There’s no doubt that Apple’s seventh-generation iPod nano was one of the oddest devices that the company ever made. It was one of only two traditional iPods to feature a touchscreen, and the only one to ever include a Lightning port and a Home button.
After all, September 2012 not only heralded the arrival of the Lightning port on the iPhone 5, but it was so important for Apple to push forward with the new port that it was also the only time in which Apple released two versions of the same iPad in the same year.
While there’s a theory that the seventh-generation iPod nano came out of Apple’s failed attempt to create an “iPhone nano”, the switch to a Lightning port was likely simply a matter of Apple’s decision to abandon the 30-pin Dock Connector entirely.
The March 2012 release of the third-generation iPad was followed barely seven months later with a Lightning-equipped fourth-generation model.
So, since Apple unveiled the iPod nano at the same event as the iPhone 5, it’s pretty easy to see how there was no way it would feature the older 30-pin Dock Connector port. To Apple, the old port was squarely in the past, and Lightning was the wave of the future.
While the newer iPad gained some improvements to the CPU and front camera, it mostly appeared that the new model was contrived to bring Apple’s entire current product lineup over to the Lightning port.
Unfortunately, unlike Apple’s much more powerful iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, the iPod nano was not an iOS-powered device — even though it looked like one on the surface. Instead, it ran the same old iPod firmware from prior generations, and simply added a fresh coat of paint on top.
By extension, this also meant that the Lightning port was considerably less versatile than it was on devices running a full-featured operating system. By all indications, the hardware was the same, but the software was not.
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