Apple Updates the IPod

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Apple Computer this week introduced its fourth generation IPod, revised with a new interface similar to that found on the IPod mini and a new feature called Shuffle Songs. The new iPod also sports a battery that's good for up to 12 hours of use at a time, according to Apple.

The IPod is available in 20GB and 40GB capacities for $299 and $399 respectively.

The IPod's new Shuffle Songs feature is a new command that appears in the main menu. Activating Shuffle Songs causes the IPod to shuffle the songs in your active playlist (or all songs on the IPod).

Updated Interface

The IPod's new Click Wheel is similar to the interface found on IPod Minis: It's a continuous-scrolling surface that features five push buttons: a center button, a menu button positioned at 12 o'clock, fast forward and rewind buttons positioned at 3 and 9 o'clock, and a play/pause button positioned at 6 o'clock. Apple says the Click Wheel offers users better one-handed navigation.

The new battery on the IPod is good for up to 12 hours of juice at a time. The IPod previously sported a battery good for about an 8 hour charge, under optimal conditions.

Apple previously made available three models of IPods: 15GB, 20GB, and 40GB systems, with prices at $299, $399, and $499. The 15GB model has been dropped all together, in favor of 20GB and 40GB models priced at $299 and $399. Apple last refreshed the IPod line in January with the introduction of the just-discontinued 15GB model, which itself replaced a 10GB model first offered last September.

A new high-capacity IPod is notably absent from Apple's lineup with this release, although hard drive manufacturer Toshiba announced in June a new 1.8-inch 60GB hard drive that it said had already been ordered by Apple. That new drive was expected to be available to manufacturers in July or August at the time of its unveiling.

Coming Soon

In January, Apple and Hewlett-Packard announced a partnership that would allow HP to sell its own branded IPods, manufactured by Apple. Although HP-branded IPods still aren't shipping, HP Chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina noted on Monday that her company would begin shipping its own version of the IPod in September.

"We decided to wait for this amazing new fourth generation IPod, as it will offer our customers an even better experience," says Fiorina.

Apple and HP's partnership has already yielded a positive benefit for Apple: Its ITunes software is already shipping pre-installed on a large quantity of Windows-based PCs sold by HP.

This story, "Apple Updates the IPod" was originally published by MacCentral.

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