Well, the announcements are out. Apple has released a slew of music-related items. First of all is a new series of iPods. They now come in 10GB, 15GB and 30GB capacities and a dock for charging and syncing. They are smaller and lighter than the previous generation of iPods, and the faceplate has been revamped slightly with the track transport control buttons in a row above the solid-state scroll wheel now.

They also announced iTunes 4 to accompany the new iPods. New features include AAC encoding and playback, display of album cover art, and Rendezvous technology to share music over the network via streaming. iTunes 4 also has a built-in mini-browser for accessing the iTunes Music Store.

The iTunes Music Store is Apple's online music distribution service which currently has 200K+ songs in their catalogue, with each track costing an average of USD 0.99 and about USD 9.99 per album and no subscription fees. You can download 30 previews and they have a few exclusive tracks from the likes of Sheryl Crow, Eminem, U2 and Bob Dylan. The BIG, Big downside to this service, is that it requires a US credit card billing address.

iPod Software 1.3 has been released to provide AAC and iTune Music Store support. I was hoping it would include some of the features of the new iPods like building playlists on-the-go, downloadable notes and the new games would be nice too.

Lastly, Quicktime 6.2 was also released to provide new foundation support for iTunes 4 and enhanced AAC encoding.

Wow, that's quite a lot of stuff in one day. Not all the rumours were true, but 3 hits out of 4 is a pretty good score (no they didn't buy out Universal Music after all).

The Music Has Arrived