Jason Kottke: In the four years since its introduction, the iPod has proven to be a versatile little device. Despite a relatively closed architecture, hackers have found their way in. Content creators and software makers put information at your fingertips when you’re on the go.
Would-be designers have added to the fashionable stylings of the now-ubiquitous white ear buds. Hardware makers and enthusiasts have augmented the iPod with new add-on gadgets. Here are a few dozen things you can do with your iPod besides listen to music.
Make your own pirate radio station
Find good NYC pizza
software will guide you and your musical friend to some of the best pizza places in New York City.
Dress it up
If Apple’s iPod Socks
don’t catch your fancy, there’s always the iPod Hoodie
, complete with drawstring enclosures. Either is perfect for a cozy afternoon nap on the couch.
Record audio without extra hardware
Listen to your mp3 collection in the car
(among others) sell FM transmitters for the iPod. Just tune your radio to the proper frequency and out comes your music collection.
Store your photos on the go
If you’re out shooting and don’t have enough room on your camera’s memory card for all the photos you want to take, offload them to your iPod with Media Reader
, erase the card, and shoot away.
Share your music with complete strangers
Approach someone with the signature white ear buds, smile, and trade headphone jacks
to get an earful of your new friend’s music.
Find your way in the dark
turns your iPod into a laser pointer (for presentations, annoying people at the movies, or exercising your cat) or a flashlight. If only it would shine the currently playing song info.
Look at yourself in the mirror
Record your vocal thoughts
With the iTalk
or Belkin Voice Recorder
, your iPod has audio-in capability as well. Record notes to yourself, interviews for later transcription, or just ramble into it and share it with the world (see podcasting below).
Build yourself a portable jukebox
Listen to text
If you’re sufficiently clever about Linux, you can install a text-to-speech app
on your iPod, making it possible to listen to your menus or text files through your ear buds.
Modify the look and feel of the iPod OS
Live off the grid and charge your iPod shuffle by hand
Mix drinks at the bar
contains recipes for over 900 mixed drinks.
HeadlinedNews.com recently reported
that "Memphis woman was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after she bludgeoned her boyfriend to death with an iPod" but was later revealed to be a hoax
. Still, the 60GB iPod Photo is a hefty chunk of metal…
Keep track of your appointments
, except for the shuffle, come with calendaring functionality built in, so you can sync your desktop calendar to your iPod and keep track of where you’re supposed to be and when if you’re out and about.
Read your favorite weblogs
Make a RAID array
Unsatisfied with just listening to music on his new iPod shuffle, Jim Wright enlisted some friends’ shuffles and made a RAID array out of them
. "As far as the Mac is concerned, it’s just another drive on the system."
Well, not real movies, but by scrolling through thousands of screen caps from a movie while playing the audio from the same movie, you can kinda sorta simulate the effect
Run your favorite Linux apps
Linux runs on everything these days, and the iPod is no exception
. Not sure how many existing applications run on Linux for the iPod, but I’m sure efforts are underway to port many useful apps.
Change the channel on your TV
Relive the good old Walkman days
Jam to Meatloaf for all eternity
Take photos of it with famous landmarks
Explore alternative energy sources
Disguise it as breath mints
The iPod shuffle is so small that it fits nicely within a case of Altoids
. Punch a hole in the top for your headphones, and people watching you listen to an Altoids tin will think there’s something curiously wrong with you.
View your photos
With the recently introduced iPod Photo
, you can store up to 25,000 photos in your pocket. Take it to grandma’s house for a little slideshow of the grandkids’ latest adventures or take it along to dump your digital photos onto when your camera’s memory card gets full.
Make free phone calls
Drop some phone tones on your iPod, make number playlists to dial, and play them back to dial phones
. Not sure if this still works on modern pay phones or what, but if you’ve ever wanted to build a red, blue, or green box, this is an easy way to do it.
Put on your makeup
The mirrored surface on the reverse of the larger iPods makes for a good emergency make-up mirror, as this woman demonstrates
(second photo down).
Using a voice recorder attachment, you can record your thoughts on your iPod, dump it to your computer, publish it to your web site in such a way that people can download your musings to their iTunes Library, sync that with their iPod, and listen to you babble about something on their way to work. It’s called podcasting
and hopefully it’ll get much easier than that.
Add a (much) larger hard drive
Sell it on eBay and use the profits to buy a Chinese knockoff
The iPod is too popular not to have inspired Asian knockoffs. Here’s a Chinese version of the iPod mini
. It’s got a USB 2.0 connector, plays MP3s and WMA files, and contains a built-in FM tuner. I’d love to see what the OS looks like and how exactly the navigation works…cause it doesn’t really look like that wheel scrolls.
Wake up to your mp3 collection
Look up old friends
Keep track of your contacts on the iPod with built-in software. Supports standard vCard files.
Note: Actual number of fun things you can do with your iPod may not equal 50. No refunds.