An illustrated history of the iPod and its massive impact

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Steve Jobs on the cover of NewsWeek
Steve Jobs and the iPod make the cover of NewsWeek.
Photo: NewsWeek

Editor’s note: Today marks the 20th anniversary of the iPod, the humble digital music player that reshaped Apple. To mark the occasion, Cult of Mac updated its illustrated history of the iPod — put together to celebrate the device’s 10th anniversary, and originally published on Oct. 22, 2011.

An Illustrated History of the iPod

The iPod grew out of Steve Jobs’ digital hub strategy. Life was going digital. People were plugging all kinds of devices into their computers: digital cameras, camcorders, MP3 players.

The computer was the central device, the “digital hub,” that could be used to edit photos and movies or manage a large music library. Jobs tasked Apple’s programmers with making software for editing photos, movies and managing digital music. While they were doing this, they discovered that all the early MP3 players were horrible. Jobs asked his top hardware guy, Jon Rubinstein, to see if Apple could do better.

Today in Apple history: iPod nano gets colorful aluminum upgrade

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iPod nano
The second-gen iPod nano was totally metal.
Photo: Dongyi Liu/Flickr CC

Sept 25: Today in Apple history: Second-generation iPod nano gets colorful aluminum upgrade September 25, 2006: Apple ships its second-generation iPod nano, offering a fancy redesign of the pocket-size original.

Among the new iPod nano’s improvements is a slimmer, anodized aluminum casing, a brighter screen, longer battery life and a wide range of colors. And, oh yes, it also includes gapless music playback for the first time!

Photos reveal early Apple Watch prototype disguised as iPod nano

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Apple Watch prototype disguised as iPod nano
That case isn't fooling anyone.
Photo: AppleDemoYT

New photos reveal an original Apple Watch prototype apparently used for internal testing before the wearable made its official debut in 2015.

The device is protected by a security case, which looks a little like an iPod nano, to disguise it during transportation. It also comes in a brown cardboard box marked “Apple Confidential.”

Apple’s last iPod nano goes ‘vintage’ later this month

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ipod-nano-new
It's almost the end of the line for the last iPod nano.
Photo: Apple

The seventh-generation iPod nano, Apple’s last model, will be added to the company’s list of “vintage” products later this month.

First introduced in 2015, the device was marketed as the thinnest iPod ever, with the ability to connect to Bluetooth headphones and speakers, a built-in FM radio tuner, and a 2.5-inch color display.

The watchOS improvements I want to see at WWDC [Mockups]

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How Apple could give watchOS a tune-up
How Apple could give watchOS a tune-up.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

In the three short years since Apple Watch debuted, Cupertino has massively improved its smartwatch. Remember the early days, when Glances took ages to load, only to show out-of-date information? When the Fitness app refused to stay in the foreground during a workout? Or when the side button launched a doodling app?

Since the launch, Apple has rolled out big upgrades to watchOS every year at its Worldwide Developers Conference. But there is still loads more that could be done to really unleash Apple Watch’s full potential.

With this year’s WWDC confirmed for June, here’s my wish list of the all the new watchOS stuff I’m hoping will be announced in San Jose, California. It’s a pretty long list, so I’ve broken it down into three separate posts, starting with usability. In followup posts, I’ll focus on fitness, apps and setup.

Apple will no longer repair or service your sixth-gen iPod nano

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iPod nano
Don't ask Apple to fix your broken sixth-gen iPod nano.
Photo: Apple

Apple is no longer providing repairs or service for the sixth-generation iPod nano.

The device was added to the company’s list of vintage and obsolete products on August 30, and a memo distributed to Apple stores and Authorized Service Providers confirms that repairs are no longer being carried out… unless you live in California.

Apple discontinues iPod nano and iPod shuffle

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iPod nano
Apple pulls the plug on its old-school music players.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple pulled the iPod nano and iPod shuffle from its website today, confirming that the models have been discontinued.

The iPod touch, which just received a storage boost, remains as the company’s only dedicated music player.

RED or dead? Apple’s best and worst PRODUCT(RED) devices

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Which Apple PRODUCT(RED) product has us seeing red?
Which Apple PRODUCT(RED) products have you seeing red?
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The new PRODUCT(RED) iPhone is the latest limited-edition Apple product to turn a crimson paint job into a pile of green, all for a worthy charity.

Apple got involved 11 years ago with The Global Fund to benefit AIDS programs in Africa. In that time, Apple has raised millions of dollars for the charity — and released some pretty sweet special-edition products to boot.

Here are our picks for the best Apple PRODUCT(RED) products (plus, the absolute worst of all time).