My daughter’s iPod Touch is on its last legs. She wants an iPhone. I don’t want her to have an iPhone. Because she’s nine. Apple wants my daughter to have an iPhone. Because profits. It made its position clear last year by saying nice things about the iPod Touch while unceremoniously killing it.
Wider tech also wants my daughter to have a phone. It makes this clear by offering the following choices: a phone, another phone, an alternative phone, and a smattering of smallish tablets that are rubbish. But also, I don’t even want to replace the iPod Touch with a good tablet – like an iPad. Because, as I already stated, my daughter is nine. A nine-year-old with an iPad in her room might never leave it again. (Don’t mention Screen Time to me as a solution. Ever.)
I’m sure your heart bleeds at this first-worldiest of first-worldy problems. Oh no, the tech writer, surrounded by gadgets, can’t get the perfect iPod Touch-shaped one for his offspring! Call in the experts! Get Tim Cook on the line! Activate the King!
That’s fair. Except no. Because it’s not 1967. Children live in an increasingly interconnected world of tech. Parents might instinctively shield them from all that, but kids need gentle on-ramps. We can’t hide screens from them, only to expect they’ll hit a certain age and instantly navigate that world like a heady mix of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and a busload of YouTube influencers.
Instead, we might find they lack the social and other skills necessary to deal with a world of tech. One might even get so angry they grow up, get rich, buy a social network, and ruin it for everyone out of pure spite.
You might again point out the iPad exists as an alternative. After all, it’s just an embiggened iPod Touch, right? And think of the potential! Extra screen acres! The not running out of battery after about two hours! But not every interaction warrants a tablet.
The iPod Touch has been a fantastic personal device for my daughter for specific tasks: music; notes; Duolingo; messaging. It’s self-contained. It’s not an endless world of distraction due to being stuffed full of expansive games and apps. And besides, isn’t that Apple’s reasoning: instead of one device to rule them all, we should have access to several, each of which does specific things well?
Phone it in
The snag is, again, Apple wants the small gadget to be a phone. Because even its cheapest iPhone costs more than double what the iPod Touch did on its debut. And the SE’s rocking a two-year-old chip, which gives me pause regarding its own longevity.
There are also older, cheaper phones on eBay. And buying someone’s cast-off is more eco-friendly than splurging on a new SE. But grabbing such a bargain could result in security update concerns, when the device is no longer fully supported by Apple. (Similarly, there’s no point tracking down a replacement iPod Touch, because that gadget’s in its dead clade walking period of existence.)
Moreover, children are getting mixed messages about phones. The industry wants every child to have one, as soon as possible. But schools (in the UK at least) routinely ban them. If we had the option of small personal devices that weren’t designed to be taken everywhere, that might be healthier.
So there’s no good choice for replacing that iPod Touch. And given that I know adults also mourn the device’s passing – with it once being an affordable, pocketable entry point into Apple’s ecosystem – it’s a crying shame there’s no new model to buy. But Apple doesn’t appear to care about small and affordable these days. Well, unless you count the HomePod Mini. But don’t try shoving one of those into a pocket or doing Duolingo on the thing. That never ends well.