Apple has unveiled an updated version of its iPod music player, offering a faster processor and better cameras to resuscitate the gadget’s fading popularity.
With the first update in almost three years, the flagship Touch model will also support Apple Music, Apple’s music streaming service launched in July, for $10 a month.
The processor now matches that in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, offering six times faster performance for general tasks and ten times faster for graphics.
The rear eight megapixel camera now also matches that of the newest iPhone and can take up to 10 shots per second and capture a slow-motion video at 120 frames per second.
The iPod, first released in 2001, was originally built for the iTunes model where listeners pay for a song played. It was the first device of its kind to simplify syncing with digital music collections on personal computers. It was Apple's first success beyond personal computers and began a company transformation that led to the iPhone in 2007, the iPad in 2010 and the Apple Watch this year.
However, with people increasingly listening to music on their smartphones, the sales of iPods have faded. While in 2008 Apple sold 55 million iPods, in 2014 it was only 14 million. By contrast, Apple sold 169 million iPhones in the same period.
But today's update shows Apple is not giving up on the iPod.
The Touch is essentially an iPhone without telecoms capabilities, as it runs the same iOS operating system and most of the same apps.
The new iPod Touch will sell from £128 - the same as an iPhone 6 with a two-year service contract, but the iPod Touch requires no monthly service fees for voice, text and data. Calling is possible through FaceTime video conferencing over Wi-Fi.
Without a contract, an iPhone 6 starts at £418.
"Having a $200 small computer without cellular service is a pretty good price," said Roger Kay, president of market research firm Endpoint Technology Associates, who believes the iPod Touch helps protect Apple from lower-priced competitors. "This may be a second, third or fourth device for families that already have a bunch of Apple products. The nine-year-old wants something, so they get them a Touch," he added.
Rob Enderle, of the Enderle Group, said that while iPod sales have been declining, they are still massive.
"Not everyone wants an iPhone, yet a lot of those folks loved their iPods," he said. "This product will be far more successful than anyone expects."
"Customers can experience next-level gameplay, take even more beautiful photos and enjoy their favourite music, TV shows and movies," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice-president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing.
Although the Touch has an accelerometer to track basic fitness, it does not have all of the iPhone's sensors. There is no barometer to measure steps climbed and no fingerprint ID to unlock the device. There is also no Apple Pay, the technology for making payments at retail stores. The screen remains at 4in (10cm), as measured diagonally, even though iPhones have gotten bigger at 4.7in (12cm) and 5.5in (14cm).
Apple is introducing a new, £257 model with 128 gigabytes, matching the iPhone's maximum capacity. The £128 base model has 16 gigabytes, enough for thousands of songs, though the iPod Touch is meant to hold photos, video and apps too.