Apple has published details of the next generation of iPod, leaked by Newsweek this weekend.

The fourth-generation iPod will feature a mini-style clickwheel and is smaller than the predecessor. Its capacity remains at 40GB and 20GB, the 15GB version has been discontinued.

The new iPod also features up to 12 hours battery life and Shuffle Songs, a new command in the main menu that gives users instant access to one of the most exciting new ways to listen to their music library.

"The best digital music player just got better," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "The fourth generation iPod features Apple's amazing Click Wheel for superb one handed control, 12 hour battery life and the new Shuffle Songs command in the main menu - all in an even smaller design that puts up to 10,000 songs in your pocket."

Apple has also reduced prices. The 40GB version was priced at £399, with the 20GB version costing £299. The new prices are £299 for the 40GB version, and £219 for the 20GB; including VAT.

There was some expectation that Apple would release a 60GB model, after drive manufacturer Toshiba announced that Apple had put in a volume order for the new disk. If Apple follows its recent iPod pricing history, a likely price for a 60GB new-look iPod will be £399. No release date has been announced. Indeed, Apple has made no comment on such a possibility.

HP iPod on its way

The launch of the forth-generation iPod also sees HP admitting that it was waiting for the new iPod before it released its own version of the best selling digital-music device.

HP chairman and chief executive officer Carly Fiorina said: "We decided to wait for this amazing new fourth generation iPod, as it will offer our customers an even better experience. HP's version of the new iPod will be available in September."

The increased battery life may be a reaction to issues with the battery life of the existing iPods. Apple adds a note at the end of its press release that states: "Rechargeable batteries have a limited number of charge cycles and may eventually need to be replaced. Battery life and number of charge cycles vary by use and settings." It directs readers to a dedicated Web site for more information.

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