A minute’s silence for the click wheel

First the scroll wheel and now the click wheel . Why do we always lose the big ones? During last Wednesday’s music event Steve Jobs presented the new design of “each and every iPod model” . Oops, I’m sure I’m not the only one who realized he had forgotten one: the iPod classic , still present on his website and in the store but with a very uncertain future.

Aside from the validity of the classic model currently dominated by a nano practically as tiny as the shuffle (which for its part is still only there as the company’s economic option) and an iPod touch in which music is the least striking of its functions, what I will miss when I leave is its control system.

A minute’s silence for the click wheel
A minute’s silence for the click wheel

The click wheel was introduced along with the first iPod mini in January 2004 and in July of that year, proven successful, it would jump to the first division replacing the touch scroll wheel that characterized iPod classic since its second generation (in the first one it was mechanical, although it worked in a very similar way). It was a complete success that improved Apple’s interface by integrating the player’s controls under the wheel itself so we could move through all our music, change songs, pause or play a song and move through its menus at an amazing speed.

What I liked most about the now discarded wheel was its extreme simplicity and the ability to control the player by sliding your finger even without looking at it, just by the feedback it gave us through its touch and sound through the headphones. I’m sorry the new iPod range has lost that and I would have liked the new iPod nano much better if at least your player emulated it in some way (after all, on such a small and square screen it would surely be easier and faster to scroll by tracing circles than by moving your finger in the same direction over and over again).

Rest in peace. Or maybe not? No one knows for sure Apple’s plans for the classic. Maybe they’ll let it languish little by little until they run out of stock, or maybe they’ll quietly renew it with more capacity and a better price (160 GB at 233 euros is not exactly a reasonable deal). Either way, it seems pretty clear that his legendary control wheel will go down in history with him.

Before I say goodbye I want to tell you something crazy; a product that Apple will never market despite how simple it would be for them to design it and how happy it would make us. Imagine the iPod classic, just like that. Add a processor with 720p video playback capability (or 1080p, for that matter) and a dock with HDMI output. Now think that it supports the most popular video codecs (like the first iPod did with music codecs) and that we would be able to navigate through them on our living room screen with the Apple TV interface. Do you have it yet? Well, now forget it, it was just crazy .

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