When Apple announced the tiny sixth-generation iPod nano in 2010, Steve Jobs joked that some people at Apple had suggested you could wear it as a watch—and some people tried. That particular iPod model is long gone, and now the iPod nano has been discontinued entirely.
But the spirit of the iPod nano lives on, and it turns out that that instinct from 2010 wasn’t that far off. Apple might not make a classic iPod anymore, but the product that most resembles it in Apple’s 2017 line-up is the Apple Watch.
I’m not saying that everyone who misses the iPod nano or iPod shuffle should run out and buy an Apple Watch—it’s much more expensive than those iPods!—but there’s no denying that the Apple Watch fills a lot of the same niches, but in a modern way.
Like the iPod nano, the Apple Watch can play music—but it needs to be synced with a partner device. For the nano, that was a Mac—for the Apple Watch, it’s an iPhone. If you’ve ever synced a playlist or two from your iPhone to your Apple Watch, you’ve probably recognized the similarity—including the often-frustrating wait times while the syncing happens.
However, the Apple Watch supports Apple Music, something that Apple never bothered to update the classic iPod line to do. Those iPods were a representative of a world where everyone owned the music they listened to, but today subscription services are a huge part of the landscape. Only the most recent generation of iPod nano supported Bluetooth headphones. No iPod nano ever supported Wi-Fi, either, something that the Apple Watch does—and could potentially be used to automatically sync Apple Music playlists without even needing to consult with its partner iPhone.
Most importantly, the Apple Watch is a fully realized interface in a way that the last two generations of iPod nano never were. Those latter-day nanos tried to fake aspects of the iOS interface, but they didn’t actually run iOS—and it showed. The Apple…