Retro Pod performed proper into TikTok’s love affair with the iPod. From demos of defunct Minis to outfits showcasing Shuffles as hair clips, an app turning your iPhone into an iPod was naturally going to be a success. When Retro Pod began making the spherical in late December, TikTokers praised the app’s potential to copy the iPod’s “tactile, bumpy, vibratey feels” which were misplaced within the period of music streaming. Videos that includes the app racked up practically 5 million views, however by the second week of January, viewers began commenting they couldn’t discover the app in any respect. Retro Pod had disappeared from the App Store.

It isn’t confirmed why Retro Pod was faraway from the App Store — neither the developer of the app nor Apple returned The Verge’s request for remark. But it’s not laborious to think about that when the app blew up, Apple wouldn’t let it stand. The firm has a very explicit rule towards apps that replicate Apple merchandise. 

But Retro Pod had a very good run. According to analytics agency Sensor Tower, the app acquired 443,000 complete downloads on iOS, together with 275,000 downloads in simply the primary week of January. It peaked at number 11 amongst music apps within the US earlier than it was apparently eliminated by January eighth. 

“People really want it. It’s a bit of cultural heritage.”

Apps recreating the iPod have cropped up a bunch of occasions over time, even when iPods have been frequent family devices. In 2009, iClassic was launched for iOS as a jailbroken app. In 2019, (a distinct) retroPod app was made obtainable on Android, and iPod.js debuted as a web-based iPod. Coinciding with the success of Retro Pod, iPod.js has additionally just lately gone viral. Developer Tanner Villarete says that the positioning has had 1.8 million customers complete, with two-thirds of these visiting up to now week or so.

While these have been created exterior of the confines of the App Store, Apple has let one other iPod clone slip in earlier than. In 2019, an iOS app referred to as Rewound tried to perform inside Apple’s ecosystem. Two months after its debut, it bought main web buzz and garnered 150,000 downloads. That is when Apple put the kibosh on it. Rewound’s developer, Louis Anslow, mentioned the app was first pulled for violating Apple’s in-app buy guidelines. He modified and rereleased it earlier than Apple took it down once more for replicating an Apple product. 

Like Retro Pod, Rewound flew a little bit too near the solar. The apps ought to have been rejected within the first place, however Apple’s moderation crew didn’t catch them. Retro Pod was even in a position to push through five updates after its debut in October — the newest in a collection of apps that didn’t get pulled till others drew consideration to them. And though iPod.js is allowed to dwell exterior of Apple’s purview, it’s not a totally purposeful cellular music participant. Using an iPod interface, it redirects customers to their Spotify libraries. If an app is ever going to really replicate the iPod expertise for iOS customers, it’ll want the unlikely approval of Apple.

The market can also be not what it was when Rewound bought pulled. Three years in the past, Apple was nonetheless promoting iPods (even when that final mannequin, the iPod Touch, was mainly simply an iPhone minus the cellphone). Apple formally killed the iPod earlier this yr. Between Apple stepping again from the iPod and customers’ nostalgia for the product, Anslow thinks there’s larger want than ever for an app that may flip an iPhone into an iPod.

“I’ve just been determined to try and get this back,” says Anslow. “Because people really want it. It’s a bit of cultural heritage.”

Though the general public should view the iPod as a nostalgic relic, for Apple, it’s nonetheless proprietary tech. The guidelines figuring out what can and can’t be an iOS app are no matter Apple desires them to be. Until the corporate loosens its vice grip on its dormant IP, a real iPhone-to-iPod app isn’t more likely to stand — except, after all, Apple decides to launch such an app itself. It looks like a missed alternative for them to disregard the demand.

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