iCloud and Siri allow the iPod of the future to reinvent the music player

Apple didn’t invent the digital music player, but when was the last time you saw someone listening to MP3s on something other than an iPod? Still, gone are the days when the original iPod’s 1,000-song capacity could wow music fans. In the age of ubiquitous network connectivity, we want everything, all the time. And now that Apple has ironed the kinks out of storing music online, the next logical evolution of the iPod is that it gets smaller and more connected. And by small, we mean small. In fact, the iPod of 2015-or iPod Air, as we like to call it — could be called the “iPod-less iPod.”

With all your music safely stored in iCloud, there’s no need for a lot of physical storage on iPod. As a result, its form factor has been shrunk down to just the core pieces you can’t do without: the earbuds. They feature touch-sensitive backs that provide all the physical controls you need. Tap high or low on the outer rim of the device to raise or lower the volume; touch the forward or backward edges to skip between tracks. (And with a tiny gyroscope on board to auto-adjust those controls to however the earbuds sit in your ears, the iPod Air wouldn’t even need the raised control icons pictured here.) But come on, this is 2015! By now Siri has evolved to provide the ultimate in touchless control over your music — and much more.

Illustration by Adam Benton

LED lights offer quick feedback for battery levels and network signal strength.

Touch-sensitive controls let you control playback the old-fashioned way.

Siri lets you browse the iTunes Store, play everything in your iCloud library, pair with another iPod Air to share your tunes, and more.

Want to hear Barry White? Siri can handle that. Buy new albums from the iTunes Store by simply speaking your order — the iPod Air recognizes your voice, so there’s no password needed. And by 2015, Siri no longer needs to ping Apple’s servers every time you switch playlists or call out your favorite Johnny Cash album, so you can navigate tracks and perform all the traditional iPod functions instantly. Built-in Bluetooth pairs with your iPhone for using the iPod Air as a wireless stereo headset.

Siri is already multilingual (with support for more languages coming soon), so in a few years’ time she’ll have no trouble listening to a foreign language via the iPod Air’s mic and speaking a translation directly into your ear. With 8GB of storage built in, you won’t miss a beat if you end up indoors, on an underground train, or somewhere you can’t get a Wi-Fi or LTE signal. That’s right — the iPod Air can optionally connect to 4G cellular networks, for the ultimate in convenience no matter where you are. And when you’re in range of another iPod Air, you can share music from your iTunes library with a friend — streaming only, with no downloading, of course — eliminating the gross and sometimes awkward practice of sharing earbuds.

Like many Apple fans, we’re nostalgic for the iPod classic. But who needs that kind of storage space when you’re living in the iCloud, anyway?

via Mac|Life Rethinks Apple: The iPod-less iPod | Mac|Life.