Apple has released new software for iPod and iPod minis, required to explore new features contained inside iTunes 4.5 – a brand new version of Apple's music software, which is also available now.

The company says: "iPod Update 2004-04-28 supports all models of iPod and iPod mini introduced before April 28, 2004. This update is required to take advantage of new features in iTunes 4.5 and the iTunes Music Store."

Early generation iPods (with no Dock connector) should see "improved playback perfomance" as a result of the update. As well as this, later iPods with Docks also gain support for a new feature in iTunes 4.5 – Apple's lossless encoder, which encodes music at very high quality.

System requirements are Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later (some features require Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later), iTunes 4.5 and a Mac with FireWire built-in. Windows users need Windows 2000 (Service Pack 4) or Windows XP installed on a PC equipped with FireWire or USB 2.0.

The software is available for download here.