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This article was published on June 24, 2021


Remember iPods? This one lives in your browser and plays Spotify

Spin the wheel and return to the glorious 2000s

Remember iPods? This one lives in your browser and plays Spotify
Abhimanyu Ghoshal
Story by

Abhimanyu Ghoshal

Managing Editor

Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].

The iPod changed the way we enjoyed our favorite tunes on the go when it launched in 2001. And while there were loads of other MP3 players on the market then, none came close to matching Apple’s incredibly intuitive wheel interface. If you missed your chance to try it, or simply miss your beloved iPod, fire this one up in your mobile browser.

Frontend developer Tanner Villarete’s clever creation resembles the 6th generation iPod Classic from 2007 (incidentally, the same one I had and loved), and works just like the real thing — except, it works with your Spotify and Apple Music libraries!

The iPod Classic works just like the original, complete with the touch-sensitive wheel and center click button
The iPod Classic works just like the original, complete with the touch-sensitive wheel and center click button

It might seem like little more than a React project mimicking hardware from over a decade ago, but there’s something about seeing the UI react to your finger spinning the touch wheel and tapping the center button, and flipping through albums in Cover Flow (shown above) that brings fond memories flooding back. Oh, and there’s even a Breakout-style game you can play.

Villarete explained to me that this project was a tribute to a gadget close to his heart:

The iPod was the first piece of tech that I ever owned, and before we entered the next decade (2020) I wanted to pay homage to its role in inspiring me to pursue software engineering as a career. I still think that to this day, Apple has one of the best eyes for design of any company, which is why I love replicating their products.

I set up the repo two years ago, but nearly all of the development of the iPod interface was done in just under two weeks while I was on vacation over the 2019 holidays. Back then it connected to a server I personally hosted to play music. More recently, however, I started digging into Apple’s MusicKit API and Spotify’s Web Playback SDK and thought it would be really neat if I could get the iPod I created to play anyone’s music libraries through either of the two services. That work started a few months ago and was finalized last week.

If you’re tickled by the idea of navigating your streaming music library, you’ll be happy to know Villarete has more ideas in the works for the open-source project, as well as features that others are building — device themes, haptic feedback for the scroll wheel, and dynamic battery percentage (all in progress, slated to be released soon). Plus, he’s hoping to build the iPod Classic out into a standalone desktop app that you can run without opening a browser:

Tanner Villarete wants to turn his React-powered iPod Classic into a standalone desktop app
Tanner Villarete wants to turn his React-powered iPod Classic into a standalone desktop app

Until then, enjoy your streaming-capable iPod by visiting this page on your mobile device.

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