Steve Jobs has announced the new Apple TV at MacWorld in San Francisco. Here are the keypoints:

• No computer required. You can rent movies direct from the Apple TV through the new iTunes rentals.
• You can watch and listen to video and audio podcasts directly through the interface.
• You can few photos from Flickr and .Mac
• DVD and High-Def available.
• Music can also be purchased direct to the Apple TV.
• Same features for synching as available previously, including synching content purchased on the Apple TV.
• * It is a FREE SOFTWARE update for the existing Apple TV! *
• This free update will be available in 2 weeks

A few details about the iTunes rentals:

• All major studios on board!
• Titles will be available at 30 days after the DVD release
• Over 1000 titles.
• Library titles will be $2.99.
• New titles will be $3.99.
• HD titles will be $3.99.
• You can order then you have 30 days to start watching
• Once started you have 24 hours to complete viewing the movie.

Steve Jobs showed a demo on stage of ordering a movie on stage. It started playing pretty much right away, and looked very impressive.

A price drop for the Apple TV entry model was also announced, from $299 to $229.

This should hopefully give the Apple TV a big boost and bring in into the ‘mainstream’ of Apple’s products. However, a question we will have to wait to be answered is whether this software update will in anyway disable current hacks.

We’ll have more details as they become available…