Everything You Need to Know About the iPod touch

6th generation iPod touch

Courtesy Apple Inc.

The iPod touch is the most widely used MP3 player in the world today. It's popular, though, because it's a lot more than just a way to play digital music. Since it runs the iOS — the same operating system used by the iPhone and iPad — the iPod touch is also a web browsing device, a communications tool, a portable game system, and a video player.

The iPod touch, sometimes incorrectly called the "iTouch," is the top of the line iPod — in fact, it's missing just a few features that make it different from an iPhone. The iPod touch has long been referred to as "an iPhone without the phone," and that's basically correct. The hardware and software features of both devices are fairly similar (though the iPod touch isn't updated as often as the iPhone, so the closest relative to the latest iPod touch is the slightly old iPhone 6 series).

If you've got an iPod touch, or are thinking about getting one, below is an overview of everything you need to know about the device, from understanding its hardware and software, answering some questions about buying it, and how to get help for problems.

Before You Buy an iPod touch

Apple had sold well over 100 million iPod touches. If you're considering joining the fun with your first iPod touch or by upgrading to a new model, you may want to consider which accessories you should buy, how to find a cheap iPod touch, and if you should buy an extended warranty.

How to Set Up and Use the iPod touch

Once you've gotten your new iPod touch, you'll need to set it up. The setup process is pretty easy and quick, and once you've completed it, you can get the good stuff, like:

Once you start to master the basic features of your iPod touch, it's time to boost your skills by tackling some of these more advanced topics:

Hardware Features of the iPod touch

While the early models of the iPod touch all featured roughly the same set of hardware features, the options on the 6th generation (listed below) are modern and powerful, making the device a near alternative to the iPhone.

  • Screen: The 4-inch high-resolution, multi-touch, Retina Display screen is the same as the one used in the iPhone 5 and includes the same features, like zooming in and out by pinching. The 4th generation touch and earlier used a 3.5-inch screen. The Retina Display screen was introduced with the 4th gen. model and is now standard.
  • Home button: The button on the bottom center of the face of the iPod touch is used in many functions, including quitting programs and multitasking.
  • Hold button: This button on the top right corner of the touch locks the screen and puts the device to sleep.
  • Volume control: On the left side of the touch is a button that can be pressed in two directions, one each to raise or lower the volume.
  • Wi-Fi: The touch accesses the Internet via Wi-Fi, with all recent models using 802.11b/g standards. The 6th gen. model includes support for both the 2.5 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands, and adds support for 802.11a/n/ac.
  • Camera: The 6th generation touch sports two cameras, a higher resolution unit on the back for photography and a lower-resolution, user-facing camera for FaceTime video chats and selfies.
  • Dock Connector: This slot on the bottom of the touch is used to sync content between a computer and the device, and to connect some accessories. The 5th and 6th gen. models use the smaller Lightning connector, while all earlier models used the older, bigger 30-pin version.
  • Accelerometer: A sensor that allows the touch to respond to how the device is held and moved. This is most often used in games and gives players more immersive and interesting ways to control onscreen action.

iPod touch Help

While the iPod touch is a great device, it's not completely trouble free (and hey, what is?). In your early days of using it, you may run into situations where it freezes. If so, you should be familiar with how to restart it.

When you're using the touch, there are a number of precautions you should take the protect yourself and your device, including:

As your touch becomes a few years old, you may start to notice some reduced capacity in the touch’s battery. Squeeze more juice out of it with tips to improve its battery life. Eventually, you'll need to decide whether to buy a new MP3 player or look into battery replacement services.

All iPod touch Models Explained

The iPod touch debuted in Sept. 2007 and has been updated a few times since. The models are:

  • 6th Generation: This model brings many of the hardware features of the iPhone 6 series — the A8 processor and M8 motion coprocessor, an 8-megapixel camera, 128 GB storage capacity — to the touch lineup while maintaining the same size and weight.
  • 5th Generation: This model of the touch is very similar to the iPhone 5. It includes a 4-inch screen, the speedy A5 processor, support for Siri, and is very light and thin. Available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models.
  • 4th Generation: This model gained the high-resolution Retina Display screen, two cameras including one that records video at 720p HD, and support for FaceTime.
  • 3rd Generation: Storage capacity bumped up here to 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, and the device gained greater performance thanks to a faster chip and more powerful graphics hardware.
  • 2nd Generation: This model offered a better battery and added additional hardware features such as an accelerometer, updated shape, and Nike+ integration. Capacity and networking features were the same.
  • 1st Generation: The original model. Offered 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB of storage and an Internet connection via Wi-Fi.