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 in the marketplace, the long-lasting moveable music participant was retired with out fanfare. The pocket-sized machine with the clicking wheel and a small colour show merely disappeared from Apple’s on-line storefront simply because the merchandise that have been introduced that day—the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6—have been being added. 

Soon thereafter, stories circulated that new-in-box fashions of the final iPod bearing that unique design—then known as the “iPod Classic”—have been promoting on web public sale websites for at least double the retail price. Clearly, some individuals 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 charge.

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

Kick Out the Jams

The unique iPods have been modular, breaking down right into a display, motherboard, headphone meeting, battery, and laborious drive, all linked 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 recent stable state drive. Flash storage is extra sturdy and extra compact, makes use of much less energy, and eliminates all of the whirring and clicking typical of mechanical laborious drives. And since SSDs are smaller, putting in one frees up area 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 riot 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 garage sale, and somebody was selling a 30-gig iPod,” Esten says. “So I just picked it up. And I was like, there has to be a way to do a modern conversion … it just runs off of a pretty basic kind of standard 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 life-style together with her reborn music participant, she took to Twitter to submit 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 information service on a commute that takes her into the mobile lifeless zone contained in the practice tunnel operating beneath San Francisco Bay. “There were so many times I was listening to an album … I’d duck under the Transbay tunnel, completely lose signal, and it starts cutting out,” she says. “I think that’s the cool thing about the iPod. No matter what, [my music’s] there. I don’t want to have to make decisions about what I’m listening to beforehand. My phone could be dead, Spotify could be down. Knowing I can just put headphones on and listen to my music is so nice.”

Career Opportunities

College dropout Austin Lucas seen one thing whereas working at a small-town cell phone restore store. Quite a lot of prospects have been coming in with iPods that the store—which had lengthy since adjusted its enterprise to fulfill the calls for of the iPhone period—was not outfitted to repair.

“Someone came in with a [seventh-gen iPod Classic] and my coworker was like ‘I don’t want to touch it.’ It clicked that every day, hundreds, if not thousands of people are going to repair shops with iPods and they’re being turned down. They’re being told it’s easier to go buy one online somewhere.”

That’s when he noticed his alternative. Quitting the cellphone biz, he began a store with a concentrate on iPods, known as Elite Obsolete 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, assessments the assorted bits, and reassembles working iPods with a mixture of new and used elements.

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