Apple’s big event — larger, lighter iPhone 5 unveiled

Apple’s holding a big news event Wednesday, which is widely expected to be the launch of the iPhone 5. It’s not always easy to guess what, exactly, Apple’s up to, but Apple is likely to up the screen size and processing power of its phone while slimming it down. The event is expected to begin in San Francisco at 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. Eastern), and we are following along here.

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3 p.m. And...we’re done.

Tim Cook popped back out to say goodbye, but the event ends on the Foo Fighters.

Thanks for following along!

2:56 p.m. Still on the Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters are apparently playing a mini set, now three songs in.

Which means it’s a good time to check in on the stock. Apple’s stock has been up and down since the announcement started. As of this posting, the stock is down slightly (0.32 percent) for a share price of $660.

2:43 p.m. Foo Fighters take the stage

To celebrate the new music announcements, the Foo Fighters have taken the stage. Yeah.

While we have a couple of moments, let’s go back over the iPod announcements:

The iPod shuffle is $49; the nano is $149; the old iPod Touch will be $199 for the 16 GB version and$249 for the 32 GB. The new iPod Touch is $299 for the 32 GB and $399 for the 64 GB.

It will be interesting to see how the iPod Touch does against Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, since the baseline Fire is now $159.

The new iPods will be coming in October, GigaOm reported.

2:37 p.m. Apple announces EarPods

Apple also announced that it will be selling new earphones for iOS devices, which will go on sale today and are redesigned with a funnel shape, as rumored. According to Mashable, Apple spent three years designing the entirely new headphones. They will ship with the new iPod Touch and the iPhone 5.

2:35 p.m.

Apple announces iPod updates

Apple announced updates to the iPod nano and the iPod Touch, with Bluetooth connectivity for the smaller iPod and a new chip in the iPod Touch that is supposed to run graphics seven times faster.

2:12 p.m.

Shifting to iTunes

Tim Cook was back briefly to tout how exciting the updates were, and then passed it off to Apple SVP of Internet software and services Eddy Cue.

Cue said that the new iPhone is also getting a new, cleaner iTunes store.

The Mac version of iTunes will also have iCloud built in, GigaOm reported, and it will be easier to create and organize playlists. There’s now a search button built into the mini-player.

The new iTunes will be available in late October.

2:03 p.m.

Apple iPhone 5: Starts at $199, on sale Sept. 21

Apple is keeping the price points the same on the iPhone 5: $199 for the 16GB, $299 for the 32 GB and $399 for the 64GB.

The iPhone 4 is going to be free on contract, and the 4S is dropping to $99 for the 16GB version. It will go on sale Sept. 21, GigaOm reports. Seems like that’s the end of the iPhone 3GS.

iOS 6 will be also be released next week, on Sept. 19.

Random fun fact No. 1: Mashable reports there are diamonds in the finish of the iPhone — to make it extra shiny.

Random fun fact No. 2: This observation was tweeted by Time’s Michael Crowley

1:56 p.m.

Back to the iPhone

GigaOm reports that Phil Schiller is back onstage to talk about the gadget’s colors — it comes in white or “slate,” Which I suppose is black.

He’s also recapping with the promotional video, which likely means Apple is almost done here.

The video gives you a much better look at the back of the iPhone 5, which — in the black version — has a darker metal backplate flanked at the top and bottom by either glass or plastic panels.

Apple design guru Jony Ive is featured in the video, All Things Digital reports, saying that they take design changes “really seriously.”

1:50 p.m.

Apple offering recap of iOS 6 Maps, Passbook apps

Apple’s iOS head, Scott Forstall, is offering a recap of Apple’s new Maps app, which the company first previewed at its developers conference.

The app adds one feature that has been sadly missing from the smartphone: voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions.

Forstall also said that Siri will now be able to offer such perks as sports scores, league standings and the ability to launch apps, GigaOm reports — all things we knew from WWDC.

It’s a good time to recap Apple’s iPhone announcements for the day so far:

Apple’s new iPhone is called the iPhone 5. It has a 4-inch screen, LTE capability, is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor and runs on Apple’s A6 chip.

It also has an updated camera, which is supposed to be snap higher-quality photos than its predecessor in low light, allows users to take sweeping panorama photos and is supposed to have better image stabilization.

1:43 p.m.

Apple changes dock connector

Apple said that it will finally change the dock connector it introduced with the original iPod, meaning that pretty much all of those accessories you have for your iDevices now need to be replaced or modified if you get the iPhone 5.

The new connector is called Lightning — a riff, one presumes, off of Thunderbolt — and it is reversible.

As an iDevice user who is always fumbling to properly attach the old connector, I have to say that’s great news. The new connector is supposed to be 80 percent smaller than the old 30-pin.

GigaOm reports that there will be an adapter for your old gadgets and that partners Bose, JBL and Bang and Olufsen are already working on accessories.

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