iPod Touch Upgrade Packs Jaw-Dropping Features

The latest iteration of the iPod Touch, which is supposed to start shipping this week, is arguably the biggest upgrade to the device since it first hit the market in September 2007. And well it should be given that last year's iPod Touch refresh consisted solely of hardware upgrades, and while the speed bump was nice, last-minute technical glitches prevented Apple from including a camera in last year's model.

Now with two years since the last significant refresh, Apple has delivered in a very serious, tangible and impressive way. The new iPod Touch is now, more than ever before, an iPhone without cellular connectivity.

The biggest additions to the new iPod Touch are the inclusion of front- and rear-facing cameras. The rear-facing camera allows for beautiful photography and HD video recording. And with HD video recording on the books, iPod Touch users can now make use of Apple's mobile iMovie app where they can edit, render and upload homemade movies on the go. Now as for the front-facing video camera, this one is not surprisingly all about Facetime support.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, features touted by Steve Jobs when he introduced the iPhone 4 was Facetime, a mobile video calling solution from Apple that enables iPhone users on Wi-Fi networks to video chat with each other. The feature was the focus of Jobs' patented "one more thing," and has since been heavily promoted and featured in a slew of television commercials over the past few months. And now it's on the iPod Touch.

Now a natural question is how the iPod Touch would utilize Factime, given that there are no phone numbers to associate each device with. Well, Facetime on the Touch will work via user e-mail addresess, as first hinted at a few weeks ago.

Moving along, the next-gen iPod Touch will get another speed boost, this time in the form of Apple's blazing fast A4 processor. And thrown in for good measure are a 3-axis gyroscope and Apple's universally praised high-resolution Retina Display.

In a press release accompanying last week's media presentation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs stated:

"We've put our most advanced technology inside the new iPod touch. Whether you're listening to music, playing games, making FaceTime video calls, browsing the web, capturing HD video or watching TV shows and movies, the new iPod touch with its Retina display, A4 chip and 3-axis gyro is more fun than ever."

Regarding pricing and capacity sizes, the new iPod Touch will be available for three prices: an 8GB model for $229; a 32GB model for $299; and a 64GB model for $399. To be clear, even the 8GB model will come with all of the hardware and software features present in the 64GB model.

It's quite clear that the iPod Touch upgrade is substantial and should be more than enough to convince current iPod Touch owners to head out to their local Apple Store. And all the while, as folks continue to compete with the iPhone, the iPod Touch, which can now run nearly all of the same apps as the iPhone, continues to dominate the media player market with little to no competition. In many ways, the iPod Touch is truly the key to Apple's iOS strategy and competitors seem to be none the wiser.

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