On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, Apple killed off the classic iPod. (The iPod touch, more an iPhone without the phone, is still being manufactured and remains on sale to this day.) After almost 13 years on the market, the iconic portable music player was retired without fanfare. But, iPod modders continue to use classic iPods in interesting ways.
Brendan Nystedt For Wired:
Six years later, in 2021, Apple let the 20th anniversary of the iPod pass as quietly as it had let the iPod Classic fade into obscurity. Fans of the iPod, on the other hand, have been growing in number as vintage players are dusted off, repaired, and upgraded with new parts. Groups of hardware modders are adding things like Bluetooth capability, Taptic Engine feedback, custom colored cases, and terabytes of silent, power-sipping flash storage to their iPods, bringing the device fully into the 2020s—all without Apple’s blessing.
The original iPods were modular, breaking down into a screen, motherboard, headphone assembly, battery, and hard drive, all connected with tiny ribbon cables. With a bit of know-how, it’s now possible to add terabytes, not just gigabytes, into late-model iPods by swapping out the older spinning hard drive in favor of a newer solid state drive. Flash storage is more durable and more compact, uses less power, and gets rid of all the whirring and clicking typical of mechanical hard drives. And since SSDs are smaller, installing one frees up space inside the iPod’s case that hardware hackers can use to squeeze in additional niceties.
Amir Rees, an iPod modder, has come up with a self-contained Bluetooth addition that lives in the iPod’s chrome back half, along with the battery and headphone jack. “I decided to create a mod that simply refined what others had done—a Bluetooth kit that looked professional, performed well, and did not require soldering,” Rees says in an email. “It’s completely plug-and-play.”