Steve Jobs launched five new iPod touch applications during his Macworld Expo keynote last night, with the new $20 upgrade including Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes, and Weather.

Like the iPhone, iPod touch users can configure Mail for Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, .Mac Mail or most POP-or IMAP-based mail services with just a few clicks.

The move to charge existing owners for the update is likely to generate debate, as it edges the cost of the device (for existing owners) toward that of an iPhone.

"These amazing new mobile applications make iPod touch not only the best iPod, but the best Wi-Fi mobile device in the world," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. "With its revolutionary touch interface and software, plus its stunning 3.5in screen, iPod touch is evolving into the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform of the 21st century."

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The iPod touch software upgrade also includes new features that were introduced to the iPhone today, including support for Web Clips and a customisable home screen. The touch also gets the new ability to determine a user's location using nearby Wi-Fi base stations; this also makes it possible for users to get real-time local traffic conditions. When exploring a location using Google Maps, users also benefit from the addition of a new combined map and satellite image view.

Finally, it's also now possible to navigate films held on the device by chapters, to select alternate language tracks and view subtitles, where they exist.

The new iPod touch features will soon be seen as the tip of an iceberg, as Apple today once again committed to the February release of a software development kit for iPhones and the iPod touch, which could open the flood gates to application development for these devices.

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