Somewhere, living on top of a mountain or in a jungle, there must be someone who hasn’t heard of mobile devices. When it comes to revolutions that change almost everything for everyone, there’s nothing to match the one that made it possible to communicate with almost anyone, any time, anywhere – mountain tops and jungles included.
We have had mobile phones for decades, but they were still just phones. They didn’t launch a market that has now more devices than we have people.
But what started the real revolution? It was the iPod, which was the mother of the iPhone, the first mass-produced hand-held computer that could make phone calls. The iPhone, the iPad and the iPod touch – the hand-held computer that doesn’t make phone calls – extended that function and led us all to the ultimate hub, the internet cloud.
The iPod shattered and remade the music industry. It was a harbinger of the enormous changes still in train in entertainment and media. It destroyed the Walkman almost overnight, broke the nerves of music moguls, and ushered us into the digital age, from which there is no escape, mostly because it is so convenient, even when dealing with a bank.
People now store their music, videos and data as much in the cloud as in their own devices and, increasingly, they are now streamed rather than stored locally. Think of Apple Music or Beats Radio.
But, given that the iPhone has a software iPod inside, one might think the iPod would have been consigned to the museum. Indeed, my first iPod, one of the first in Australia, the chunky white block with the scroll wheel selector, now sits in the ?internet Macintosh User Group ? Apple collection in the Melbourne Museum.
True, iPod sales have been declining; yet, just a couple of weeks ago, Apple released the sixth generation of the iPod touch, and is still producing iPod nanos and shuffles. Since iPod’s first birthday, October 23, 2001, Apple has sold more than 350 million iPods. Sales have slowed but demand continues.
There is now an A8 processor and an M8 motion co-processor, as in the iPhone 6 and 6 plus, giving 10 times faster graphics performance; good for games. Overall, performance is close to that of the iPhone 6. There is, however, no Touch ID and no near-field communications for payments; a possible benefit if you give one to an offspring.
The main iSight camera now rates at 8 megapixels and has slow-motion and burst modes; Wi-Fi is three times faster than in the 5th-gen device. There’s no cellular radio, but it’s easy to make FaceTime and Skype calls via Wi-Fi, and with the introduction by Telstra of street-side Wi-Fi kiosks, that’s now approaching the ubiquitous. For connection to headsets and other accessories, there’s Bluetooth 4.1. It comes loaded with iOS8.4, is ready for iOS9 and has the usual array of Apple apps.
The new iPod is a beautiful thing in a new livery of brilliant colours, including gold and Product (RED). Size and weight are unchanged; most improvements are inside. The Retina screen – 4-inch,? as in the iPhone 5 – looks sharper and brighter. In the hand it is lovely; slim and light and immaculately finished. Prices start at $279 for the 16GB model. Capacity ranges up to 128GB.
Its market is likely to include parents with precocious children they don’t want racking up big telco bills talking to lama breeders in Latin America, and people who want a neat video, movie and music player with excellent battery life. It’s compatible with Windows, so if you have one of those things, the new iPod touch is a great way to get access to Apple apps, features and services, such as Apple Music, iTunes videos, iBooks, the newspaper and Apple Maps, among much else.