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Is the iPod Still Relevant in 2020?

The iPod was one of the most popular pieces of tech in the 2000s. First Released in 2001 the iPod spanned multiple generations and is still even going today in the form of the iPod Touch. In this post, we are going to be focusing on the relevancy of the iPod Classic series and how to make it more capable as a music player in the modern age. We will be specifically focusing on the iPod 5.5 but the info also applies to the later 6th generation iPod Classic.

iPod OS

Next, we can take a look at iPod OS, this is the operating system of the iPod classic family, the features varied based on the model but with this iPod 5.5 Enhanced we have music playback of course where we can filter songs by the usual attributes, we also have audiobooks, podcasts and the search feature which is available from the iPod Classic 5.5 and up. iPod OS supports the following formats of music AAC, MP3, WAV, AIFF and Apple Lossless.

After that, we have photos and videos which was probably revolutionary at its time of releasing its not very useful in the modern age. After that we have the extras menu which contains items that most people wouldn’t be using on an iPod anymore, these are a basic world clock, some basic games like parachute and brick, a Calendar, notes viewing application, stopwatch and a screen lock. We then have the settings menu which allows you to change some playback options on the device. The next item is the shuffle songs button which is pretty self-explanatory, and finally, we have the now playing button. This takes you to the now playing page where you can see what song is playing, fast forward, skip, change the volume and a few other features. Overall that’s what you can do on iPod OS.

One part of iPod OS that hasn’t aged well compared to other modern media players is having to sync songs with the device. This is done using the famously bloated iTunes, iTunes on Windows is a bloated so piece of garbage and I’d do anything to not have to use it. But fortunately, there are alternatives to iTunes that work much better in the modern-day, some examples are MediaMonkey, Foobar2000 and MusicBee. I personally use MusicBee and its built-in song conversion function is great as I can convert my FLAC files automatically to apple lossless when transferring them to the iPod.

Storage Upgrades

Modifying an iPod is an essential part of using iPods in the modern-day, iPods came out during a period of time where hard drives were the norm. This means iPods usually have hard drives with relatively low capacity, therefore upgrading to solid-state media can allow for more storage, give the iPod more battery life and make it lighter. There are multiple solid-state flash upgrades for the iPod classic series but the iFlash Series seems to be the best one from reviews and personal use. You can do these upgrades yourself with the relative ease as they just require careful disassembly and replacement of parts. While replacing the solid-state drive you should replace the battery as a new one is only about $10 and is well worth it.

Software Upgrades

Next, let’s talk about an alternative operating system, Rockbox is a replacement operating system for media players that supports the iPod classic series. Its super simple to install using the Rockbox Utility and adds a massive amount of new abilities to the iPod. Drag and Drop is finally possible on the iPod and it can support more formats including FLAC which saves a lot of time when transferring music. Themes are another addition that Rockbox adds so if you want that mid 2000s homebrew look you can have it with Rockbox. Rockbox even has the ability to run custom applications which means, yes it can run doom. All these advantages do come with some negatives and those are the iPod has a less refined feeling like no click wheel clicks and occasional crashes compared to the rock-solid stock iPod OS and the battery life is shorter.


Overall with some of the modifications above we can turn the iPod into a DAC that can compete with modern digital audio players for a fraction of the price. I Personally use an iPod with iPod OS, SD Card upgrade and a clear front case so I would recommend playing around with modifications until you find what works for you. Comment below if you still use an iPod in 2020 and your prefered modifications.

© Josh Mangiola 2024