SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc. announced a smaller, cheaper version of its Apple TV device for streaming movies and television shows over the Internet and into the living room. It also unveiled a new line of iPods, including a touch-screen Nano model.
The new Apple TV announced Wednesday will only let people rent, not buy, content. For first-run high-definition movies the day they come out on DVD, people will have to pay US$4.99. High-definition TV show rentals will be 99 cents.
The price of the box is also being cut to $99, from $229. Cheaper options for streaming video had been available, including Roku's set-top boxes that start at $60. It will sell in Canada for $119 but will not have all the same access to content.
Apple TV has been around since 2007, but it hasn't caught on with the mainstream. It doesn't record shows the way TiVo and other digital video recorders do.
"We've sold a lot of them, but it's never been a huge hit," Steve Jobs told hundreds of journalists, bloggers and analysts in San Francisco.
He said the previous Apple TV setup is too complicated for average consumers.
The new Apple TV, which will be available within a month, will give people access to the high-definition version of movies just released on DVD, though he didn't say which movie studios have agreed to include their titles for streaming. Television episodes also be available, including such hits as "The Simpsons" and "Glee."
People who watch content from Netflix Inc. streamed over the Internet can also access their "instant" queue through Apple TV.
Jobs said only News Corp.'s Fox and The Walt Disney Co.'s ABC have been willing to license their shows for streaming so far, but he said he hoped others would join once the service gains popularity.
Some media companies have raised concerns that the 99-cent television rentals will undercut higher-priced offerings for permanent download, which sell for $1.99 and $2.99.
Earlier, Jobs unveiled an iPod Nano that lacks buttons. Instead, controls for playing, pausing and selecting music are right on the screen. It will cost $149 for the 8 gigabyte version and $179 for 16 gigabytes. Like previous versions, the Nano has a built-in FM tuner and can display photos. Those prices will be $10 more expensive in Canada.
In a refresh to the iPod Touch, Apple is adding video-chat features similar to the newest iPhone. It has a front-facing camera for conducting video chats with other iPod Touch and iPhone users over Wi-Fi using Apple's FaceTime program. A camera on the back can be used for taking snapshots and recording video. Prices range from $249 to $429 in Canada.
Jobs appeared in a crew neck rather than his trademark mock turtleneck at an event for hundreds of journalists, bloggers and analysts.
There, Jobs also introduced a new iPod Shuffle, the lowest-end music player in Apple's line. Like the past generation, it can speak the names of playlists and songs. But unlike the most recent of the tiny music players, the new US$49 device brings back the square shape and buttons of Apple's second-generation Shuffle. It sells for $59 in Canada.
Apple, meanwhile, is adding social features to its iTunes software. Jobs said iTunes 10 brings new ways for people to learn what their friends are listening to. The feature, called Ping, is likely based on the technology Apple acquired with the purchase of Lala.com last year.
The Ping section in iTunes lets people "follow" friends, musicians and others, similar to the way Facebook and Twitter work. Ping builds custom top-10 lists based on what the people someone follows are listening to.
Earlier, Jobs also said iPhone users will be getting a software update that offers the ability to upload high-definition video over Wi-Fi. And when people take photos, the new software will save three slightly different copies that, when combined, make for a sharper image.
The new software is version 4.1 of the iOS system. It will be available next week for free, initially for Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPod Touch.
The iPad currently runs an older version, though Jobs said an update coming in November will add such features as wireless printing to Apple's tablet computer. Apple had been criticized for making a powerful device but hobbling it by not including any ports for USB devices such as printers or thumb drives.
Mintz reported from Seattle. AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima in Los Angeles contributed to this report.