It might be stereotypical to hail “the end of an era”, but many music fans essentially did when, in May, Apple discontinued the last remaining iPod model it was still selling. That was the iPod touch, the most recent version of which was released in May 2019.
Of course, the history of the iPod line as a whole goes back much further — right back to October 2001, when Apple introduced the revolutionary first iPod music-playing device. If you still have an old iPod lying around somewhere, could you update it yourself to suit modern sensibilities?
iPods could get a new lease of life in the streaming age
In a recent statement quoted by MacRumors, Apple executive Greg Joswiak reflected that the iPod “redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared”.
However, mainstream methods of music consumption have changed significantly since the iPod’s day — a time when music fans would often buy downloads of music rather than stream it for a monthly fee, as is the case with now-popular services like Spotify and Apple Music.
So, you could understandably how wondered what might have happened in an alternate timeline where, rather than being phased out and discontinued, many long-enduring versions of the iPod — like the iPod Shuffle and iPod nano — were updated with support for music-streaming services…
An eye-opening project by developer Guy Dupont
The fourth-generation model in the original iPod line arrived in 2004 with a tiny display by today’s standards in consumer electronics. This fourth-gen iPod kept the iconic Click Wheel but, in common with many iPods, lacked any wireless connections.
However, Dupont opted to remove almost all of the original internals from a fourth-generation iPod and equip it with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity as well as a color screen. Especially excitingly, the device could now be used to stream songs from Spotify.
Using official Spotify APIs, Dupont created and installed a version of Spotify resembling the iPod’s classic interface. The ‘sPot’, as Dupont has called the device, cost him less than $100 to build — and 9to5Mac has posted links to resources you could use to build your own version of the sPot.
How Dupont overcome various challenges
The ‘brain’ of the sPot is a Raspberry Pi Zero W. “I’m not sure there’s another single-board computer this powerful that would have fit in this case, let alone one that’s so affordable and readily available,” Dupont has admitted as quoted on the official Raspberry Pi website.
Most of the hardware for the sPot came from an electronics store near where he lived. However, even if you don’t live near any brick-and-mortar store stocking an extensive selection of Raspberry Pi components, you could still order supplies from an online shop like The Pi Hut.
While Dupont has conceded that it took him two attempts to source the right size of haptic motor for the device, he has reflected that it was easy for him to get help, when he needed it, from the Raspberry Pi community — a group he described as “incredible”.