It’s Time for Apple to Revive the iPod Nano

Image: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

For no reason at all—the reason was last month’s Eurovision Song Contest—I have been lurking around Gen Z spaces and noticed a return to the old form of gadgetry. It started with wired headphones, and now it seems like the lust for single-feature gadgets has been wholly revived, from point-and-shoot cameras to MP3 players.

Perhaps that’s why Apple, the company credited with popularizing the idea of a music player as a quintessential accessory, has been noticed poking around a two-year-old patent. 9to5Mac reports this week that Apple updated the September 2022 patent for an iPod nano-style device. The patent is titled “devices, methods, and graphical user interfaces for interactions with a headphone case.”

The original patent is quite exciting, so it became big news in the blogs when it was discovered. The patent diagram shows a reimagined AirPod case with what appears to be the display plucked off of the 2012-era iPod nano—you might remember it as a small, square mp3 player clipped to a shirt or bag.

The patent also depicts Apple Music as the “source” application on the proposed device’s screen, which looks like the interface on the Apple Watch. The display lets you control audio playback, call on Siri, respond to messages, and check the weather via an iPhone. There’s even a mention of a squeeze gesture that moves between music tracks.

Now, just because there’s a patent doesn’t always mean it’s a sure thing on the horizon. Apple tends to its patents like the roses in its walled garden. All the flora and fauna are well cared for, even when they’re not a dominant part of the ecosystem. But it’s fun to speculate about what’s next and connect it to what’s happening in the zeitgeist.

Returning to a simplified device sounds cozy in this ultra-connected world, where digital assistants have evolved into AI buddies with generative content capabilities. Why not manifest this type of device when there’s evidence that Apple has previously done re-purposing and re-marketing with devices like the Apple Watch SE?

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