And so it goes that the iPod Nano and Shuffle are no more. With a name that means very small and minute it feels somewhat poetic that few people seem to care about the fate of the Nano, beyond the sites who covered the story there are only a few real lovers out there bemoaning its death. The Shuffle even less so. So allow me not to write the obituary, but instead to explain why I love my Nano and will only be parted with it on pain of death.
To me the Nano and Shuffle were actually more important than the traditional iPod classic – mainly because they were the only things I could afford. History will rightly remember the iPod classic for how it revolutionised music listening and consumption (basically creating the need for infinite music choice now given by streaming sites) but most people who owned them were older fans or gadget lovers, rather than everyday music fans per se. The Nano and Shuffle were instead owned by a wider section of people and popular especially with kids and teens.
I owned a purple one first and used it until it cracked and wore out. When I took its broken remains to the Apple shop, long after the iPhone craze had begun, I remember the Apple genius dude looking at me like I was crazy.
‘Why would you want to fix this?’ He said, holding it like it was the remains of a dead animal.
‘I use it everyday,’ I replied, not sure if I should explain that I didn’t drive and therefore spent more time on public transport than anyone would care to wish for – a place where an iPod was not only a welcome soundtrack but the sole reason I could bear commuting.
‘We can’t fix this,’ he said. ‘We don’t even make this kind anymore.’
I stalked out of the place in disgust past the shiny new phones and iPods. It annoyed me that everything had to be upgraded and replaced with something better. This was what was wrong with humanity. We don’t fix things, we just throw them away and replace them with something new, ad infinitum.
So I went back to using my Shuffle for a while, usually only filled with my gym soundtrack because of its storage size, handy clip and lack of screen display. Thankfully I was soon given a new Nano for Christmas, with a touch screen this time. Okay, I will accept this upgrade was definitely for the better, making it much easier to use.
And years later I still use it most days. But I can tell you now from the astonished looks I get when I take my Nano out of my pocket that the iPod died a long time ago in terms of popularity and public consciousness. Now listening to music on a phone is the thing, especially with steaming being so central to how the world consumes music. Once I got an Apple music subscription for my blog even I sometimes started using my phone to listen to music, such is the ease of downloading (and scrobbling to Last.Fm, which I also still use religiously).
Despite this I still, hands down, prefer to use my Nano and here’s why:
1) The Bliss of Uninterrupted Music
The lack of connectivity of a Nano is something really appealing to me. Turn it on and you will not be interrupted by the sound of a notification from your loved ones (or more likely that annoying news app). You can scroll through the music choices without distraction from Twitter or those WhatsApp group chat updates from work colleagues you only said goodbye to an hour before. No worries about using data either. You can stay in your little music paradise without a care in, or for, the world.
2) The Battery Life
If you’re travelling anywhere then the Nano is a must. The battery can survive even the longest flight and or travel delays. No need to worry about being stranded without music when your phone battery inevitably dies, for me usually after a night out at a gig. The Nano has kept me safe and sane on that last train home more times than I can count.
3) The Colours and the Size
Remember when technology was small, light and easy to fit in your pocket? And colourful. My Nano is the sweetest pink and so was my shuffle – unashamedly girly choices. Too much technology is just aesthetically dull. Give me something pretty any day of the week.
4) The Nano Offers a Personal, Curated Music Experience
Nanos make you choose the music you want to listen to. Sure there’s a lot of space on there, but there’s a stopping point. Most things on my nano I have on cd or downloads or mp3s I got from buying a vinyl. This selection is much more a reflection of who I am and what music I’m really passionate about. I haven’t just randomly chosen any old thing or what is cool that week.
I just think your music taste should tell your story, show your true character. If I was run over by a bus anyone could pick up my iPod and work out instantly that I was a miserable old nerd who should probably get a life rather than writing posts about outdated music technology and that’s why I like it.
5) The Ease of Downloading and Infinite Choice is Detrimental to Listening
With a streaming app on your phone you can listen to endless albums and then instantly remove them if they don’t grab you. The Nano lets you spend more time with albums as you have to plug in, delete, add and sync to change your choices. And I’m always surprised at the things I decide to keep on there. Like why did I really want to hear this song long after the few people who knew about it forgot it ever existed?
Plus I like the fact that the albums are in simple alphabetical list order. Apple music always prioritises the most recent thing you’ve listened to or added and Spotify is always trying to get you to listen to something new. Maybe we shouldn’t just be able to listen to anything at anytime we want. Maybe some albums deserve more time and attention. Maybe the new thing is not always better.
I get it. I’m the crazy old woman with the Walkman at the CD launch party. That’s okay. I guess I just wasn’t made for these times. If you love your Nano let me know, maybe we can start a club.