The iPod turns 20 years old next month, and while it’s far from certain that Apple will mark this anniversary in any meaningful way, one concept artist has imagined what it would be like if the company decided to bring back the music player, click wheel and all.
In his latest YouTube video, designer Andrea Copellino has produced an iPod Classic for 2021, following the flat aesthetic that the company introduced with the iPhone 12 and iPad Pro. The shiny metal back of the original iPod is nodded to on the sides, but not on the back because Copellino has chosen to imagine that the fictional 2021 model will embrace wireless charging.
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He also envisions Apple would not include a 3.5mm headphone jack, instead opting for a wireless experience centered around AirPod use.
The user interface has been updated to be more colorful and curved than the original's text design. And while Copellino has retained the click wheel from the original, he’s also updated the icons to match the most recent Apple TV 4K remote.
While he concedes that the company would probably go full screen rather than reviving a control scheme abandoned in 2014, Copellino defends his choice by pointing out that he’d just be drawing an iPhone 12 without it; a fair point.
Does the iPod have a future?
Released on October 23, 2001, the original iPod revolutionized portable music. In an era when MP3 players were thin sticks that could barely hold more than an album’s worth of music, Apple introduced a sleek product with a 5GB capacity that could hold up to 1,000 tracks.
But with the advent of the smartphone, dedicated mp3 players dwindled in popularity and the iPod was no exception. The first iPhone, released in 2007, could multitask with the best of them, and it only got better over subsequent generations.
The iPod Classic was killed off in 2014. And while the iPod Touch is still available on Apple’s shop, it’s hidden away in a submenu of the music section, and hasn’t been refreshed since 2019. It has a 4-inch screen, thick bezels all the way round, and runs off the Apple 10 chip. In other words, it has the same power as an iPhone 7 while looking like an iPhone 5, hardly desirable in 2021.
Copellino is clear that his render is just a bit of fun, and there’s close to zero prospect of Apple making a device like this nowadays, even with a big anniversary coming up. But that doesn’t mean that Apple has given up the idea of dedicated music players altogether.
Back in May, MacRumors writer Steve Moser claimed that Apple might be reviving the iPod Touch “this fall”. He included a bunch of renders showing a device that looks a lot like an iPhone 12, complete with square edges and Face ID for unlocking.
In November 2020, Apple added ‘iPod touch’ to their Apple Music PR blurb. Well now we know why. This Fall Apple is planning to release the next version of the iPod touch. Thanks to @AppleLe257 for sourcing info & @Apple_Tomorrow for the renders! pic.twitter.com/ImQQj3hxDcMay 21, 2021
Given we’ve seen no other leaks, or heard anything else about a potential new iPod Touch since, Moser’s follow-up tweet — that this is a rumor rather than a confirmed leak — is probably prescient. But with the iPod celebrating its 20th birthday in just 47 days time, it will be interesting to see what Apple has up its sleeve to mark the occasion.