The Apple iPod nano, now in its sixth generation, has received a hefty facelift. Gone is the long, slim design, along with the traditional click wheel control system. The new nano has been made 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter, according to Apple, and for the first time possesses a touchscreen display.
The new Apple iPod nano looks like an Apple iPod shuffle with a touchscreen slapped on. It has a square body that has a clip on the back. It is hard to fault the new nano's looks: anodised aluminium covers the majority of the device, and the iPod is available in seven bright colours. It is just 37.5mm tall and weighs a mere 21.1g. There are two aluminium buttons on the top left of the nano that control volume, as well as a sleep/wake button on the right hand side. The dock connector remains centred on the bottom of the iPod, and the 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the right.
The most radical change is the removal of Apple's patented click wheel. Instead, Apple has fitted the Apple iPod nano with a 240x240 multitouch, capacitive touchscreen. It is only a 1.5in display, but like the touchscreens on the iPod touch and iPhone 4 it is very responsive and easy to use. You can rearrange on-screen icons by holding them down and dragging them. You can also change the display's orientation by holding two fingers on it and twisting them in a circular motion.
To use the Apple iPod nano you simply swipe left and right to change screens and hold down one finger on the screen to return to the home screen. One gesture that does take some time to grasp is flicking to the right to go back to the previous screen. Holding down a finger to return to the home screen worked exceptionally well; we tried this on many different sections of the display and were successful every single time.
The compact design of the Apple iPod nano does have some drawbacks — it has been stripped of the camera and video recording capabilities of the previous model, and it no longer has an integrated speaker. Other features have also been removed, including games, calendar and the alarm clock, the last of which will be a disappointing omission for many users. The photo gallery has survived the cut, which is somewhat surprising given the lack of camera. One thing we can't understand is the included headphones' lack of in-line controls — you can't operate the nano without using the touchscreen, so being able to play, pause and skip tracks with headphone controls seems like a no-brainer.
One feature that Apple has decided to keep in the Apple iPod nano is the FM radio tuner, which is both easy to use and useful. You can scan for local stations in your area and choose one from the list of save a list of preset stations for easy access. During testing, reception for radio stations was excellent with minimal interference. There is also a clear fitness theme with the new iPod nano — a pedometer is included to count the number of steps you take during a regular day and this can be synced with a Nike+ account.
The Apple iPod nano's interface for listening to music remains one of the best in the business but it takes a bit of practice to get used to the new iOS-like feel as opposed to the click wheel. Despite the smaller size of the nano, Apple still quotes 24 hours of music playback before you'll need to charge the iPod.
One major issue we discovered was the inability to manually turn off the iPod nano. Apple explains that after 36 hours of inactivity, the Nano will shut down automatically but before that it is in standby mode. Many users have complained that their Apple iPod nano hasn't lasted the 24 hours of music playback as promised by Apple. In the long-term, this could be a significant issue for the device.
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