iPod Q&A - Revised November 22, 2011
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Who invented and designed the iPod?
Most reports, including Wired article "Inside Look at Birth of the iPod", indicate that the basic idea for the iPod and iTunes was originally conceived by Tony Fadell, an independent contractor who shopped the idea around to several companies including Apple. Fadell and a team of designers, engineers, and programmers worked together on the final product. This article also notes that the late Steve Jobs "molded the device's shape, feel, and design", no doubt with Jonathan Ive, the director of Apple's Industrial Design Group.
Electronics Design Chain Magazine article "Inside the Apple iPod Design Triumph" also extensively details the creation of the iPod.
What font does the iPod interface use?
The iPod touch 4th Gen and iPod touch "4.5" Gen -- which have a "retina display" -- use a subtly revised Helvetica font called "Helvetica Neue," just like the iPhone 4 and later iPhone models.
What is the "Clickwheel"? How is it different from the "Thumbwheel"?
The revolutionary "Clickwheel", introduced with the iPod mini and used on all subsequent iPods (except the iPod shuffle and iPod touch models and the iPod nano 6th Gen ), places pressure sensitive navigation buttons underneath the scroll wheel.
The "Thumbwheel", introduced with the original iPod and used on the second and third generation models as well, is designed for one handed selection of song tracks and other information, but navigational buttons (play/pause, previous, next, menu, and select) are each separate buttons placed either around or above the "thumbwheel".
What is the target audience for each iPod model?
In general, the iPod is designed for anyone interested in carrying the equivalent of hundreds of CDs worth of music, and numerous other files, in a small, easy-to-use design that fits in one's pocket. Models with color displays -- starting with the iPod photo -- also include photo capabilities, and full-sized iPod models starting with the iPod 5th Gen and iPod nano models starting with the iPod nano 3rd Gen support video playback as well (note that the iPod nano 6th Gen does not support video playback).
The iPod shuffle models, on the other hand, are designed for anyone interested in an inexpensive portable music player that holds a few hundred songs and offers easy
integration with Apple's iTunes and Apple Store.
The iPod nano models are designed for anyone interested in a device that provides modest capacity for music and photos in an extremely tiny and elegant case. The first and second generation iPod nano models cannot present photos on a television or support video playback, but iPod nano models starting with the iPod nano 3rd Gen support photos and video as well. The iPod nano 5th Gen added integrated support for video recording, voice recording, an FM radio, and a pedometer too. Interestingly, for the iPod nano 6th Gen. Apple dropped video and voice recording, redesigning the device to be more of an "iPod shuffle pro" than a true decendant of the iPod nano line.
The "full size" video-capable iPod models, starting with the iPod 5th Gen. are marketed to fill the same need as the other "full size" iPod systems -- that is for people who are primarily interested in a well-designed portable music player that can hold thousands of songs -- with video playback as an added bonus. Apple made this clear in the original press release stating that "because millions of people around the world will buy this new iPod to play music, it will quickly become the most popular portable video player in history".
The iPod touch models pushed the iPod line into new territory, offering music, photo, and video playback on a larger display than earlier iPod models, as well as Internet access via wi-fi and support for thousands of third-party apps and games. The iPod touch 4th Gen and iPod touch "4.5" Gen offer a 720p video camera, albeit one of modest quality, as well.
What carrying cases are available for the iPod?
There are literally thousands of iPod carrying cases ranging from "socks" and simple cloth or vinyl sleeve cases for less than US$10 to a ridiculously expensive Louis Vuitton leather case for US$265. MacWorld has an exhaustive number of reviews of cases you may wish to dig through.
Where can I buy an iPod?
In the US, you may purchase a current iPod directly from Apple, but doing so often will require you to pay sales tax. Those interested in getting the best deal would be better served by purchasing a new or used iPod from an Apple Authorized Reseller that does not charge sales tax, like site sponsor PowerMax .
Also see: Which iPods are currently shipping? How many songs does each hold? What are the pros and cons of each?