Apple Resurrects the iPod Touch

Apple’s new iPod touch has kids written all over it

Apple's new iPod Touch

 Apple Inc

Apple’s new trick is the surprise resurrection.

First it was the iPad Mini. Three years after we wrote it off as a relic of a bygone tablet design era, Apple brought it back. Now, we have a new mini with a classic design and a bunch more horsepower stuffed inside. That should’ve been my first hint. Apple will resurrect almost anything, especially if it hooks neatly into its increasingly important services business.

Okay, okay, Apple can’t revive everything. There’s no way the Newton crawls out of the digital crypt and the G4 Cube is now living its best life as a DIY tissue box. But bringing back the iPod touch, as Apple did on the sleepy Tuesday after a fun-filled Memorial Day Weekend, makes perfect sense. It is, after all, the perfect platform for Apple’s $9.99-a-month Apple Music service and will make an excellent home for its upcoming Apple Arcade game subscription service.

I see the Apple iPod touch as something more, though.

Apple Music on iPod Touch
Apple Inc 

With a 4-inch Retina display and a much more powerful A10 Fusion CPU (still two generations removed from Apple’s best-in-class A12 Bionic), the modern iPod touch (I think this is officially the 6th generation model) is not just a vessel for Apple’s ever-expanding list of pay-to-play services. I’d even go so far as to say this might be an excellent, cheap iPhone alternative, especially for children, who should never be handed an iPhone in the first place.

Now hear me out. The cheapest iPhone 7 with 128 GB of storage starts at $549. A iPhone SE will run you $299 (on special), but it maxes out at 128 GB of storage. The iPod touch starts at $199 for the 32 GB model – though I would never recommend any mobile device with so little storage space – but you can get a 256 GB iPod touch (get the red!) for $399.

So, for less than $400, you have a pint-sized mobile device (perfect for small hands) with enough horsepower to run virtually any iOS app.

Apple Arcade on iPod Touch
Apple Inc 

Obviously, there are caveats. The new iPod touch lacks a cellular modem for phone calls and instead of a physical or haptic-based touch ID button for authentication, you get the now-classic, physical home button (Apple made the same choice with the iPad mini). I wonder if Apple considered dropping the “touch” from the name to avoid the irony of a “touch” device without touch ID.

The cameras are average, at best. There’s an 8 MP rear camera capable of high-res panoramas, HDR and 1080p video. The front facing FaceTime camera is an anemic 1.2 MP lens and it’s not capable of the kind of augmented reality tricks you’ve come to expect with modern-day mobile devices. At least an A10 Fusion-backed 8 MP camera will support augmented reality games.

There is, by the way, an upside to the lack of a cell modem: no monthly service charges. Plus, virtually ubiquitous Wi-Fi (check with your cable provider, you may be eligible for free Wi-Fi all around your neighborhood) means that the modern iPod touch could be an effective communication and mapping (it uses Wi-Fi for location estimation) device for children and, some adults. No phone number? No problem. Kids and adults can use FaceTime to keep in touch with friends and family. A Family iCloud account will help parents manage and keep track of what their children are doing with the device.

Is the screen tiny compared to an edge-to-edge, 5.8-inch iPhone XS display? Yes, but aluminum-backed Pod touch might also be a little more drop-proof. Just don’t drop the iPod touch in water. It’s neither dust nor water rated.

Apple’s new iPod touch is an obvious attempt to gather up more Apple service (mainly Music) subscribers, but it may turn out to be a decent mobile option for those who want to gift their children or, perhaps, elderly parents with a piece of pocketable technology without the overhead of an iPhone.

Now, I wonder if Apple would consider bringing back the Airport Base Station.