A recently published Apple patent application suggests the company has been working on a way to add a speaker to the iPod nano and iPod shuffle. Entitled “Speaker Clip”, U.S. Patent Application #20110274303 describes a rear clip, similar to the one found on current-model iPod nanos and iPod shuffles, that incorporates a piezoelectric speaker in a recessed region in the clip, with perforations to allow the audio to pass through. Notably, one of the drawings included in the patent shows a round hole in the rear clip of an iPod nano-shaped device, serving as evidence that the company has been experimenting with the idea of added a camera to the device, as was suggested by a part leak earlier this year.
The updated user interface for the sixth-generation iPod nano has just been released through iTunes, and we’ve had the opportunity to test it out. Here’s what’s changed between versions 1.1 and 1.2:
Home Screen: Previously, the iPod nano presented users with a set of four icons at a time, allowing you to swipe between multiple Home Screens like an iPod touch or iPhone, and rearrange the icons to move them from screen to screen. The new iPod nano interface presents users with much larger icons that are viewed one at a time with the edges of two additional icons off to the sides of the screen. You can still hold down on an icon to make all of the icons jiggle, re-arranging them in your preferred order.
There’s less need to do that than before, as Apple has removed all of the useless filler icons that were previously in the interface—Playlists, Artists, Songs, Albums, and Genius Mixes—by default, and a new Home Screen settings feature now gives you the ability to turn almost all of these and the other icons on or off. Additionally, you can restore the old user interface with a new feature called “Small Icons,” which turns the prior interface back on.
Fitness: Previously, the iPod nano’s Fitness application had a generic running icon, and included the menu choices Nike + iPod, Pedometer, and History. The new Fitness application has a Nike+ icon, with the choices Walk, Run, and History. Walk is a slightly redesigned version of Pedometer, with additional statistical details now accessible via a horizontal swipe rather than a vertical one. Run contains prior Nike+ options.
Clock: Previously, the Clock application had only two watch faces to choose from; it now has 18 different clock faces. Tapping on the screen brings up a translucent pane with arrows that let you see all 18, which we’ve gathered in this news story. Some of the faces look considerably better than one might expect from still images; one features moving gears, others feature extremely detailed, high-resolution hands, and some offer nice hybrids of digital and analog time. Swiping from right to left brings up stopwatch and timer features.
Wallpaper: Three additional pieces of wallpaper have been added in the new software, bringing the total to 12.
An internal Apple document has revealed that the company plans to bring all the new features of the 2011 iPod nano to 2010 models in a software update. The “Then and Now” document, published online by 9to5Mac, states that iPod software update version 1.2 will include the larger home screen icons, walk and run fitness features with spoken feedback, and new clock faces to the 2010 models via free download from iTunes. Notably, no release date is given for the update; however, as the 2011 models are available now, it is likely that Apple will release the update for 2010 models in the near future.
Update: iPod nano software update version 1.2 for the 2010 iPod nano is available now as a free download via iTunes’ update feature.
Among the few changes in Apple’s iPod nano software update version 1.2—which ships on the 2011 iPod nano—is the addition of 16 clock faces to the two originally available on the 2010 model, an apparent acknowledgment from Apple of the popularity of watch accessories for the diminutive touchscreen music player. The new assortment includes a wide variety of faces, including a Nixie tube clock-inspired face, and Disney-licensed character faces featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Kermit the Frog, and Animal. All eighteen are pictured below.
Apple’s official web pages for the new iPod nano and iPod touch models have been intermittently online since they were announced, and suggest that the updates are as minor as they were portrayed on stage. New iPod nano pages suggest no changes to the body, screen, or colors of the new model, which continues to have a clip on the back and did not regain video camera functionality as was suggested many months ago by a rear shell leak; the most significant changes appear to be the addition of built-in Nike+ support, “Fitness Walk + Run” support, the redesigned one-plus-quarter-quarter icon interface, and the lowered $129/$149 price points. Additionally, the iPod touch does not appear to have gained any new internal functionality beyond what was offered in iOS 5-related software updates; it continues to have an A4 processor with Bluetooth 2.1 capabilities, while the iPhone 4S has gained a dual-core A5 processor with Bluetooth 4.0.
Updated: Despite having pitched the iPod nano as “new” during its presentation and in an accompanying press release, Apple will apparently offer all of the new features as a free version 1.2 software update to the sixth-generation (2010) iPod nano, to be available through the iTunes Store.
Apple today announced what it described as the “new” iPod nano, a refined version of the touch-screened sixth-generation model. The new iPod nano offers a refined user interface with bigger icons and a variety of clock faces for users who want to use it as a watch. It also features an updated Fitness feature to track walks and runs, suggesting that Nike+ functionality will be offered without any external devices. The new iPod nano is available immediately in seven colors and sells for $129 for the 8GB model and $149 for the 16GB model.
Updated: This article has been updated from the original version, which followed Apple’s claim that the device was “new.” Subsequently released information suggests that all of the new features noted above will be brought to the sixth-generation (2010) iPod nano model as a free version 1.2 software update through iTunes, suggesting that no hardware changes have been made to the “new” device. Spoken feedback previously available during Nike+ runs is now available without the use of Nike+ hardware.
Apple will launch the iPhone 4S on October 14, according to a premature posting on its Japanese retail store sites. Mac Rumors reports that the site lists the iPhone 4S launch as taking place in Japan at 8:00 am on October 14; it seems likely that the handset will launch in other countries, including the U.S., on the same day. In addition, the page also makes mention of an updated iPod nano, with pricing for the new model to begin at 10,800 yen—roughly $140—down from the current 13,800 yen; it is unclear whether the change is related to a price drop or a change in currency exchange rates.
In addition, images for the iPhone 4S in black and white have been posted to Apple’s site, and appear to be identical to those of the CDMA iPhone 4, save for what appears to be a change in the black model’s proximity sensor. Apple is expected to announce both devices at its special media event, which begins shortly.
Apple has released Software update version 1.1 for the sixth-generation iPod nano. According to Apple’s release notes, the new software gives users the ability to turn the device completely off when detached from a power source, instead of simply putting it to sleep, and also gives them the option of controlling music or radio playback using the Sleep/Wake button, eliminating the need for them to look at the device. More details on the changes in behavior between putting the device to sleep and turning it completely off can be found in the Apple Support document linked above. Software update version 1.1 for the sixth-generation iPod nano is available now via the Update feature in iTunes.
A developer has figured out a way to hack the sixth-generation iPod nano. Developer and hacker James Whelton has figured out a way to boot the nano with a modified files by bypassing the device’s cache comparison routines, which has allowed him to remove one of the device’s “apps” and create a blank space, something that’s possible on jailbroken iOS devices. According to his nanohack.me blog, Whelton is hoping that the discovery will allow the hacking community to figure out a way to “jailbreak” the nano, but Whelton himself said he is currently focused on exposing some of the currently hidden features of the device, and stressed that he doesn’t want his progress so far to be “blown out of proportion.” Notably, the sixth-generation doesn’t actually run iOS, but instead uses a modified version of the prior iPod nano OS which has been updated to offer a user interface experience similar to that of an iOS device. [via Macstories]
Apple has released version 1.4 of its VoiceOver Kit for the fifth-generation iPod nano and third- and fourth-generation iPod shuffle. VoiceOver enables the devices to announce the names of playlists, songs, and artists, as well as battery status and other messages. According to Apple’s release notes, the new version offers pronunciation improvements for many artist and song names, improved voices for Korean, German, and Russian, and fourth-generation iPod shuffle support for Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, and Thai languages. VoiceOver Kit 1.4 is a 32.5MB download and is available for download now via Apple’s Software Update utility.
iSuppli has released its estimate of the sixth-generation iPod nano’s Bill of Materials (BOM) cost. The company tore apart the low-end 8GB version, and found that the device’s flash storage and RAM represented the highest materials cost at $14.40. It was followed by the display/touchscreen module, estimated to cost $11.50, the ARM processor, at $4.95, and a number of other smaller components, including a Cirrus Logic audio chip, which were grouped together for a total cost of $3.49. Over all, iSuppli estimates the BOM cost of the 8GB iPod nano 6G to be $45.10, including manufacturing costs. As always, these estimates are not exact, and do not include any R&D, marketing, or shipping costs.
Following a redesign of the Voice Memos icon for the sixth-generation iPod nano, Apple has unexpectedly changed the Voice Memos icon for iOS 4.2 devices including the iPhone and iPod touch. The new icon discards the previous photo-realistic style microphone for a simpler symbol-on-gradient treatment that more closely matches the Phone, Messages, and iPod applications, an unusual step backward in icon design given that other applications received more detailed icons when Apple introduced the iPad, as well as Retina Display-bearing iPhone and iPod touch devices. Apple is expected to release iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in November.
The sixth-generation iPod nano contains a hidden “iTerm” Diagnostic Mode and separate Disk Mode similar to previous-generation iPod nano models, iLounge has discovered. Due to changes in its buttons relative to the prior Click Wheel iPod nanos, the new iPod nano’s hidden modes are activated with a slightly different button combination: first, the nano needs to be reset by holding down the sleep and volume down buttons until the Apple logo appears. Holding down both volume buttons during the reset enables Disk Mode, while holding down all three buttons will start up the iPod nano in Diagnostic Mode, briefly flashing the message “iTerm: iPod Display Console” on screen. The menu then identifies the new nano as “N20 Snowfox,” changed from the “N33 GreatDane” designation of the fifth-generation iPod nano. Older generation models did not appear to use these codenames, supplying only a version number.
Apple’s diagnostic menus are navigated and selected using the hardware buttons on the device and include substantially more options than previous-generation iPod nano devices, including options for testing power, audio, remote, TV out, LCD, USB, FM radio, accelerometer and touch screen functions. The sixth-generation iPod nano also includes a hibernation mode similar to that found on earlier iPod nano models, causing the device to go into a low-power mode after 14 hours of non-use. Disk Mode, which transforms the nano’s colorful screen into a black and white display like the ones on early iPod models, forces the nano to appear to a computer as if it was an external USB hard disk—a feature that’s only necessary if the device’s firmware has been corrupted and needs to be restored.
iLounge has discovered that the sixth-generation iPod nano is capable of syncing and playing back both video podcasts and music videos, albeit without actual video. Instead, the device plays back the audio contained within the video files, and displays a single keyframe on the screen as opposed to full-on video. This should come as good news to potential iPod nano 6G users with large collections of either video podcasts, music videos, or both, and also gives the new nano another library of free content—through video podcasts—on which to draw from, albeit in a limited nature. The device remains closed to movies and TV shows, however.
iFixit has posted its teardown of the sixth-generation iPod nano. According to the service, disassembly of the nano is fairly straightforward once the display is removed—a task which requires a heat gun—and looks quite similar to the fourth-generation iPod shuffle once inside. Notably, the nano 6G sports a 105 mAh battery, features a 240x240 display for a pixel density of 220 pixels per inch—second only to the iPhone 4’s and fourth-generation iPod touch’s Retina Displays. Overall, iFixit gave the iPod nano 6G a five out of 10 on the repairability scale, with 10 being the easiest to repair.
In addition to our earlier galleries showing the unboxing of the sixth-generation iPod nano and fourth-generation iPod touch, comparisons of the new models to their predecessors, and images comparing the rear-facing camera of the iPod touch 4G to that of the iPhone 4, iLounge has posted new photos to our Flickr photostream showing off the touch-based interface of the new iPod nano, as well as a new photo—seen in limited resolution above—of the entire 2010 lineup of iPods, iPhones, and the iPad.
For those customers who didn’t pre-order their new devices through Apple’s online store, the company’s entire lineup of Fall 2010 iPods is now available in its retail stores, including the fourth-generation iPod shuffle, sixth-generation iPod nano, and fourth-generation iPod touch. Notably, not all colors and/or capacities may be available at your local store; calling ahead to make sure the particular model you want is in stock is advisable. For more information on the new iPods, see our comprehensive review of the fourth-generation iPod shuffle, as well as our unboxing and comparison photo galleries for the fourth-generation iPod touch and sixth-generation iPod nano.
iLounge has received its sixth-generation iPod nano and fourth-generation iPod touch units, and has posted a gallery of unboxing photos to our Flickr account. The photos include all seven colors of the iPod nano and the new FaceTime-capable fourth-generation iPod touch. We will be updating the gallery throughout the day with comparison photos and other new photography, so be sure to check back later.
Update: Color comparison shots have been posted in a separate gallery.
Apple Japan replaced around 5,000 iPod nano batteries over a three week period in August, according to the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. The Mainichi Daily News reports that Apple replaced 4,994 first-generation iPod nano units from August 11 to September 1, a substantial increase that can be attributed to the company’s posting of a statement on its website explaining how users of first-generation iPod nano units can receive a replacement battery. Apple was ordered by the Ministry to post such a statement earlier in August following complaints from users that it was too difficult to find information on the battery replacement program. [via AppleInsider]
Apple has posted its first TV advertisements for the fourth-generation iPod touch and sixth-generation iPod nano online. The fourth-generation touch commercial is similar to past spots for the device, showing off its video-recording, gaming, and FaceTime features against a white background, set the to song “Come Home” by Chappo. The sixth-generation iPod nano commercial is also shot against a white background, and is shown being clipped to various people’s clothing while they manipulate the touch-based controls; the song “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake is played in the background. Apple’s new iPod commercials are available for viewing now on the company’s website.