The Beat Goes On: iPod special event

Apple is set to reveal new iPods at a special event at 5.40pm tonight

Apple is expected to launch new iPods tonight with heavily revamped interfaces, cool new looks and a bunch of competition-killing features. Some are even suggesting that the UK version of the iPhone will make its debut. We'll know for sure within the hour, as heads off to BBC Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush London to bring you coverage, analysis and more.

For now though here's a quick round-up of what we know so far...

Apple iPod

The current 5.5G model will be replaced by a new widescreen version. The 6G iPod is expected to feature the iPhone's innovative multi-touch display and offer hard disk storage of up 120GB capacity.

Perhaps the most interesting development will be the launch of a completely new iPod interface which has been under development for the last two years. It will leverage the power of Apple's next-gen operating system - Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard - to deliver rich animated effects, feature-rich navigation and a raft of new applications.

These include Cover Flow - which enables you to browse your music library by flicking through cover artwork using your finger - and Events from Apple's iPhoto '08, part of the iLife '08 suite. Events automatically groups a series of photos together and then enables you to scroll quickly through them simply by mouse browsing over their thumbnails in a Cover Flow style

It makes sense to include Events in a touchscreen version of the iPod as it'll make navigating photos on your device much, much easier to do. Similar functionality could also be included for other apps like PDF documents, as these are already supported by the current version of iTunes.

You can get a taster for what the new iPod interface and Events will look like by checking out the screen shot gallery at Mac rumour site Think Secret. You'll note too that Beatles' artwork features heavily in the screenshots, leading to speculation that we'll see The Beatles arriving on iTunes too.

iPod nano

Apple is expected to dispense with the tall, slim multi-coloured look of the current iPod nano. It'll be replaced by a shorter, squatter version with a bigger 320 x 240 display, traditional Apple click wheel and up to 16GB of NAND flash memory. The nano, in fact, will share many similarities with the current 5.5G iPod including video playback. The current nano has no video playback ability.

It'd make sense, of course, if the nano had the same Mac OS X based user interface as the iPod.

iPod shuffle

Little is known about the new iPod shuffle, but it looks likely that it will get a simple revamp with new colours and more memory. However Apple could have a surprise in store for us here too - the current multi-coloured 2G version was a radical departure from the unlovely white stick of chewing gum that preceded it.

One more thing...

Our sister site T3 reckons that a 3G version of the iPhone will be launched at the iPod event tonight. This would make sense, giving the tight integration of iPod functions in the iPhone and the fact that the two devices will share so much common DNA after tonight. The deadline for the European launch of the iPhone is also getting scarily close - especially if Apple wants to hit the UK high street in time for the pre-Christmas buying season.