iPhone orphans iPod accessories

Anthony Caruana
21 July, 2008
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I’ve been an iPod owner for some time. My first iPod was a 4th generation unit. Accessories for that particular model used a special connector at the top of the iPod that was adjacent to the headphone socket. I used an FM transmitter and voice recorder through that port.

Time marched on and I sold that iPod off and purchased a series of 5th generation iPods (30GB, 60GB and then 80GB because it had a better screen) and an iPod nano. There was an extra cost as my old accessories wouldn’t work with the later iPods as they used Apple’s Dock Connector. That’s the price of progress, I thought. Mistakenly, I thought that all iPods with the Dock connector would be able to share accessories.

When I purchased my iPod touch a few months ago I discovered that my ExtremeMac Micromemo wouldn’t work. I can accept that the iPod touch, and iPhone, run totally different software, so — while I’m disappointed — I figure that a solution will come to the fore at some other time.

Now that I have my iPhone 3G I’m somewhat stunned at the fact that many of my iPod accessories are now either nobbled in some way or completely useless. For example, I purchased an iPod Remote Dock a couple of years ago and have used it with my various 5th generation iPods, an iPod nano and an iPod touch. Incredibly, this simple accessory doesn’t work with the iPhone 3G. Surely an Apple-issued Dock should just work. The cable connected to the Dock is OK with the iPod (even though it’s from an older iPod) — it’s just the Dock that the iPhone doesn’t like.

My Logitech mm50 speaker deck is another device that now has limited functionality. I can play sound back though the speakers and control the volume but the mm50 can’t charge the iPhone. In other words, even with the speakers on AC power, the iPhone’s battery will drain. That’s another fail in my view.

A quick web search revealed that many users are discovering that their iPod — and even iPhone 1.0 — accessories don’t work with the iPhone 3G. The cynical part of my psyche thinks that perhaps Apple is hoping that we’ll all shelve our old accessories and buy new ones. However, while Apple does sell some accessories I suspect that it is just one of many players in the crowded iPod/iPhone accessory market.

Apparently, the technical driver for the change is that all previous iPods could be charged over FireWire. However, the iPhone 3G is strictly a USB 2.0 device only. This means that some changes have been made to the iPhone 3G’s dock connector. It’s possible that some accessory makers will offer adaptors to make their devices compatible but that may lead to clunky adaptors or product abandonment by manufacturers.

If you’re considering joining the iPhone 3G conga line it’s worth doing some due diligence. If you’ve got some iPod accessories that you’re expecting to work with a new iPhone 3G do your research. Even Apple’s own accessories aren’t guaranteed to work.

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