iPod Modders Give Apple’s Abandoned Music Player New Life

On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, Apple lastly killed off the iPod. After nearly 13 years available on the market, the enduring moveable music participant was retired with out fanfare. The pocket-sized gadget with the press wheel and a small coloration show merely disappeared from Apple’s on-line storefront simply because the merchandise that had been introduced that day—the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6—had been being added. 

Quickly t.after, experiences circulated that new-in-box fashions of the final iPod bearing that unique design—then referred to as the “iPod Traditional”—had been promoting on web public sale websites for at the least double the retail value. Clearly, some folks weren’t able to withstand a future that felt inevitable: a transfer away from huge collections of MP3 information saved on devoted music gamers and towards a world of streaming music delivered over the air for a $10 month-to-month price.

Six years later, in 2021, Apple let the twentieth anniversary of the iPod cross as quietly because it had let the iPod Traditional fade into obscurity. Followers of the iPod, however, have been rising in quantity as classic gamers are dusted off, repaired, and upgraded with new elements. Teams of {hardware} modders are including issues like Bluetooth functionality, Taptic Engine suggestions, customized coloured instances, and terabytes of silent, power-sipping flash storage to their iPods, bringing the gadget totally into the 2020s—all with out Apple’s blessing.

Kick Out the Jams

The unique iPods had been modular, breaking down right into a display screen, motherboard, headphone meeting, battery, and laborious drive, all related with tiny ribbon cables. With a little bit of know-how, it is now doable so as to add terabytes, not simply gigabytes, into late-model iPods by swapping out the older spinning laborious drive in favor of a more moderen stable state drive. Flash storage is extra sturdy and extra compact, makes use of much less energy, and removes all of the whirring and clicking typical of mechanical laborious drives. And since SSDs are smaller, putting in one frees up house contained in the iPod’s case that {hardware} hackers can use to squeeze in extra niceties.

Reviving discarded devices is one thing the {hardware} hacking scene likes to do. By adopting the iPod platform, hackers flip e-waste into clean canvases for expression and symbols of rise up in opposition to artist-unfriendly streaming companies. Cara Esten, electronics fanatic and musician, stumbled again into iPods after years of streaming music. “I ended up going to a storage sale, and anyone was promoting a 30-gig iPod,” Esten says. “So I simply picked it up. And I used to be like, t. needs to be a solution to do a contemporary conversion … it simply runs off of a reasonably primary type of commonplace interface.”

She cracked open her secondhand participant and added flash storage, a brand new battery, and a shiny blue faceplate, making it instantly recognizable as higher than the common ‘Pod. After reentering the iPod way of life together with her reborn music participant, she took to . to publish a easy manifesto selling offline music listening:

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Esten says carrying an iPod together with her is essential, particularly when she loses knowledge service on a commute that takes her into the mobile useless zone contained in the practice tunnel working beneath San Francisco Bay. “T. had been so many instances I used to be listening to an album … I would duck beneath the Transbay tunnel, utterly lose sign, and it begins reducing out,” she says. “I believe that’s the cool factor concerning the iPod. It doesn’t matter what, [my music’s] t.. I do not need to must make choices about what I am listening to beforehand. My telephone may very well be useless, Spotify may very well be down. Understanding I can simply put headphones on and hearken to my music is so good.”

Profession Alternatives

School dropout Austin Lucas seen one thing whereas working at a small-town cell phone restore store. Numerous clients had been coming in with iPods that the store—which had lengthy since adjusted its enterprise to satisfy the calls for of the iPhone period—was now not geared up to repair.

“Somebody got here in with a [seventh-gen iPod Classic] and my coworker was like ‘I do not need to contact it.’ It clicked that day-after-day, a whole bunch, if not hundreds of individuals are going to restore outlets with iPods and so they’re being turned down. They’re being advised it is simpler to go purchase one on-line somew..”

That is when he noticed his alternative. Quitting the telephone biz, he began a store with a deal with iPods, referred to as Elite Out of date Electronics. Since 2019, EOE has had a front-row seat to the iPod renaissance. In his Kansas lab, Lucas elements out iPods purchased in bulk from electronics recyclers, exams the varied bits, and reassembles working iPods with a mixture of new and used elements.