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Apple to charge $20 for iPod Touch update

But latest iPhone firmware will be free

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Macworld Expo Apple has sold more than 4m iPhones since the handset was launched in June 2007, CEO Steve Jobs said today - an average of 20,000 a day, he said. That was a prelude to the announcement of the phone's latest firmware - and one for the iPod Touch that comes at a price

Unfortunately, the Macworld keynote was short on up-to-date stats: Jobs would only point out that the iPhone garnered 19.5 per cent of the US smartphone market during the first three months it was on sale, a market share that placed Apple second only to RIM, which commanded 39 per cent of the market.

The firmware update announced by Jobs was the anticipated update that's been doing the rumour-mill rounds since just before Christmas. It'll support the ability to send text messages to multiple recipients, make the handset's home screen customisable and incorporate Google's Locate Me feature into the iPhone version of Google Maps.

It's not clear at this stage whether or not the anticipated addition of inter-application cut-and-paste facilities have been added. However, website bookmarks can now be saved on the home screen, each recalling how you last viewed the bookmarked site.

Up to nine of these webclips can be added, and the home screen's array of icons will now run to multiple pages to accommodate these and other applications.

The iPhone's iPod application will get the ability to support multiple soundtracks for different languages, along with subtitle tracks and DVD-style chapter marks - handy for the new iTunes Movie Rentals service. Songs will get lyrics.

The iPhone update will be free of charge, Jobs said, but the iPod Touch update will cost $20. It will bring the iPhone's Maps, Stocks, Notes and Weather apps to the big-screen music player. Not compelling? Maybe not, but the addition of the iPhone's Mail application will be for many Touch users. It's included in the $20 bundle.

The update will cost £13 in the UK.

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