updated 10:40 pm EDT, Sun September 7, 2008
3G Zune to get Wi-Fi Store
Microsoft's third-generation Zune players will be the first to support true wireless updating and purchasing, retailer Fry's has unintentionally revealed in an online store listing for a blue 8GB Zune. In addition to confirming both blue and silver as new colors for the flash player, the entry exposes a "Device to Cloud" feature that will let users update their song mix from most Wi-Fi hotspots, including purchasing tracks directly from the Zune Marketplace.
The remote access feature will also improve a pair of additional features. The FM radio now supports tagging songs identified by the player that can later be purchased, either directly from the Zune or when it returns to its host PC. Microsoft's Zune Marketplace also has hand-picked playlists dubbed Channels that are updated over time and can be refreshed on the player over the wireless link.
Two important features include Microsoft's promised Zune games, two of which (Texas Hold'em and a port of Hexic) are preloaded on the player and have Xbox 360-like support for custom soundtracks, as well as the ability to share audio podcasts and Channels over the Zune's trademark Zune-to-Zune feature.
As with a recent Amazon leak, Fry's lists the device as in stock, hinting that Microsoft plans to launch the new Zunes the same week as Apple introduces new iPods and two months earlier than Microsoft's usual November updates. Pricing is $150 and should be matched by a 16GB model likely priced at $200.
The upgrades help Microsoft regain some parity with Apple. Although no Zunes are so far expected to support web browsing or third-party apps outside of games, Zunes will now have similar over-the-air purchasing and may have an edge in the ability to update at least some of the player's collection in similar fashion. Apple is known to be readying its iPhone and iPod touch 2.1 firmware for this month and should reveal any potential hidden features at its "Let's Rock" special event on Tuesday. [via Zunerama]