Apple updates iPods, adds iTunes 'in the cloud'

The iPod Nano got an update and price cut at Tuesday's iPhone-dominated Apple event.

Story highlights

  • iPods, while overshadowed by the iPhone 4S, got freshened up by Apple
  • The iPod Nano and Touch both saw price cuts
  • Apple unveiled 16 new "clock faces" for the Nano -- including the time-honored Mickey Mouse
  • iCloud will integrate with new operating system, let users store music, videos on remote servers
Remember the iPod Nano and iPod Touch? They'll be getting some feature and style upgrades, as well as some price-slashing, in the near future.
Although the iPods were largely overshadowed by Tuesday's iPhone 4S news, Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced a handful of tweaks to Apple's iconic music-player line -- in plenty of time, of course, for the holiday shopping season.
The new Touch, now the most popular iPod, will be available in both black and white and get a $30 price cut, to $199 for 8GB of storage, $299 for 32 gigs and $399 for 64.
It will also run Apple's new iOS5 operating system, meaning its ability to run apps, surf the Web and the like will maintain its unofficial status as the iPhone-without-a-phone. The new Touch ships on October 12.
The Nano, perhaps appropriately, is getting an even smaller update. The most fun change will be Apple's addition of 16 new clock faces for folks who use the tiny player's 1.5-inch screen as a watch. Our favorite? The iconic Mickey Mouse watch is now available, with Mickey's hands spinning around to tell the time.
It's also getting a price cut, down to $129 for the 8GB version and $149 for 16GB. The runt of the litter, the 2GB Nano, goes for a mere $49. (Virtually free by Apple's standards, if still more expensive than some rival mp3 players with the same limited storage space).
Totally lost in the shuffle (see what we did there?) was any mention at all of the iPod Classic or ... Shuffle.
The two didn't get a single mention at Tuesday's event, just as they were left out in the cold at last year's iPod event.
That's led to lots of stories in the tech press speculating that the clock is ticking toward the demise of the two venerable players. (You know ... even if this one, from The Unofficial Apple Weblog, was dead wrong).
But Apple's online store Wednesday showed both devices still for sale.
It's clear Apple wants to move completely to touchscreen and abandon the old-fashioned click wheel on the Classic and Shuffle (the Nano's click wheel disappeared last year).
Time will tell how long the older devices last, although for our money there's still something to be said for the top-of-the-line Classic, with its massive 160 gigabytes of storage, as a repository for folks' entire music collection.
Music and other media content got another boost Tuesday with Apple announcing plans that could move iTunes into the cloud.
The iCloud service will now be integrated into the iOS 5 operating system. It will work with apps and allow content to be stored on remote servers instead of the users' iPod, iPhone or other device. Each device will get 5GB of free storage, according to Cook.
Working with iTunes, the cloud-based service would let a user access their music, videos and the like from any Apple device running iOS5.