 4

As my 1st gen ipod touch has served me so faithfully for the last 2-3 years, it didn't take much deciding to shell out for one of the new iPod Touchés.

I've been waiting for my half price iPhone 4 without-the-phone for a while now.

Wonder where apple put the arial on the new ipod ^^

Epic Citadel here i come... ...in 5-7 business days.

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Pint

Get a version 3 from Walmart

Walmart is selling version 3's for 99 bucks.

Add the OS upgrade, hen you have a cell that is better than V4 and even makes calls..

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Epic Citadel

Epic Citadel actually looks really really nice.

Mmm. Going to have to have a good play with that when I get home...

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Re: Epic Citadel

Its pretty jaw dropping. On a 3GS it actually looks better than a lot of PC games (World of Warcraft for one). It had the occasional frame skip but when your looking across that vista of an entire castle, mountain and village i think i'll forgive them :)

If anyone is confused, Epic Citadel is a tech demo derrived from "Sword Project" that epic games demoed int he media event. Its based on a derivative on the Unreal 3 engine and epic was pretty vocal about licensing it to developers was their main goal.

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iTouch 1st gen

Like yourself my 1st gen touch is still going strong and I'm not tempted to replace it for some time yet.

I rarely put any apps on it, rarely connect it to wifi so I'm not missing out on much there - tend to use it for audio and the occasional movie and thats about it.

For everything else there's the blackberry... yep, I'm one of those who still doesn't like the idea of mixing phone and media into one device...

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rear camera

Steve only mentioned HD video. Nothing about photos on the iPod Touch.

My guess is that it's like the camera on the old nano

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Silver badge

It seems to take 720p resolution photos

My guess: apps uploaded to the App Store contain a list of flags that dictate which bits of hardware they require to work. One such flag is 'device has a stills camera', another is 'device has a movie camera'. There is no 'device has any camera whatsoever', so if the iPod Touch had become the first iOS device with a movie camera but not a stills camera then Apple would have pushed developers of apps that just need a camera preview (eg, those augmented reality apps that bloggers love) into an extremely tenuous position.

I guess it may also be to do with lower level software implementation issues, especially given that Apple seem to have a lot of difficulty finishing versions of iOS nowadays. There was a prominent section of the keynote dedicated essentially to "we are still going to update the iPad's version of the OS at some point, honest".

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Thumb Up

Bravo for the back to the future iPod Shuffle

The 2nd gen iPod Shuffle was absolutely perfect for me, until I accidentally put it in the washing machine and it decided (quite reasonably) that it would no longer work.

I could never quite fathom why on earth Apple had to dick around and withdraw it in favour of the inferior 3rd gen Shuffle, so I'm very pleased that they've seen sense and are basically going back to the great clip-on design of the 2nd gen with the new 4th gen model. I only hope that it's got a standard headphone jack - if not, I withdraw everything I said!

And please Apple, don't stop making it again in the future - an itsy bitsy audio player that's great for sticking in one's pocket or taking for a run is just what many of us want, and the iPod Shuffle 2nd gen did it fantastically (and hopefully the 4th gen will do so too).

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Joke

Re: Bravo for the back to the future iPod Shuffle

In the words of Steve: There is no washing machine...

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Or,

You could go to Tesco and get a £10 clip on MP3 player which does the same job.

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Physical buttons and Accessibility

2nd generation iPod shuffle remains a great design, with the built-in clip, physical buttons you can operate with your hand in your pocket, and the user's own choice of headphones, so I too am pleased to see the design return.

Having the controls on the headphone cable was just stupid, and an lousy excuse to charge exorbitant prices for mediocre headphones. My guess is that Apple noticed a drop in sales when they switched to the 3rd generation.

In my case, I have a multihandicapped daughter who loves music and loves pressing buttons. She has cortically impaired vision. She has a 2nd Generation iPod shuffle plugged into a cheap-as-chips portable handheld amplifier. We've tried her with touchscreens, but her vision is really not good enough. She needs to FEEL the buttons.

So... now I know what she will be getting for christmas - especially if belkin or some such produce a little handheld amp with a neat housing for the new shuffle. The shuffle is cheap enough that we can have several of the things about the house, and she can switch to another one when she wants to hear another playlist.

I often prefer to operate devices in the dark, in my pocket or whatever, without using my eyes. A physical button is still more 'sound' feedback for the fingertips than a short vibration (which affects the whole hand). If they can localise the vibrations on the screen somehow, we might be getting somewhere, but for now...

Touchscreens are an accessibility nightmare for anyone with partial sight or any kind of blindness.

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Happy

Looks like Apple is after never ending subscriptions - leasing next?

I would have thought people would want to archive some movies yet A-TV is suggesting they want to use a subscription based system.

Leasing players and other things would fit in to this Apple concept.

Personally I will stick to my library of audio so I have a one-time charge and the ability to play in anywhere, any time.

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What?

The touch starts at 8gb still? Shouldn't the base model be up to 16gb by now?

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Unhappy

All these little fire bombs

What concerns me id the safety of all these powerful batteries that have an unfortunate history of turning in Apple stuff.

Some Apples have also exploded.

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Gold badge

All devices have powerful batteries

Batteries aren't made by Apple, they are made by suppliers. These suppliers also supply other tech companies.

Garmin have recently recalled some Sat Navs as they were at risk of exploding.

https://my.garmin.com/rma/recallLanding.faces

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Jobs Horns

Vendors responsible for their products

If you buy a Ford car with a subassembly made by a third party your recourse would be against Ford.

Likewise, id Apple, or any other vendor, chooses to use designs that are buggy/cheap they get to pick up the bill.

Apple, in my experience, has always tried to dumb things down minimixing costs and quality which has cost some people injury and minor fires. Using these custom connectors lets Apple remain a sole source supplier, read monopoly, and they ae priced accordingly.

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WTF?

Re: "Batteries aren't made by Apple, they are made by suppliers."

Yeah, 'cos nothing that Apple makes EVER goes wrong or breaks.

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Jobs Horns

That's because nothing's made by Apple

apart from the OS (the hard-to-get-right-bits for which are taken from Unix anyway), Apple don't make anything. iPhones, for example, are assembled by the few Foxconn employees who haven't killed themselves or succumbed to a horrible poisoning yet.

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Stop

In fairness to Apple...

AC wrote: "apart from the OS (the hard-to-get-right-bits for which are taken from Unix anyway), Apple don't make anything. iPhones, for example, are assembled by the few Foxconn employees who haven't killed themselves or succumbed to a horrible poisoning yet."

They have a pretty good iphone/ipod touch UI which they just may have developed in-house. It is, unfortunately, one of the best I've ever used on a portable device. I really would like to see an open platform built to this calibre with just as slick a UI.

Android and Maemo5/N900 just don't quite come close, imho, but maybe this will come in time.

And nope, I've not caved in and bought a jesusphone yet for objections I have repeatedly mentioned before. I took stock recenlty of the competition, however, and I still feel it ain't quite there yet. So I still wield my old trusty nokia.

(And... you got to ask yourselves where competing products are manufactured anyways...)

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@Tempest

"Apple, in my experience, has always tried to dumb things down minimixing costs and quality which has cost some people injury and minor fires."

So you have first hand experience of this do you?

"Using these custom connectors lets Apple remain a sole source supplier, read monopoly, and they ae priced accordingly."

The connectors will connect to any computer (or other device) with a USB port...

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FAIL

RE: Vendors responsible for their products...

So we're back to this? They are the sole manufacturer of a device, much as Sony are the sole manufacturer of the PS3. That isn't a monopoly and has nothing to do with Apples pricing structure.

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Happy

3axis accelerometer?

The first never-get-lost Ipod?*

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re Megapixels on camera

Possibly they have finally realised that posing a 10mega pixel picture is a waste of time for what most of their users do with it. They either view it on screen or post it to facebook etc where the 0.7MP is more than adequate and because of the technology of image sensors should give a vastly superior picture.

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It is about design

It was a pretty clear trade-off between thinness and pixels.

For the third Generation iPod touch last year, Apple wanted to put a camera in - rumours and leaks said this, third party case designers produced case designs with holes in them, prototypes with cameras have briefly appeared on eBay and there is an empty space inside the iPod where the camera was supposed to go. However, Apple pulled it at the last minute because they simply couldn't get an adequate camera into a space that thin. (By their nature, cameras are reasonably thick. You can compensate for a smaller focal length by having a smaller sensor, and that means either smaller pixels or fewer of them. Larger pixels are better pixels, generally).

This year, the iPod is even thinner, so getting a camera in was undoubtedly again a challenge. My guess is that the 0.7MP camera was the best they could do having chosen that thinness. It's going to give reasonable video, and we will see how good it is for still pictures. It will presumably use much the same software as the better camera on the iPhone 4, and that is pretty good by this iteration, with Apple still improving it. If it is good enough for Facebook uploads and the like, it's a worthwhile feature compared to no camera at all.

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Anonymous Coward

My favourite part of the presentation

was Steve totally skipping over the Fatboy nano, the demise of which represented a fairly major volte-face at the time, not least because everyone had decried its ugliness solely on the basis of leaked images. Doubtless there'll be a lot of moaning about the touch nano losing its video capabilities: maybe there's room there for a price-drop on the 8GB iPod touch when the 64GB variants emerge to plug the gap?

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50% of the gaming market?

Guess fart and burp apps are classed as games now then?

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Bronze badge

Title

Apple can make "gaming" mean whatever it wants. After all, they invented games. Games are new, magical and revolutionary.

Wouldn't Windows be the largest gaming platform in the world by a long shot since it comes with Solitaire?

Just sayin.

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Boffin

Those confusing cable controls in full

El Reg has mentioned a few times how their crack team of tech reporters were confused by the Apple cable controls, and they are indeed bewildering. Let's have a look:

One click to pause/play

Two clicks to go forward

Three clicks to go back.

Phew! It's like my old quantum mechanics lectures. Let's try that again:

One click to pause or play

Two clicks to go forward

Three clicks to go... come on, you can do it... back! Yes, well done!

...Waitaminute. This isn't actually confusing at all! it's actually a lot easier when you're walking along to have one button with three combinations than three buttons each a third of the size. I'm not saying it's the only way to do it - just that it's not, in fact, all that hard.

There are so many things to get annoyed about with Apple, you don't need to try to make up problems that aren't...

Alastair

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jbk
WTF?

WTF

So to go back 4 songs, for example, you'd have to click 12 times?! Or would that go forward 6 songs? Or, even worse, I'm guessing you'd actually have to wait for each operation to complete before repeating? Click click clik, pause, click click click, pause... etc? Tres lame.

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Dead Vulture

Clickety-click-click

I wonder if El Reg were so dismissive of Sony, who had exactly the same control mechanism on their CD and MiniDisc Walkmans, around the turn of the millennium.

Oops, sorry, I've just demonstrated that Apple didn't invent some radical new control mechanism.

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Be serious...

If you're going back and forth by 6 songs, you should never have bought a Shuffle. Sounds like you wanted a Nano, or one of many other perfectly decent MP3 players out there.

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Stop

WTF indeed...

"So to go back 4 songs, for example, you'd have to click 12 times?!" That's neither confusing or hard. It's convoluted. And now you have the choice!

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WTF?

agree

i love my iPod 3g Touch, i want it as small as possible, and i never had any problems remembering the click - rocket science its not.

the controls on the head phones make it a snap to use and i dont have to fumble around looking for the device to control it. The controls are right by ear every time.

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Actually no

It IS confusing when a control has mutliple functions, and at the very least it puts greater cognitive demands on the user, because the user has to maintain a 'stack' of presses which is difficult in stressful or cognitively loaded situations. (q.v. "was it six bullets or only five? To tell you the truth, in all the excitement..." - yes even Dirty Harry is not immune to this problem of 'how many times did I operate the control'?).

See my other reply about accessibility. My daughter would have to spend so much time working out the 'code' for the multiple button pushes that she would lose interest totally.

My preference: As few buttons as necessary, but no fewer. One button per function. (I can accept play/pause on the same button, but would prefer that they were seperate).

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Title

If Apple devices were truly magical and revolutionary, certainly it would not be difficult to keep the scroll wheel and also ship with headphones that have controls on them, no?

Oh, that might increase costs and eat into Apple's 60% "I poop gold" profit margin? Oh well, at least companies like Microsoft care about their customers...

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No, the hard part is...

...using third-party headphones. But why could you possibly want anything but Apple headphones? They never break and the sound quality is top-notch, so you'll never find yourself disappointed with how they sound or having to pay for an expensive replacement you don't like anyway just because ordinary headphones don't work with the device.

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Anonymous Coward

Ridiculous.

"If Apple devices were truly magical and revolutionary, certainly it would not be difficult to keep the scroll wheel and also ship with headphones that have controls on them, no?" Isn't this exactly what hey have just done? Ah, so it is!

"Oh, that might increase costs and eat into Apple's 60% "I poop gold" profit margin? Oh well, at least companies like Microsoft care about their customers..." My-my aren't we a bitter crackberry...

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FAIL

Don't be silly

Apple headphones are average at best, so why would people want to be stuck with average headphones?

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Sony

I'll stick with Sony thanks - better sound quality, which after all, is the PRIMARY purpuse of these things, or is it

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Happy

Primary purpose?

The primary purpose of any Apple kit is to perform adequately and look good for a premium price. They are the Bang and Olufsen of the IT industry.

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Anonymous Coward

Not exactly...

The primary purpose is portability. The sound quality of an iPod is good enough for the majority of **consumers**. In actual fact at the height of the "iPod have shit sound quality" argument, Apple used the same DAC that was found in most of the competition that was cited as being significantly better (not sure if they continue to do so). There are obviously other options out there and I suppose it comes down to features. The iPod Touch for instance isn't really just an MP3 player anymore; it's an entertainment device--music, video, games etc. You want good sound quality? Buy a player that supports a lossless codec like FLAC. You want really good sound quality? Don't use the supplied headphones with **any** of the devices on the market. Spend a decent sized wad on good quality noise-cancelling headphones. You want really really good sound quality? Don't listen to music on a portable device...

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You should be boycotting Sony

And you get free DRM with security holes, rootkits and spyware =]

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Nope

I think you'll find that portability is the primary purpose of portable music devices.

Whilst most people will probably say that sound quality is the next important factor for them, they'll most likely make a buying decision based on other factors such as price, storage and brand image and may not actually listen to any music through the device before buying.

I wanted something I could use in the car and the built-in unit has an iPod connector and full integration that allows the iPod to be controlled from the nice big touch-screen in the dash (as well as the controls on the steering wheel).

As I mostly listen to spoken word stuff like old comedy programmes and audiobooks ultimate sound quality wasn't a factor in my choice of device as the source material is often very poor quality anyway. And as that kind of stuff takes up a lot of space, storage became my second consideration, meaning I ended up with a 160Gb Classic (which is now almost full).

Horses for courses.

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Stop

You should be boycotting Sony

Yes. F@#k Sony.

As an aside, they f##ked us PS3 linux guys up. See what you've stirred up now, Sony? Sooner or later, we're gonna blow that box flippin' wide open and tell everyone and their granny how to do it.

And we're not buying your shit either.

(Apple would be wise to read this and listen)

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Paris Hilton

Sony!?!

You must be joking. In my (albeit outdated) experience using the Sony software that comes with their players (anyone rember SonicStage with Network MiniDisc?) you'll have ripped off your ears in frustration before you get around to listening to any music. That's quite detrimental to percieved sound quality I understand.

If you're really worried about the sound quality (like I am) then you know that actually the lineout signal that you can take from the dock connector (I've soldered up my own lead) is actually up there with some of the best when fed into a reasonable headphone amp.

If you want the pinout for the lineout google for it and go the the pinouts.ru link. Off the shelf products are also available for the less solderly-minded.

Paris - because she too sure has made herself a homebrew miniture-pentode headphone amp with a dock connector...

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Bronze badge

Why?

Why do you or anyone else need a portable music device? Do you not have a cell phone?

My cell phone isn't flashy, that new, or cool. On the other hand, it gets everything done and never drops calls no matter how I hold it. I have a Blackberry Curve 8330 on Sprint. I can put an SD card in it to hold 32 gig of music (64 gig if I mod the phone to support it). I have a Pandora app that syncs with my desktop account so I can stream music commercial free wherever I go. In my car I have an FM transmitter so I can plug into my phone's headphone jack and broadcast to ANY radio station I want. When I get out of the car, I can plug in high quality headphones and keep listening to the same music seamlessly.

Why would anyone buy an MP3 player, when you can get a phone that does the same for often times less money?

Apparent Answer: because their phone isn't on AT&T and they love humping Steve Jobs. There is no rational explanation.

Digital Camera and MP3 Players are interesting... because they have no purpose. They should not exist anymore. There is no point to either device. If you want a portable music device, the only rational reason to get one is if you are going to get a very high quality device (which rules out Apple). The only reason to get a digital camera is if you're going to get an SLR or D-SLR. Otherwise you can get the same quality on a cell phone.

That is why Apple had to get into phones, their only successful product was an MP3 player, and there was no point in having an MP3 player.

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Because

Because the battery life of my phone is short enough without playing music through it as well.

Cameras found on mobile phones might have reached a point where they are adequate for a quick snap but compacts still perform better on many fronts.

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Here's my why...

"Why do you or anyone else need a portable music device? Do you not have a cell phone?"

Yup, I do have a cell phone. It's for emergencies and important stuff. I don't want to drain its battery playing games, taking (crappy, at least on my phone) pictures, browsing the web and listening to music and then, when I need to call or text, I can't. And I only call or text when it's important. Because I hate phones. Apparently my phone is capable of playing music, but I've never tried. I did try the camera. It's shit. I'm a photographer and I can't accept that quality even for unimportant stuff. Of course I don't carry my SLRs around unless it's a photo outing -- I just leave an old point and shoot Canon in my backpack for everyday needs. Cheap, small enough to be unnoticed (could even be in a coat pocket), and takes pictures with a quality that cell phones can only dream of. Maybe now one can buy an expensive cell that actually takes good pics as good (without the crazy noise, aberrations, and compression), but sure as hell the cheap ones can't.

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Stop

RE: Why?

"Why would anyone buy an MP3 player, when you can get a phone that does the same for often times less money?"

...because my MP3 player can hold over 100gb of songs while my phone only has 16gb of memory.

"Digital Camera and MP3 Players are interesting... because they have no purpose. They should not exist anymore. There is no point to either device."

I'll remember to tell Kodak that, next time I'm in their office.

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Shuffle

I'm glad they've gone back to the old shuffle style. I'm no fan of iPods -poor quality and itunes turned me off- but I have to say that the shuffle was a superb form factor.

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