Video camera and FaceTime expected on next iPod

Aug 26, 2010
Finance

What else will be introduced with the new iPods next week? That remains to be seen, but here are some thoughts. Also, Motorola (MOT) tops a new study that looks at Android battery life. New iPods on the way As it does every year, Apple (APPL) will hold an event in September to announce new […]

What else will be introduced with the new iPods next week? That remains to be seen, but here are some thoughts. Also, Motorola (MOT) tops a new study that looks at Android battery life.

New iPods on the way

As it does every year, Apple (APPL) will hold an event in September to announce new iPods. This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 1 (next week) and the only real surprise about the time is that the event is before Labor Day.

As for what we can expect, well, it will be a music event, as the invitation includes a picture of a guitar. That means the focus will be on new iPods and some likely tweaks to iTunes. The September event used to be the big one for Apple (outside of January’s MacWorld, which the company no longer participates in) but now it’s been relegated to third-string status behind the usual June unveiling of the next iPhone and the late spring developer conference where Apple details coming changes to its growing iOS platform. A reliable timetable for iPad refreshes has yet to be established.

Here’s a run-down of what we could see next week:

  • FaceTime, Apple’s Video chat service for the iPhone, comes to the iPod touch because this time new models will include front and rear cameras, notes PC World. The camera rumor was strong last September, too, and hasn’t let up this time.

  • Don’t expect much on a revamped Apple TV as the invitation clearly focuses on a musical instrument, notes Dan Frommer of Business Insider. However, there remains much speculation that 99-cent movie rentals could be announced, as Bloomberg noted recently.

  • cloud-based version of iTunes could be announced, notes London’s Telegraph. This rumor has been kicking around since Apple bought the Lala music service last year, but has yet to materialize.

  • A smaller iPad? Or a bigger iPod touch? Rumors of a 7-inch iPad started earlier this month but I wouldn’t expect that next week. Two reasons: 1. It’s too soon for Apple to announce a new iPad since the product is a half-year old and still smoking hot in terms of sales. 2. It would take the thunder away from new iPods, which could use a boost. Apple’s former flagship product is not getting the love it once did and sales are slipping. That’s probably because versions of the iPod have been around since 2001 and Apple’s new products — the iPhone and iPad — also play music. As a result, iPod sales have fallen nearly 8 percent in the second quarter of 2010 compared to the year-earlier period, Apple recently reported.

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Android battery tests

If there’s one bugaboo that drives every smartphone owner nuts, it’s battery life. No smartphone holds a charge for very long, particularly when compared to mobile phones designed primarily to, gasp, just make calls.

Still, if battery life is a key consideration when buying a new smartphone (and it should be), how do various models stack up? Laptop Magazine tested a crop of the latest Android smartphones and determined that the Motorola Droid X is the best. The worst: the HTC Incredible, while the superior-screened line-up of new Samsung phones were close to the bottom.

The HTC (2948.TW) Droid Incredible managed an average of only 4 hours and 33 minutes, compared to the Droid X’s 7 hours and 42 minutes of endurance, Laptop Magazine noted. That’s a 3-hour difference, a pretty big deal and a strong endorsement for what Motorola has done with Android smartphones. “Motorola’s doing something right: Both the Droid 2 and the Droid X lasted much longer than competing devices from Samsung (005930.KS) and HTC,” the story notes. A chart compares 8 current models, including the new Dell Streak.

Netflix revises app

Netflix (NFLX), which released one of the first iPad apps, has updated the product to include movie playback on iPhones and iPod touches. Is that an indication that a bigger-screened iPod touch is coming next week? I doubt it, as Netflix said previously that it would revise the app to include other Apple offerings.

The San Francisco Chronicle offers a snapshot review of the updated app, but it really offers nothing unique: it just plays on more devices. That’s fine, frankly, because if you’re an iPhone owner stuck in an airport, it’s nice to have some streaming movies available to watch. Just hope you remember to bring a battery charging gadget with you.

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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