Q: I’ve been nervous about applying the recent updates for my fifth-generation iPod as I’ve heard that the new firmware updates break compatibility with certain accessories, and specifically prevent any non-Apple video accessories from working in the same way that the iPod classic does. Is this true? Do I need to apply this latest firmware update or should I wait?
A: Our testing with the fifth-generation iPod with recent firmware versions, including the latest v1.3 version, indicates that there are no additional specific restrictions being placed by new firmware versions on the use of third-party video output accessories or any other type of accessory. It is certainly possible that compatibility with certain less mainstream accessories such as car integration kits may be affected by changes in the firmware, but we have no reason to believe that such changes would be deliberate.
The reality, however, is that the v1.3 firmware does not list any new functionality, and from our own testing, doesn’t even appear to change anything specific. There is therefore no real reason to apply this firmware upgrade if your iPod has otherwise been working fine.
Note that with the traditional iPod models such as the fifth-generation iPod and even the iPod classic, it is actually very easy to downgrade to an older firmware version, provided that you actually have that older version on-hand, and you already have all of your content in your iTunes library (since moving back to an older firmware version requires a “Restore” of your iPod).
To restore your iPod using an older firmware version, simply connect your iPod, go to the “Summary” tab in iTunes, and hold down the OPT key (Mac) or SHIFT key (Windows) while clicking the “Restore” button. iTunes will prompt you to select the firmware package you wish to use.
Existing firmware packages downloaded by iTunes itself as part of the normal iPod updates can be found in /Users/(username)/Library/Application Support/iTunes/iPod Software Updates on Mac OS X, C:\Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPod Software Updates on Windows XP, and C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPod Software Updates on Windows Vista.