iPod’s click wheel celebrates its 17th birthday, relive the experience with this Spotify and Apple Music web player

Released in 2004, the click wheel gets the nostalgia treatment.

On 19 July 2004, Apple introduced the iPod 4th Generation. Along with it came the click wheel, a beloved music player navigation quirk that has been defunct for several years but has recently been revived in a nostalgic Spotify and Apple Music player web app.

The arrival of the click wheel came earlier in 2004 with the iPod Mini but became an integral part of the 4th Generation iPod later that year. Previously, the iPod featured a physical scrolling wheel surrounded by buttons, while the new click wheel was a solid-state, touch-sensitive navigator that would become adored by its users.

At least, if it wasn’t adored then, it’s certainly fondly remembered now. Tanner Villarete, a software developer, has reimagined the 2007 iPod Classic as a web app. This music player lets you access your Spotify and Apple Music libraries within a virtual iPod Classic that you can operate with a click wheel.

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Steve Jobs iPod Mini 2004
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds a new mini iPod at Macworld 6 January, 2004 in San Francisco. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Of course, you won’t have the same fluid experience with your mouse or trackpad as if you had the iPod in your hands, but the features remain true to the original. You’ll be able to access the unique Cover Flow, which puts all your tracks and albums side by side as artworks – a concept that has been absent in streaming services. You can browse your playlists, too, and switch between Spotify and Apple Music. You can even play the built-in game, Brick, although it may be a little more difficult than you remember as a web app.

Prior to Apple’s release of the fourth-gen iPod, the iTunes Music Store had sold its 100 millionth song, CultOfMac reports. This secured iPod’s place in the mainstream and had tech enthusiasts speculating what Apple’s plans were with the upcoming fourth-gen model. Despite the click wheel being a success, there was an air of disappointment as there was a lack of a colour display, Bluetooth and wifi support and 60Gb of storage, as predicted by fans.

However, battery life was improved to 12 hours, and it was the first full-size iPod that supported USB 2.0 charging, moving away from the brand’s FireWire connectivity. More affordable prices were announced, too, with the 20GB model priced at $299 and the 40GB model at $399. Later that year, a special-edition U2 iPod would be revealed, followed by a Harry Potter Edition in September 2005, pre-loaded with all the Harry Potter audiobooks.

Tanner V says of the iPod glory days and the web app: “Before the days of streaming services, we relied on physical devices to store our limited libraries of music. Now with the streaming age, we no longer rely on physical storage and have endless hours of songs at our disposal. This project is an homage to the good ‘ol days. A mix of the old and new. Experience the iPod Classic you used to own that now connects to Spotify and Apple Music — the two most popular music streaming platforms in the world.”

If you’re eager to take it back to the 00s, check out the iPod web player at tannerv.com.

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