iPod Modders Give Apple’s Abandoned Music Player New Life

On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, Apple lastly killed off the iPod. After virtually 13 years in the marketplace, the long-lasting moveable music participant was retired with out fanfare. The pocket-sized system 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. 

Soon thereafter, reviews circulated that new-in-box fashions of the final iPod bearing that authentic design—then known as the “iPod Classic”—had 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 cross as quietly because it had let the iPod Classic fade into obscurity. Fans of the iPod, however, have been rising in quantity as classic gamers are dusted off, repaired, and upgraded with new components. Groups 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 system absolutely into the 2020s—all with out Apple’s blessing.

Kick Out the Jams

The authentic iPods had been modular, breaking down right into a display screen, motherboard, headphone meeting, battery, and exhausting drive, all related with tiny ribbon cables. With a little bit of know-how, it is now potential so as to add terabytes, not simply gigabytes, into late-model iPods by swapping out the older spinning exhausting drive in favor of a more recent strong 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 exhausting 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 revolt towards 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 way of life along with her reborn music participant, she took to Twitter to publish a easy manifesto selling offline music listening:

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Esten says carrying an iPod along with her is crucial, particularly when she loses knowledge service on a commute that takes her into the mobile lifeless zone contained in the prepare 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. A number of 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 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 give attention to iPods, known as Elite Obsolete Electronics. Since 2019, EOE has had a front-row seat to the iPod renaissance. In his Kansas lab, Lucas components out iPods purchased in bulk from electronics recyclers, checks the varied bits, and reassembles working iPods with a mixture of new and used parts.

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