Apple has again doubled the capacity of its iPod portable digital-music player, taking the top-end model to 20GB – which Apple claims can hold 4,000 songs library. The company also announced that the iPod now works with Windows PCs and Musicmatch software. The 20GB iPod includes a new carrying case and wired remote control, and costs £399 (including VAT). Prices of the 5GB and 10GB iPods have been reduced to £259 and £329 respectively.

Both the 10GB and the 20GB models feature a new solid-state touch wheel for precision, accuracy and durability. “It feels like glass,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs as he announced the iPod news during his keynote speech that opened Macworld Expo in New York today.

“The biggest news is that we’re bringing the iPod to Windows users, so they can join this amazing portable digital music revolution,” added Jobs.

Improvements iPod for Mac or Windows comes with improved headphones that Apple claims offer enhanced bass response, smoother transitions and more accurate high-end sound reproduction. iPod also features a redesigned and more portable thin FireWire cable; 20GB and 10GB iPod models include a built-in protective cover for the FireWire port.

The new 20GB iPod will be available in early August to Mac users and later in the month for Windows users. “We want to make sure Mac users get the iPod first,” Jobs told the crowd.

The iPod is the only MP3 player that uses high-speed FireWire to sync with the PC. Apple claims that a 4,000-song library can be downloaded in just over 30 minutes verses the more than 13 hours it would take to transfer 4,000 songs with USB-based devices. The iPod’s 10-hour battery recharges automatically whenever iPod is connected, using power supplied over the FireWire cable.

iTunes 3, too For Mac users, the new iPod will include the new iTunes 3. iTunes 3 adds new features, including Smart Playlists that automatically and dynamically update playlists based on simple rules set by the user, Sound Check for consistent volume playback and support for audio programming from With these new features, Mac users can transfer audio programming and sound quality adjustments to their iPod to use wherever they go. Users can now sync information back to iTunes to bookmark where they left off listening to Audible programming, or to update song play-counts or last-played dates for iTunes’ Smart Playlists. iPod’s new digital clock adds the necessary time and date stamp to individual songs.

Windows iPod For Windows users, the iPod works seamlessly with Musicmatch Jukebox, the number-one selling music software for PCs. iPod is the only MP3 player to provide Windows customers with Apple’s exclusive Auto-sync technology, to keep the iPod automatically updated every time it is plugged into their PC. iPod for Windows will ship with MUSICMATCH Jukebox. It also includes a 4-pin-to-6-pin FireWire adapter. Some iPod features, however, require a Mac and iTunes 3.

Laser engraving is available for £40, and can include two lines of text with up to 27 characters per line.

Requirements iPod for Mac requires Mac OS X version 10.1 or Mac OS 9.2, iTunes 2.0.4 and a Macintosh with built-in FireWire port. iPod for Windows requires a PC with built-in FireWire or a Windows-certified FireWire card and Windows Me, Windows 2000, or Windows XP Home or Professional.