Retro Pod performed proper into TikTok’s love affair with the iPod. From demos of defunct Minis to outfits showcasing Shuffles as hair clips, an app turning your iPhone into an iPod was naturally going to be a success. When Retro Pod began making the spherical in late December, TikTokers praised the app’s capacity to copy the iPod’s “tactile, bumpy, vibratey feels” which were misplaced within the period of music streaming. Movies that includes the app racked up practically 5 million views, however by the second week of January, viewers began commenting they couldn’t discover the app in any respect. Retro Pod had disappeared from the App Retailer.
It isn’t confirmed why Retro Pod was faraway from the App Retailer — neither the developer of the app nor Apple returned The Verge’s request for remark. However it’s not arduous to think about that after the app blew up, Apple wouldn’t let it stand. The corporate has a very explicit rule towards apps that replicate Apple merchandise.
However Retro Pod had a superb run. In response to analytics agency Sensor Tower, the app obtained 443,000 whole downloads on iOS, together with 275,000 downloads in simply the primary week of January. It peaked at number 11 amongst music apps within the US earlier than it was apparently eliminated by January eighth.
“Folks actually need it. It’s a little bit of cultural heritage.”
Apps recreating the iPod have cropped up a bunch of occasions over time, even when iPods have been widespread family devices. In 2009, iClassic was launched for iOS as a jailbroken app. In 2019, (a distinct) retroPod app was made obtainable on Android, and iPod.js debuted as a web-based iPod. Coinciding with the success of Retro Pod, iPod.js has additionally just lately gone viral. Developer Tanner Villarete says that the positioning has had 1.8 million customers whole, with two-thirds of these visiting previously week or so.
Whereas these have been created exterior of the confines of the App Retailer, Apple has let one other iPod clone slip in earlier than. In 2019, an iOS app known as Rewound tried to perform inside Apple’s ecosystem. Two months after its debut, it acquired main internet buzz and garnered 150,000 downloads. That’s when Apple put the kibosh on it. Rewound’s developer, Louis Anslow, mentioned the app was first pulled for violating Apple’s in-app buy guidelines. He modified and rereleased it earlier than Apple took it down once more for replicating an Apple product.
Like Retro Pod, Rewound flew a bit of too near the solar. The apps ought to have been rejected within the first place, however Apple’s moderation staff did not catch them. Retro Pod was even in a position to push through five updates after its debut in October — the newest in a collection of apps that didn’t get pulled until others drew attention to them. If an app is ever going to actually replicate the iPod expertise for iOS customers, it will want the unlikely approval of Apple.
The market can be not what it was when Rewound acquired pulled. Three years in the past, Apple was nonetheless promoting iPods (even when that final mannequin, the iPod Contact, was principally simply an iPhone minus the telephone). Apple formally killed the iPod earlier this year. Between Apple stepping again from the iPod and shoppers’ nostalgia for the product, Anslow thinks there may be larger want than ever for an app that may flip an iPhone into an iPod.
“I’ve simply been decided to try to get this again,” says Anslow. “As a result of folks actually need it. It’s a little bit of cultural heritage.”
Although the general public should still view the iPod as a nostalgic relic, for Apple, it’s nonetheless proprietary tech. The principles figuring out what can and can’t be an iOS app are no matter Apple needs them to be. Till the corporate loosens its vice grip on its dormant IP, a real iPhone-to-iPod app just isn’t prone to stand — except, in fact, Apple decides to launch such an app itself. It looks like a missed alternative for them to disregard the demand.
Correction: A earlier model of this text incorrectly said that the unique iPod.js redirects customers to their Spotify libraries. It as an alternative streams music in browser. A unique model of iPod.js redirects to Spotify.