The iPod Mini and Shuffle now have two new siblings.
Apple announced on Wednesday (September 7) that it is rolling out two new models: the Motorola ROKR — the first iTunes-compatible cell phone, produced in partnership with Motorola — and the iPod Nano.
While there are plenty of phones on the market that can play music, the ROKR (pronounced "rocker"), available later this month, allows users to transfer up to 100 songs from the iTunes jukebox on their computer and switch between listening to music and talking on the phone using a dedicated key.
The ROKR also has a color display to browse album cover art, built-in stereo speakers and a camera; it also comes with stereo headphones that double as a headset with a microphone. It pauses music automatically when a call comes in, and can play songs while a user checks phone messages or shoots photos.
"The way we think of this phone is, it's really an iPod Shuffle on your phone," Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained to assembled press at the event, according to The Associated Press. "Both devices can shuffle, both can autofill, neither has a click wheel — but the phone has a display."
The phone can randomly autofill or be manually loaded with songs, audiobooks or podcasts from a user's iTunes library through a USB connection.
And, filling the niche between the Shuffle and the Mini, Apple introduced yet another iteration of the iPod on Wednesday, the Nano.
Available in both 2 GB (500 songs) and 4 GB (1,000 songs) configurations, the device, about as thick as a pencil and as tall as a playing card, starts at around $199. It is similar to the Shuffle, but includes a color display that shows the album artwork from the song that is playing, in addition to a Click Wheel to scroll through songs. The Nano can run up to 14 hours on a single charge, according to Apple. It is available in classic white or black and can also be loaded with photos (up to 25,000), podcasts and audiobooks.
The other major announcement at the event was that Madonna — who, along with the Beatles and Metallica had so far resisted listing her songs on iTunes — will soon join the party. The singer, linked via iChat from London, said, "I tried to hold out as long as possible, but I got tired of not being able to download my own music [on iTunes]." All of Madonna's albums and songs will be available on iTunes at an as-yet-unannounced time. Also, author J.K. Rowling has signed an exclusive agreement to make all six "Harry Potter" books available for download on iTunes.
For complete digital music coverage, check out the Digital Music Reports.