Upgrading to a newer iPod for an in-car Dock Connector
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: I have a fourth-generation 20 GB iPod that I use in my car with a Dock Connector that was installed to share the satellite input. I’d like to replace it with a larger capacity iPod but I don’t want to lose the ability to use the Dock Connector which did not work with my first-generation iPhone and will not work with an iPhone 4S. Is there an adapter I can use with a current generation iPod classic? Or what is the latest generation iPod I can use with a Dock Connector that works with a 4G?
A: For the purposes of analog audio playback the 30-pin Dock Connector has remained essentially unchanged since it was introduced with the third-generation iPod in 2003. Any properly designed speaker system or other accessory that simply plays music via the Dock Connector should work fine for that purpose on all iPod, iPhone and iPad models that still include the 30-pin Dock Connector.
Beyond simply providing analog audio output, however, the issue gets somewhat murkier, as the standards for data transfer and charging have changed a couple of times over the years. Specifically, the original Dock Connector on the third-generation iPod in 2003 only supported charging from a 12V FireWire power source; this was later expanded to allow for either 12V FireWire or 5V USB power with the iPod mini and fourth-generation iPod, and continued across all later iPod models, and even the original iPhone, until the release of the iPhone 3G in 2008. From this point onward, 12V FireWire charging was dropped from all subsequent iPod and iPhone models with the notable exception of the iPod classic, which has basically only received modest design changes anyway since it was first released in 2007.
For data communication over the Dock Connector, the third- and fourth-generation iPod and the iPod mini supported both FireWire and USB data transfer in 2003 and 2004; the fifth-generation iPod and original iPod nano dropped this support to USB only in 2005, which continued on with all subsequent iPod models as well as the iPhone and the iPad.
What this means in practical terms is that if your in-car system simply takes audio from the Dock Connector it should work fine for playing audio from an iPod classic or even any iPhone or iPad model—subject to physical size limitations, of course. It is unlikely that it will continue to charge any newer iPod models except for the iPod classic, which still continues to support 12V FireWire power. You can also power an iPhone, iPod touch or iPod nano simply by using a third-party FireWire to USB charging adapter such as the Scosche Passport.
If your in-car system actually reads data from the iPod, which many do in order to display on-screen menus and playlists for example, then compatibility will depend on whether your system was designed to communicate with the iPod over FireWire or USB. However, FireWire was only supported for data communication via the Dock Connector for a two-year period, with USB also supported for that entire time, and has not been supported in any iPod model sold since mid-2005. Therefore, in-car systems that use FireWire to communicate with an iPod would be relatively uncommon. If you do find yourself in this situation, you should consider upgrading or replacing your in-car system if at all possible, since the only other option is to mess with expensive ($200+) and relatively obscure FireWire-to-USB adapter solutions. Some companies sell simple and inexpensive FireWire-to-USB pin adapters, but these border on being snake oil and will not only definitely not work, but may even put your equipment at risk; FireWire and USB are completely different communication standards that can’t be converted with a simple pin reconfiguration any more than you can plug a coaxial television cable into your headphone jack to listen to cable TV audio.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Instagram 9.2 update for iOS includes pinch-to-zoom on photos and videos
- Judge dismisses key claims of Monster’s case against Beats over Apple deal
- Apple adds 2TB iCloud storage option
- Spec sheet shows Lightning EarPods, Lightning headphone adapter packed in with 256GB iPhone 7 Plus
- Papa John’s releases pizza-ordering app for Apple TV
- Apple call Australian banks’ request a ‘detriment to consumers’
- EU determines Apple should pay 13 billion euros in back taxes to Ireland; Apple plans appeal
- SIM tray photos hint at alleged ‘gloss black’ iPhone color
- Trademark filings hint at wireless EarPods, two new Apple Watch models
- Report: EU to rule against Apple-Ireland tax deals, recommend Apple pay 1B+ Euros
- Kanex GoPower Watch Portable Battery for Apple Watch
- Nuvyyo Tablo Over-the-Air Television DVR
- Belkin PowerHouse Charge Dock for Apple Watch and iPhone
- Western Digital My Cloud (OS 3)
- Distil Union Stanley Stand
- Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected Bluetooth Toothbrush
- Audeze EL-8 Titanium Over-Ear Headphones
- Defined Corp Dome Stand for Apple Watch and iPhone
- Speck StyleFolio Pencil for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Audeze Sine On-Ear Headphone
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app