Q: I heard the new iPod nano has a Nike+ app built-in. Does this mean the new model works directly with the Nike+ sensor now, or do I still need to plug in the receiver?
A: The first thing to note is that there actually isn’t a “new” iPod nano. The iPod nano being sold this year is the same as the 2010 iPod nano with the only difference being iPod nano firmware v1.2 which is available as a free download for the earlier models as well.
What has changed in the v1.2 firmware is an expanded version of the Pedometer feature introduced in 2010. Originally, the iPod nano provided a limited Pedometer mode which used the accelerometer to track steps when walking. This has now been expanded to provide most of the same features of the Nike+ app such as the ability to track runs and provide more statistical data and history even without the sensor connected. However without the sensor this feature uses the built-in accelerometer to collect this information, meaning that it calculates your movements based on the jiggling of the iPod nano itself, which may be less accurate attached to your arm or chest. Serious fitness enthusiasts will likely still want to use the Sport Kit for the increased accuracy provided by the shoe sensor.
If you want to use the Nike+ kit this works in much the same way as it always has—you will need to plug in the receiver to the Dock Connector and pair it with the sensor. The only difference in the v1.2 firmware is that the “Fitness” app doesn’t change based on whether you have the sensor connected—it simply uses the sensor if it’s available, or the accelerometer if not.