Tag Archive for ‘iPod’

The Third-Generation iPod Shuffle ➝

Riccardo Mori recently acquired a third-generation iPod Shuffle and shared his thoughts on the minuscule music player. The device was a drastic change from previous iPods. Lacking controls on the unit itself, it relied on VoiceOver and the included headphones’ in-line controls.

This iteration of the iPod Shuffle was not well-received and Apple brought the on-device controls back in the following model. But reflecting on the third-generation iPod Shuffle today, I’m left wondering how long it will take for the AirPods to gain a little more independence. What if they featured a small amount of flash storage that could be automatically filled with music or the latest episode of your favorite podcast?

The Nano and Shuffle Discontinuation

As you may have heard, Apple quietly discontinued the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle yesterday. The move wasn’t done alongside a press release or a statement, Instead, Apple simply removed the items from their online store. And people noticed. The news was later confirmed by Business Insider, who received confirmation from Apple that the Nano and Shuffle were, indeed, discontinued.

The Nano and Shuffle will still be available in some retail stores while supplies last, but this news leaves the iPod Touch as the only “iPod” branded product in Apple’s lineup. You’ll get more storage for your money with the iPod Touch today, though. Apple has increased storage capacities on the two models — 32GB for $199 and 128GB for $299.

The first-generation iPod Nano was the first Apple product I ever owned. I received it as a Christmas gift in 2005 and it marked a turning point in my computing life. Prior to owning the iPod, I was a dedicated PC enthusiast. I was enthralled by graphics cards, motherboards, processors, and all other forms of computer components. All I wanted to do was build computers and set them up. But the iPod changed that.

The iPod Nano acted as the halo product that everyone claimed it to be. From the moment I connected the iPod Nano to my PC and configured it in iTunes, I was hooked. I had never interacted with a device that was so easy to use and fun to manage. Nothing felt like a chore. Once I had my sync settings just right, I could connect the iPod once a day and all of my new music and podcasts would automatically transfer. It was like magic.

The iPod Nano allowed me to dip my toes in the water before jumping in the following year by purchasing a MacBook for college. If it wasn’t for the iPod Nano, I might never have fallen in love with Apple design aesthetics and acquired a dozen or so Apple devices over the past twelve years.

I can imagine my story is no different from millions of others who first realized how great computing devices could be when they purchased an iPod. But it’s time to put the Nano and Shuffle out to pasture. The smartphone, being The One Device that it is, has completely obliterated the dedicated music player market. The Nano and Shuffle served their roles well, but there’s no reason to sell a single-purpose device when the iPhone can do everything the iPod could, and more.

Pour one out for two of the best halo products Apple ever had.

The Gift of Computing

My father-in-law, Bob, has absolutely no interest in traditional computers. There’s been one in his home for nearly fifteen years, but after several failed attempts at learning how to use it, he gave up entirely. His job never required him to use one and he was fine with that — he’d much rather pick up a phone and call someone or grab a book off the shelf than bother with a computer.

Things have changed over the past couple of years, though. He’s now retired and doesn’t get that daily dose of socialization that he become accustomed to over the thirty-five or so years that he worked. He spends most of days doing yard work or various home projects.

When the weather started getting cold this year — and the amount of time spent on yard work diminished — he began to express interest in new forms of communication. Everyone’s so busy these days that they don’t have as much time to pick up the phone and talk with him like they used to. Text-based messaging would be ideal, but again, he has absolutely no interest in using a traditional computer.

Bob hasn’t been quite so hesitant about touch-based interfaces, though. There’s been a handful of times that my wife would sit down with him and they’d tap their way through her iPhone — taking photographs, changing the station in Pandora, sending messages, and initiating FaceTime calls with family members that live out of town. He needed some coaching, but he was able to use the device without too much trouble. And most importantly, the use of direct input methods made the experience much less intimidating to him.

Another one of the hobbies that he’s spent time on since retirement is photography. He doesn’t have an expensive or complicated camera by any means, just an old, digital point-and-shoot. But he loves taking pictures of the wildlife in his backyard — the fox that routinely patrols the neighborhood, the deer that occasionally come off the hill, and the bears that he’s able to spy out the kitchen window. He loves taking pictures and sharing them with anyone who’ll look at them.

The problem with the sharing aspect of his hobby is that, without the use of a computer, he doesn’t have a good way of sending these photos to anyone. If he wants to show someone the fox or how many deer were in the yard yesterday, he has to physically show them the photo on his camera’s display or print them out at the local pharmacy. It’s less than ideal.

Hopefully this will all change next week. My wife, her sister, and I have pooled our money and will be giving him an iPod touch for Christmas this year. The iPod touch seems like the perfect device for introducing computing to his life. It’s pocketable, inexpensive, doesn’t require a monthly service fee like an iPhone, and replaces an existing device for him — his camera.

But we aren’t simply giving him an iPod touch and expecting him to figure it all out on his own. The device is going to be configured for him. Nearly every app on the iPod touch will be hidden inside of a folder on the second Home Screen. The first page of that folder will have nothing but the Settings app in it — making it difficult to find apps he hasn’t learned about yet by stashing them in subsequent pages. The first Home Screen will be completely blank with just two apps in the Dock — Photos and Camera.

Because the iPod touch is going to be pitched to him as a replacement for his camera, Photos and Camera are the first two applications that we will teach him to use. With these he’ll be able to take photos, record video, and share them over iCloud. iOS’s native iCloud Photo Sharing is already my family’s preferred method of sharing photos so he’ll also have access to years worth of photographs by my wife, her sister, and myself that he can like and comment on.

Once he’s mastered the features within these two applications we will slowly start introducing more apps into his Dock and Home Screen. We’ll start with Messages and move on to Weather, Calculator, Google’s PhotoScan, and anything else that he might be interested in.

Even if he never ends up moving past the Camera and Photos apps, it will still be a huge improvement over his previous setup. His photographs will look better and he’ll actually be able to share them and communicate with friends and family through shared photos’ comments. That’s something that isn’t possible for him without the iPod touch. But with any luck, these features alone will spark interest in other applications and he’ll quickly want to learn everything he can about this new, digital world.

Walt Mossberg, the iPod, and Windows Compatibility ➝

Tony Fadell, in an interview with VentureBeat:

I had a team making it compatible with the PC and Steve’s like, “OVER MY DEAD BODY! Never! We need to sell Macs! This is going to be why people buy Macs!” I said, “Steve, the iPod is $399. But really it’s not. Because you have to buy a Mac!” We had to give people a taste. […]

He finally said, “Okay. But under one condition. We’re going to build these and run it by Mossberg. And if Mossberg says it’s good enough to ship, then we’ll ship it.” He wanted to divorce himself from having to make the decision. But Walt said, “Not bad. I’d ship it.” That’s how we actually shipped on the PC.

Now we know why nobody told Walt to get off the table at that Apple event.

New Apple Museum in Prague Shows Off Largest Private Collection of Apple Products ➝

Those iPhone and iPod timeline tables look stunning.

Apple to Simplify Retail Stores, Demoting iPods to Shelves, Dropping iPad Smart Signs ➝

Mark Gurman, Reporting for 9 to 5 Mac:

Apple is preparing to make significant changes to its stores to simplify the experience by relocating iPod stock to accessory shelves and removing iPad-based Smart Signs, according to several Apple Retail managers briefed today on the plans. Apple will begin rolling out these notable changes overnight on [September 26] to stores in the United States so that customers who begin coming in on [September 27] see the refreshed look.

iPods are an ever-shrinking part of Apple’s business and it makes sense that they would be moved to free up space for more intriguing products. But the removal of iPad-based Smart Signs strikes me as odd. I could see them being confusing to some customers who don’t realize that they aren’t intended to be fully-functional demo units, but moving that information to the devices themselves feels a little dull.

I suppose it’s all in the implementation. Maybe Apple came up with a clever way of displaying this information without it feeling like the kind of demo screen savers you’d see in early 2000s consumer electronics retail stores. And I imagine we’ll start seeing videos crop-up showcasing the new system shortly after the transition.

Who’s Actually Buying iPods These Days? ➝

Matt Birchler:

Well, I worked the last 3 years managing an electronics department for Target, and have sold a lot of Apple devices over that time. Since Apple doesn’t break down demographics for who is buying each device, I thought I would share my experience.

I’m not too surprised by most of this, especially the bit about the iPod touch. My fiancée’s father has always been technology-adverse — he won’t go near a computer. But, we found that he wasn’t as intimidated by our iOS devices. My fiancée has had him interacting with her iPhone a time or two and, although she had to walk him through most of it, he was actually using it.

We’ve often thought about pooling our money with her sister and buying him an iPod touch as a gift. It would be the perfect computer for him, especially if we pitched it to him as a camera. And if all he did with it was take photos, we’d be happy. But, I think he’d slowly get comfortable using it for FaceTime, viewing iCloud shared albums, or as a “weather station” with apps like Dark Sky.

I was surprised that Matt didn’t mention anyone buying the iPod nano or shuffle for working out. I know my fiancée doesn’t like taking her phone with her when she goes for a run — yoga pants don’t make it easy to carry — but maybe most people just carry their phones with them anyway. It’s not ideal, but an arm band is a lot cheaper than a nano or a shuffle and it makes managing your music a lot easier.

iPods in Unreleased Colors Spotted in iTunes 12.2 ➝

The fact that Apple might release these new iPod colors on a random Tuesday in July shows how far the iPod has fallen.