I have been a fan of the iPod Nano all the way from the first generation, and I even had one. Back then though, it wasn’t as Nano as the 6th generation. I didn’t actually purchase it, I actually won it from Audi, and that is why it has Audi’s logo on it.
To start things off, the box is really small, having a clear top to see the iPod that comes in various colors, and on the sides you find the typical Apple branding.
I had won the 16GB Silver iPod Nano. Some of its specifications are a 1.54 inch multi-touch screen with a 240×240 resolution, it weighs near nothing at 21 grams and is quite small sizing in about 37.5 x 41 mm only! It is quite impressive that in this small size they managed to fit in a clip, a touch screen, a battery and everything else. Tiny Tech indeed.
It is actually quite a refresh because Apple has been often up and down with the Nano, they started off with a small screen tall shape, to a shorter shape with a small screen and then they moved back to a taller design with a longer screen with a camera, and now for the 6th generation they went back to the Nano roots to being a tiny device. Weirdly enough, the next generation iPod Nano goes back to a tall design with a tall screen. I guess Apple hasn’t made its mind yet.
Going back to the smaller generation does mean the loss of video playback, camera and games but it has maintained all the necessary iPod features.
I quickly unboxed the iPod and here are the contents:
Obviously, there isn’t much in the box, especially being an Apple product. They have a love for minimalism. In the box I got:
– 16GB Silver iPad Nano with Audi Logo
– Standard Apple Headset
– USB to 30-pin Connector Cable
– Quick Start Guides
– Apple Sticker
That is pretty much all that you get from pretty much all iPods anyways.
The front of the device has absolutely nothing on it except for the 1.54 inch screen. No buttons or anything to get in the way of your fingers touching the screen. The back is actually a clip, the clip is quite large which means it can get attached to almost all sorts of belts and straps with ease while being secure, again, being that the device is 21 grams light, there isn’t much weight to throw around. Mine has that very nice Audi logo placed perfectly under the Apple logo, really cool I think!
The top and bottom are where everything is kept. The funny thing is, touching the screen with two fingers and rotating, actually rotates the screen’s orientation, which means depending on your use, the top can be bottom, or the left side could be the top, I like that because the iPod Nano, especially this 6th Generation has a huge amount of accessories from arm straps, holders, even accessories to use it as a watch! The expected top side of the device has the volume keys and the power/lock button and the bottom has the 30-Pin Connector and headphone jack.
Powering up the device takes a few seconds and you are greeted with a very familiar look, especially if you ever used an iPod Touch or an iPhone. It looks almost exactly like an iOS device, and they have done it on purpose to give it a feel of familiarity, even the functions are quite similar. If you touch and hold an icon, they shake and wobble like they do on iPhones so you can move them around and place them as you wish.
What you see on the screen is fairly customizable for sure, the background can be changed and even the view of icons. They can be displayed as small icons as shown above or one individual icon per screen, sort of like album art that Apple is famous for and as mentioned earlier icons can be moved around. It doesn’t end there though, I have this thing where I do not like icons of applications I do not use to appear on the screen. On my iPhone either I remove the application or hide it in some folder, here though, in settings there is an option to disable visibility of all the applications to suit your needs, and another cool thing is you can shortcut Music sections as icons as well such as Artists, Songs, Playlists, etc.
There is just one thing about the whole navigation that I felt needed some work. Going forward in any application or setting is easy, you simply tap what you want or where you want to go, going back is a swipe to the right. Now this is fine for 1 screen layer, but what if I am deep within an app? I would have to either keep swiping to the right, or find an unused space on the screen to press and hold. The latter is annoying because sometimes I touch the screen hoping it would go back to the home screen but it wouldn’t because I also was tapping at a button or a menu or something. I really do wish there was a home button of some sort. The Clock app is pretty simple and neat and it comes with a timer and stop watch.
Apps that come built in are limited to iPod functionality such as Podcast app but they also included a Nike Fitness app which takes advantage of the built in accelerometer to count your calories burnt and distance covered when walking or running. I do find that quite appropriate being that the iPod Nano is so light, people who walk (everyone right?) and run could want to carry it with them more often to see what they have accomplished. It also maintains history.
One thing I found quite smart was that, I didn’t want to use the headset provided being that I had a few already that I was using and I plugged in one with a Microphone and I realized a new icon had appeared, Voice Memos. I find that really smart that it gives you that option when it detects a microphone.
The rest of the settings menu pretty much lets you adjust and set everything up from Volume limits, to screen brightness. Almost everything is adjustable to your liking.
Obviously the main purpose of the iPod Nano is to play music, and I have to admit it does so, brilliantly. Being an iPod, it can sort out your music library by Playlists, Artists, Albums, Songs, Genres, Composers, Compilations, Audiobooks, Podcasts, iTunes U, and Genius Mixes which is something I haven’t tried before where it supposedly matches songs by type to play continuously which usually are sync’d from iTunes.
So, how does it play music? oh wait, I answered that, brilliantly. When a song is on, you see the Album art, a very clean approach no real clutter and with a tap on the screen you get Song Information, Artist Information, controls and of course the Album Art fades in the background. Swiping the screen to the right brings more controls that enable Repeat and a progress bar to allow you to skip to any part of the song. I guess I have to say after using the device for a while, the touch sensitivity is just a little far behind an iPhone, which means it is very good.
I may have no words to express how much I have been anticipating Radio in an Apple! I have had iPhones and iPods in the past and neither of them have Radio functions! I am not an extremely hard core music listener and especially here in Dubai, there are really nice shows and competitions on the Radio that I really enjoy and I would always have to go for an Online Player on the iPhone and had no alternative on my previous iPods which was annoying because it was supposed to be a complete music experience device. Thankfully though, now the iPod Nano 6th Generation has it, and I only hope they do not remove it from the 7th. Speaking of having it or not, why aren’t they available on iPhones? Yes, there are a lot of online players but still, we have some data packages that aren’t gentle in this region.
Back to the actual app, it works. It is that simple, you get radio now. There is a little selector in the bottom that you can move manually with your finger or the left and right buttons to catch preset channels. The little star on the bottom left does the function of creating a list of favorite radio channels. One thing that is awesome is the ability to pause live radio, swiping to the right and clicking pause will begin recording of up to 15 minutes of live radio! and you can go through them at 30 second intervals. I find that to be an interesting touch as interruptions can happen at any time. Another very cool feature (if the channels enable it which unfortunately wasn’t over here) is a little icon in the shape of a tag would appear, and clicking on that tag would record or identify a piece of the playing song which can then be sync’d with iTunes to find the song’s information for purchase and download. A system that words like Shazam in a way. (For those who may not know, Shazam is an iOS and Android application that can record a part of a song and identify it for you).
Usability, Battery life and Audio Quality were the last things I wanted to talk about and I have to say, the 6th Generation iPod Nano is an absolute delight. It is really small, I hardly feel it whether it’s in my pocket or bag and I think is a great addition when exercising especially. I noticed a lot of people taking larger devices and tablets to watch videos on but as far as music is concerned, it really doesn’t get any smaller than this. Okay, there might be smaller players, but with a touch screen and iPod functionality? I do not think so. Battery life is outstanding! I am shocked how they can either, get a huge battery in there, or have an iPod that uses so little power! Charging it from dead took about 2 and a half to 3 hours, but it managed to gain most of the battery life quickly at the beginning, some sort of quick charge which comes in handy. Apple estimated around 24 hours of Audio playback and I have to admit I used it for about a week and I collectively did get about 18 hours or so battery life between listening to the radio, music and standby for at least 2 days worth of time, and I think that is just.. really good battery life! It is really one of those devices I could forget to charge yet it would have enough juice to satisfy my immediate needs.
Audio quality is really good and loud too! I mean of course the ultimate quality would differ based on the headset or earphones, but using the standard Apple earphones (not earpods) it was really good. The volume could get really loud and almost uncomfortable loud if you are in a quiet room which is impressive for such a tiny little thing. It certainly does its task of playing music as an iPod is supposed to, and more.