Apple Announces New iPods, iTunes, Less-Shitty Earbuds

By Michael Nelson / September 12, 2012

Remember iPods? They were these totally excellent, wildly overpriced hard drives on which you could conveniently store, catalog, access, and listen to music in MP3 form, thus accelerating the music industry’s demise? They were pretty popular for a while, until iPhones came along, more or less making the trusty ol’ iPod obsolete for everyone except BlackBerry users. (In fact, iPod sales have been plummeting for years now at a rate that makes album sales look stable.) So how will Apple revive its rapidly fading cash cow? Why, by remaking it in the mold of the iPhone, naturally.

At a press conference today (at which the iPod was decidedly not the primary order of business), Apple reps unveiled the new iPod specs, which include (on the iTouch model): “a brilliant 4-inch Retina display; a 5 megapixel iSight camera with 1080p HD video recording; Apple’s A5 chip; Siri, the intelligent assistant; and iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system.” (Yes, iPods will now feature Siri: a function widely unused if not outright detested on iPhones worldwide!) That’s not all: New iPods will be slimmed down and offered in a host of previously unavailable colors. How does any of this enhance the music-listening experience offered by “the world’s most popular and beloved music player”? Why, not in the least! But it does make an attractive iPhone surrogate for anyone locked into long-term contracts with T-Mobile.

In fact, the only hardware development that seems even remotely music-related is the addition of new Apple EarPods, replacing the long-derided, music-destroying earbuds, “featuring a breakthrough design for a more natural fit, increased durability, and an incredible acoustic quality typically reserved for higher-end earphones.”

On the software end, Apple will also launch an updated iTunes in October, featuring: “a completely redesigned player, seamless integration with iCloud, and a stunning new look.”

FWIW, among the new iPods, the most storage offered will be 64GB (on the Touch; $399 retail), which is a laughable fraction of the 160GB offered by the Siri-less iPod Classic ($249 retail) — a model that wasn’t mentioned at all during today’s press event or in any of Apple’s new press materials. Instead, Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said: “Music lovers may have a difficult time deciding between the reinvented iPod Nano, the thinnest iPod ever, and the all-new iPod Touch with its stunning 4-inch Retina display, 5 megapixel iSight camera and ultra-thin design — both in beautiful new colors.” I’m not sure what music lovers he’s hanging out with, but nobody I know will be stuck at the Apple Store, forced to flip a coin between those two options.

You can read more about the new iPods here and the new iTunes here.