- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 16, 2015

The iPod is getting its first upgrade in three years, Apple announced this week, as the company looks again to the same mobile music industry that made the original handheld devices a hot commodity nearly 15 years ago.

The new version of the iPod Touch — replete with an 8-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi connectivity, a motion sensor and a high-powered processor — far outstrips the first player that debuted in 2001 and did little more than play music, the company said Wednesday.

“Customers can experience next-level gameplay, take even more beautiful photos and enjoy their favorite music, TV shows and movies,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing, told The Associated Press.

But coming only weeks after the launch of Apple Music — the company’s latest attempt to capitalize on subscription services that give customers access to millions of songs for a monthly fee, like Spotify — the specifications of the latest iPod Touch suggest users won’t merely be loading up their devices until they’re brimming with MP3s. While the new Touch models will come in a variety of sizes ranging from 16 GB to 128 GB to store songs and other data, the upgraded processor and pixel-dense camera make the devices more smartphone than Walkman.

Internally, the new iPod Touch models are being outfitted with the same 64-bit A8 CPU processor that powers the iPhone 6, and Apple execs said the functionality between the two won’t be that far apart.

According to Apple, those new chips perform six times faster for general tasks and 10 times faster with respect to graphics when compared with the last version of the Touch — enough to open the door to the 1.5 million or so programs in Apple’s App Store.

Apple has good reason to mimic its mobile devices in the new iPod models: sales of the music player have been on the decline since 2008, and the company only moved 2.6 million iPods during the last quarter in which statistics are available — less than one-tenth of number of iPhones sold during the same span.

Last month, Apple Music, an on-demand music streaming service, was rolled out to take advantage of an industry model in which monthly subscriptions have largely replaced the 99 cents-per-song structure that allowed the first iPod, coupled with iTunes, to revolutionize mobile music players. According to MacRumors, a site that tracks updates pertaining to Apple products, the “Free on iTunes” promotion that has given users complimentary tracks once a week for the last 11 years has inexplicably been halted in the wake of the Apple Music rollout.

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